Psychics Lead Search for Body of Missing Woman


A mounted posse joined family members and a pair of psychics Saturday to comb a Canyon Country area for the body of a Valencia woman who vanished more than a year ago.

The psychics were brought in by Louis Danoff, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective, who has turned up few leads in the disappearance of Ann Racz.

The whereabouts of Racz remained a mystery Saturday, despite a four-hour search through rugged terrain off Spring Canyon Road east of Santa Clarita. Her estranged husband has insisted to authorities that Racz is alive somewhere, but her relatives said they doubt they’ll see her alive again.


“I want to believe she’s alive someplace,” said Racz’s sister, Emi Ryan, who traveled by car with her husband from Mesa, Ariz., to take part in the search. “But I guess I do think she’s dead, and if she is dead I want to find her and put her to rest.”

The searchers were led to the canyon by psychics Donielle Patton and Cathy West, who independently told Danoff to search the area after they were given photographs and belongings of the missing woman. Patton, of Fremont, and West, of San Luis Obispo County, have both tried to help detectives locate bodies in the past, with varying degrees of success.

Both women said they believe Ann Racz suffered a violent death and that her body will soon be discovered somewhere in Los Angeles County.

“I got a bad feeling,” West said at one point during the search. “I felt like I was choking and my throat kept getting tighter and tighter.”

The missing woman’s estranged husband, John Racz, declined Saturday to comment on his wife’s disappearance or the belief by some that she’s dead. A 45-year-old Compton school teacher, Racz lives in Valencia with the couple’s three children and has repeatedly told detectives that his wife is away on a trip, Danoff said.

Whatever the case, nearly two dozen reserve officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department formed a posse to search a two-square-mile area in the scorching Santa Clarita sun for suspicious mounds or depressions, six of which Danoff plans to revisit next week and excavate.


Meanwhile, about a dozen more sheriff’s officials and members of Ann Racz’s family scouted the canyon by car and foot, some digging for clues while others placed markers at the sites to be dug up later. The searchers spotted clothes and bones, but it was unclear whether the clothing belonged to Racz or whether the bones were even human. The items would be analyzed later.

The search was called off at noon. Danoff said he next plans to search an area north of Magic Mountain.

“I know I’m going to find her someday,” said Danoff. “But I also realize she is hidden very well.”

Ann Racz was 42 when she disappeared April 22, 1991, just four days after she and her three children moved out of the family’s Valencia home and into a condominium a mile away. After 19 years of marriage, she was seeking a divorce.

On the day she vanished, Danoff said, John Racz told her he wanted to see the children and offered her $25,000 to take a vacation. In an interview with investigators, John Racz said his wife agreed to take the money and leave, Danoff said.

Bank transactions verify Racz withdrew the money from his account, Danoff said.

That same day, Ann Racz took her then 15-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son to their old house, where they played video games, Danoff said. Racz left to get her daughter a hamburger and never returned. John Racz told the children and authorities that his wife had left for her vacation.


Her car was discovered at a Van Nuys shuttle service parking lot that offers rides to Los Angeles International Airport, Danoff said. Although John Racz said he met his wife at two restaurants after April 22, no witnesses can confirm the meetings, the detective said.

Friends and family believe Ann Racz fell victim to foul play.

“If she is alive, then she’s lost her memory or she’s being kept against her will,” said Patty Keitel, Ann Racz’s niece from San Diego, who took part in the search. “She has not gone on her own will, it’s just not possible.”

Other believe she is dead.

“I don’t think she’s on a trip because I don’t think she’s alive,” said Dee Ann Wood, who described herself as Racz’s best friend.

Like many friends and family members, Wood described Racz as a meticulous woman who lived for her children and always planned ahead. Racz was so organized she would pre-address mailing labels before taking a trip so that she could conveniently send off postcards to friends back home.

“It was almost embarrassing to be Ann’s friend,” said Wood. “You couldn’t keep up with all the little acts of kindness.”

But answers don’t come so easily to Racz’s sister.

“Either she’s alive and she’s a bad person for putting her family through this or she’s dead and she’s a good person,” said Ryan. “But I know she’s not a bad person.”