Jan Smolinski knew something was wrong. If Billy was to suddenly disappear to start a new life, he would never abandon his beloved dog, Harley behind. She and her husband William Sr., contacted the Waterbury Police Department about their son's disappearance. It was not long before many people of good intentions arrived to try to help in the search. Family, friends and even psychics came forward.
At first, Jan Smolinski and her daughter Paula welcomed the help from everyone including the psychics. They wanted to try anything that could help them find their son alive. Within 48 hours of going public about Billy's disappearance, two psychics visited Jan. One of them told her that her son was lying on the banks of a river near railroad tracks and bleeding. He only had hours to live if he were not found immediately. The family was panicked and searched many of the towns from Watertown to Beacon Falls. Friends and family walked in the water while others scouted the banks along the rivers. Many in the search party suffered bruises, cuts and exhaustion. Later that evening the family received a phone call from a different psychic. This psychic told them that Billy was drugged and being held against his will. The psychic stated that he was in a hotel room near the river in Waterbury. Tired and hungry, the family took Harley, Billy's German Shepherd and proceeded to the hotel. They searched room 202, the room number given by the psychic, When nothing was found, the psychic changed the story and said that Billy was actually in a hotel across town. Accompanied by two police officers, they gained access to the second hotel sometime after midnight. yet Billy was still not found.
The calls and visits from psychics continued. One claimed that Billy had been in a red van wrapped in a carpet, bleeding heavily and was pushed out the door of the van in the Waterbury area. Another visit came from a pet psychic who claimed she could read the mind of Billy's dog, Harley. Other psychics offered information where their son might be buried. At one point, a medium paid for by a well meaning friend had stated that Billy was disposed of in a canyon and in a coma miles away and out of state. If he was not found soon, he would be dead. All this false information was damaging, Billys' sister received one disturbing phone call from a different female psychic. "For $225.00, I will find your brother." Paula replied that there was a fifteen thousand dollar reward and if her brother was recovered based on the psychic's information, the psychic could have the money. "I don't do business like that." The psychic replied. Billie's sister ignored the psychic.
The Smolinski family never paid for any psychic services although some other family members and friends did pay for such services. "Too many people are taken in by them, giving not only false hopes but charging outlandish fees for false information. They take advantage of the heartbroken, mentally and physically drained loved ones that are looking for answers." Jan Smolinski said.
Even some famous psychics' abilities have been called into question. Well known psychic and a frequent guest on Montel William's television show, the now deceased Sylvia Browne lost credibility with the safe recovery of Shawn Hornbeck. The then, eleven year old boy from Richwoods, Missouri was abducted in 2002. Browne and another famous psychic James Van Pragh both publicly claimed that the boy was murdered. They even offered clues as to who might have been responsible. Fortunately, Shawn Hornbeck was found four years later and his abductor is now serving time in prison.
The Smolinski family no longer listens to what any psychics have to say. They are now hoping that Connecticut Law Enforcement can help find Billy. The FBI have taken over the case and several bits of information have surfaced. At first, the Waterbury Police Department viewed Billy's case as either a run away or possible suicide. However, when fliers of Billy were being defaced and torn down, the Smolinski family sensed something was seriously wrong. They soon staked out some of the flier locations and videotaped Billy's former girlfriend, vandalizing fliers that the family had posted around several towns. Just before Billy had disappeared, he had broken up with this girlfriend. They had been involved in a love triangle. The other man in the relationship was an elected official in a wealthy New Haven suburb. Waterbury Police did question the man. The man did play a recorded message that Billy had left on his phone the day of the disappearance. On it, Billy tells the man, "To watch your back, I'm going to get you." The Federal Bureau of Investigation nor Law Enforcement in Connecticut have named anyone as a suspect in the case. For Jan Smolinski, her husband and daughter the pain and uncertainty have not gone away. The case has been featured in local newspapers, television broadcasts and was even featured nationally on CBS's "The Morning Show."
The case has taken on a life of it's own. According to Jan Smolinski, none of the people questioned have been willing to take a polygraph test. One person was convicted of giving false information as to where Billie was buried. Jan Smolinski was even arrested by police in the town (Woodbridge) where the elected official lived because she posted missing person fliers of Billy near a school after being warned not by law enforcement. The case was dropped but she and her daughter lost a lawsuit by Billy's ex-girlfriend and her employer for alleged harassment. The politician involved in the love triangle eventually resigned from public office in September of 2006.
As for her experience with psychics. Jan Smolinski had this to say, "It is always in the back of our minds when someone approaches us, could this be the real thing? I guess it is only human nature, thinking maybe we will have some sort of closure. this is a God given gift it should be utilized wisely, but from our point of view they try and gain media attention just for possible notoriety. I would love for someone to come forward and prove that a person has been truly found by a psychic. Until we learn otherwise we will stick by our beliefs that they are just that, full of hogwash. Don't be taken in!!"
There are some in law enforcement that swear that there are some psychics that are legit. If you use a psychic, do not pay up front. Let them collect the reward.
Photo of Smolinski Family with US Senator Chris Murphy from Waterbury Observer
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