‘Christian’ Psychic, Dakota James Foundation Sharing Misinformation About Gay Bars in Pittsburgh

A self-described ‘Christian Intuitive Medium and Psychic Detective’ named Troy Williams is contacting members of the local LGBTQ community to help identify a so-called person of interest in the disappearances of Dakota James and Paul Kochu. This person of interest was photographed in Cruze Bar and Williams is circulating the photo looking for a name. 

Note, Williams is using the term ‘intuitive investigator’ but the references to Christian psychic pervade his professional materials and media coverage.

This person, whomever they are, is not of interest in the official police investigation. There is no evidence that we know of to connect him to James or Kochu. But contacting LGBTQ folks with the implication that someone in our community is roofieing people and killing them in rivers is one way to stir up both interest and panic.  I’m not objecting to the use of a psychic so much as the idea that a Christian psychic is targeting gay bars using lies. That’s creepy.

Let’s back up a little bit. Here’s the press release that Troy Williams and his associates put out about their investigation.

Tara Wrysec, Research Analysis with FOHVAMP (Families of Homicide and Missing Persons) and Psychic Investigator Troy Griffin investigate potential connections in the death of Adam Gilbertson (CO), Paul Kochu (PA), Joey Labute Jr. (OH) and Dakota James (PA).

The implied connection between these four men is gay bars. Not being gay, but gay bars. And here’s a very telling leap in logic

On March 20, 2014, the body of Paul Kochu (22) was found in the Ohio river, West Virginia. Kochu a resident of Pittsburgh, PA, was last seen at a local bar in Pittsburgh in mixed neighborhood which includes gay bars on December 16, 2014. The cause of death is listed as drowning.

Kochu disappeared from the South Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There are no gay bars on the South Side. There were no gay bars on the South Side when he disappeared or when he was found. There was a gay bar that popped up briefly since then (‘Monster’) which closed within a few weeks, long after 2014. So that’s a very big bit of false information.

James disappeared from the Cultural District. He did stop into a gay bar the night before his death, but he also visited straight bars as well.

I’m curious what ‘mixed neighborhood’ means – does this man think it is unusual for LGBTQ people to live amongst the heterosexuals?

I have repeatedly expressed my compassion for the James family, but I draw the line at sending an ‘intuitive detective’ to stir up panic and blame the gay community for a hypothetical serial killer. A Christian detective, for crying out loud.

Here’s what I know to be true

Last month, the Dakota James Foundation held a fundraiser in connection with the performance of “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” at the City Theatre, a play tied to the founder of the Trevor Project and the disappearance of a young gay man. They essentially fundraised around the concept of one of our most vulnerable LGBTQ groups, at-risk youth, to pay for a Christian detective to blame gay bar patrons for harboring a serial killer?

I have yet to hear or read the Foundation acknowledging the very real tragedies of violent deaths among Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) in this region, including some that remain unsolved. Or acknowledge that two black men also died in the Pittsburgh rivers around that same time period.

In December 2017, two local lesbians both went missing. Their cases were completely separate from one another, but in neither case did the Foundation respond to inquiries for help or offer support to the families. Fortunately, both women were found unharmed, but this blows my mind. Isn’t that their mission?

And, finally, there is the unspoken theme that winds its way through so many of these stories – alcohol. Alcohol is a killer in our community, both LGBTQ and the larger Pittsburgh community. I grew up in a family with multiple alcoholics and alcohol abusers; I know all about the secret-keeping and the impact of those unspoken truths. I know about the power of denial. And I know that simply saying ‘my family member would never drink that much’ does not make it a fact.

It is not okay to take our LGBTQ community money, ignore the other families with missing loved ones, and hire a Christian detective to lie about the circumstances to shift blame onto the gay bar community. This has gotten out of hand and become harmful to the regional LGBTQ community. Lying about gay bar locations to generate interest in a case is not okay. When personal grief becomes a threat to the general welfare, it has gone too far.

So there’s a photo of a group of people from inside Cruze Bar being circulated. I haven’t seen it. In that photo is a human being who is being targeted based on no evidence, no facts, but absolutely based on the lies in the press release. This person could have a significant defamation lawsuit, but who has the resources to pursue that? What if this person is themselves vulnerable and is suddenly approached by a heterosexual Christian psychic claiming to know something about them? What if people stay away from the bar because of these rumors?

We’ve now watched the Foundation go from grieving family seeking information to actively disregarding other cases to aggressively sowing misinformation in the LGBTQ community.

Enough is enough. It is a tragedy that Dakota died, but it is a dishonor to his memory to hurt LGBTQ people in pursuit of more information about his death. It is reprehensible to use our own money from community fundraisers to do so.

Remember Andre, Omar, Dalia, Shanique, and those who must remain nameless. Their lives and deaths matter, too. Rejoice that Ann and Nina returned home. Commit to go looking when and if that need arises again.

Do not further harm.

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  • The Dakota James Foundation in no way used monies to hire Troy Williams or send him through the gay community making accusations of any sort. Did you contact us to verify your information? No, so you are just as bad making accusations that are not true. If you would like to speak with us, we are open for conversation.

  • Let it also be known that if ANY family has contacted us we have done what we said we would do. We’ve provided them with information to help them. I’ve spent many hours on providing information to them to help in the capacity that we are able to help. And you will not find where we have ever publicly or in any of our writings or stories, that we are accusing the gay community of anything. We have supported the gay community and will continue to support them.

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