Real Names: Ann L. Corricelli and Lena Marie Wilson
Aliases: Laurie Wilson, Laurie Calvin, Ann Marks (Corricelli) / Lena Calvin, Marie Marks (Wilson)
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: January 1988
Details: Twenty-six-year-old Ann Corricelli and her fifty-three-year-old mother Lena Marie Wilson are a fraudulent fortune telling team who are wanted for scamming seventeen residents of Peoria, Illinois throughout the 1980s. Over $600,000 has been stolen as a result of their scams. Their alleged modus operandi has been to convince people (usually women) that their money is causing them to be cursed and that it must be destroyed. Police believe that the swindlers switch their victim's real money with fake money, which is then destroyed. The real money is then kept by them.
In March of 1987, "Karen", a respected educator had been devastated both mentally and physically after a car accident. Friends told her to visit Corricelli so that she could get some peace of mind. Corricelli was able to accurately guess several things about her life, including that she had suicidal thoughts (something that she had not told anyone about). She was convinced that Corricelli was psychic.
Corricelli then told Karen that someone had put a curse on her. She had to follow a strict set of rituals to get rid of her curse. The rituals made Karen feel that her life was changing for the better. One day, Corricelli told Karen to come to a nearby bridge and bring $4000 in cash. Corricelli said that the money was evil and that they needed to get rid of it. She then wrapped the "money" up and threw it over the bridge. Karen now believes that she was duped by Corricelli and that the money did not actually end up in the water.
Another victim of their scams was "Joan", a sixty-nine-year-old whose second husband died two years before, leaving her a large amount of money. Joan, however, felt sad and lost after her husband's death, so she decided to visit Corricelli and Wilson, who were using the fake last name "Calvin". Corricelli identified Wilson as her grandmother. Wilson told Joan that a curse had been placed on her life forty years ago. The curse had been put on by a girlfriend of her first husband; Wilson even named the woman.
She told Joan to come back again with $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills and a large sheet. Wilson then tied the sheet around her and Joan's necks. Wilson told her to tear the bills apart. She then claimed that if the bills magically restore themselves, then she will help Joan. Wilson wrapped up the bills, and when she unwrapped them, they "magically" were restored.
According to investigators, the duo uses religion to help convince the victims that their powers are real. The duo also convinces them that money is evil and causes their problems.
Wilson told Joan to fill a shoe box with dirt and leave it in her garage for three days. Wilson then brought a pitcher of water and poured it into the shoe box. After moving the dirt around with a stick, she made it appear as though blood was pouring out of the box. Wilson convinced Joan to give her more money to help her get rid of the curse. Over the next year, Joan gave Wilson more than $81,000 in cash. She also gave her most of her jewelry and bought her a brand new Cadillac.
Finally, Wilson had Joan hand over the rest of her life's savings, which was $40,000. She told Joan that they had to burn the money because it was evil. Wilson poured lighter fluid on it and lit it on fire in a garbage can. However, investigators believe that she actually had a fake cloth pouch created to make it look like she lit the money on fire; in reality, she stole it from Joan.
Investigators believe that most victims do not come forward because they are too embarrassed to admit that they were duped. However, eighteen victims, including Joan and Karen, came forward and gave statements to the police. Based on the victims' testimonies, warrants were issued for the arrests of Corricelli and Wilson. However, they could not be initially found.
Four days later, police in Kansas City, Missouri noticed suspicious people in a motel parking lot. A license plate check determined that the car belonged to Wilson's daughter. Wilson and another person were in the car; however, Corricelli was not there. Over $250,000 worth of stolen jewelry was found in the car. Six days later, Wilson jumped bail; she and Corricelli have not been seen since. Investigators are also searching for an accomplice, Joe Marks.
Extra Notes: The original airdate for this segment is November 15, 1989. The names "Karen" and "Joan" are fictitious, used to protect the victims' identities.
Results: Unresolved. A viewer from Springfield, Missouri recognized Joe Marks and contacted authorities. He was arrested on November 20, 1989, at his mother's home. He was extradited back to Illinois and was sentenced to six years in prison for theft and conspiracy.
In 1998, ten years after she vanished, Wilson was arrested and charged with theft and fraud. She served several years in prison and has since been released.
Ann Corricelli has never been found. However, the statute of limitations has expired in this case, and she is no longer wanted by authorities. Authorities also have noted that they lack confidence that Corricelli has gone straight, and may be continuing to operate under the likely the possible pseudonym "Mrs. Calvin". Should Corricelli be continuing in fraudulent affairs, this will constitute a whole new crime and resume the search.
- Fortunetellers Charged With Fraud For Promising Eternal Salvation
- Three charged in fortune telling scam
- Fortune tellers charged in eternal-salvation scam
- Grand jury indicts 3 in soul-saving scam
- Soul scam brings charges
- Rodgers v. Corricelli, et al
- Galesburg 'gypsy’ aids cops