Real Names: Gary George and Terry Lynn Magno
Aliases: Reverend Monsignor Gary (Gary)
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: 1986
Details: Gary and Terry Magno are phony faith healers wanted for taking money from his "patients" over false pretenses in Arizona. Their method was psychic surgery, a claim that a healer can use the power of faith to perform surgery without use of anesthesia or tools. The process is often done where the con man opens the skin with his bare hands, but is only performing a variant of a deep tissue massage. Often the con man has an assistant who may be appear to be aiding him in surgery, but in actuality may be abetting the fraud by handing the con man concealed packages of "blood", either actual blood or food coloring, in order to give the appearance of penetration. The assistant may also hand the con man pieces of meat in order to look like diseased items have been removed from the patient.
In March of 1986, the Magnos moved their practice to Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix resident Randy Jones took an interest in the Magnos after his mother claimed to have been cured of her maladies after being treated by Gary Magno. Randy was suspicious when she continued to show signs of being ill. He decided to visit the couple and have the procedure done on himself. Before the procedure took place, he signed two forms. One released Magno from all liability coming from his procedure. The other showed that the signer, under threat of perjury, was not a police officer.
Randy recalled that several people from various age groups were there. A short time later, he and several others were called to a back bedroom. They stripped down to their underwear and put on bath robes. After about fifteen minutes, they were called into the room where the "operation" would take place. Randy and another patient entered the room, dropped their robes, and were placed on massage tables. The room was covered in plastic sheets and there were several steel bowls on nearby tables.
After a few minutes, Magno entered the room. They were then asked to hold religious objects. Magno spoke mainly to his assistants but not to the patients. At one point, he pressed down on Randy's leg and began to remove "tissue" from his leg. He then placed the tissue into an empty bowl. During the operation, Randy became convinced that the procedure was a fraud.
After the procedure, Randy contacted Jim Lowell, an expert in psychic fraud cases. He notes that most psychic surgeons have drapes, towels, and other fabrics that conceal the "objects" that they take out of the bodies of their patients. Slight of hand is often used to make it appear as if they are reaching into the patient's body. The concealed packages are used to create the appearance of blood and objects from the body.
After Randy contacted the Phoenix police department, they sent two undercover officers to Magno's office. The officers, Dan Henderson and Sandra Ramsey, posed as husband and wife. Henderson pretended to be a patient, demanding that Ramsey come in with him. The employees reluctantly agreed to let her come with him. Once the surgery began, Ramsey identified herself as an officer and placed Magno under arrest. Other officers arrived, placing Magno's accomplices under arrest as well.
Gary, Terry, and his nephew Cris Tizon were charged with conspiracy and fraud. They posted their bond immediately and were released from custody. The next day, they jumped bail and fled to the Philippines. However, investigators believe that they have since returned to the United States.
Despite the evidence found as a result of the arrest, Randy's parents refused to believe that the Magnos were frauds. His parents refused to speak to him afterwards. Tragically, his mother's health continued to deteriorate. In December, she finally checked into a hospital, where it was discovered that she had six major tumors in her body. Shortly afterwards, she passed away. Sadly, Randy never got to see her again.
Gary and Terry Magno and Cris Tizon remain at large.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the October 18, 1989 episode.
"Psychic surgery" gained notoriety with the 2000 biographical film Man on the Moon, about actor and comedian Andy Kaufman, who died of spinal breakdown caused by advanced cancer in 1984. Kaufman's ailments were worsened by the fact he seldom sought the services of conventional doctors, believing he had been cured by psychic surgery.
Results: Captured. Gary Magno's nephew Cris Tizon was arrested in Las Vegas two hours after the broadcast, as a result of a viewer's tip. However, his aunt and uncle were not with him. Tizon later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to testify against the couple. He was sentenced to three years probation.
After the case was re-aired in March of 1990, viewer's tips helped lead investigators to the couple, who were back in the Philippines. On July 16, 1991, Terry Magno was arrested there as an illegal alien. Terry was returned to Arizona to face fraud and conspiracy charges. However, due to the lack of an extradition agreement between the United States and the Philippines, Gary Mango could not be arrested.
In October of 1993, Terry Magno pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation. She was also ordered to pay restitution to their victims.
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