Editor’s note — This is the second part of a four-part story about Virgil “Wade” Tackett, who as a 17-year-old left his family’s Hillsboro home in 1986 to find work in Alaska. Three weeks into his stay working for a local cannery, Tackett and a friend went exploring in the Alaskan wilderness near Chicagof Island. Tackett was never heard from again. Between strange sightings and psychic visions, the search for Tackett has turned up more questions than answers. Information for this series comes from author RW Swartz. His book “Cold Water, Cold Hearts” was released last month.
When Wade Tackett disappeared in 1986, his family immediately set to work trying to find their teenage son. He had gone missing in one of the most remote places in North America, and the police were no closer to answers weeks after his disappearance.
His parents, Mary and Virgil Tackett, were desperate for answers. Alaskan authorities were quick to rule Wade’s disappearance a probable drowning, but with no body, his parents still held on to hope that their child was still out there. One day, Mary Tackett listened to a Cincinnati radio station and heard an interview with renowned psychic Frances Cannon, the “Singing Psychic.” She had gained fame as a “psychic to the stars” and owned her own detective agency in Texas. Mary contacted Frances, and together they began to view the case in a new light.
Frances Swift was born in Dallas, Texas in 1944. At the time of Wade’s disappearance she went by Frances Cannon or Frances Baskerville. Her claim to fame was holding the title of “the world’s only singing psychic.” In pictures of Frances Cannon, it’s clear she was a lively character. She had a big smile, long blonde hair, and a soft voice, which she put to good use in her albums “Songs From Beyond” and “The Singing Psychic.” Her songs are often in the style of country folk music, but with lyrics tell bizarre and paranormal stories.
In one of her songs, “The Grassy Knoll,” she gives her take on John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In others, such as “Star’s Ghost” she sang of the paranormal and other unusual phenomenon. The sleeve of her album contains a short inscription that showcases her personality. It says: “Frances becomes psychic after a lumber truck hits her in 1979. She soon began to levitate objects spontaneously over hundreds of miles. Psychic healing has occurred from her God-given talents. She had been studied by nine different scientists. She had been proven 85 percent accurate. She has found over 200 missing children. Some of the songs on Side Two will be in the musical “Psychic Fantasmagororia,” in which she will star. All lyrics and music written by Frances Cannon. She guides “The ET’s” with ESP. Frances hopes to win World Cup Six in International Chess with ESP communication with Bobby Fisher.”
However eccentric she might have been, she was determined to help Mary and Virgil Tackett. In the case of Wade’s disappearance, the singing psychic had a theory. She told the Tacketts that not only was Wade still alive, but he was living in Sitka, Alaska with friends. However, that wasn’t the whole story. There was more to her vision that Frances wasn’t sharing with the family.
In a letter to then president Ronald Reagan, she wrote: “I recently answered questions on a Cincinnati radio talk show. Mrs. Virgil Tackett called me and told me her son was missing. She asked if I could help find him. He had disappeared in Alaska. Supposedly he had drowned. Suspicion raged in my mind. I am 85 percent accurate in all my tests with scientists in the past three years on predictions concerning coming events. So I hesitated to tell her that her son was indeed alive. But everything inside me was telling me that Wade was alive. He was a victim of child slavery. He was being used to pass drugs. I did not tell the mother all of this. Only that he could still be alive and I did see drugs surrounding his disappearance. I felt as though he had been left on an island — unable to contact anyone.”
While there currently isn’t much information about the validity of her claim, Frances was certain Wade was still alive, and there may be truth in her statement. Many sightings point to the possibility that Wade didn’t drown.
Frances Cannon died in 2009 at the age of 65. Her prediction is yet to be proven, but many still point to this as a possibility. In part three, the possible sightings and the ongoing search for Wade Tackett will be discussed.
Isabella Warner is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.