Towanda, PA. – A hit man getting paid $3,000 for murdering three psychic mediums sat in the car with his employer, Craven Vaughn, at a Wal-Mart parking lot Thursday afternoon.
32-year-old Vaughn didn’t want to let the hit man know his reason for wanting these three mediums dead. All of the mediums on his hit list are authors and two of them are even television personalities. Vaughn picked the wrong hit man for the job however, as the hit man had secrets of his own.
While Vaughn spoke to the hit man about the people he needed to kill, a hidden microphone that the man was wearing recorded everything. The three mediums that he wanted “eliminated”, James Van Praagh, Maureen Hancock, and David M. Baker, all listened in on the conversation, along with state police and investigators from the Wyoming County district attorney’s office.
Turns out the “hit man” Vaughn hired for murder was an undercover state trooper and as soon as Vaughn paid the hit man the money and got out of the man’s car and into his own truck, the “hit man” pulled out behind him and radioed the arrest team.
The state troopers arrested Vaughn on three counts each of criminal attempt to commit criminal homicide, criminal use of a communication facility, and criminal solicitation of criminal homicide.
According to the affidavit of probable cause supporting the charges against Vaughn, it only took him two weeks to come up with his bold plan.
State police found out about Vaughn’s plans to murder the three mediums on December 5th when an anonymous tip let them know that Vaughn intended to employ a hit man to murder the mediums and was going to pay $1,500 for each one.
According to the informant, Vaughn was willing to pay up to $10,000 for the job if needed. They decided that that was the price he needed to pay and set up a payment plan. Vaughn gave the man $3,000 as a down payment.
By the time the hit man and Vaughn agreed to have the private conversation at 9 a.m. on December 7th, the informant had already made plans to record the conversation.
During the call, Vaughn was heard saying, “I’d like to get this done soon as I could.”
That is when the informant gave Vaughn the telephone number of the state trooper who would act as the hired gun and assured him that the man would be the one to get the job done.
Vaughn called the number given to him over and over again during the next week, leaving messages on his voicemail to call him back.
The following Tuesday, the undercover trooper set up for the phone call between him and Vaughn to be recorded and he dialed Vaughn’s number. Vaughn answered and they decided to meet at a local Wal-Mart in Eaton Twp on the following Thursday. Vaughn assured him that he would also be bringing the $3,000 they had agreed upon as a down payment.
Minutes before the arrest, as they were conversing about the job, the trooper asked Vaughn why did he want these psychic mediums killed and Vaughn would not tell him. He told the trooper that once he completed the task, he would let him know why.
Vaughn wouldn’t even tell the trooper how he knew the mediums.
The most famous medium of the three is a man named Van Praagh. He is the author of many published books, has appeared on a number of TV shows such as “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Larry King Live”, and hosts live seminars as well as online courses about meditation and recovering from grief.
Mr. Van Praagh produced a show on the Style Channel called “Psychic in Suburbia” which starred one of the other mediums Vaughn wanted killed- a woman named Nina M. Hancock.
The show is about the “soccer mom who talks to the dead” and who is often overcome with psychic visions at random locations such as her neighborhood hair salon. Hancock is also author of a published book and has ties to an organization that helps the terminally ill prepare emotionally for death.
The last medium Vaughn wanted killed was a man named Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker has also written a book and appeared on several podcasts and radio programs. On his website he mentions that his encounter with Mr. Van Praagh is what caused him to realize that he had been suppressing his psychic abilities all of his life. It appears that the three mediums on Vaughn’s death list are all connected in one way or another.
All of the attempts to reach the mediums were ineffective. It is also not known whether Vaughn has hired a lawyer to defend him yet.
Following the Thursday arrest, Vaughn was prosecuted by Magisterial District Judge David Plummer and was sent to Wyoming County Jail since he did not have the $250,000 necessary for bail.