Almost four years ago, Sylvia Browne told Shawn Hornbeck’s parents that he was dead, that his body was in a wooded area about 20 miles away from his house, near a couple of large boulders, and that his bicycle was in a dump in another state. She also told them that the man who had taken Shawn was a dark-skinned Hispanic man with dreadlocks (where she’s heard of anyone like that, I don’t know) who drove an old model blue sedan.

WRONG on every count. Not even close. A complete miss all around.

Why is it important to point this out? Because Browne and others like her are never held accountable for their sham predictions. Montel Williams keeps having her back on and she’s allowed to claim that she has helped police find missing kids when there is no evidence she has ever done so. What she does do is exploit horrible circumstances and play on the emotions of people at their most vulnerable times, as she did with the Akers.

James Van Praagh is just as bad. On his “Beyond” show, he said that Shawn was in a rural area along I-55 near three silos. Later, on another show taped in Missouri, he said Shawn was dead and his body was in a freight train car in some sort of rail facility, and that a man who worked there was involved in Shawn’s disappearance.

WRONG on every count. Not even close. A complete miss all around.

The suspect, Michael Devlin, managed an Imo’s pizza restaurant and drove a white Nissan pickup.

To make matters worse, the Akers and the police spent time chasing down these ridiculous leads and found nothing. That’s a waste of time, money, energy, and resources. And yet, these charlatans are allowed to do this time and time again.

It’s long past the point where Montel should stop booking Browne and police departments should stop spending even one second listening to con artists like Van Praagh. If others can be held accountable for pain and suffering caused by words, why can’t they?

Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby were found because 15-year-old Mitchell Hults noticed a white Nissan pickup in the neighborhood and told police about it. Then another man, Geoff Hadler, spotted that pickup a few days later in an apartment complex parking lot and told the police.

There was nothing supernatural about any of this. Just simple human beings using their normal senses to help break a case that made national news.

I predict that, any day now, one of these “talk to the dead” liars will claim they knew it all along.