By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
"Then she called me and said it was very hard what she was up against and that I have to bring her a black pillowcase with 43 twenty-dollar bills, 43 ten-dollar bills, and 43 quarters," Patricia says.
The number is based on Patricia's age, and bank records show that she withdrew the money which came out to $1,300.75 on June 26.
"[Marks] blessed the money and had me rub it on my stomach and my back," Patricia says. "I left with it, but the next day she said to bring it back."
She returned with the money in the black pillowcase.
"She took it and said she needed to bless it at the altar," Patricia explains. "I haven't seen it since."
Despite the fact that Marks still had the $1,300, Patricia gave her another $800, for a total of $2,900.
As she tells the story, Patricia constantly repeats that she's embarrassed and that her admittedly stupid actions were out of character. Both her mother and father are medical doctors, she explains, and her family believes deeply in science not superstition.
"It's hard to explain," she says, "but when you are afraid for your own daughter, it makes you crazy."
On July 17, still in the grip of what she describes as terror, she took her mother-in-law to Marks for a reading. Her mother-in-law, who didn't want to be interviewed for this article, gave Marks another $100.
"She told me and my mother-in-law that we needed to act because my husband was going to have a mental breakdown in three weeks," Patricia says.
On July 19, Marks asked her for $350 more, and Patricia delivered the cash. Then, two days later, she brought Marks yet another $400.
"She told me to bring the money and a white egg so that she could 'seal my luck,'" Patricia says. What happened next finally prompted Patricia to wake up. She says Marks blessed the $400 and then literally grabbed it from her hand.
"Something told me that she wanted this money because she had no money at that time," Patricia says. "I left in the car, and I had the worst feeling. I felt like she was going to go shopping."
Patricia told her sister, Zoraida Morales, about it. Morales, who lives in New York, found the original New Times article on the Internet and warned her sister that she was being duped.
The grand total Patricia and her mother-in-law handed over to Marks: $3,750.
"I feel ashamed, but I don't want this to happen to anybody else," she says, "and if I just walk away, I know it will. If you hadn't printed that article, I would have lost another $10,000. I'm sure of it. I have been a nervous wreck. I'm still petrified, even though I know she doesn't have any powers."
Officer Frieder says Patricia's case is terribly common.
"It's always the same: They say something bad is going to happen to their victims, and they say the root of the evil is coming from their money and they need to cleanse the money," the Aventura officer says. "It's the same scam over and over and over, and you know what? It's working over the years."
Frieder knows about Marks firsthand. He worked the jewelry-theft case on her this past fall. A complainant, Laurie Kruss, came to Aventura police saying that a woman had stolen $2,500 worth of jewelry from her home. According to police reports:
Kruss was shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in Bal Harbour on October 9 when a woman, identifying herself as Regina Milbourne, remarked on her diamond ring. Kruss, who sells jewelry, felt so comfortable with her that she invited Milbourne to come to her upscale home in Hollywood to let her look at her wares.
Two days later, Milbourne arrived at the home driving a BMW and accompanied by her 11-year-old daughter. Kruss laid out jewelry for sale for Milbourne and, at one point, left the room to get more. When she returned, she noticed Milbourne "quickly shove her right hand into her purse." After Milbourne left, Kruss had a "bad feeling" and discovered that jewelry was missing.
A security guard in Kruss' gated community took down the tag on Milbourne's BMW. Frieder, who assisted Hollywood police in the investigation, was able to trace it to Marks, whom Kruss positively identified from a photo lineup.
Hollywood determined that Marks committed the theft and sent the case to prosecutors. When contacted last week while she was vacationing in Colorado, Kruss had one question:
"Have they caught her yet?"
The answer, of course, is no. But if police are serious about stopping Marks, they might want to call Judith Regan's publicity department. Should be an author's appearance coming up, after all.