It seemed things couldn't get any worse for Andrea Walker when her husband died – until she discovered he'd written her out of his will and agreed to let a former employee use his frozen sperm to bear his child.
Even Walker's psychic, who'd been trying to help her win back her husband's love and defeat his lethal pancreatic cancer, hadn't foreseen such a bombshell.
The psychic, known to Walker as "Kate Michaels" but really Nancy Marks, had warned her of a "dark-haired woman" trying to get Brian Walker's money — but there'd been no hint of him siring an heir from beyond the grave.
Federal prosecutors say Walker was yet another victim of a $25 million fraud conspiracy led by Rose Marks, a South Florida woman who says she has clairvoyant powers.
Marks, 62, of Fort Lauderdale, is on trial in West Palm Beach on federal charges of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and filing false income tax returns. She has pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to last another three weeks.
Walker, a British solicitor, or lawyer, from Yorkshire, England, testified Friday that she was a client of Marks' daughter-in-law, Nancy Marks, one of eight members of the family who have pleaded guilty to lesser criminal charges related to the alleged conspiracy. Walker said she was later referred to Rose Marks because of the complexity of her case, and they eventually met in Fort Lauderdale in 2011.
Walker's account of her life resembles the plot of a romance novel or the script of a TV soap opera, and some of it has already been featured in the British tabloids.
Now in her early 60s, Walker said that in 1994 she moved in with the love of her life, a millionaire builder by the name of Brian Walker, whom she married in 2000.
In 1996, they bought Hazlewood Castle in Yorkshire for about $1.5 million and spent another few million dollars converting it into a hotel. The castle is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, and more recently had been a monastery retreat owned by Carmelite Friars.
The couple ran the hotel until 2008, when Brian abruptly announced he was leaving his wife and they sold the castle.
Soon after, while on a trip to New York, Andrea Walker received bad news: The estranged husband she still loved had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctor said he had six months to live.
Walker said she stumbled, devastated, from her room in the Plaza Hotel beside Manhattan's Central Park and walked into a psychic's store across the street for a reading.
Walker testified that she was desperate for her husband to come back to her and for some miracle to prolong his life. The psychic, who she later found out was Nancy Marks, told Walker that her husband was "her twin flame," she said.
Walker said she told Nancy Marks in the first few days after they met that she had about $2 million — her proceeds from the sale of the castle hotel.
"She said the problems all came from the castle monies, that they were tainted," Walker testified.
Nancy Marks offered hope, Walker told jurors. "She said she would get my husband back to me" and that she'd help to get him "better." She predicted he would live for two years.
Walker said she gave $4,000 to Nancy Marks to start "the work" — which involved Nancy Marks praying and asking "higher beings for help and protection" to rid the money of the taint.
When Walker returned to England, she began seeing her husband every day. He moved back in with her and she became his full-time caregiver.
Walker would speak with Nancy Marks by phone almost every day and said she "religiously" followed Marks' instructions — performing rituals with candles, charms, an amethyst and a healing singing bowl, as well as lying on a special bedsheet and bathing with rose petals to bring back her husband's love.
She said Nancy Marks frequently asked her for money — the initial $4,000 in cash, then $9,000, then $24,000, $2,700, $9,000 and $24,300. The requests went on and on, she said, and Walker will return to the witness stand Tuesday morning to continue testifying about the total amount she paid.
Some of the money was "sacrifice payments to cleanse the money that came from the castle," Walker said. But the Marks family told her that other sums of money she gave would come back to her and they would not spend a significant amount of the cash, she testified.
In May 2009, Walker wanted to buy a house, but Nancy Marks told her that in order to clear the negative forces from the castle money being used to buy the home, Walker must send 5 percent of the purchase price to Nancy Marks.
They argued but, concerned that the psychic would be proved right if she didn't comply, Walker said she agreed to send $21,250, or 2.5 percent.
Eventually Nancy Marks told her that the sacrifice payments were done, Walker said, and as of July 24, 2009, any money she sent "would come back."
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