Heideman’s parents seek answers from beyond

A television psychic has attempted to connect the parents of a deceased Chico State University student with the spirit of their son, Adrian Heideman, who died in October 2000 after drinking a large amount of alcohol and choking on his vomit at a fraternity party.

“Ever since Adrian died, I was open to anything. A grieving, desperate mother will open herself to anything if it could bring comfort,” said Edith Heideman in a telephone interview from Palo Alto.

Adrian Heideman’s name has become nationally known through his parents’ work to raise awareness about fraternity hazing and binge drinking. (Heideman was reportedly made to drink a pitcher of beer and a bottle of blackberry brandy.) They also filed a civil suit against the fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi.

The program, Beyond with James Van Praagh, was scheduled to air in the Chico market on KRCR Channel 7 at 1:05 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21. The online preview of the segment says the parents came “to find out if their son approves of their fight against the fraternity practice.”

Edith Heideman, who appeared with her husband, Michael, said the producers of the show saw coverage of the civil suit and contacted the family. Unbeknownst to them, she had long admired Van Praagh’s work and read all three of his best-selling books.

She said the memory of the show’s taping is a little hazy because it was so emotional.

“James said that Adrian was very proud of me and what I was doing,” said Heideman, who, besides pursuing the civil suit has become a triathlete in memory of her son. The couple has three daughters.

She said Van Praagh knew about Adrian’s cats and where they slept and spoke in detail about a black-and-white photo of him taken by the ocean. “[Van Praagh] said to me, ‘That’s how Adrian wants you to remember him.'”

Heideman said she knows consulting with psychics can be controversial, and she visited some in the Bay Area that were not on the level. But she trusts Van Praagh, a Christian, who believes going to heaven is just a transition and people continue to exist as spiritual beings. He has been targeted with an investigative report by ABC’s 20/20 and Skeptic Magazine. Believers include Cher, who used Van Praagh to contact her deceased ex-husband, Sonny Bono.

Heideman said she had believed in God—who answered her prayers and cured Adrian of childhood cancer—but lost her faith upon his death. “When Adrian died I felt utterly betrayed, cheated. I felt angry. I just felt like God was angry and vengeful to do this to us—we had already suffered so much. I felt completely abandoned by my so-called God.” She was just starting to believe again around the time Beyond‘s producers called.

She said there is no such thing as closure when one has lost a child, but “James Van Praagh really brought me peace.”

Heideman said that, of course, she wished something more specific had come out during the session. “I would have liked even more than I got, but James Van Praagh was just wonderful. … This was a very positive experience for us and a very healing experience, but it left us wanting more.”

"You don’t stop worrying about your child just because he’s dead," she said. "Where is he? What is he doing?"