48 Hours Correspondent Troy Roberts reports.
Anderson, who used to work as an operator for the New York Telephone Co., considers himself a mystical medium, a kind of spiritual switchboard for people who have passed on. "When it pleases them, they use me as an instrument, only to bring comfort to those left behind in this world," he explains. "I would hope that what people take away from my message is hope, comfort."
Believers wait up to a year or more for a one-on-one consultation at his Long Island, N.Y., home, for which they pay a $1,000 fee. His recent book, Lessons From the Light, is now in its sixth printing.
Anderson's skills date back to when he was 6, suffering through a bout of chicken pox.
"I started to hear voices or feel like a sense of communication or [being] able to see...people that have passed on," he says. "To me, it was always very normal and natural."
"I knew there was nothing wrong with me but sometimes we can be at the mercy of people who are in authority, who might think that they know better," he says. "It's like any job when you have to do it, you have to do it."
"Many times it seems as if I'm dreaming awake," he adds. "The souls want to talk to us because they still love us. Also they can maybe help the survivor here on earth understand why this happened."
Sharon Johnson-Tennant is among Anderson's advocates. Shes married to Hollywood film director Andy Tennant. They have four children, including triplets, a rich family life. But something is missing.
Johnson-Tennant waited years to meet with Anderson, ever since her mother's tragic death. Johnson-Tennant last saw her mother alive in 1989. Her family had gathered for Thanksiving at their vacation home on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. After the holiday, Johnson-Tennant's mother, Judy, didn't make it home. Her plane never arrived at its destination.
"It just never arrived, and that was it. They never knew exactly why the plane had crashed," she says. "I truly believe that once it happened, she was gone and she was fine. And I do believe she's fine now, but some kind of reassurance I'm looking for that she was OK....It's closure to me."
"Isn't it everyone's wish, you know, to be able to have one last conversation with the person you love?" she asks.
Johnson-Tennant also wanted confirmation that her mother's spirit came to her before. She is convinced that in 1995, while she was pregnant with her triplets, her mother came from heaven to tell her that the children would survive.
"It was like 6 o'clock in the morning. I honestly sat bolt upright in my bed," she recalls. "My bedroom doors flew open and she stood there. And she said, 'Sharon, honey, I'm here for you. I love you. Don't worry. Everything's gonna be OK.'"
"It was the scariest thing, bar none, I've ever been through," says Johnson-Tennant. "I don't think it was a dream."
48 Hours arranged for Johnson-Tennant to sit with Anderson in the hope of reaching her mother. She hoped that Anderson would shed light on the plane crash that took her mother's life.
Anderson asked her to testify on camera that she never had prior contact with Anderson, that he had not been given any information. Any information he gets, he says, will come from the souls. As his hands moved in an unpredictable spiral, he had his first realization.
"Well first of all, a male presence is around you and a female presence as well," he said. "There's that strong motherly presence....She keeps telling me to tell you that she's all right and she does express having a rough time prior to her passing. She's glad it's over with."
Anderson then talked of a tragic passing that came during a holiday.
"It looks like she's falling out of something," he said. "She tells me the tragedy makes the news. Is that correct?"
Johnson-Tennant could only respond with tears and a nod. And after revealing a series of unfamiliar names, Anderson spoke the words that she has waited so long to hear.
"She also emphasizes that she didn't suffer prior to her passing in spite of the circumstance," Anderson continued. "She says you have felt her presence since she's passed on. It's almost like you might feel as if you've seen her."
"She keeps emphasizing it wasn't your imagination. The apparition came to let you know that she has not left you. Whether other people believe you had an apparition or not, you could care less. You had it," he said.
"She keeps saying, 'It's no one's fault; it is an accident,'" said Anderson. "And [she] staes for you not to be despaired over the circumstances of her passing. You were always a good friend to her... but she tells me to let go. So I will let go. She steps aside, sending her love to you and family. OK, it stopped."
Johnson-Tennant sat still. The "visit" from her mother lasted about 45 minutes. Johnson-Tennant was convinced that her mothers spirit came to her. But she said that something that didn't add up.
"None of those names, absolutely none of those names, really rang a bell. That was real disappointing," she said. "But it's sort of an affirmation that she's with me. I kind of believed it before, but it's nice to get backup."
The names he spoke did not match, any of the eight other passengers on the plane. Anderson offered, "It could be people the mother knew. On the other hand, it could be genuinely wrong."
Nevertheless, Anderson said he's content with his supernatural skills. "It doesn't bring your loved ones back. But if it makes you sleep a little better at night knowing that your loved one is OK and in a happy place, then they have done their job."