7 - The Night
of the Bleeding Ear
Gwendoline Martino was back in her apartment in Cherry Hill, New
Jersey, early in December 1966, packing her things for a trip to
Europe. Her unlisted phone rang. A female voice with a slight
foreign accent came on the line.
“Yes, this is Gwen ...“
“No, this is Gwen Martino.“
“You’re not Gwen Stevens?“
“No ... you’ve got the wrong Gwen.“
This same woman called
back again on two successive nights. The conversation was always the
same. Mrs. Martino was mildly irritated that the woman would call
her three times in a row but she thought nothing of it until I met
her a few months later and asked my routine questions about unusual
Because of the woman’s accent, it is possible she was asking for
Mrs. Martino had never heard of anyone named either Gwen or Jen
Stevens. But at that time a woman named Jennifer (“Jen”) Stevens was
very active in UFO research in the Albany-Schenectady area of New
York State. Mrs. Stevens experienced a wide range of problems with
her unlisted phone and a personal tragedy which seemed to be related
to her UFO investigations.
In February 1968, Mrs. Stevens reported the following:
[One] night when my
husband, Peter, and I returned home we found Jenny, our
fifteen-year-old daughter, in a highly nervous state. She said
the phone had been ringing all evening. She would answer it and
hear nothing at the other end but heavy breathing. When her
boyfriend called they were interrupted several times by
high-pitched beeping noises and were also cut off twice.
The next day the
calls continued. Sometimes there would be mechanical sounds, and
others, the high-pitched whining, beeping sound that sent sharp
pains through the mastoid bones. Our number is unlisted so I
knew no one could have gotten it out of the phone book or
through the operator. We had long since screened all calls
through another number in order to avoid cranks. I called the
telephone company and they gave our line a complete check with
NO findings. The service man offered his personal opinion that
the line “could have been tapped.“
Several days after our telephone problems began, my husband, who
is a building contractor, was in a large downtown Schenectady
store inspecting some work and dropped into the snack bar for a
cup of coffee. A few moments after he seated himself, a tall,
tan, “saturnine”-looking man, whom my husband had never seen
before, sat down next to him and started a conversation.
began with, “There have been people watching the sky every night
down by the river in Scotia.“
Since Peter was one of “those people,” he was shocked ... but
kept cool and said, “I beg your pardon?“
The man proceeded to talk about UFOs. Peter tried to draw him
out and asked his name, and so on. All his questions were either
parried or avoided. My husband was beginning to feel a bit
uncomfortable when the stranger finally excused himself after
noting, “People who look for UFOs should be very, very careful.“
At my request, Peter
Stevens made two sketches of the “saturnine”-looking man. They sent
me one copy and kept the other. A few weeks later their home was
broken into and thoroughly ransacked. But nothing was stolen . ..
except their copy of the sketch. (1)
No one ever tried to steal my copy. It was subsequently published in
a special issue of Flying Saucer Review, June 1969.
Two months later Peter Stevens, a young man in his thirties, died
very suddenly. Anguished, Jen abandoned UFO research. I never
learned the full circumstances of his death. She would tell me only
that it was “related” to the UFO business in some way.
I have shown Peter Stevens’s drawing to numerous Men-in-Black
witnesses over the years and the usual response is, “It looks close
enough to be a brother.“
Today “heavy breathers” plague telephone subscribers from coast to
coast and are usually assumed to be sex nuts. When I received many
such calls in 1967-68 I recorded some of them and studied the tapes.
The sound is more mechanical or electronic than human and is
probably caused by the introduction of a modulated current into the
This phenomenon is not
isolated to the cities.
People in remote towns with a population of
only twenty-five or so also get these calls. The heavy breathing of
the sex nut who (supposedly) masturbates while he listens to a
female voice on the line contains certain recordable vocal
characteristics which are totally absent in the heavy breathing
calls I taped. Played at a slower speed, the recorded “breathing”
was an evenly spaced series of pulses resembling the swishing sound
of a phonograph when the needle reaches the end of the record and
does not reject.
Heavy breathing would
not be so uniform.
Mr. Kevin Dee and his NICAP subcommittee urged Woodrow Derenberger
to submit to a psychiatric and medical examination. In early
December Woody voluntarily entered St. Joseph’s Hospital in
Parkersburg and underwent hours of tests administered by Dr. Morgan
(I have changed his name here for reasons that will become obvious
later on), a leading local psychiatrist, and Peter Volardi, an EEG
In his final report, Dr. Morgan stated:
There was no evidences of abnormalities at all.
report and interpretation was obtained from Baltimore, and the
report indicated no abnormalities at all and was a perfectly normal
electroencephalogram. There was no evidence of organic brain damage
or of seizure disorders. We were particularly concerned about
epilepsy and there was no evidence of this.
The record was a normal
record with no indication of any central nervous system pathology at
all. There was no evidence of any psychiatric disorders. I submitted
a report to the Pittsburgh Subcommittee of NICAP, of the psychiatric
examination of Mr. Derenberger in which I stated that I could find
no evidence of mental disorder. There was no indication of any lower
I found Mr. Derenberger to be normal.
The NICAP investigators sent the medical records on to the
Washington office of the organization, along with detailed reports
on Woody’s encounter and his personal background. Typically, the
NICAP newsletter later devoted a couple of paragraphs to the
Derenberger case, denouncing it as a hoax, misspelling Woody’s name,
and referring to Cold as “Kuld.” Woody had spelled the name C-o-l-d
from the outset and it was spelled that way throughout the
How NICAP arrived at the
K-u-l-d spelling is a mystery in itself.
“Look at that crazy
character coming in downwind in that plane,” Eddie Adkins
He and four other men
were standing on the field of the Gallipolis, Ohio, airport, just
across the river from Point Pleasant on Sunday, December 4, 1966.
At 3 P.M. that afternoon a large winged form came cruising
majestically along the Ohio River, just behind the airport. The
pilots later estimated that it was about three hundred feet in the
air and was traveling about seventy miles an hour. As it drew closer
they realized it was not a plane but was some kind of enormous bird
with an unusually long neck. It seemed to be turning its head from
side to side as if it were taking in the scenery.
The wings were not
“My God! It’s
something prehistoric!” one of the men cried.
Everett Wedge grabbed
his camera and sprinted to his small plane. But by the time he was
airborne the giant creature had vanished somewhere Sown river.
Three days later, on December 7, I arrived in Point Pleasant for the
first time. I found a sleepy little town, clean, well-managed,
prosperous. The Ohio valley is a busy industrial area and the river
is lined with chemical factories and thriving businesses. It is a
far cry from the dreary coal mining towns of Appalachia further
east. The neat, modern homes of the valley boasted more than their
share of color television sets and late model cars.
The people are
not hillbillies but, for the most part, are skilled technicians
employed in the many factories; well-educated, well-paid Americans
leading quiet, average lives. Although there was a hotel in Point
Pleasant I chose to cross the Silver Bridge and take a room in one
of the many modern motels on the Ohio side of the river.
My first stop was the Mason County courthouse and a chat with Deputy
Halstead, a soft-spoken, serious man with a receding hairline and
just a trace of the curse of all small-town policemen—the potbelly.
to it,” he assured me. “The people who have seen this Bird were
all mighty scared. They saw something. I don’t know what. Some
say it’s just a crane.“
I asked him if there had
been any flying saucer reports in the area.
“No, we haven’t had
any of that. Just the ‘Bird.’ That’s enough!“
He told me how to find
the McDaniel home and I drove out to do the thing I hated most—knock
on the door of a total stranger, introduce myself as a hotshot
writer from New York, and invade the privacy of people already weary
from the publicity, reporters, and self-styled investigators.
Mabel McDaniel came to
the door, an attractive woman not at all like the frail, drawn sparrow-like women I so often met up in the hills of Appalachia. It
was early evening and within an hour Mabel had made a series of
phone calls and the little house was filled with people. Roger and
Linda, Steve and Mary Mallette, and Connie Carpenter and her fiancé
Keith, and Mrs. Mary Hyre all arrived. My first reaction to Mrs Hyre
was negative. Every town has a local busybody and I pegged her as
that, erroneously it turned out.
Connie’s eyes were red and swollen, as I have already noted, but she
was the only one who had experienced this telltale reaction. She
seemed to be an emotionally fragile girl, but down-to-earth. Roger
and Steve, lifelong buddies, talked with great enthusiasm about
their great adventure. But I had learned long ago that young men
usually tend to color their experiences with rich imagination and
heroic posturing. However, there were no false heroics here. They
had been genuinely frightened out of their wits and were not ashamed
to admit it.
Later Mary Hyre told me she had heard them recount the episode
dozens of times to innumerable reporters and investigators.
“None of them have
ever changed it or added a word,” she noted.
Since they had viewed
the creature only briefly and in the dark, their descriptions were
understandably lacking in significant detail. Even Connie, who had
seen the creature in broad daylight, could not describe the thing
beyond the fact that it was gray, huge, and flew. Its face, she
said, was “science-fiction like.” The glowing red eyes had made the
biggest impression on her, as they had on the others. And the
overriding sense of unreasonable fear was the main reaction. There
had been no smells in the areas of the sightings. No footprints or
droppings or other tangible evidence.
After taping their individual stories, we decided to go out to the
TNT area so I could have my first look at the site. At about 9 P.M.
we drove to the old ammunition dump. The police had now locked the
old gate leading to the power plant, but it was no problem to
squeeze through the fence. The night was dark and overcast and the
rickety building was just a huge, black lump on the landscape.
We gathered outside the
main entrance. The crowds who had swarmed there weeks earlier had
given up so we were alone ... ten people. I carried my powerful
six-cell flashlight. To me, this was just another broken, deserted
building in a remote spot. I was used to prowling around such places
alone in the dark, but I was troubled by the fear that now seemed to
be gripping our little expedition. Their nervousness was real. Only
Connie and Keith volunteered to enter the building with me. The
others clustered outside.
The three of us went into the ruin. Connie was joking and in good
spirits. Keith was sober and quiet. The interior of the building was
filled with debris and silence except for the soft sound of dripping
water. Large rusting boilers stood on the ground floor. I peered
into them with my flashlight. Mothman wasn’t hiding there. I climbed
the steel ladders and strolled the catwalks. Even the pigeons seemed
to have deserted the place.
Satisfied that the building was empty, we started for the exit. I
preceded the other two with my flashlight.
As she stepped through
the door which led into the smaller chamber where the main exit was
located, Connie glanced over her shoulder and let out a horrified
“Those eyes!” she
screamed. “He’s there!“
She dissolved into total
hysteria, crying uncontrollably. The brave, cheerful girl of a
moment ago was now a blubbering wreck. Keith and I rushed her
“I saw those
eyes—two big red eyes—by the wall in the back,” she managed to
While everyone gathered
around her and tried to calm her, I turned and rushed back into the
building. The wall at the far end of the boiler room was blank.
There was nothing there that could have reflected the light from my
Again I searched the building from top to bottom and found nothing.
When I got back outside I found a police officer, Deputy Alva
Sullivan, had joined our group. Like the others, he had been
reluctant to enter the building and help me with my search.
They were all looking
through a fence facing a field that went behind the power plant.
“We thought we saw
something back of the plant,” Mary Hyre explained. “A tall
figure running. Was it you?“
“No ... I never left the building.“
“What was that noise while you were in there?” Mabel McDaniel
“It was metallic and hollow. A loud noise. Like a piece of metal
had fallen all the way down from the top or something.“
Everyone had heard the
sound ... except me. And I hadn’t done anything to make such a
Keith led Connie, still crying, to their car.
“Please, let’s get
out of here,” she begged.
“I’m bleeding,” Mary Mallette suddenly exclaimed, cupping her
hand to her ear.
I flashed my light into
her ear. A small trickle of blood was oozing out.
“Did you hear
anything else?” I asked. Everyone shook his head.
“No, but it doesn’t feel right here, does it?” Mary Hyre
observed. “It feels oppressive ... heavy.“
I had to agree with her.
Something did seem to be out of whack. Steve Mallette led his wife
away. Now we had two hysterical women on our hands!
“Did you really see
somebody back there?” I asked Deputy Sullivan quietly.
“It’s hard to say. Might have been an animal. A deer or
The whole group was now
in a state bordering on sheer panic. I could see that their feelings
were real. This was not just some kind of act being staged for my
benefit. I’m no hero, but I did not share their fear. Mrs.
Mallette’s bleeding ear was a sign of concussion, meaning the air
pressure had changed suddenly. Connie had apparently had an
hallucinatory or psychic glimpse of those frightening eyes.
The metallic clang could
not have come from inside the building or I would have heard it,
too. It may have been associated with the sudden change in air
pressure. I scanned the black skies. There was not a star, not a
We all filed back to our cars and returned to the McDaniels’ home.
Mary Mallette’s ear stopped bleeding. Keith drove a still-shaking
Connie Carpenter home. And, being an all-time idiot, I returned to
the TNT area for another look. It was well past midnight as I drove
aimlessly up and down the dirt roads among the igloos.
Mothman did not pop out
of the bushes to cry “Boo!,” but I did have one curious experience.
As I passed a certain point on one of the isolated roads I was
suddenly engulfed in fear. I stepped on the gas and after I went a
few yards my fear vanished as quickly as it came. I continued to
drive, eventually returning again to the same spot. And again a wave
of unspeakable fear swept over me. I drove quickly away from the
place and then stopped, puzzled. Why would this one stretch of road
produce this hair-raising effect?
I turned around and
slowly headed back, trying to note trees, fenceposts, and other
landmarks in the dark. Once again, when I reached that particular
point the hair tingled on the back of my neck and I became genuinely
afraid. When I emerged from the other side of this invisible zone I
stopped and got out of my car. The air was perfectly still.
There wasn’t any audible
sound ... not even a bird call. I was reminded of the hour of quiet
that settles inexplicably over the jungle in early morning when
suddenly, usually around 2 A.M., all of the animals, birds, even the
insects, become totally silent for about two hours. If you’re not
used to the jungle and its ways, this sudden silence can wake you
from a deep sleep.
I walked back to the “zone of fear” slowly, alert for any rustle of
bushes, measuring my own breathing and emotions. I was perfectly
calm until I took one step too many and was back in the zone. I
almost panicked and ran, but I forced myself to look around and
proceed slowly. By now I had figured out that I was probably walking
through a beam of ultrasonic waves and really had nothing to be
After I had gone about
fifteen feet I stepped outside the zone and everything was normal
again. Now I had to walk through that damned spot again to get back
to my car! It was too dark, almost pitch-black, and I was too
unfamiliar with the TNT area at the time to attempt to go around the
zone. Although I knew it was harmless, I dreaded re-entering it. I
actually considered remaining there, only yards from my car, until
But I finally steeled
myself and walked once more through that invisible stream, scared
out of my wits in transit yet privately pleased with my discovery.
In daylight I returned to the same spot. The zone of fear was gone.
I searched for power transmission lines, telephone microwave towers,
and anything that might have radiated energy through the area. There
was nothing. Nor did a daytime exploration of the power plant reveal
anything Connie might have mistaken for red eyes.
Mrs. Mallette’s bleeding ear and my discovery of the ultrasonic zone
of fear convinced me that UFO-type phenomena were present in the TNT
area even though the police and press had not received any reports.
I asked Mrs. Hyre and the McDaniels to be alert for any rumors of
sightings. Within days I tracked down dozens of UFO witnesses
throughout the Ohio valley.
At 2 A.M. on the morning
I was first prowling the TNT area, a young man living further up the
Ohio River got up to go to the bathroom and saw a brilliantly
illuminated object floating in the air just above the water. It was
circular in shape and appeared to have windows in it covered over
with curtains like crumpled aluminum foil. Two hours later, Mr. and
Mrs. Charles Hern of Cheshire, Ohio, saw something very similar.
Their home was directly opposite the TNT area on the Ohio side of
the river. Mr. Hern was walking his dog when he noticed a red light
on the opposite riverbank.
At first he thought it might be a trapper in a boat checking his
Then he realized it was on the bank, not on the water, and in the
glare of the light he could see figures moving about. He called his
wife outside and they both watched for several minutes trying to
figure out what it was. The figures seemed to be very small in
Dazzled and disbelieving, the Herns woke up their neighbors, Mr. and
Mrs. Walter Taylor, who joined them. Red and orange lights flashed
on and off, and one light seemed to be directed toward the water
most of the time. Finally the lights went out and a bright greenish
light came on.
Then the object rose
straight up into the air and disappeared into the sky.
“I’ve lived on this
riverbank since I was twelve years old,” Mr. Hern told Mary Hyre
and myself, “and I know every boat light, but this was
definitely something I’ve never seen before.“
“It’s a funny thing,” Mrs. Hern added. “We were so stunned we
didn’t even talk about it afterwards. We just sat silently at
the kitchen table. We even forgot to say our ‘thank you’s’ that
As soon as Mrs. Hyre
began publishing UFO reports in the Messenger dozens of other people
came forward with their own stories.
She was able to print only a
small percentage of all the reports she received.
Dr. Morgan, the Parkersburg psychiatrist, was watching a football
game on television in his home in a suburb of the city that December
when he was overcome by a strange sensation. A voice began to speak
to him, announcing that it came from a spaceship somewhere overhead.
He was becoming a contactee!
(A year later, Woodrow Derenberger was a guest on Long John Nebel’s
radio talk show in New York and I was one of the panelists. Long
John phoned Dr. Morgan on the air and he described his experiences
in a beeper-phone conversation.)
While Dr. Morgan was tuning in to that phantom reality of the
super-spectrum, Woody was entertaining more interesting visitors at
Mineral Wells. A man identifying himself as Captain Bruce Parsons of
the NASA security police at Cocoa Beach, Florida, called on him and
invited him to Cape Kennedy, home of our
Shortly after Christmas, Woody, his wife, and
children flew to Cape Kennedy to spend a week with Captain Parsons.
By day they toured the
great rocket-launching installation. But each evening Woody was
taken to a room somewhere on the Cape where he was questioned for
hours, covering every detail of his visits with Indrid Cold. One of
his questioners was a man identified as the head of NASA and called
simply “Charlie.” (*)
The head of NASA at that time was Dr. Thomas O. Paine.
According to Woody, at the end of the week his interrogators showed
him a star map and pointed to a speck on it telling him,
where they’re from.”
They said they had interviewed several other
contactees, all with stories similar to his own. When he asked why
they didn’t release their UFO information to the public, they
allegedly replied that it would only cause panic. Women would commit
suicide, throw babies out the window, and this kind of panic could
sweep the world, they said.
Derenberger brought home a flock of souvenirs as proof of his trip:
photographs and even a scrap of the material used in our astronauts’
This, Woody says, is the
same kind of reflective material worn by Indrid Cold under his coat
on that rainy November evening.