10 - Purple
Lights and April Foolishness
“My phones have gone
crazy,” Mary Hyre noted, “even my unlisted numbers. Strangers
call me at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes I get funny
beeping sounds. Did you ever hear about anything like that?“
I had to admit I had.
However, it had become my policy to say very little about these
matters to anyone, even close friends. After Mary and I had
concluded our interview with Charles Hern and his wife in Ohio, Mr.
Hern had escorted us to the door and remarked,
“You know, we’ve
told you about everything we’ve seen ..; and you haven’t told us
a damned thing!“
I was so taciturn that
the UFO buffs had surrounded me with an aura of mystery (they tend
to surround everything with mystery). James Moseley, editor of
Saucer News (now defunct), once told Gray Barker,
“He gives you the
impression of not only knowing as much as we about flying
saucers—but actually knowing a lot more—a lot that he is not
The truth was more
mundane than the mysterious. I was keeping many of my findings a
secret to prevent pranksters from setting up hoaxes (many of those
findings are being revealed here for the first time). I maintained a
“low profile” to curb rumors and prevent possible panic in the areas
I was visiting. I avoided personal publicity, unlike most of the
other self-styled UFO investigators who spent most of their time
staging press conferences and building up scrapbooks. Finally, some
of the things I was studying seemed so absurd on the
surface—especially to the hardcore believers in extraterrestrial
visitants—that revealing them would only produce more gossip,
controversy, and nonsense.
Dan Drasin and Don Estrella expressed growing amazement—and some
fear—as they traveled with me up and down the valley, listening to
my strange questions and the even stranger answers we were getting
from witnesses. A young woman in Point Pleasant was having telephone
problems. Every night when she returned home from work at 5 o’clock
her phone would ring and a man’s voice would speak to her in a
rapid-fire language she could not understand. “It sounds something
like Spanish ... yet I don’t think it is Spanish,” she complained.
She protested to the phone company, but they insisted they could
find nothing wrong with her line.
We visited her home and I examined her phone in a manner that had
become routine for me. I took it apart. Drasin and Estrella watched
me silently with a “he’s really gone bananas” expression. What did
telephones have to do with flying saucers?
When you unscrew modern telephone earpieces you will often find a
small piece of cotton which serves as a cushion for the magnet and
diaphragm. You shouldn’t find anything else. But when I opened this
woman’s handset I was startled to find a tiny sliver of wood. She
said no one, not even the repairmen, had ever opened up her phone
before. The wooden object looked like a piece of matchstick,
sharpened at one end and lightly coated with a substance that looked
Later I showed it to
telephone engineers and they said they’d never seen anything like it
before. I put it in a plastic box and stored it away. Years later
while visiting a magic store in New York (sleight of hand is one of
my hobbies), I glanced at a display of practical jokes and
discovered a cellophane package filled with similar sticks.
Cigarette loads! Somehow an explosive cigarette load had gotten into
that Point Pleasant telephone! Who put it there, when, how, and why
must remain mysteries.
Soon after my investigation, the woman’s phone calls ceased. Maybe I
exorcised the phone by removing the stick.
Another family was having telephone problems, and many other
troubles besides, on the Camp Conley Road on the southern edge of
the TNT area. The woman in Point Pleasant who suffered the calls
from a bizarre metallic voice speaking in an incomprehensible
language was their daughter-in-law.
“It didn’t take us
long to learn that when our TV started acting up it was a sure
sign that one of those lights was passing over,” James Lilly, a
no-nonsense riverboat captain, told us. “I didn’t think much of
all the flying saucer talk until I started seeing them myself.
You’ve got to believe your own eyes.“
At first the Lillys kept
their sightings to themselves. But gradually rumors began to
circulate and carloads of people gathered on Camp Conley Road every
night to watch the space people fly by.
“We’ve seen all
kinds of things,” Mrs. Lilly said. “Blue lights, green ones, red
ones, things that change color. Some of them have been so low
that we thought we could see diamond-shaped windows in them. And
none of them make any noise at all.“
Automobiles near the
Lilly home began to stall inexplicably. And the Lillys’ little ranch
house became haunted soon after the lights started their nightly
fly-overs. Kitchen cabinet doors slammed in the middle of the night.
Once their living room door, which they locked with both a chain and
snaplock at night, was standing ajar when they got up in the
They heard loud metallic
“like a pan
falling,” and Mrs. Lilly heard “a baby crying.”
“It sounded so
plain,” she said, “that I looked around the house even though I
knew there was no baby here. It seemed to come from the living
room ... only a few feet away from me.“
One of my
sillier-sounding questions is:
“Did you ever dream there was a
stranger in the house in the middle of the night?”
When I directed
this question at the Lillys, Jackie Lilly urged her quiet
sixteen-year-old daughter, Linda, to tell about the “nightmare” she
had had that March.
She was reluctant to
discuss it, but with a little coaching from the sidelines she
explained how she woke up one night and saw a large figure towering
over her bed.
“It was a man,” she
said. “A big man. Very broad. I couldn’t see his face very well
but I could see that he was grinning at me.“
“Jim was working on the river that night,” Mrs. Lilly added.
“And Linda woke me up with a terrible scream. She cried out
there was a man in her room. I told her she was dreaming. But
she screamed again.“
“He walked around the bed and stood right over me,” Linda
declared. “I screamed again and hid under the covers. When I
looked up again, he was gone.“
“She came running into my room,” Mrs. Lilly said, “She cried,
There is a man in my room! There is!’ She’s refused to sleep
alone ever since.“
When I asked for a
description of the stranger, Linda said she thought he had been
wearing a “checkered shirt.“
Bedroom phantoms in checkered shirts are old hat to investigators of
psychic phenomena. I have come upon this again and again. So often
that I have written long articles about it. In some cases these
ghosts-in-plaid are accompanied by the odor of hydrogen sulfide and
sudden chills or sudden blasts of heat, while other episodes are
probably purely hypnopompic. That is, they are the residue of dreams
which overlap briefly into the waking state ... a phenomenon
well-known in psychiatry and parapsychology.
I once enjoyed a hypnopompic experience myself. In the winter of
1960-61 I contracted walking pneumonia ... and I walked with it
until I dropped. Early one morning while I was still quite sick and
my system was laden with antibiotics and drugs I woke up and saw a
large black form hovering at the foot of my bed.
It wasn’t a man in a
checkered shut but was roughly the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle.
“What do you know?
I’m having an hallucination,” I told myself as I lifted my head
and studied the apparition.
The blob slowly receded,
growing smaller and smaller until it disappeared. The experience was
Drasin and Estrella returned to New York City in late March while I
decided to remain on in Point Pleasant. Dan was convinced that
something exceptional was happening in the Ohio valley and he
planned to collect a camera crew and return. We had seen a number of
odd aerial lights but the oddest of all was so bewildering I didn’t
even bother to take notes.
We were standing on a hilltop outside of Point Pleasant one night
when Mrs. Hyre called our attention to a bright red light slowly
moving toward us. It had the shimmering, prismatic appearance of the
classic UFO light and Dan, who was a student pilot, agreed it wasn’t
a plane. No normal wing lights or taillights were visible. The sky
was crystal-clear and there was only one small cloud overhead. The
light moved very slowly and appeared to be at a low altitude. There
was no sound whatsoever.
We watched as the light slowly approached the little cloud and
disappeared into it, or over it. Then we waited for it to reappear.
Seconds ticked into minutes.
The light did not come out from behind the cloud.
“Maybe it went
straight up,“ Mary suggested.
Suddenly there was the
distinctive drone of an airplane engine and the obvious silhouette
of a small plane emerged from the cloud, wing and taillights
flashing. It buzzed off at an altitude of three or four thousand
feet And we laughed at ourselves, momentarily convinced that our UFO
had just been an airplane.
However, the more I thought about the incident the more incredible
it seemed. We should have been able to see the plane’s silhouette
clearly before it entered the cloud, and it should not have taken so
long to pass through such a small cloud. Something was definitely
out of kilter.
Later, I began to study the mystery airplanes and phantom
helicopters that have appeared all over the world, and several
reports of UFOs that seemingly turned into conventional airplane
One of the most recent comes from Canada
where a group of out-doorsmen on the Cowichan River in British
Columbia watched a low-flying object in October 1973. (1)
“It didn’t make a
sound and it was something we had never seen before,” one of the
witnesses reported. “There were three red lights rotating around
the top part and there were blinking red lights going in the
opposite direction around the middle part. There was another
light at the very top—a red flashing one.
“Then, from the bottom, a white light shone out like a
spotlight. It moved its beam up the river as if it was looking
for something. By this time we were all pretty scared. We
thought sure the others at the camp must have seen it, too, but
afterward they said they hadn’t seen a thing.“
John Magor, ed., Canadian UFO Report, No. 16, Box 758, Duncan, B.C.,
Canada. There was a bend in the river between us so I couldn’t say
for sure whether they did or not.
The witnesses claimed
they got a good look at the thing, that it was circular, about
eighty feet in diameter, hovering about two hundred feet in the air,
and had been in view for a full fifteen minutes.
How did it depart?
“Well, if we told
people about this, they’d think we were crazy,” the witness
said. “But all of a sudden it looked as if it had turned into an
airplane. It made a noise like a plane and it looked like a
plane, only all the lights went out except for a little red one.
It went right past us and disappeared over the trees.“
Throughout West Virginia
I had heard stories of large, gray, unmarked airplanes hedgehopping
the treacherous hills. I knew the air national guard kept some cargo
planes at the Charleston airport and that some training flights
involved hedgehopping to keep below radar beams. But none of the
flights reported to me proved to be the work of the national guard.
Drasin and Estrella had hardly started out for New York when all
hell began to break loose. Late on the afternoon of March 31, a
workman in the Point Pleasant lumber yard saw a glowing object
hovering over the home of Mrs. Doris Deweese. Shortly afterward,
Mrs. Deweese watched a luminous object zip across the sky and crash
into a small shack on a neighboring hillside. The shack housed the
transmitter for Sheriff Johnson’s police, radio. It started to burn.
What followed was straight out of the Keystone Kops. The police and
fire department rushed to the snow-covered hill and bogged down on
the mushy dirt road. There was much frantic scurrying and cursing as
the men battled the blaze. Part of the hillside was badly scorched.
The transmitter inside the shack was not affected by the fire but it
was burned out, as if it had been struck by lightning. So in the
critical days that followed, the sheriffs department was without its
I was disenchanted with the TNT area because of the crowds that were
now streaming back there nightly to watch for the newest
sensation—flying saucers. I started searching for a private place
where I could carry out my observations quietly. Don, Dan, Mary, and
myself had interviewed a number of people in the little community of
Gallipolis Ferry, a couple of miles south of Point Pleasant on Route
2, and I had been impressed by their testimony.
House lights frequently
dimmed there and television sets often acted up late at night. Great
blobs of light had been seen on top of the wooded hills in the
sparsely settled animal preserve called the Chief Cornstalk Hunting
Grounds just south of the village.
One resident was having
trouble with poltergeist phenomenon ... lights moving through his
house, rappings on the doors and windows, the sounds of babies
crying and “women screaming,” telephones malfunctioning—the works.
Rolfe Lee, a farmer with a big spread in the area, confessed that he
had seen so many UFOs over his land that he didn’t pay attention to
Officer Harold Harmon and I slipped away to Gallipolis Ferry on the
night of March 31 while nearly everyone else headed for the TNT
area. We soon saw a number of bright starlike objects which flitted
about the sky with rapid zigzag movements. Two local teen-agers were
sitting on a nearby hilltop next to a roaring bonfire, hoping to
lure the UFOs down. I called up to them and asked them to put the
fire out, knowing that bright lights tended to repel rather than
attract the objects.
Harmon fiddled vainly with his police radio. He could get nothing
but static. Later I learned that all the police forces for miles in
both directions had constant trouble with their radios that week.
Heavy magnetic interference totally disrupted communications among
law authorities while the UFOs carried out their mysterious
missions. The destruction of Sheriff Johnson’s transmitter was just
one small part of the scenario. Telephones, too, went bonkers that
week. It seemed as if half the phones in the valley were either out
of order altogether, or were dogged with crazy beeps and buzzes.
Accompanied by the two teen-agers, I left Harmon and hiked into the
nearby hills in the total blackness. As my eyes became acclimated to
the night I began to distinguish a number of vague purple shapes
hovering over a woods on Rolfe Lee’s property. At first I thought
they might be stars low in the sky, gleaming through the natural
haze. But when I flashed my six-celled light at one of these purple
blobs it suddenly and jerkily moved to one side, as if it were
jumping out of my light beam. Fascinated, I repeated the experiment
several times. Then I tried flashing the light at obvious stars to
see if this wasn’t just some trick of my eyesight. The stars didn’t
We sat on the hilltop studying the purple blobs for several minutes
when suddenly the whole forest in the valley below lit up and glowed
with a bright, eerie purple light. There were no houses or roads
down there. It would have been a long hike in the dark and the boys
were reluctant to join me, so we just sat and stared at the glowing
forest until the light faded.
The next night, Saturday, April 1, Mary Hyre and I drove up Five
Mile Creek Road below Gallipolis Ferry until we reached a hilltop
which commanded a view of the hills and valleys I had visited the
night before. There was a single farmhouse on the hill and the
people who lived there went to bed at 9:30 each night, being early
risers. So the whole area was silent, deserted, and without lights
throughout the night.
A few minutes after we arrived, Mary pointed out a small reddish
light low on a steep wooded hill south of our position. It appeared
to be blinking on and off, and bobbing up and down in a manner quite
different from any of the stars on the horizon. While we watched
breathlessly, barely speaking, it slowly circled the distant fields
and woods and crossed in front of us, edging closer and closer.
The farmhouse was about
seventy-five feet in front of us. The object now appeared to be
square or rectangular. It could not be mistaken for a star. It
vanished momentarily behind some trees north of the farmhouse and
when it reappeared it was much closer. Now we could make out a dark
form. The red glow seemed to be a window. It hovered about fifty
feet off the ground. I thought I could see a shadowy human figure in
the “window” but Mary thought it was some kind of partition.
This was the only point
on which we disagreed.
We sat transfixed for several minutes, fully expecting the object to
land directly in front of us and ask to be taken to our leader. I
finally got out of the car and flashed my powerful beam directly at
the object. It responded instantly, quickly shooting straight up
into the sky, the red light going out completely.
“I guess I blew it,”
But there would be other
nights and more funny lights.
The following night we returned to the same hilltop. The brilliant
night sky was filled with stars ... and things not on my star map.
We could easily recognize the UFOs because they were brighter and
more brilliantly colored than normal stars. Some were red flashers,
some were cold purple blobs, and some were multi colored. Mrs. Hyre
confirmed that they jumped out of the way of my flashlight.
I picked out an
especially large object and flashed:
Mary gasped as it began
to lose altitude.
“It looks like it’s
going down a flight of stairs,” she noted.
We were watching the
famous “falling leaf motion" which has been described by many UFO
About 12:30 A.M. Mrs. Hyre decided to call it a night. She drove off
leaving me alone in my car sitting, like an idiot, waiting for
something to happen. And it did. One hour later, at 1:35 A.M. on
April 3, 1967, I had my best sighting. A clearly defined circular
object suddenly zipped down from the sky and passed parallel to my
car. It was so colorful that it is burned into my memory.
The greenish upper
surface was topped by a bright red light. There were reddish
“portholes” or circular lights around the rim. The colors were so
brilliant they were almost unearthly. It disappeared behind some
trees to my left. I felt it was very close ... perhaps only a few
hundred feet from my car. Although it had been in full view for
several seconds I never even thought of picking up the movie camera
on the seat beside me.
I had three interesting physical reactions to this sighting.
of all, although I am used to prowling graveyards and TNT areas
alone late at night, I was scared to death. My first thought was to
start the car and get the hell out of there. But I managed to brace
myself. I did lock the car doors.
Second, while I was watching the
object I thought I heard a sizzling or hissing sound. Later I
realized I couldn’t be sure if the sound had been real.
next morning my eyes were sore and reddened. They felt like they
were full of sand. I had a mild case of conjunctivitis and it
persisted for several days.
In my notebook I scribbled,
“2 A.M., drove to
turnaround point [a driveway by a barn down the road], turned
and returned to original parking position ... unable to see
anything in ravine ... no lights or signs of activity ... still
scared... not anxious to get out of car...“
Another note reads, “No
sign of moon which was supposed to rise at 1:59 A.M.“
This referred to something that had happened the night before. After
the object with the reddish “window” had disappeared, Mary and I sat
in the darkness for a long time when suddenly a great glowing object
appeared behind some trees on a distant hill. It was red and large
and we both thought we could see a human figure moving about on the
hill. We really thought something had landed there.
After a few minutes the
object slowly rose upward and to our mutual embarrassment we saw
that it was the moon. I had never seen a moonrise exactly like that
one so I decided to deliberately watch the moon the following
evening. I checked the papers for the time the moon was supposed to
come up. But it never did.
That night, as I said, was cloudless and star-filled but the moon
never appeared. I stayed in the area until 3:30 A.M. and the moon
was still conspicuously absent when I left.
The night after that the moon appeared right on schedule.
Sheriff Johnson, Deputy Halstead, Mary Hyre, and I went back to Five
Mile Creek Road the next afternoon to look for my saucer. Deputy
Halstead carried a Geiger counter. As Johnson followed my car up the
hill he was startled when his car radio suddenly sprang to life,
emitting police calls from the adjoining county. The amazing thing
was that his radio was turned off at the time! It had to be turned
on with a key and the key was not even in the lock!
We searched for scorched marks, broken tree limbs, radioactivity,
anything that could have provided evidence of my sighting. But as
Halstead and I clambered around the ravine I was chagrined to find
that my estimates must have been way off. The object must have been
further away from me than I thought, and therefore it had to be
bigger than I thought (I estimated it was only fifteen or twenty
feet in diameter).
In my favor was the fact that there were widespread UFO sightings on
the nights of April 2-3. South of Charleston, West Virginia, a large
group of people, including several state police officers, watched a
formation of fifteen lights maneuver over a forest and descend.
Every night I went to the hill at Five Mile Creek Road, sometimes
alone, sometimes accompanied by a few others. And every night I saw
a variety of strange aerial objects. Only two airplanes passed over
on a regular schedule, one at 11 P.M. and another at 2 A.M. Each
night from three to eight unidentified “stars” appeared.
They were always in the
same position at the beginning of each evening and a casual observer
would automatically conclude they were really just stars. However,
on overcast nights these unidentifieds would be the only “stars” in
the sky, meaning they were below the clouds. While the rest of the
night sky slowly rotated, these phony stars would remain in their
fixed positions, sometimes for hours, before they would begin to
move. Then they would travel in any direction, up, down, clockwise,
They had a number of curious traits. When a plane would fly over
they would suddenly dim or go out altogether. As soon as the plane
was gone they would flare up again.
It was always impossible to judge their size, altitude, or distance.
Sometimes I thought they were relatively close only to find they
were actually miles away, traversing the river. Boatmen on the river
were obviously watching them also.
Occasionally a searchlight from a riverboat would suddenly shoot
into the sky, aimed straight at an object I was watching, and the
object would skitter out of the way.
I doubted that these funny lights were spaceships from
I made a strenuous effort to find rational explanations. Dr. Donald Menzel, a Harvard astronomer, advocates an air inversion theory,
contending that these lights are ordinary lights reflecting off
layers of warm or cold air and producing a mirage effect. This
theory wasn’t workable on Five Mile Creek Road simply because there
weren’t enough light sources. A large radio antenna some miles down
the river did produce some interesting effects. When there was a
haze the flashing red lights on the antenna were an eerie sight from
my hill and never failed to excite first-time visitors to my lookout
Three or four days after my monumental UFO sighting I was sitting in
Mary’s office when she became very thoughtful.
“You know, there’s
something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” she began hesitantly.
“I don’t know why, but it always seems to slip my mind. That
night that I left you early ... the night you saw that colored
disc ... when I got to Route 2 and started for Point Pleasant I
saw a big globe of light on the river. I couldn’t figure out
what it was ... but I didn’t stop. The funny thing is, I forgot
it completely. I didn’t remember it until a day or so afterward.
Then I forgot it again. I can’t understand it. I’ve always had a
very good memory.“
Lacunal amnesia, loss of
the memory of specific incidents or moments in time, is a common
part of the phenomenon.
In December 1967 Faye Carpenter, Connie’s
mother, had a more baffling attack of amnesia. The night that “Jack
Brown” visited Connie (Chapter Two), Mrs. Carpenter had opened the
door for him. He was in his shirt-sleeves, no jacket or coat
although it was extremely cold. She was not going to let him in ...
but she did. And she had absolutely no memory of his visit afterward
even though she had been present when he talked with Connie, Keith,
In the days following Mr. Brown’s visit, a poltergeist settled in
the Carpenter household. Securely fastened pictures fell off the
walls. Small objects disappeared from shelves and reappeared in
unlikely places. The manifestations lasted about two weeks.
During her news-gathering rounds, Mary Hyre was approached by a
professional woman in Gallipolis, Ohio, the town directly across the
river from Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia. She said she heard I was
in the area and she wanted to talk to me. My motel, the Blue
Fountain, was on the outskirts of Gallipolis so I arranged a meeting
with the lady. She held a very responsible job and insisted on
anonymity, as so many witnesses do, so I will call her Mrs. Bryant.
We met in a private office in a major company in Gallipolis. Mrs.
Bryant was a reserved, well-spoken middle-aged woman who looked
slightly fatigued from overwork.
She was very secretive and suspicious at first, but after I showed
her my parcel of credentials she relaxed somewhat. It was obvious
she had been through a great deal and she was concerned I would not
believe her. She had gone to the local authorities, she said, and
they had laughed at her.
I assured her that I
wouldn’t laugh, that I was accustomed to hearing incredible stories
from credible people.
“Last November ... I
think it was the second or third,” she began, “I was out behind
this building, getting ready to go home. It was seven or eight
o’clock. Suddenly there was a little flash, like a camera flash
gun going off, directly above me ... and then I saw a thing ...
some kind of flying machine. I couldn’t move. I guess I was
frozen with fright. This thing landed right there in the parking
lot not twenty feet away from me. It was like a big cylinder.
Anyway, it didn’t make the slightest bit of noise. It just
drifted down and stopped. Like I say, I couldn’t move. I guess I
started praying. Then two men came out of it and they walked
over to me.“
She studied me anxiously
as if expecting me to laugh.
“What did they look
like?” I asked.
“They were just
normal-sized, normal-looking men, but their skins were a funny
color ... dark, like maybe they were heavily tanned. The light
was pretty bad there so I couldn’t see them all that well.“
“Were they Negroes?“
“No. No, they didn’t have Negroid features. Their faces seemed
kind of pointed. You know, pointed noses, pointed chins, high
cheekbones. There was a kind of evil look about them. I was
afraid I was going to get robbed or attacked.“
“How were they dressed?” I leaned back and lit my pipe.
“As near as I could tell, they were wearing some kind of
coveralls, something like a uniform. Then they started talking
She kept watching me,
reluctant to continue.
“What did they have
to say?” I prompted, trying to avoid leading questions.
“Well, it was all pretty silly. They just wanted to know my
name, where I was from, what I did for a living, things like
that, sometimes it was hard to understand them. Their voices were
sort of singsongy and high-pitched. It was like listening to a
phonograph record played at the wrong speed. And they kept
asking me for the time. They asked ‘What is your time?’ two or
three times. Finally they just walked back to the thing and it
took off. Then I could move again. I was scared out of my wits
but I decided not to tell anyone. Then a couple of days later I
heard about a man up near Parkersburg who had the same thing
happen to him.“
“His name is Woodrow Derenberger,” I volunteered. “Have you met
“No. I just heard something about him on the radio.” She paused
and moistened her thin lips. “I wonder ... did he ever see those
“He says he did.“
She looked relieved.
“Well, I saw them
again. I saw them in broad daylight. Walking right down the main
street in Gallipolis. This time they were dressed in normal
clothes. They looked like anybody. They sort of nodded to me
when they passed me. I got scared all over again. Real scared.
That’s when I went to the police and told them what I saw. They
laughed at me and said I was probably just imagining things.”
She paused again and
shook her head sadly.
“You see, I’ve been
to the police before .. . about my cattle rustlers. I guess they
think I’m some kind of a nut. I went to the FBI, too. They came
out to my place but said they couldn’t find anything. After that
somebody tapped my telephone. Maybe it was the FBI.“
I was scribbling in my
pocket notebook. A year or two earlier I would have classified Mrs.
Bryant as a paranoid-schizophrenic. But she didn’t seem like a
common run-of-the-mill nut.
She and her two teen-aged children lived on a farm outside of
Gallipolis. She kept cows there and beginning in 1963-64 she started
to have trouble with cattle rustlers who butchered the animals in
“Whoever they were,”
she observed, “they didn’t seem to want the choice cuts. They
just took the brains, eyeballs, udders, and organs that—you
know—we’d normally throw away.“
Had she ever caught the
culprits in the act?
“Several times,” she
said. “I’d see them out in the field and go after them with a
shotgun. But they always got away. They’re tall men and they
wear white coveralls ... which is kind of stupid because they
really stand out in the dark. And they can certainly run and
jump. I’ve seen them leap over high fences from a standing
Her home burned to the
ground during that period and she built a new one-story ranch house
on the same site. One night when she was alone in the new house, she
said, she woke up and found herself unable to move. She felt a wave
of almost overpowering heat as she heard the kitchen door open. She
had double-locked it before going to bed. While she lay there
helplessly, she said she saw a tall figure walk through the kitchen
and apparently go out another locked door on the other side. After
it left, she was able to move.
Other strange sounds pervaded the house, she claimed. She and her
children often heard heavy footsteps on the roof and loud metallic
After interviewing her, I drove out alone to her house to talk to
her children. The Bryant farm was quite isolated on a hilly back
road. The house stood on a knoll overlooking the surrounding fields.
Her teen-aged son was a down-to-earth boy, used to the
responsibilities of being the man in the family. He confirmed his
mother’s stories about the rustlers and added some interesting
details. He pointed out some nearby trees.
One night, he said, as
he and his mother were walking up the road they saw a large glowing
object hovering directly above the trees. “She was scared real bad,”
he noted. Their telephone often went dead for no reason. Other times
they got calls that just consisted of strange beeping sounds and
He also mentioned the
big gray “flying boxcars” that often flew over the area at treetop
“It’s a wonder they
don’t crash,” he said. “If they flew any lower they’d have to
put their wheels down.“
When I examined the
kitchen of the little house I found that the locked door through
which the nocturnal phantom had supposedly exited led to nowhere.
There were no steps outside, just a very steep drop of about ten
feet to the ground.
Later I checked with the local police about rumors of disappearing
dogs and cattle in the area, and I brought up Mrs. Bryant’s name.
“That poor woman,” I
“She’s always seeing
things. Just a couple of months back she came in here with some
story about spacemen walking around Gallipolis. Before that it
was cattle rustlers.“
So Mrs. Bryant still
sits on her farm, watching the strange lights in her fields, and
when her phone rings she waits a long time before she picks it up.