2 - The Creep Who Came in from the Cold

Friday, December 22, 1967, was bitter cold and the frayed Christmas decorations strung across the main street of the little West Virginia town of Point Pleasant seemed to hang limply, sadly, as if to match the grim, ashen faces of the townspeople who shuffled about their business, their eyes averted from the gaping hole where the Silver Bridge had stood only a week before. Now the seven-hundred-foot span was gone.


Clusters of workmen, police officers, and assorted officials stood along the banks of the Ohio, watching silently as divers continued to bob into the black waters. Occasionally ropes would jerk and a bloated, whitened body would be hauled to the surface. It was not going to be a merry Christmas in Point Pleasant.

A few yards from the place where the bridge had been, Mrs. Mary Hyre sat in her office revising a list of the missing and the known dead. A stout woman in her early fifties, her normally cheerful, alert face was blurred with fatigue. She had had almost no sleep in the past seven days. After twenty years as the local stringer for the Messenger, recording all the births, marriages, and deaths in the little town, Mrs. Hyre suddenly found herself at the center of the universe.


Camera teams from as far away as New York were perched outside her door. The swarms of newsmen who had descended on Point Pleasant to record the tragedy had quickly learned what everyone in the Ohio valley already knew. If you wanted to find out anything about the area and its people, the quickest way to do it was to “ask Mary Hyre.“

For seven days now her office had been filled with strangers, relatives of the missing, and weary rescue workers. So she hardly looked up that afternoon when two men entered. They seemed almost like twins, she recalled later. Both were short and wore black overcoats. Their complexions were dark, somewhat Oriental, she thought.

“We hear there’s been a lot of flying saucer activity around here,” one of them remarked.

She was taken aback. The bridge disaster had dominated everyone’s thoughts for the last week. Flying saucers were the furthest thing from her mind at that moment.

“We have had quite a few sightings here,” she responded, turning hi her chair to pull open a filing cabinet.

She hauled out a bulging folder filled with clippings of sighting reports and handed it to one of the men. He flipped it open, gave the pile of clippings a cursory glance, and handed it back.

“Has anyone told you not to publish these reports?“

She shook her head as she shoved the folder back into the drawer.

“What would you do if someone did order you to stop writing about flying saucers?“

“I’d tell them to go to hell,” she smiled wanly.

The two men glanced at each other... She went back to her lists and when she looked up again they were gone.

Later that same afternoon another stranger walked into Mrs. Hyre’s office. He was slightly built, about five feet seven inches tall, with black, piercing eyes and unruly black hair, as if he had had a brush cut and it was just growing back in.


His complexion was even darker than that of the two previous visitors and he looked like a Korean or Oriental of some kind. His hands were especially unusual, she thought, with unduly long, tapering fingers. He wore a cheap-looking, ill-fitting black suit, slightly out of fashion, and his tie was knotted in an odd old-fashioned way.


Strangely, he was not wearing an overcoat despite the fierce cold outside.

“My name is Jack Brown,” he announced in a hesitant manner. “I’m a UFO researcher.“

“Oh,” Mary pushed aside the pile of papers on her desk and studied him.

The day was ending and she was ready to go home and try to get some sleep at last. After a brief, almost incoherent struggle to discuss UFO sightings Brown stammered,

“What—would—what would you do—if someone ordered—ordered you to stop? To stop printing UFO stories?“

“Say, are you with those two men who were here earlier?” she asked, surprised to hear the same weird question twice in one day.

“No. No—I’m alone. I’m a friend of Gray—Gray Barker.“

Gray Barker of Clarksburg was West Virginia’s best-known UFO investigator. He had published a number of books on the subject and was a frequent visitor to Point Pleasant.

“Do you know John Keel?“

His face tightened.

“I—I used to think—think the world of K—K—Keel. Then a few minutes ago I bought a—a magazine. He has an article in it. He says he’s seen UFOs himself. He’s—he’s a liar.“

“I know he’s seen things,” Mary flared. “I’ve been with him when he saw them!“

Brown smiled weakly at the success of his simple gambit.

“Could you—take me out—t—t—take me where you— you and K—K—Keel saw—saw things?“

“I’m not going to do anything except go home to bed,” Mary declared flatly.

“Is K—K—Keel in P—P—Point Pleasant?”


“No. He lives in New York.”


“I—I think he —makes up all these stories.”


“Look, I can give you the names of some of the people here who have seen things,” Mary said wearily. “You can talk to them and decide for yourself. But I just can’t escort you around.“

“I’m a friend of G—G—Gray Barker,” he repeated lamely.

Outside the office a massive crane creaked and rumbled, dragging a huge hunk of twisted steel out of the river.

On April 22, 1897, an oblong machine with wings and lights “which appeared much brighter than electric lights” dropped out of the sky and landed on the farm near Rock-land, Texas, owned by John M. Barclay. Barclay grabbed his rifle and headed for the machine.


He was met by an ordinary-looking man who handed him a ten-dollar bill and asked him to buy some oil and tools for the aircraft.

“Who are you?” Barclay asked.

“Never mind about my name; call it Smith,” the man answered.

The UFO lore is populated with mysterious visitors claiming inordinately common names like Smith, Jones, Kelly, Allen, and Brown. In 1897, they often claimed to come from known villages and cities and were even able to name prominent citizens in those places. But when reporters checked, they could find no record of the visitors and the named citizens disavowed any knowledge of them.

One of the proved hoaxes of 1897 (there were many hoaxes, largely the work of mischievous newspapermen) concerned an object which is supposed to have crashed into Judge Proctor’s windmill in Aurora, Texas. The remains of a tiny pilot were supposedly found in the wreckage and buried in the local cemetery by the townspeople. The story was published in the Dallas Evening News. From time to tune, Aurora was visited by self-styled investigators who sifted the dirt on the old Proctor farm and marched through the cemetery reading tombstones, always without finding anything.

The story was revived in 1972, and in 1973 a man identifying himself as Frank N. Kelley of Corpus Christi arrived in Aurora. He said he was a treasure hunter of long experience. He set to work with his metal detectors and instruments and quickly unearthed several fragments of metal near the windmill site. They appeared to be something like the skin of modern aircraft, he announced. He kept some of the pieces and turned the rest over to a reporter named Bill Case. Analysis showed the pieces were 98 percent aluminum.

Kelley’s alleged discovery created a stampede to Aurora. UFO investigators descended from as far away as Illinois and battled for permission to dig up graves in the cemetery.


The story received wide play in the national press in the summer of 1973.

“When efforts were made to find Frank Kelley in Corpus Christi it was found that he had given a phony address and phone number, and that no one in treasure-hunting circles have ever heard of him. Mr. Kelley was apparently another one of the impressive but elusive hoaxsters who haunt the UFO field. The joke was pointless, expensive, and, sadly, very successful."

The moment I met Mrs. Hyre’s niece Connie Carpenter in 1966, I knew she was telling the truth because her eyes were reddened, watery, and almost swollen shut. I had seen these symptoms many times in my treks around the country investigating UFO reports. Witnesses who were unlucky enough to have a close encounter with an unidentified flying object, usually a dazzlingly brilliant aerial light, are exposed to actinic rays ... ultraviolet rays ... which can cause “eyeburn,” medically known as klieg conjunctivitis.


These are the same kind of rays that tan your hide at the beach. If you lie in the bright sun without protecting your eyes you can get conjunctivitis. Whatever they are, UFOs radiate intense actinic rays. There are now thousands of cases in which the witnesses suffered eye-burns and temporary eye damage ... even temporary blindness ... after viewing a strange flying light in the night sky.

One of the most extreme cases of UFO blindness occurred on the night of Wednesday, October 3, 1973, in southeastern Missouri. Eddie Webb, forty-five, of Greenville, saw a luminous object in his rear-view mirror. He put his head out the window of his truck and looked back. There was a bright white flash. Webb threw his hands to his face, crying, “Oh, my God! I’m burned! I can’t see!” One lens had fallen from his glasses and the frames were melted. His wife took over the wheel of their vehicle and drove him to a hospital. Fortunately, the damage was not permanent.

What puzzled me about Connie’s case, however, was that she had not seen a splendid luminous flying saucer. She had seen a giant “winged man” in broad daylight.

According to her story, Connie, a shy, sensitive eighteen-year-old, was driving home from church at 10:30 A.M. on Sunday, November 27, 1966, when, as she passed the deserted greens of the Mason County Golf Course outside of New Haven, West Virginia, she suddenly saw a huge gray figure. It was shaped like a man, she said, but was much larger. It was at least seven feet tall and very broad. The thing that attracted her attention was not its size but its eyes.


It had, she said, large, round, fiercely glowing red eyes that focused on her with hypnotic effect.

“It’s a wonder I didn’t run off the road and have a wreck,” she commented later.

As she slowed, her eyes fixed on the apparition, a pair of wings unfolded from its back. They seemed to have a span of about ten feet. It was definitely not an ordinary bird but a man-shaped thing which rose slowly off the ground, straight up like a helicopter, silently. Its wings did not flap in flight. It headed straight toward Connie’s car, its horrible eyes fixed to her face, then it swooped low over her head as she shoved the accelerator to the floorboards in utter hysteria.

Over one hundred people would see this bizarre creature that whiter.

Connie’s conjunctivitis lasted over two weeks, apparently caused by those glowing red eyes. At the tune of my first visit to Point Pleasant in 1966 I did not relate the winged weirdo to flying saucers. Later events not only proved that a relationship existed, but that relationship also is a vital clue to the whole mystery.

Max’s Kansas City is a famous watering hole for New York’s hip crowd. In the summer of 1967 an oddball character wandered into that restaurant noted for its oddball clientele. He was tall and awkward, dressed in an ill-fitting black suit that seemed out of style. His chin came to a sharp point and his eyes bulged slightly like “thyroid eyes.”


He sat down in a booth and gestured to the waitress with his long, tapering fingers.

“Something to eat,” he mumbled.

The waitress handed him a menu. He stared at it uncomprehendingly, apparently unable to read.

“Food,” he said almost pleadingly.

“How about a steak?” she offered.


She brought him a steak with all the trimmings. He stared at it for a long moment and then picked up his knife and fork, glancing around at the other diners. It was obvious he did not know how to handle the implements! The waitress watched him as he fumbled helplessly. Finally she showed him how to cut the steak and spear it with the fork. He sawed away at the meat.


Clearly he really was hungry.

“Where are you from?” she asked gently.

“Not from here.“


“Another world.“

Boy, another put-on artist, she thought to herself. The other waitresses gathered in a corner and watched him as he fumbled with his food, a stranger in a strange land.

A large white car with a faulty muffler wheezed and rattled up the back street in New Haven, West Virginia, where Connie Carpenter lived, and Jack Brown knocked at her door.

“I’m a—a friend of Mary Hyre’s.“

His strange demeanor and disjointed questions distressed her and disturbed her husband, Keith, and her brother Larry. It quickly became obvious that he was not particularly interested in Connie’s sighting of the man-bird the year before.


He seemed mainly concerned with Mrs. Hyre and my own relationship with her (we were professional friends, nothing more).

“What do you think—if—what would Mary Hyre do— if someone told her to stop writing about UFOs?” he asked.

“She’d probably tell them to drop dead,” Connie replied.

Most of his questions were stupid, even unintelligible. After a rambling conversation he drove off into the night in his noisy car. Connie called her aunt immediately, puzzled and upset by the visit. He was such a very odd man, she noted, and he wouldn’t speak at all if you weren’t looking directly into his dark, hypnotic eyes. Connie, Keith and Larry not only noticed his long-fingered hands, but there was also something very peculiar about his ears. They couldn’t say exactly what.


But there was something ....


“Did you ever hear of anyone—especially an air force officer—trying to drink Jell-O?” Mrs. Ralph Butler of Owatonna, Minnesota, asked. “Well, that’s what he did. He acted like he had never seen any before. He picked up the bowl and tried to drink it. I had to show him how to eat it with a spoon.“

Mrs. Butler was describing the man who had visited her in May 1967, following a flurry of UFO sightings in Owatonna. He said he was Major Richard French of the U.S. Air Force although he was dressed in civilian clothes and was driving a white Mustang. His neat gray suit and everything else he was wearing appeared to be brand-new.


Even the soles of his shoes were unscuffed, unwalked upon. He was about five feet nine inches tall, with an olive complexion and a pointed face. His hair was dark and very long—too long for an air force officer, Mrs. Butler thought. Unlike Jack Brown, Major French was a fluent conversationalist and seemed perfectly normal until he complained about his stomach bothering him. When Mrs. Butler offered him the Jell-O she suspected for the first time that something was out of kilter.

Richard French was an imposter. One of the many wandering around the United States in 1967. For years these characters had caused acute paranoia among the flying saucer enthusiasts, convincing them that the air force was investigating them, silencing witnesses and indulging in all kinds of unsavory activities—including murder. When I first began collecting such reports I was naturally suspicious of the people making such reports. It all seemed like a massive put-on. But gradually it became apparent that the same minute details were turning up in widely separated cases, and none of these details had been published anywhere ... not even in the little newsletters of the UFO cultists.

There was somebody out there, all right. A few, like Richard French, almost pulled off their capers without drawing attention to themselves. But in nearly every case there was always some small error, some slip of dress or behavior which the witnesses were usually willing to overlook but which stood out like signal flares to me.


They often arrived in old model cars which were as shiny and well kept as brand-new vehicles. Sometimes they slipped up in their dress, wearing clothes that were out of fashion or, even more perturbing, would not come into fashion until years later. Those who posed as military officers obviously had no knowledge of military procedure or basic military jargon. If they had occasion to pull out a wallet or notebook, it would be brand-new ...although most men carry beat-up old wallets and notebooks quickly gain a worn look. Finally, like the fairies of old, they often collected souvenirs from the witnesses ... delightedly walking away with an old magazine, pen, or other small expendable object.

What troubled me most was the fact that these mystery men and women often matched the descriptions given to me by contactees who claimed to have seen a UFO land and had glimpsed, or conversed with, their pilots; pilots with either pointed features or Oriental countenances dusky skin (not Negroid), and unusually long fingers.

Linda Scarberry came home from the hospital on December 23, 1967, bringing with her Daniella Lia Scarberry, her brand-new daughter. She and her husband, Roger, lived in the basement apartment in the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Parke McDaniel. It was a modest but comfortable home and, like Mary Hyre’s office, had been a focal point for strangers ever since Linda, Roger, and another couple had seen the “Bird”—the preposterous winged man of Point Pleasant—the year before.

Now there was a steady flow of friends and neighbors stopping by to look at the new baby, one of the few joyous occasions that bleak December. When Jack Brown’s noisy white car pulled into the McDaniel driveway he was welcomed as so many reporters, monster hunters, and UFO researchers had been before him. He ‘announced himself as a friend of Mary Hyre, Gray Barker, and John Keel and entered the house hauling a large tape recorder which he set up on a kitchen table. It became immediately obvious that he was unfamiliar with the machine and didn’t know how to thread or operate it.

The McDaniel family was used to reporters and tape recorders, and answering the same tiresome questions. But Brown’s questions were not just tiresome. They were vague, detached, and unintelligent. He obviously knew nothing whatsoever about the complex subject of flying saucers, and he was totally disinterested in the legendary “Bird.” His main interest seemed to be me—my present whereabouts and the nature of my relationship with Mrs. Hyre.

Not surprisingly, he asked the McDaniels how they thought Mary Hyre would react if someone ordered her to stop reporting flying saucer sightings.

Friends and neighbors dropped by all evening to view the new baby. Although the baby was the center of all attention, Brown totally ignored the child, not even bothering to show polite interest. When Tom C., a next-door neighbor, was introduced Brown extended his thumb and two forefingers for a handshake. He said he was from Cambridge, Ohio, a small town just outside of Columbus, Ohio. Later a reporter for the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch arrived and in the course of their casual conversation it became apparent that Brown had never heard of the Dispatch, one of the state’s largest newspapers, and, in fact, did not even know where Cambridge was.

His general demeanor made everyone uncomfortable. His inability to converse intelligently and his hypnotic, piercing gaze bothered everyone. Despite the growing coolness, he lingered for five hours, leaving about 11 P.M. Early in the evening he denied knowing me personally. Later on he said he and I were good friends. He seemed surprised that I had not rushed back to Point Pleasant after the bridge disaster. Perhaps he expected to find me there.

Among other things, he said “Gray Barker told him that a UFO had been seen over the Silver Bridge just before it collapsed." Later when I spoke to Barker about this incident he denied emphatically knowing Brown or anyone matching his description. Gray had phoned me the night of the disaster and mentioned hearing
a radio interview in which a witness reported seeing a flash of light just before the bridge went down. Afterward it became clear that this was a flash caused by snapping power cables strung along the bridge.

Jack Brown was never seen again. He did not turn up in other UFO flap areas.


He just got into his white car and rattled off into the night, joining all the other Smiths, Joneses, Kelleys, and Frenches who seem to serve no purpose except to excite the latent paranoia of the UFO enthusiasts and keep one set of myths alive.

In room 4C922 of the Pentagon building in 1966 there was an L-shaped cubicle occupying about fifty square feet of area. A gray-haired, grim-visaged lieutenant colonel named Maston M. Jacks held forth there, sitting behind a cluttered desk and jangling phones. His job in those days was to handle reporters inquiring about the UFO situation.


His opening line was a show-stopper.

“There’s nothing to it, Mr. Keel. It’s all a lot of hearsay.“

On another desk there was a large red folder with the words Top Secret emblazoned in big black letters. While we talked, a secretary entered and put a newspaper clipping into the folder.

My first conversation with Lieutenant Colonel Jacks quickly turned into an argument. He parroted the well-known air force anti-UFO line and I explained gently that I had seen some of the damned things myself.


At one point he pulled himself up and glared at me.

“Are you calling an officer in the U.S. Air Force a liar?“

Later on the phone rang and from his inflection it was obvious he was talking to a superior officer. I discreetly strolled to the far end of the room and stared out the tiny, prisonlike window.


He mumbled something about some movie film and then in a very low voice he added,

“I’ll nave to call you back. There’s somebody here in my office that I’ve got to stop.“

After he hung up we resumed our argument. He had clearly gone through this many times before. It was all an act. His moods changed abruptly from rage to politeness to chumminess. Finally he escorted me down the hall to a library and dumped me.

Jacks told me several times that the air force did not have any kind of a UFO photo file. A year later, however, a science writer named Lloyd Malian was given over one hundred pictures from that nonexistent file. Jacks also informed me that no UFO reports were stored in the Pentagon. They were all at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. I didn’t visit Wright-Patterson but Mort Young of the now-defunct New York Journal-American did.


I asked Mort to write his experience for this book.

“Records of UFO reports, I was told at the Pentagon, are all kept at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio,” Mort explains.

So I went to Dayton.


There I was told that UFO reports are filed at the Pentagon, and I could have seen them in Washington. I later learned that not only are UFO reports filed at the Pentagon and at Project Blue Book headquarters in Dayton, but are also forwarded to at least two other addresses where, presumably, they are also filed.


One might hope that at these other places, the files are in better order than at Blue Book, where individual sightings are incomplete. Files I asked for were either handed to me with pages missing, entire parts missing, or the file itself was missing: the air force having “no information” on the sighting in question. Some files were in disreputable state: page upon page jammed into brown folders. The information that was there would have to be sorted chronologically, at least, before one could sit down, read it through and come out the wiser. I would rather try to explain a UFO than make sense out of an air force UFO report

Some of the allegations of the UFO believers had merit. The air force was struggling to keep the issues confused. They did lie, and on occasion they lied outrageously, to reporters. Photographs sent to them by well-meaning citizens often disappeared forever into the maw at Wright-Patterson.

But from my own investigations I could not honestly accuse them of having a wing of Oriental officers whose assignment was to squelch witnesses. Other writers such as Lloyd Malian were reaching similar conclusions. By 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Jacks had retired and been replaced by Lt. Col. George P. Freeman. Freeman was a kinder, more tactful soul and gave our reports serious consideration. On February 15, 1967, a confidential letter went out from the Pentagon to all commands.

Information has reached headquarters USAF that persons claiming to represent the air force or other defense establishments have contacted citizens who have sighted unidentified flying objects.


In one reported case, an individual in civilian clothes, who represented himself as a member of NORAD, demanded and received photos belonging to a private citizen. In another, a person in an air force uniform approached local police and other citizens who had sighted a UFO, assembled them in a schoolroom and told them that they did not see what they thought they saw and that they should not talk to anyone about the sighting.

All military and civilian personnel and particularly information officers and UFO investigating officers who hear of such reports should immediately notify their local OSI [Office of Special Investigations] offices.


Hewitt T. Wheless, Lt. Gen. USAF
Asst Vice Chief of Staff

Project Blue Book was formally shut down in December 1969. But the “Men in Black” have not retired. They were busy again in the wake of the October 1973 UFO wave. And in January 1974 they even appeared in Sweden, using the same tactics that were so effective here.


Even the gasoline shortage failed to deter those black Cadillacs from their mysterious rounds.


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