More Options

Volume 32

The Skeptics UFO Newsletter

Philip J. Klass

March 1, 1995

This volume is available as a PDF file. Download »

Roswell Researcher Schmitt Caught Telling Tall Tales

Don Schmitt, co-author with Kevin Randle of two Roswell crashed-saucer books and Director of Special Investigations for the Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), knowingly provided spurious information for a feature article on Schmitt published in the February issue of Milwaukee magazine. The article, authored by Gillian Sender, carried the headline: “OUT OF THIS WORLD,” with a sub-head that read: "Can a man who stretches the truth about himself be trusted to report accurately about UFOs and extraterrestrial life?”

The article quoted a 1990 biography, which Schmitt himself wrote, which claims “that he has attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee [UWM] and Marquette University, taking classes in criminology, theology and sociology. During an interview—with his parents and fiancee present—he said he is currently ‘pursuing his doctorate in criminology from Concordia College.’ Schmitt also said he received a master’s degree from UWM and a bachelor of arts degree from Concordia College.

“However, an investigation by Lisa Soik of the Franklin Information Group of Milwaukee, a company that specializes in background checks, found several discrepancies in his claims. Schmitt has never been a student at UWM or Marquette and...Concordia doesn't offer doctorate programs. Schmitt was enrolled at Concordia for two and a half years...but has yet to earn a bachelor’s degree, according to Carolyn Stephens, liberal arts program director....Schmitt has not returned phone calls about his educational background.” [Emphasis added.]

Later in the article, Ms. Sender wrote: “In addition to his false statements about his educational background, Schmitt embellishes reality. He constantly refers to his books as ‘bestsellers,’ but that is certainly stretching the facts since the books have never appeared on any bestseller lists.” The article acknowledges that the first Randle/Schmitt book, “UFO Crash At Roswell,” sold 160,000 copies in its paperback edition, according to a spokesman for Avon Books who characterized this as “a very good showing.” The article notes that the second R/S book, “The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell,” has sold more than 10,000 copies in its initial hardcover edition. Late last year Avon printed 50,000 paperback copies.

Schmitt Characterizes “MUFON People” As “Kooks”

When Ms. Sender sought an appraisal of the R/S crashed-saucer books from Walter H. Andrus, International Director of the Mutual UFO Network [MUFON], Andrus was quoted as saying: “They selected the word ‘Truth’ [in the title of the second book] because they had to compensate for errors they made in the first book. Just because they say it’s the truth doesn't ultimately make it the truth.”

Schmitt’s response to Andrus, according to the article, was: “You have to understand. (When you’re talking about) MUFON people, you are talking about kooks....Kevin [Randle] and I are the only two professionals in the field. The rest are all amateurs...” [Emphasis added.]

Author Sender comments: “At first glance, the cumulative evidence in Schmitt’s books—the testimony, the documentation—looks convincing....But a closer look begs questions. Since some of the key witnesses aren’t identified and most of the documentation refers to personal interviews, readers must rely on the authors’ credibility. And that may be a problem.” And embarrassing for CUFOS, where Schmitt is Director of Special Investigations.

Randle/Schmitt’s “Missing” First-Hand Witness

Randle and Schmitt boast about how many (alleged) “first-hand witnesses” they have interviewed, but when a key witness challenges their crashed-saucer scenario, he/she turns up “missing.” For example, Bessie Brazel Schrieber, the daughter of rancher “Mac” Brazel who first discovered the unfamiliar debris in 1947. In an interview conducted on the night of July 8, 1947 in the offices of the Roswell Daily Record (and published in the July 9 edition), Brazel reported that he had first discovered the debris on June 14. Further, that on July 4 he, his wife, with son Vernon and daughter Bessie “went back to the spot and gathered up quite a bit of the debris.” Bessie was age 14 at the time.

Of these four key first-hand witnesses, only daughter Bessie (Brazel) Schrieber is alive today, so it is not surprising that Randle/Schmitt interviewed her twice by telephone in March and July, 1989, according to the first R/S book, “UFO Crash At Roswell” (R/S #1). Although Bessie Schrieber is mentioned in three places in R/S #1, the book fails to quote a single word from either of the two interviews with her! And in R/S #2, Schrieber is cited only once—again without a single quotation from the two R/S interviews with her.

Roswell researcher Karl Pflock also interviewed Bessie Schrieber for his report “Roswell In Perspective” [RIP], published by the Fund for UFO Research [SUN #29/Sept. 1994]. Pflock included a two- page affidavit in which Brazel’s daughter offered her recollections of the material which she helped to recover. Her recollections include the following:

“The debris looked like pieces of a large balloon which had burst. The pieces were small, the largest I remember measuring about the same as the diameter of a basketball. Most of it was a kind of double-sided material, foil-like on one side and rubber-like on the other....Sticks, like kite sticks, were attached to some of the pieces with a whitish tape. The tape was about two or three inches wide and had flower-like designs on it. The ‘flowers’ were faint, a variety of pastel colors....”

(The recent USAF investigation, which concluded that the Brazel ranch debris came from a then Top Secret Project Mogul project to use balloon-borne sensors to detect Soviet nuclear tests, reported that the radar target-reflectors were made by a company that also produced children’s toys. Plastic tape was used to strengthen the kite-like radar reflector, and the tape sometimes had colored flowers and geometric designs imprinted on it if the tape had originally been acquired for use on toys.) [SUN #30/Nov. 1994]

Mrs. Schrieber’s affidavit noted: “The foil-rubber material could not be torn like ordinary aluminum foil....I do not recall anything else about the strength or other properties of what we picked up. We spent several hours collecting the debris and putting it into sacks. I believe we filled about three sacks....We speculated a bit about what the material could be. I remember dad saying, ‘Oh, it’s just a bunch of garbage.'” [Emphasis added.]

“One Picture Is Worth Ten Thousand Words”

Respected Roswell researcher Robert G. Todd wrote to Mrs. Schrieber and sent her a photocopy of an article by Randle/Schmitt which had been published by CUFOS in the Nov./Dec. 1990 edition of its International UFO Reporter [IUR]. The article contained six photos taken in the office of Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, in Ft. Worth, Tex., on the late afternoon of July 8, 1947, which purport to show the debris recovered on the Brazel ranch but which R/S claim is “bogus” debris substituted for the original. Todd asked Mrs. Schrieber if the debris in the photos resembled what she recalled collecting. Brazel’s daughter responded in writing: “The debris shown does look like the debris we picked up.”

In Mrs. Schrieber’s affidavit she said she did not remember “seeing gouges on the ground or any other signs that anything may have hit the ground hard.” Her recollections confirm those of Maj. Jesse Marcel, the intelligence officer from the Roswell Army Air Field who visited the Brazel ranch to collect the debris. When Marcel was interviewed April 7, 1978, on a Chicago radio station, he said: “No fresh impact depressions were found in the sand.”

The recollections of these two first-hand witnesses contradict the tale of one of R/S’s star witnesses, retired Brig. Gen. Arthur Exon, who claims he later overflew two UFO crash sites where he reported seeing "obvious gouges in the terrain.” Could this possibly explain why R/S opted not to quote either Mrs. Schrieber’s or Marcel’s recollections on this issue?

If The Debris In Ramey’s Office Was Bogus, Where Did It Come From?

On April 23, 1994, SUN wrote to Randle, with a copy to Schmitt, posing the following question: “If the weather balloon and corner reflector debris photographed in Gen. Ramey’s office did not come from the Brazel ranch, where did Ramey obtain such debris on such short notice? Recall that [Warrant Officer] Newton claims he was the only one at the Weather Office when Ramey called him to come over, and Newton has never claimed—to my knowledge—that Ramey told him to bring along a weather balloon with a corner reflector.”

When two months had elapsed without a response from Randle, I repeated the question in my letter of June 29 but phrased it in multiple-choice format to facilitate his reply: “If the debris photographed in Ramey’s office was NOT that recovered on the Brazel ranch, Ramey probably obtained it from:

  1. The Base PX.
  2. The Officers Club.
  3. The Engine Maintenance Shop.
  4. The Base Hospital.
  5. Local Radio Shack store.
  6. Base Meteorological Office
  7. Other: ____________________

In mid-1947, not too many air bases were outfitted with Met tracking radars. For example, there was none at Roswell AAF. Have you determined whether there was a tracking radar installed at the Ft. Worth AAF?”

NEARLY A YEAR HAS PASSED SINCE I FIRST POSED THIS KEY QUESTION TO RANDLE. I HAVE YET TO RECEIVE A REPLY.

Prof. Charles B. Moore, who headed the Project Mogul team operating at Alamogordo Army Air Field during June-July 1947, believes that the debris discovered by rancher Brazel came from a train of neoprene balloons carrying several radar targets, launched on June 4 to test the Project Mogul tracking radar. According to Moore, the June 4 launch was tracked to within 17 miles of where Brazel found the debris when contact was lost. By the time it was recovered by the Brazel family in early July, it would have been exposed to sunlight for nearly a month, which would result in deterioration of the neoprene material. After Moore examined the neoprene balloon remains visible in the photos taken in Ramey’s office, he informed Roswell researcher Todd that its appearance was consistent with having been exposed to sunlight for about a month.

IF THE DEBRIS PHOTOGRAPHED IN RAMEY'S OFFICE WAS BOGUS, AS RANDLE/SCHMITT CLAIM, WHERE COULD RAMEY HAVE OBTAINED “SUNLIGHT AGED” BALLOON MATERIAL ON SUCH SHORT NOTICE?

Canadian UFOlogists Expose UFO Case Endorsed By U.S. “Expert”

The case of a “UFO landing” in the back yard of a dentist on the outskirts of Carp, Ontario—30 miles west of Ottawa—captured on video tape by an anonymous cameraman and featured on NBC-TV’s “Unsolved Mysteries” and Fox-TV’s “Sightings” in early 1993, has been exposed as a hoax by the Canadian UFO Research Network (CUFORN) in the March/April issue of UFO magazine. The anonymous cameraman called himself “Guardian.” The case had earlier been investigated and endorsed by Bob Oechsler, with a more qualified endorsement by Dr. Bruce Maccabee, despite the fact that the video was accompanied by obviously hoax Canadian government documents and still photos of “ETs.” [SUN #20/March 1993]

The article, jointly authored by Tom Theofanous, Errol Bruce-Knapp and Graham Lightfoot, noted that "evidence that Oechsler has presented suggests that he and Bruce Maccabee had conducted an elaborate analysis of Guardian’s video which proved that the object beside the flares on the ground was an ‘extraordinary craft.'....Anybody who owns a decent video recorder with a steady freeze-frame function would have been able to see...it [UFO] looks exactly like a pick-up truck. Another clue: the last few frames of the Guardian video show a windshield with the wipers in the upright position....”

The principal (alleged) witness to the incident was the dentist’s wife who initially claimed that she did not know who had made the video tape. But later, according to the CUFORN investigators, she "admitted that Bobby Charlebois, a UFO buff who had called himself Guardian for many years, was, in fact, a family friend and would visit them several times a week!”

SUN WONDERS: WILL NBC-TV AND/OR FOX-TV PRODUCE A SEQUEL REVEALING THAT THE CANADIAN VIDEO IS A HOAX? DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH....

The article concludes: “From the foregoing it should be apparent to the reader that Oechsler and Maccabee are either very bad investigators and analysts or their motives in the field of ufology are highly questionable....If we cannot trust the ethics of our senior and respected high profile researchers and investigators, how can we continue to function and push towards our stated goal of solving the UFO enigma? We don’t need the likes of Philip Klass to make us look bad. By ignoring the facts we look bad.” [Emphasis added.]

Oechsler, like Maccabee, strongly endorsed the UFO photos taken by Ed Walters, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., and maintained a close friendship with Walters. For several years, Oechsler offered his services as a consultant to TV crews who planned to visit Gulf Breeze hoping to film a “Red-light UFO” [RUFO] which resembled a balloon-borne road flare. When Oechsler served as a consultant, the RUFO usually appeared. On Sept. 1, 1994, Oechsler announced that he was retiring from the UFO field. SUN has learned that Oechsler has become a real estate salesman.

SUN SCOOP: Pentagon Is Launching UFOs Into Earth Orbit

SUN has learned that the Pentagon has launched four UFOs, each weighing nearly 3,000 pounds, into geosynchronous orbit. The first UFO was launched on Sept. 3, 1993, and the most recent on Jan. 29 using an Atlas-2 booster. These UFOs are the UHF [Ultra-High Frequency] Follow-On satellites, intended to replace the Navy’s aging Fleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM) spacecraft which provide reliable ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications for the U.S. Navy. They are also used by the USAF and Army.

Although the UFOs, built by Hughes Aircraft, carry solar cell panels which extend to 60 ft. in length, they are not likely to generate any UFO reports. The reason is that they “fly” at an altitude of 22,300 miles in equatorial orbit at the same velocity as the earth turns, causing them to appear to “hover” in a fixed location.

Mack’s Harvard Tenure Reportedly Threatened By Faculty Investigation

Dr. John Mack, the Harvard psychiatry professor who emerged a year ago as a leading guru in the UFO-abduction movement with publication of his book “Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens,” is under fire from his colleagues, according to a Feb. 9 letter from Daniel Sheehan which says he has been retained as legal counsel by Mack. The letter, sent to Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) consultants, says "Harvard University has secretly convened a ‘Special Faculty Committee’ to investigate Dr. Mack’s work” in the UFO-abduction field.

“This Special Faculty Committee is Chaired by Dr. Arnold S. Relman, the former Editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, and a recent appointee to the Massachusetts State Board of Medical Examiners,” according to Sheehan. Other panel members include Harvard’s Legal Counsel and the Associate Dean of the Medical School. According to Sheehan, the Committee “has written its Draft Report of its Findings of Fact against Dr. Mack before Dr. Mack was ever informed of any specific accusations of misconduct...”

Although Sheehan’s letter does not provide verbatim quotes, he says the Draft Report “finds that it is professionally irresponsible for any academic, scholar or practicing psychiatrist to give any credence whatsoever to any personal report of a direct personal contact between a human being and an Extraterrestrial Being until after the person...has been subjected to every possible available battery of standard psychological tests which might conceivably explain the report as the product of some known form of clinical psychosis....To communicate, in any way whatsoever, to a person who has reported a ‘close encounter’ with an Extraterrestrial life form that this experience might well have been real...is professionally irresponsible.”

Sheehan said: “The Committee makes a specific Finding that such conduct on the part of Dr. John Mack was ‘in violation of the standards of conduct expected of a member of the faculty of Harvard University'.” Sheehan noted that unless the report is changed it might be used to file a formal complaint of malpractice with the State Board of Medical Examiners. He urged recipients of his letter to write letters in support of Mack by the March 15 deadline.

Disney World Exhibit To “Educate” Kids On UFOs, Abductions

“Alien Encounters and ExtraTERRORestrial Experience” will be the feature attraction at the new "Tomorrowland” exhibit area at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., now slated to open this summer. The new UFO/ET exhibit was scheduled to open in January but when Disney Chairman Michael Eisner visited the exhibit and found it “disappointing,” he ordered it closed down for drastic changes.

However, Disney World decided to proceed with its planned “UFO Summit,” to enable the hundreds of already invited news media to meet with and interview leading UFOlogists—selected by UFO magazine’s research director, Don Ecker. These included UFO-abduction guru Budd Hopkins, Roswell crashed-saucer expert Kevin Randle, Russian UFO specialist George Knapp, hypnotherapist Yvonne Smith and a number of “UFO-abductees.” Another panelist was Bruce Cornet, who claims to have discovered a creature-made structure on the moon which stands more than five miles tall—25 times the height of the Empire State Building. To provide “balance,” Ecker invited movie-producer Russ Estes, a one-time “UFO-believer” who has grown increasingly skeptical as a result of his first-hand investigations.

ECKER REPORTS THAT DISNEY IS PRODUCING A UFO DOCUMENTARY CALLED “ALIEN ENCOUNTERS.” IF IT DOES WELL, SUN PREDICTS THERE WILL BE SEQUELS INCLUDING: “SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN ETs,” “PINOCCHIO—THE ET HYBRID,” AND “BAMBI'S MUTILATION BY A UFO.”

More Flaws In Mortician’s Tale of (Alleged) Nurse, ET Bodies

[Sharp controversy rages among crashed-saucer researchers Kevin Randle, Don Schmitt, Stanton Friedman, Don Berliner and Karl Pflock over the credibility of their respective “key witnesses” who claim knowledge of ET bodies (allegedly) recovered near Roswell in 1947. But ALL five endorse the tale told by former mortician GLENN DENNIS who claims a friend who was a nurse at the Roswell Army Air Field—NAOMI MARIA SELFF—participated in an autopsy on ET bodies. Numerous flaws and inconsistencies in the Dennis tale were reported in SUN #31. Additional flaws are detailed below.]

Dennis told SUN in a Dec. 9, 1991, interview that he gave his “sacred oath” to the (alleged) nurse that he would keep secret the information and the sketch of an ET body which Dennis said she drew for him while both were sitting in the Officers Club. But instead of putting the ET sketch in a bank safe-deposit box or hiding it in his apartment, Dennis said he put the sketch in his personal files at the Ballard Funeral Home. In 1962, when he left Ballard to go into business for himself, he left the ET sketch behind.

In August of 1989, Dennis revealed the nurse’s tale to Stanton Friedman in a lengthy, tape-recorded interview, and Friedman asked to see a copy of the (alleged) ET sketch. Dennis agreed and the two men went to the Ballard Funeral Home to look for the ET sketch. Dennis told SUN that all of the old files were there—EXCEPT FOR THOSE OF 1947 CONTAINING THE (ALLEGED) ET SKETCH. At that point, Dennis might have remembered his “sacred oath” and have decided to drop the matter.

But instead, Dennis decided to reconstruct the ET sketch from aging memory and gave it to an artist friend—Walter Henn—to refine it. In July, 1991, Henn’s version of Dennis’ ET sketch which Dennis (allegedly) had given his “sacred oath” to keep secret, was published in the Randle/Schmitt book “UFO Crash At Roswell.” When SUN asked Dennis whether he had provided the ET sketch to Randle/Schmitt, he replied: “No, I did not give it to Schmitt and Randle.” When SUN asked how the ET sketch ended up in the R/S book, Dennis replied: "That’s what I’d like to know, because I gave it to [only] ONE person.” Dennis declined to identify that person. When we discussed this issue with Randle, he said that Dennis himself supplied the sketch used in R/S #1.

Randle/Schmitt were not the only ones to receive a copy of the ET sketch that Dennis had promised to keep secret. On July 6, 1991, Stanton Friedman showed the same ET sketch as a slide during his talk at the MUFON conference in Chicago.

Dennis’ “Blinding-Flash” Recollection Of All-Important Date

Until late March of 1994, Dennis had consistently said that he did not recall the specific date in early July of 1947 when he (allegedly) took a slightly injured airman to the RAAF base hospital, encountered nurse Selff, and was brusquely treated by military personnel. But while attending lectures by Randle/Schmitt in Roswell on March 27, Dennis suddenly had a “blinding flash of recall,” as he reported three days later to Karl Pflock.

Dennis suddenly recalled that after he arrived back from meeting the nurse in the Officers Club, the Roswell Daily Record arrived bearing the headline: “RAAF CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION.” The date: Tuesday, July 8, 1947.

Karl Pflock describes Dennis’ “blinding-flash recall” in his report “Roswell In Perspective,” published last summer by the Fund for UFO Research [FUFOR]. Although Pflock knew that a reprint of the front page of the July 8 newspaper is prominently displayed in Roswell’s International UFO Museum which Dennis frequently visits, Pflock did not question why Dennis had completely forgotten until he heard the R/S lectures. Pflock aptly char-acterizes it as an “important new development,” but fails to discuss its implications.

Dennis’ Flawed Chronology

In an interview early this year with Associated Press reporter Tim Korte, Dennis said that shortly after noon [Monday, July 7], he had received several phone calls from the RAAF Mortuary Officer. “He also wanted to know about procedures for picking up bodies that had been left in the elements for several days, possibly mutilated by predators,” Dennis was quoted as telling the reporter. Yet, according to Dennis’ "flash-recall,” when he went out to the base hospital several hours later, the autopsy already was under way on the ET bodies.

In the same interview, Dennis was quoted as saying: “She [nurse] said there were two pathologists from Walter Reed Hospital” who were performing the autopsy. If two pathologists had been brought to Roswell from the Army’s Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. to perform the autopsy, there would have been no need for the Mortuary Officer to ask Dennis about the effects of embalming fluid on body tissue since the autopsy would precede burial.

With aircraft available in 1947, if pathologists were performing the ET autopsy in Roswell in the late afternoon of July 7, they would have had to depart Washington by roughly 9 a.m. This means that RAAF officials must have discovered the crashed-saucer and ET bodies no later than early morning of July 7- -several hours BEFORE rancher Mac Brazel arrived at Sheriff Wilcox’s office in Roswell. WHERE WERE THE BODIES FOUND?

In either event, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey would not bother to ask that the Brazel ranch debris be flown to Ft. Worth for examination. Instead he would immediately have flown to Roswell to examine the crashed saucer and look at the ET bodies. But we know he did not!

Friedman Resorts to “Cover-up”

In an effort to determine significant changes in the tale told by Glenn Dennis, SUN has attempted to obtain a copy or transcript of Stanton Friedman’s first taped interview with Dennis in early August of 1989. When SUN learned that Pflock had a transcript, we requested a copy. He agreed to provide a copy if Friedman granted permission. On Dec. 7, SUN wrote Friedman to request his approval. To motivate his favorable response, we offered to pay him $25.00 for giving permission to Pflock, or to pay Friedman $75.00 if he himself would provide the transcript.

When more than a month had elapsed without a response, SUN again wrote Friedman on Jan. 15, enclosing a copy of our original offer. Our letter noted: “Rather than conclude that you are intentionally trying to withhold that transcript and thus resorting to ‘cover-up,’ I’m writing again.” Nearly two months have elapsed since SUN’s first letter without any response.

WHAT IS FRIEDMAN TRYING TO HIDE? REMEMBER THIS THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE/HEAR FRIEDMAN ACCUSE THE U.S. GOVERNMENT OF “COVER-UP.”

SHORT SHRIFT

REFERENCES:

NOTE: Opinions expressed in SUN are those of its Editor—unless otherwise noted—and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he is affiliated—or his spouse. We thank Dr. Gary Posner for help in proofreading.

Philip J. Klass

Phil Klass was a UFO researcher with a background in electrical engineering. He was author of seven books on UFOs, including UFOs Explained and UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game. He was also editor of the SUN newsletter, a UFO-related publication.