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Volume 33

The Skeptics UFO Newsletter

Philip J. Klass

May 1, 1995

This volume is available as a PDF file. Download »

Roswell Crashed-Saucer Researcher Randle Admits He Was “Taken In” by Co-author Schmitt’s “Tall Tales”

Relations between Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt, who jointly researched and authored two crashed-saucer books ("UFO Crash At Roswell” and “The Truth About The UFO Crash At Roswell”), have been severely strained by Randle’s belated discovery that Schmitt lied to him. Randle recently admitted to SUN that Schmitt’s falsehoods could “cast a pall over our entire [crashed-saucer] investigation.”

It all began when Schmitt was interviewed by Ms. Gillian Sender for a feature article published in the February issue of Milwaukee magazine—an interview which was tape-recorded. The article reported that Schmitt claimed to have a Bachelors degree from Concordia College, a Masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and that he was “pursuing his doctorate in criminology from Concordia College.” But the article noted that a later investigation revealed that Schmitt had never attended the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and that Concordia did not offer any doctorate programs. As reported in the last issue of SUN, investigation showed that Schmitt was enrolled at Concordia but had not yet received a Bachelor’s degree. The article said Schmitt claimed he worked as a medical illustrator but Ms. Sender commented that Schmitt failed to show her any evidence to support this claim.

The next (March) issue of Milwaukee published a letter from a reader commenting on the Schmitt article which said: “....[Regarding] the question of how Schmitt earns his living...he delivers mail out of the Hartford, Wisconsin, post office....If you believe half of what he tells you, you are a prospect for buying a bridge.” This was followed by comments by the writer who had authored the article: “I spoke to Don Schmitt on a number of occasions, and he never gave any indication that he worked for the post office. He insisted he earned his living as a medical illustrator. However, Hartford Postmaster Ken Eppler confirms that Schmitt is employed as a full-time carrier. Schmitt has worked at the Hartford Post Office since 1974.”

[SUN Note: At the time that SUN #32 was written, we had a copy of this Letter-to-the-Editor but opted not to raise the issue in the belief that a Postal Service employee can be an effective UFO-investigator, as evidenced by well- known and respected UFOlogist Barry Greenwood.]

Randle Acts To Defend Schmitt, Modifying Some of His Claims

On Feb. 22, Randle wrote a letter, circulated among UFOlogists, which defended his long-time partner. Randle’s letter implied that Schmitt already had a Bachelor’s degree and said that “by the end of next year he should have a Master’s degree....Don is a medical illustrator, and had the reporter asked, he could have provided many samples of his work....Like many others, I have seen many samples of his published work....It is amazing to me that so many rumors fill the air. Now we're being told that Don is a letter carrier....Of course, this rumor is no more true than the Gerald Anderson story.” [Anderson was the “star witness” in the Roswell crashed-saucer book by Stanton T. Friedman and Don Berliner, who was exposed as a hoaxer by Randle and Schmitt.]

In mid-March, Randle again tried to defend Schmitt by circulating a photocopy of a brief memo from the Hartford postmaster, Ken Eppler, which Schmitt had provided. The letter read: “To Whom It May Concern: In the letter section of the March 1995 issue of Milwaukee Magazine, it is implied that Donald Schmitt has worked full-time for the U.S. Postal Service since 1947. Not only is this untrue, but I have never made such a statement to the Milwaukee Magazine or anyone else.” [Emphasis added.] At the bottom of Eppler’s letter, which Randle distributed widely, Randle appended a short commentary of his own which began: “What does this say about the credibility of the rest of the article about Don?”

Randle Learns The Truth

Within several weeks Randle would learn the truth while he and Schmitt were both visiting Roswell in early April—but not from Schmitt. Instead, the catalyst for Randle’s enlightenment was Russ Estes, a movie documentary producer from southern California who was also visiting Roswell for 10 days in late March/early April. And Estes’ involvement was sparked by Jim Moseley, who publishes the popular Saucer Smear newsletter, who also was visiting Roswell at the same time.

During a filmed interview with Estes, Schmitt boasted that he had been a “child prodigy.” He admitted that he had once been employed as a mail carrier for the Hartford post office but claimed he had not worked there since 1981. But the next day, Estes learned from Moseley that he had called the Hartford post office and learned that Schmitt was currently employed there. When Estes so informed Randle, he confronted Schmitt, who continued to deny that he currently worked at the Hartford post office.

The next morning, Estes called the Hartford post office—with Randle standing at his side. Postmaster Eppler was on vacation, but his deputy—Mark Stokes—confirmed that Don Schmitt was indeed employed as a full-time rural mail carrier. Estes learned that Schmitt had gone to work there in 1974 as a part-time employee. According to Estes, “Randle was clearly in a state of deep shock.” Randle then agreed to a filmed interview with Estes in which he expressed his disappointment in Schmitt’s lack of candor and its possible impact on the credibility of their Roswell crashed-saucer books.

Despite Schmitt’s lack of truthfulness about himself, Randle believes that the information that Schmitt provided for their two books is accurate because much of it was tape- recorded. One indication of Randle’s confidence in Schmitt’s data is that when Estes asked for copies of Schmitt’s taped interviews, Randle agreed to provide same and did so.

SUN sympathizes with Randle’s plight and his understandable feeling that Schmitt’s actions have jeopardized the credibility of R/S’s two Roswell crashed-saucer books. Randle has acted wisely to release tapes of Schmitt’s interviews to Russ Estes. Hopefully, Randle will also supply copies of these tapes to SUN. (We'll reimburse him for his out-of-pocket expense.)

The Important Lesson To Be Learned

Beyond the question of whether Schmitt might have “doctored” some of the information contained in the two R/S books, there is an extremely important lesson to be learned from Schmitt’s actions. He has demonstrated that even a fundamentally honest person—which SUN believes Schmitt to be—may occasionally spin a tall tale. Thus, Randle and Schmitt (and others) should recognize that their star "crashed-saucer” witnesses—such as Frank J. Kaufmann, Jim Ragsdale, Ms. Frankie Rowe and former mortician Glenn Dennis—may be fundamentally honest folks who, like Schmitt, may occasionally be motivated to spin a tall tale. Because their tale involves what allegedly happened nearly half a century ago, it is all but impossible to disprove—UNLESS THEY CHANGE AND EMBELLISH THEIR TALE.

Each can justify his/her actions on the grounds that the others have spun similar tall tales and have become celebrities who are quoted in books, interviewed by newspaper reporters, and appear on national TV shows. Their otherwise dull and drab later years have become exciting. Ego gratification can be a powerful motivator, as Schmitt has shown.

British Movie Which Claims To Show 1947 Autopsy of Roswell ET Is Riddled With Inconsistencies

According to Ray Santilli, head of Merlin Films & Publishing of London, he has acquired more than an hour of 16 mm. film taken by a former military photographer which purports to show two doctors performing an autopsy on an ET body recovered near Roswell, N.M., in 1947. Santilli says he bought the film for $150,000 from the cameraman in California who secretly copied the original films which he never bothered to develop/process. According to an article in the London Daily Mail, portions of the film will be shown at the British UFO Research Association’s conference in August. The Daily Mail article quoted BUFORA’s director of investigations Philip Mantle as saying: “Now it seems that he was a movie camera- man....We know his name, and he is willing, in due course, to testify. He took his own copy of the film, and wants to sell itnow because he is living in poverty and wants to contribute to his grand-daughter’s wedding.” An unconfirmed report is that Fox TV may purchase U.S. rights to the film and air it in August.

If Santilli believes the movie is authentic and that the U.S. Government is engaged in a “Cosmic Watergate” UFO cover-up, he should have tried to sell the movie to the CIA. Undoubtedly the CIA would have paid Santilli many tens of millions of dollars for the film.

According to those who have seen a few minutes of the film, it was apparently taken inside a tent illuminated by lanterns, which suggests that the (alleged) autopsy was performed on the Foster ranch which “Mac” Brazel managed. One notable discrepancy is a small edit-sign visible in some movie frames which shows the date on which the film (allegedly) was taken as 30 July 1947. Yet it is known that Brazel reported his finding of unusual debris to the Roswell Army Air Field on July 7, and RAAF’s Maj. Jessie Marcel and Capt. Sheridan Cavitt returned with Brazel to his ranch that same day. The July 30 date in the movie indicates that the ET body was not discovered until more than three weeks later. One should expect the ET body could have been packed in ice and brought back to the RAAF hospital for the autopsy, rather than sending two pathologists to the ranch and forcing them operate in a non- sterile tent with poor lighting.

The (alleged) ET undergoing autopsy is covered with a sheet, except for its head, feet and arms. A sheet would handicap the pathologists’ work but would simplify the making of a hoax film. Assuming that the pathologists are of average height, persons who have seen the film estimate that the ET’s height is 5-1/2 ft. to 6 ft. Yet everyone knows that Roswell’s ETs were reported to be no more than 4 ft. tall.

One portion of the movie, which Santilli has shown to a few UFOlogists, purports to show the debris field on the Brazel ranch. Another portion, which has not been seen, is claimed to show President Harry Truman in New Mexico inspecting the debris field. [One skeptical U.S. researcher has checked Truman’s appointment calendar and reports that it shows he was in Washington at the time he was supposedly inspecting the debris field.]

SUN SUGGESTS that Operation Right To Know, which recently staged one of its “protest marches” in front of the General Accounting Office in connection with GAO’s investigation into Roswell crashed-saucer claims, should stage a protest at the London headquarters of Merlin Films and Publishing to urge Santilli to promptly provide a copy of his film to GAO.

SUN PREDICTS THAT SANTILLI'S ROSWELL ET AUTOPSY MOVIE WILL PROVE TO BE OF THE SAME GENRE AS THE NOW INFAMOUS “HITLER DIARIES.”

Dr. Mack Acts To Muzzle Supporter Sheehan

Harvard University psychiatrist Dr. John Mack, whose activities in the “UFO-abduction” field are under investigation by a special faculty committee, has asked controversial attorney Daniel Sheehan to halt his efforts to muster support for Mack [SUN #32/Mar. 1995]. A few weeks ago, Sheehan sent a letter to many psychotherapists, urging them to write letters in defense of Mack’s activities. Sheehan’s letter prompted a feature story in the April 12 edition of The Boston Globe which began: “E.T. PHONE HARVARD. Your friend Dr. Mack is in trouble.” Harvard’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, plans a major feature shortly.

Sheehan achieved fame in the mid/late 1980s as an attorney for the Christic Institute, a non-profit group characterized as an “obscure left-wing group” by the Wall Street Journal. In 1986, Sheehan filed a $24- million suit, charging that former military and CIA employees were responsible for the death of an America journalist who was killed in Nicaragua by the explosion of a terrorist bomb. The case was thrown out of court for lack of supporting evidence. The judge ruled: “The attorneys for the plaintiffs must have known prior to suing that they had no competent evidence to substantiate the theories alleged.” On this basis, the judge imposed a $1- million sanction against the Christic Institute to pay the defendants’ legal bills. Since that time Sheehan and the Christic Institute have parted company, and the institute has disclaimed any involvement in Sheehan’s action in Mack’s behalf.

UFO Flap Predicted (But Don't Hold Your Breath)

The feature article in the March issue of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) UFO JOURNAL predicts a major “UFO Flap” will be in progress as you read this issue of SUN. Author Joseph W. Ritrovato analyzes what he (and others) perceive to be cyclic peaks and valleys in UFO reports. One is a 13-month cycle, another is 21 months, another is 32 months and a fourth is a 5-year cycle.

“Combining all presently active cycles,” Ritrovato writes, “I foresee the following: Most of the year, or December 1994 through September 1995, will show an increase in observed UFOs....The best viewing should be during the entire spring season (perhaps starting as much as a few weeks before the spring equinox), but most especially on every other Friday through Sunday from the second weekend in April to the third weekend in May....If the wave crest doesn't occur at the end of April it should be no more than three weeks from that time.” [Emphasis added.]

SUN disagrees, basing its forecast on the demonstrated fact that UFOs like news media coverage, and thus UFO Flaps occur when there is a dearth of important news. What with the tragic Oklahoma City terrorist bombing, with upcoming Presidential primaries, with headline-making Congressional leader Newt Gingrich, with the O.J. Simpson murder trial and with President Clinton trying desperately to attract media attention, SUN predicts that IF there is a UFO Flap this year, it will not occur until August, when Congress adjourns and goes home and the summer doldrums set in. SUN predicts there will be no UFO Flap in 1996 because UFOs know they cannot compete with Presidential elections for media attention.

If you doubt that UFOs visit Earth because they like to attract attention, how do you explain why they always have their lights turned on at night to assure that they will be seen? And why they perform unusual maneuvers that clearly reveal that they could not possibly be aircraft, helicopters, meteor-fireballs or hoax hot-air balloons? THEY NOT ONLY WANT TO BE SURE THAT THEY ARE SEEN BUT THAT THEY ARE RECOGNIZED AS A GENUINE UFO—what UFOlogist Bruce Maccabee calls a “TRUFO.” (Maccabee believes that EVERY ONE of the dozens of UFO photos that Ed Walters took near Gulf Breeze shows a TRUFO.)

If “Birds Of A Feather Pflock Together,” Where Does Karl Stand?

Many pro-UFOlogists are unsure whether Karl Pflock is “fish or fowl.” He has been interested in UFOs since he was a teenager and in the mid-1960s he was a volunteer worker for NICAP, then the nation’s largest pro-UFO group with headquarters in Washington. At the time, Pflock was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency—which for more paranoid UFOlogists means that Pflock is suspect. But Pflock is married to Mary Martinek, chief of staff for Congressman Steven Schiff (R.-N.M.) who in late 1993 requested that the General Accounting Office (GAO) investigate the Roswell crashed-saucer tale. Schiff’s action has been widely praised by pro-UFOlogists.

However, pro-UFOlogists’ suspicions about Pflock’s “true inner agenda” arose last summer when he authored a lengthy report, “Roswell In Perspective” (RIP), based on several years of investigation [SUN #29/Sept. 1994]. RIP not only was sharply skeptical of most of Randle/Schmitt’s star witnesses, but RIP concluded that "it is all but certain that at least the great majority if not all of what was found at the [Brazel ranch] debris field...was the wreckage of a huge balloon [from the] Top Secret, highly sensitive Project Mogul.” Pflock’s report, published by the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR), generated sharp controversy in FUFOR’s top echelon.

Despite Pflock’s acceptance of the Project Mogul balloon explanation for the unusual debris which Brazel found on his ranch, and his recognition that many of Randle/Schmitt’s star witnesses were simply spinning tall tales, Pflock accepted the nurse/ET bodies tale told by Glenn Dennis. But he conceded that no evidence could be found to show that a nurse named Naomi Maria Selff ever existed. To provide an escape hatch, Pflock concluded that the strange-looking creatures described by Dennis, which reportedly had small suction cups on the ends of their four fingers and no thumbs, might not necessarily be extraterrestrials.

Pflock Expresses UFO Views in Recent Radio Talk Show

Pflock offered his current views on the Roswell Incident and on UFOs in general when he participated on March 28 in a two-hour radio call-in talk show on Albuquerque station KOB, hosted by J. Howard Deme. In response to a call-in question about Glenn Dennis and his tale of the nurse/ET autopsy, Pflock said: “I am firmly convinced....When I started this investigation almost three years ago, I did not take his story seriously at all....But I have gotten to know him now very, very well....I've done a lot of real, solid checking on him. I’m convinced he’s telling the truth as he remembers it. And therefore, I believe that there were bodies. That doesn't mean that they were necessarily alien bodies although they may have been.”

Pflock also offered the following views on UFOs:

Mortician Dennis “Caught Off Base” In Claim That He Was Misquoted

Roswell crashed-saucer researcher Karl Pflock called SUN on Mar. 15 to question the accuracy of a statement attributed to Glenn Dennis in the March issue of this newsletter. As SUN reported, the Dennis statement appeared in an article by Tim Korte of the Associated Press bureau in Albuquerque. Although Pflock had interviewed Dennis at great length on Nov. 2, 1992, and has talked with him many times since then, the statement attributed to Dennis by Korte provided an important new detail about the (alleged) ET autopsy, which Pflock and other Roswell researchers had never before heard. Korte’s article quoted Dennis as saying: “She [nurse] said there were two pathologists from Walter Reed Hospital” in Washington D.C. If so, this meant that the (alleged) ET bodies were found BEFORE rancher Brazel came to Roswell to report the unusual debris he had found [SUN #32/March 1995, p. 7].

When Pflock checked this with Dennis, he denied having made such a statement to Korte. Pflock said that Korte probably had misunderstood Dennis when he described how the base mortuary officer had called early in the afternoon of July 7, 1947 to ask about preserving bodies and Dennis said he told the officer he should get such information from pathologists at Walter Reed hospital. Pflock said he would explore this possible explanation with reporter Korte. SUN decided to do the same and we talked by phone on Mar. 20. Korte said that although he had not tape-recorded the telephone interview with Dennis, he had been “very careful” in taking notes and was confident the quotation was accurate. Several days later, Pflock called to say he had talked with Korte with similar results.

During this conversation with Pflock, I told him that essentially the same statement which Dennis denied having made to Korte could be found on page 5 of a report entitled “The Glenn Dennis Story,” which I had just purchased from Roswell’s International UFO Museum (Dennis is vice president of the museum). The report, written by mortician John H. Sime in early 1994, with several direct quotes attributed to Dennis, says: “The nurse also stated that the two men following her out of the storage room were pathologists from Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C.” [Emphasis added.]

The Third Strike—And Dennis Should Be Out (As A Credible Witness)

More recently, SUN recalled that Glenn Dennis had been interviewed in early 1994 for a TV show on UFOs produced by Carl Day of station WDTN-TV2 in Dayton, Ohio, which was broadcast on May 20, 1994. So SUN wrote to Carl Day on March 25 to ask if he would be kind enough to scan the transcript of his early 1994 interview with Glenn Dennis to see “if he discussed or mentioned the two [alleged] pathologists/doctors involved in the autopsy—and if he mentioned where they [allegedly] were from?” On April 10, Day called and read me the following transcript taken from WDTN’s videotape of what Dennis had said during their interview: “The guys—they were in with the nurse—they were flown in from Walter Reed hospital out of Washington and they were in there doing a partial autopsy. They [??] have their names and we know who they were.” [Emphasis added.]

SUN predicts that when Karl Pflock reads this issue of SUN he will want to check SUN’s accuracy by calling Day [office phone is 513-293-5121]. When SUN’s accuracy is verified, then Pflock will call Dennis. (Hopefully, Pflock will ask Dennis for the names of the two pathologists, based on his claim in the WDTN interview.) SUN has no doubt that Dennis will come up with some excuse—perhaps aging memory- -and that Pflock will find it acceptable.

WHEN PFLOCK AGREED TO SERVE AS DENNIS’ SPOKESMAN IN DEALING WITH THE MEDIA, AS REVEALED IN THE LAST ISSUE OF SUN, HE FORFEITED ANY CLAIM TO THE OBJECTIVITY NEEDED BY A RIGOROUS, UNBIASED INVESTIGATOR.

New Hopkins Book To Immortalize Linda’s “Beam Me Up Scotty” Tale

UFO-abduction guru Budd Hopkins tells friends that he has finally found a publisher for the “UFO case of the century,” and expects his new book to be on the stands in time for Christmas sales. It is not known what share of the book’s royalties will go to Linda ("Cortile”) Napolitano, who has been dubbed the "Queen-Bee of Abductees” based on her tale of having been “beamed” through the window of her Manhattan apartment and up to a giant glowing UFO hovering overhead. [For details on the very controversial case, whose critics include many pro-UFOlogists, see SUN #17/Sept. 1992; #18/Nov. 1992; #19/Jan. 1993; #22/July 1993.] Although Hopkins reportedly had problems in finding a publisher, his real problems will begin when he and Linda hit the publicity trail, i.e., newspaper interviews and radio and TV talk shows. The problem will be to keep Linda—who loves the limelight—from embellishing her story.

For example, when Hopkins gave his first public report on the Linda case, at the 1992 MUFON conference in Albuquerque, he described how Linda (allegedly) had been kidnapped off the streets of Manhattan in broad daylight by two “government agents” ("Richard” and “Dan”) who (allegedly) had witnessed her UFO abduction more than a year earlier. According to Hopkins, “Richard came and lifted her off the ground and she was put in the back of the car.” But in a tape-recorded interview with Linda, published in the Nov./Dec. 1994 issue of Florida MUFON News, she explained that “I had my arms on the roof of the car...and I made my body real stiff....Dan said to Richard, do you need any help?....Richard said yes, and Dan said why don’t you tickle her. Richard tickled me and that was the end of that....I went into the car.”

According to Hopkins’ first published account, in the Sept. 1992 issue of the MUFON UFO JOURNAL, roughly 15 months after Linda’s (alleged) UFO abduction, Hopkins received a letter from Dan and Richard, who reported that they had witnessed the incident. This Dan/Richard letter, which said the men were eager to find out if Linda was “alive and well,” claimed “we know the building and we know which window she came out of.” But it never occurred to Dan/Richard to visit Linda’s apartment to find out. Instead they wrote to Hopkins.

In the Florida MUFON News interview, Linda acknowledged this curious discrepancy: “If they were really concerned about me, why did it take 14 months to find me?...For us that was a discrepancy. Later on we found out that they did in fact find me just days after the 1989 apartment abduction. They did know that I was alive.” Until the letter arrived, Linda’s case had been only one of many on Hopkins’ “back burner.” The letter’s claim of other witnesses made Linda’s tale a high-priority case. Hopkins has never met or talked with Dan or Richard.

Linda (Seemingly) Buys Books Without Even Reading The Jacket

Linda has consistently claimed that she had no prior interest in UFOs and chanced to buy Hopkins’ book “Intruders” because she “thought it would make a nice quick mystery story to read. There was nothing UFO about the book,” according to an interview with Linda published in the spring 1993 issue of the New York City MUFON newsletter. IF Linda had scanned the back of the book’s jacket she would have found: “Whether you are a physicist, a housewife, a UFO researcher, or a dabbler in the occult, this book will almost certainly strain your credulity to the breaking point....A young Minnesota UFO abduction victim writes...” If Linda was curious about the author and had scanned the inside book jacket she would have found the following: "For 12 years Budd Hopkins has been a skeptical and meticulous investigator of UFO reports. He is the author of a previous book on the subject....” BUT LIKE LINDA SAID: “THERE WAS NOTHING UFO ABOUT THE BOOK.”

DON'T MISS THE CHANCE TO HEAR THE “QUEEN-BEE ABDUCTEE” WHEN SHE HITS THE TALK SHOW TRAIL (and send tapes to SUN). SHE CAN BE A CHARMER.

SHORT SHRIFT

SUN wonders how much longer CUFOS will allow Schmitt to serve as its Director of Special Investigations.

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.