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Volume 31

The Skeptics UFO Newsletter

Philip J. Klass

January 1, 1995

This volume is available as a PDF file. Download »

Key Roswell “eyewitness” changes story significantly

Jim Ragsdale, one of two key (alleged) “first-hand eyewitnesses” on whom Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt based their revised crashed-saucer scenario in their second book “The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell,” has significantly changed his story because of “monetary inducements,” according to Randle. Randle offered this explanation in his Oct. 16 talk at a UFO conference in Pensacola, Fla. But he indicated that he has complete confidence in the veracity of Ragsdale’s original version—because Ragsdale’s family earlier endorsed it.

As reported in SUN #27 (May 1994), Ragsdale originally claimed that he and a female friend were out camping on the night of July 4, 1947—roughly 35 miles north of Roswell—when they saw a fiery object crash nearby. According to Ragsdale’s original account, he and his girlfriend got into their jeep and managed to find a ravine where the UFO had crashed. According to the R/S book [p. 4]: “Using a flashlight with weak batteries....They saw the remains of the ship stuck in the side of the cliff....It was late, and the flashlight was failing. They returned to their Jeep and drove back to the campsite.” [SUN comment: It never occurred to Ragsdale to drive 35 miles back to Roswell to report the crash.] The next morning, according to Ragsdale’s original tale, he and his girlfriend returned to the site where they saw “bodies or something laying there. They looked like bodies.” Ragsdale claims he quickly departed when he saw a military convoy approaching.

At the recent Pensacola conference, Randle admitted that Ragsdale is now telling a story that is "significantly different than the story he originally related to us....The story he tells now is much more exciting than just seeing the bodies in the distance. He’s now talking about going down and trying to pull the helmet off one of the dead aliens and seeing big black eyes which is not consistent with what we have learned about what the Aliens look like.”

[Randle would have been more accurate if he had said that Ragsdale’s revised ET description differs from one provided by R/S’s star witness—Frank J. Kaufmann—whose description in turn differs from one offered by former mortician—Glenn Dennis—which Dennis claims is based on a sketch provided by a nurse named Naomi Selff who (allegedly) participated in an autopsy on three dead ETs.]

According to Randle, “Ragsdale has signed a paper with another organization to provide his story for monetary inducements. In other words, he’s getting paid for his story now....We believe the changes were coached by those who want to sell his story....If I were a skeptic, I would be delighted at this point because it would be very easy to discredit the testimony of Jim Ragsdale.”

Randle Earlier Claimed Key Witnesses “Corroborate One Another”

In articles written by Randle before Ragsdale changed his story, published in the Houston UFO Network’s HUFON Report newsletter, Randle admitted that “we place enormous confidence” in the testimonies of Ragsdale and Kaufmann. In the August 1994 article, Randle claimed “they tend to corroborate one another.” When R/S interviewed Kaufmann prior to publishing their first book [R/S #1] in mid-1991, his story was that “he had been [only] an observer to the events rather than a participant in them,” according to Randle’s article in the July issue of the HUFON Report. (Emphasis added.) But during an interview two years later, when Randle said he “once again” asked if Kaufmann had seen “any bodies,” Kaufmann said: “Yes.” This, Randle said, provided “the first eyewitness link between the events in Roswell in July 1947 and alien creatures.” R/S HAD STRUCK OIL, OR PERHAPS IT WAS “SNAKE-OIL.”

According to Randle, Kaufmann claimed that he had been sworn to secrecy about his involvement in the crashed-saucer recovery “and felt honor bound to keep that secret. Now, after so much time had passed, he wanted to share the story, but only what he felt he could say without violating his honor. And he was in communication with others who had been as deeply involved. They were deciding what to release and what to withhold in consultation with one another.” [This explanation provides a convenient excuse for Kaufmann to add embellishments to his earlier stories without raising Randle’s suspicions.]

In Randle’s article in the August issue of the HUFON Report, he claims that “many aspects” of the tales told by Kaufmann and Ragsdale “have been corroborated by others who were clearly in Roswell in July 1947 and who can prove it.” Consider the following reports of how many ET bodies were (allegedly) seen and recovered at the “Impact Site” near Roswell, according to witnesses cited by R/S in their recent book:

Randle’s August article concludes: “We were very cautious before we accepted the testimonies of Ragsdale and MacKenzie [a pseudonym used for Kaufmann, who wished to hide his identity]. We waited for verification and corroboration, which we found.”

Randle Seemingly Endorses, Then Rejects, Project Mogul Explanation

Kevin Randle was able to obtain and read an advanced copy of the 189-page report “Roswell In Perspective,” authored by Roswell researcher Karl Pflock and published by the Fund for UFO Research last summer, which concluded: “It is all but certain that at least the great majority of what was found at the debris field...was the wreckage of a huge balloon [from the] Top Secret, highly sensitive Project Mogul.” [ SUN #29/Sept. 1994]

On July 6, Randle wrote Pflock to congratulate him and characterized Pflock’s report as “an impressive work” which Randle said “certainly supports the theory that a Mogul balloon was responsible for the Brazel ranch find.” Randle added: “The array of testimony and evidence does seem to lead to that conclusion.”

But two months later, on Sept. 7, when Randle was interviewed over radio station WBAI in New York, he said: “There’s absolutely no evidence that Project Mogul was responsible for what was found on the [Brazel] ranch.” Randle added: “Nor does it explain the Impact Site some 35 miles from the ranch.” [More accurately, 35 miles from Roswell.]

During Randle’s Pensacola talk on Oct. 16, he challenged the Project Mogul explanation for the Brazel ranch debris. But he added that “if there were two distinct sites” [one on the Brazel ranch 75 miles northwest of Roswell and another only 35 miles north of Roswell, as claimed by Ragsdale, Kaufmann and Rowe] “we could...give [concede] the Air Force Project Mogul on the Brazel ranch...and not damage the Roswell case at all.”

In other words, if a Project Mogul balloon crashed on the Brazel ranch, this could not possibly explain the crashed saucer and ET bodies (allegedly) found at the Impact Site near Roswell, as reported by Ragsdale, Kaufmann and Rowe. [Frankie Rowe claims that her father, a Roswell city fireman, was dispatched to the Impact Site. Yet none of the other (alleged) witnesses—including Ragsdale and Kaufmann—reports any signs of fire at the Impact Site.]

Randle concluded: “Of course the Air Force Project Mogul [explanation] is a cover story and the material Brazel and the boys found out there is in fact part of this same event. But we don’t need that any more [to support a crashed-saucer claim] as we did when the investigation began.” Randle conceded that debris from a Project Mogul balloon (carrying radar targets made from balsa-wood sticks and aluminum foil attached to parchment) would be “grossly similar” to what Brazel and others described. But Randle charged that this Project Mogul explanation was devised by the USAF “to add an element of confusion.”

SUN GOOFED in its November issue (#30) when it said that there was no mention in R/S #2 or its index of Project Mogul as a possible explanation for the Brazel ranch debris. SUN looked under “Mogul” rather than under “Project.” A brief discussion of Project Mogul balloons being launched from Alamogordo Air Field, N.M., in the summer of 1947 appears on page 126. But R/S concluded: “There is no evidence that any of these cluster balloons fell on the ranch where Brazel discovered the debris or that the...debris is explainable as one of these cluster-type balloons.”

Hopkins Reports Massive/Group Abductions Into Giant UFOs

UFO-abduction guru Budd Hopkins reported a number of fascinating new discoveries at last October’s conference in Pensacola. Hopkins claimed that “enormous numbers of people are being abducted [and taken] into the same ship.” He cited a woman in one of his “support groups” who said “she had this dream that she was in a gigantic room. And there were rows and rows of naked people being processed in a kind of stupor, moving along with Aliens directing them. And there was...a moving stairway, like an escalator, and she went up. When she said that, someone else in the room said: ‘Oh my God. I had a dream like that too'....And so did a third person.”

Working with each of the three persons separately, Hopkins used regressive hypnosis to determine if these "dreams” were suppressed memories of UFO-abductions. Under hypnosis, one woman—Emily—recalled seeing the other woman “standing there in the craft and she [Emily] actually spoke to her.” Because both were naked, Hopkins asked Emily if she could see any identifying features or scars on the other woman. Emily reported seeing "a very big, long scar at the bikini line. And when I checked with this [other] woman, she said she had had a bladder operation as a teenager and has a big, long wide scar at the bikini line,” Hopkins reported. And he said the second woman, under hypnosis, was able to describe certain body features of Emily. When Hopkins asked each woman whether the third person—a young man—had much hair on his chest, both said he had no chest hair, which proved to be true.

Hopkins acknowledged that the two women were “casual friends,” but he did not say if he asked them if they had ever gone swimming together or to an aerobics class. Nor did Hopkins say whether the young man ever wore open-neck sport shirts to support group meetings, or ever went swimming with the women.

“Witness” to Linda “Beam-Me-Up-Scotty” Case Claims Mass-Abduction

Hopkins reported that a “new witness” who claims to have seen Linda (Cortile) Napolitano being beamed up to a UFO in lower Manhattan around 3 a.m. on Nov. 30, 1989, was herself being abducted at the same time, along with 30 or 40 others, a few miles north of Linda’s apartment building. [For details on the Linda case, see SUN #17/Sept. 1992 and SUN #18/Nov. 1992]

“So we're not dealing with just single isolated events,” Hopkins said. We're dealing with some kind of mass operation which is affecting enormous numbers of people. And the very fact that you can get this kind of corroborative evidence from individual to individual is one of the absolute backbones of evidence behind this phenomenon.” Hopkins admitted he was puzzled because “we haven't had any of these [large group abduction] reports earlier.” One possible explanation offered by Hopkins: “Maybe we didn’t ask the right questions.” Hopkins said he senses “that there is a kind of speeding up—almost a sense of urgency—in the Alien agenda....As if somehow they are more and more desperate.” [SUN predicts that as word of mass- abductions spreads via the news media and Hopkins’ disciples, there will be many more such reports.]

ETs Seem To Have a “Sixth Sense” About Their Implants

Hopkins’ earlier hopes of obtaining a uniquely extraterrestrial “implant,” which ETs (allegedly) insert in the brain, nose, ear, chest, leg or penis of some (but not all) “abductees,” have been frustrated by ET ingenuity. One reason, Hopkins explained, is that very few of the implants can be detected using X-ray or CAT-scan techniques. “If they ever do show up on an X-ray or CAT-scan, within a day or so—before there is any ability to try to recover them—they disappear. The Aliens seem to have a little alarm bell that goes off in the sky [when an implant is detected] and they come and remove the object.”



SUN PREDICTS that if Hopkins is correct, you will soon see Hybrids on professional football teams. Imagine what a Hybrid running back who can penetrate walls could do to the best defensive line. But “it” would have to cope with a defensive backfield whose players are telepathic and thus know the strategy behind every play.

Mortician’s Tale of Roswell Nurse, ET Bodies Is Seriously Flawed

The story told by former mortician Glenn Dennis, of ET bodies brought to the Roswell Army Air Field base hospital in early July 1947, is the only Roswell ET-bodies tale which is endorsed by ALL prominent pro-UFO Roswell crashed-saucer researchers. YET DENNIS’ TALE IS RIDDLED WITH FLAWS AND INCONSISTENCIES. Karl Pflock, whose “Roswell In Perspective” report discredit’s two of Randle/Schmitt’s key ET-bodies “witnesses,” Ragsdale and Kaufmann, endorses Dennis’ tale. The same is true of Randle/Sch- mitt, whose books completely discredited Gerald F. Anderson, a star ET-bodies “witness” of Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner. Friedman/Berliner also endorse Dennis’ tale.

In July of 1947, the 22-year-old Dennis was employed by the Ballard Funeral Home, which was under contract to provide mortuary service to the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) as well as ambulance service from the city to the base. Although Dennis is a long-time good friend of Walter Haut—the young officer at RAAF who wrote and released the “Flying Disk Recovered” press release on July 8, 1947 which “launched” the Roswell incident—Haut told SUN that Dennis had never mentioned the ET-bodies incident until late 1988 or early 1989.

Kevin Randle informed SUN that he first learned about Dennis from Haut in April 1989. It is not known when Stanton Friedman learned first about Dennis. But when Friedman visited Roswell in early August 1989 for filming of an “Unsolved Mysteries” TV show on the Roswell Incident, an interview was arranged. Dennis’ good friend Robert Shirkey drove Friedman to Lincoln, N.M. to meet with Dennis and sat in on the tape-recorded interview. Shirkey, who was stationed at RAAF in 1947, claims to have seen the crash debris.

The first public—if limited—disclosure of Dennis’ tale came in November, 1989 when Las Vegas TV station KLAS aired a series titled “UFOs: The Best Evidence,” produced by George Knapp. Knapp had visited Roswell in August and interviewed Shirkey. In the TV show, Knapp introduced Shirkey as follows: “Shirkey was the officer who ordered up the B-29 that transported the strange debris....Shirkey also has knowledge of alien bodies. The information is from a close friend who ran the town funeral parlor in the 40s. It has never been made public until now.” Shirkey said he was asked [by Dennis]: “Did you see the sketches in the paper of the humanoids or the bodies? [The June 8, 1987 Roswell Daily Record carried a front-page story on UFOs with two sketches of traditional-looking ETs] I said yes. He said, well, I can tell you that’s what they looked like. The funeral parlor supplied the caskets for the Air Force to use because we had the contract. And they came in and took all the baby-size or youth-size caskets we had.” (But according to Dennis’ later accounts, RAAF never came to obtain any caskets, large or small.)

Randle/Schmidt First to Publish Mortician’s Nurse’s Tale

The first detailed account of the Dennis tale in which he was identified by name appeared in the first Randle/Schmitt book, “UFO Crash At Roswell,” published in mid-1991. When SUN interviewed Dennis in Roswell on Dec. 9, 1991, we began by reading the R/S account from their book, to verify its accuracy. Periodically Dennis would interrupt to challenge the accuracy of the R/S version. Later, when SUN discussed these inaccuracies with Randle, he explained that by the time R/S first interviewed Dennis in late 1990, their book manuscript had been sent to their publisher and so their version was based largely on a transcript of Friedman’s August 1989 interview with Dennis which they had hastily updated.

For example, R/S reported [p. 91-92] that shortly after lunch, Dennis received telephone inquiries from “doctors at the base...asking questions about preservation techniques....The mortician was told by the military doctors that the bodies had been out on the prairie for a couple of days, maybe a week....According to the mortician, he was told there were three fatalities. Two of them had been mangled in the crash but the other was in fairly good shape. The officers at the base wanted to know if they could get all three into a single hermetically sealed casket.” (Emphasis added.)

Dennis offered a significantly different version to SUN: He said there had been no mention of any fatalities and the caller—the base mortuary officer—asked what was the smallest sealed casket that Ballard had and how many were in stock. “Then, about 30 minutes later, they called back and wanted to know what our embalming procedures would do to remains that had been laying out in the elements. Would it change the blood content? Would it change the tissue? Would it change the stomach contents?”


Because Dennis found so many errors in the R/S #1 account, SUN will here shift to highlights of Dennis’ own version, given before a video camera and incorporated in the video “Recollections of Roswell-II,” produced by the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR). According to Dennis, shortly after the last inquiry from RAAF, he received a call to bring a slightly injured airman to the base hospital. After taking the airman to the infirmary, Dennis said there was, “one particular nurse that I was pretty well acquainted with and I wanted to see if she was there and buy her a coke....As I started back to see her...she came out of one of the examining rooms....She said: ‘What are you doing here and how did you get in here?’ She said: ‘My gosh, get out of here as soon as possible, you’re gonna get in a lot of trouble.'”

When Dennis sought an explanation, the nurse quickly returned to the room which was guarded by a captain who asked Dennis to identify himself which he did, explaining that he had brought an injured airman to the hospital. When Dennis said he commented that “it looks like you had a crash here and I need to go back and get preparations ready,” he said he was told: “You did not see anything. There was no crash here. You don’t go into town and making (sic) any rumors...that there was a crash.” Two military police (MPs) then escorted Dennis out.

The next day, Dennis said, he was curious to find out what had happened and called the nurse several times, only to be told she was not in. “About 11 o'clock, she called the funeral home....And she said ‘I need to talk to you,'” and she suggested meeting at the Officers Club. When they met there, according to Dennis, "She looked like death warmed over. She said, ‘You won’t believe what happened....Before I tell you have to give me a sacred oath that you will not ever mention my name or you can get me in a lot of trouble.’ I said OK, because I said I would definitely like to know what’s going on.”

Dennis said the nurse told him that on the previous day she had gone into a room to get some supplies where she found two unfamiliar doctors performing a preliminary autopsy on a strange-looking creature and the mangled remains of two others. When she tried to depart, the doctors insisted she remain to help them and take notes. Dennis said that while they sat in the Officers Club, the nurse drew him a sketch of the strange- looking creatures and told him they had no thumbs and what looked like small suction cups on the tips of their four fingers. Dennis said that before he drove the nurse back to her quarters, she gave him her ET sketch but re-minded him of his sacred oath to keep the ET information and sketch secret.

Dennis Claims Nurse Quickly Transferred, Reportedly Killed In Air Crash

Dennis says he tried to call the nurse several times during the next few days, without success. Then he says he was told that she had been transferred. Several weeks later, he says he received a letter from the nurse saying she was in England and providing him with an APO (Army Post Office) number. But when he wrote to her, he said his letter was returned unopen-ed—stamped “DECEASED.” Dennis says he later heard that the nurse had died in a military aircraft accident. However, Randle/Schmitt report in their second book that their search of the New York Times index, National Transportation Safety Board and Army records failed to find any such crash.

Dennis told a different story when he was interviewed on Dec. 31, 1991 by UFOlogist Anne MacFie, as reported in her article in the April 1992 MUFON UFO JOURNAL. He explained to her (as he had done to SUN) that the 23-year old nurse was from St. Paul, had been raised in a convent and wanted to become a nun when she finished her service in the Army, which had funded her last two years in college. When MacFie asked if Dennis knew whether the nurse was still alive, he responded: “I don’t know. I heard she died three years ago [1988], but that’s only hearsay.” MacFie asked if Dennis had ever tried to contact the nurse “to see if she would talk now that others have?” Dennis replied: “I never did try and contact her....She did join an order [became a nun] after she got out of the Army. But I don’t think she would [talk]. She was so disciplined that if her superior told her to walk across fire, she probably would have done it.”

If Dennis’ story was true, it seemed odd that a person of such high character, who had been in the Army for only three months, would knowingly violate military security by revealing highly sensitive information to a casual acquaintance she had known for less than three months. So SUN asked Dennis: “Did you date her?” Dennis replied: “No, no, no. She had no interest in men whatsoever. Her whole life was planned. She was gonna be a nun.”

But this Dennis claim was challenged in a video “UFO SECRET: The Roswell Crash,” produced by Mark Wolf, in which Dennis is interviewed. In introducing Dennis, narrator Wolf said: “We should note here that Glenn’s concern for Judy [nurse’s pseudonym] was serious. Marriage had been discussed.” On Mar. 14, 1993, we wrote to Wolf, pointing out that the foregoing claim was contrary to what Dennis had told SUN. We asked: “How certain are you of the accuracy of the above statement?” SUN also asked if Wolf had a video or audio tape of Dennis making such a statement. Wolf promptly replied saying: “That is what he [Dennis] disclosed to me during one of several lengthy background discussions prior to taping. He added that her family did not approve of him, since they were Catholic and he was Protestant.”

Don Schmitt, who was with Wolf at the time of the interviews and filming, confirmed Wolf’s account in discussions with SUN in Roswell in late March of last year. According to Schmitt, Dennis said that when the nurse’s brother visited her in Roswell and learned that she was considering marriage to Dennis, he had "lectured” her against the marriage. [The new R/S book reports (p. 67) that Dennis “had dated” the nurse.] On April 16, I wrote Wolf to report Schmitt’s statement, asking if Wolf’s recollections corroborated those of Schmitt. Wolf called while we were out, but left a message on the answering machine which confirmed Schmitt’s statement. But Dennis, according to a friend, says the Wolf/Schmitt statements are false.

If Dennis’ basic story were true, one should expect that he would eagerly have read the first R/S book in the hope of learning more about the mysterious ET bodies from the many new “witnesses” R/S had discovered. Yet when SUN talked with Dennis—six months after publication of R/S #1—he said that his wife had read the book but he had not.

Dennis Ignores Solemn Oath And Reconstructs “Missing” ET Sketch

After Dennis described having given his “solemn oath” to keep secret the nurse’s ET sketch, SUN asked what he had done with it. One might expect that he would have stored it in a safe deposit box, or hidden it in his apartment. INSTEAD, DENNIS SAID, HE HAD PUT THE ET SKETCH IN HIS PERSONAL FILES AT THE BALLARD FUNERAL HOME. When Dennis left Ballard around 1962 to go into business for himself, he left behind the ET sketch. Dennis told SUN that he and Friedman had earlier visited Ballard to try to find the ET sketch. According to Dennis, ALL of the old files were there, including 1946 and 1948. But ALL of the 1947 files, including his own with the ET sketch, were MISSING.

Although Dennis had not seen the (alleged) nurse’s ET drawing for at least 30 years, he [seemingly] remembered the details well enough to make a rough sketch, which he gave to an artist friend to refine. SUN did not ask Dennis why he had made the effort to reconstruct the ET sketch and asked his artist friend to enhance it— violating his “solemn oath” to the nurse. But SUN did ask Dennis how the new sketch found its way into the first R/S book. Dennis replied: “That’s what I’d like to know, because I gave it to one person.” When SUN asked the name of that person, Dennis refused to say.

When SUN inquired if Dennis had asked this person how the ET sketch got into the R/S book, Dennis replied: “Well, but he says he’s not responsible for it.” SUN asked: “Does he swear under solemn oath that he did not [give the sketch to R/S]?” Dennis replied: “I did not ask him any solemn oath because I don’t believe in solemn oaths.” Then Dennis laughed.

SUN found it hard to believe that Randle/Schmitt would resort to covert means to obtain the ET sketch and publish it without Dennis’ permission—risking serious legal repercussions. When we checked out this Dennis claim with Randle on Dec. 29, 1991, he said the ET sketch had been supplied by Dennis, who was credited in the caption.

When Roswell researchers sought the name of the nurse to try to locate her, or some hard evidence that such a person ever existed, Dennis provided it: NAOMI MARIA SELFF. But in Karl Pflock’s “Roswell In Perspective” report, he admits that: “To date no official records of the existence of the nurse—birth and school documents, military service files, and so on—or her presence at Roswell AAF in July 1947 have been found. Similarly, no record of her family has been located. The search continues, but so far, she seems to have disappeared without a trace.” An alternative explanation is that Naomi Maria Selff never existed.

[Other major discrepancies in the tale of the nurse and ET bodies will be reported in SUN #32.]


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.