Me, Flight 19 and the Okefenokee Swamp

There’s one good thing about being the father of a very radical and unique theory. Until it catches on, no one wants to touch it. You receive ridicule or dismissal. This is good for only one reason. When it does catch on, there’s no disputing who is the originator of the theory. You can also brag about what you had to go through to pioneer the facts into the public forum. No one wanted to touch me and my theory. Now it is the dominant theory for the fate of the famous “Lost Squadron.” Bits and pieces of the evidence I have uncovered have been liberated by others since then, but they seemed to be used to support some rather shady schemes for search and recovery.

Beginning back in 1992, the standard view was that the 5 TBMs simply went down at sea and left no trace. Any other theory would have hinged on being sucked up into a flying saucer.TBM-color-WWII-icon

But in that year I had uncovered the Flagler Beach report. Four to 6 aircraft had been reported on radar by the USS Solomons where they were not supposed to exist. The time was close to around 7 p.m. How to interpret this? From the winds that prevailed that night, Flagler Beach, Florida, is exactly where Flight 19 should have come into the coast. FT-36, Captain Ed Powers plane, didn’t have IFF aboard, so it would have been hard for the Solomons radar operator to determine the actual number of planes from skin returns alone.

Even later that night ATC (Air Transport Command) in Brunswick and Jacksonville were picking up 5 planes near the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. They were planes for which the commands had no record. In other words, they were not scheduled flights. Moreover, they were planes that did not answer any calls. Only Flight 19, limited to its training frequency (it was good only around Fort Lauderdale), would be unable to hear hails from the bases or be able to contact them.

Thereafter the flight vanished. It never landed. It was never picked up on radar by any other base south of Jacksonville. It was last reported just east of the Okefenokee in southern Georgia.

I detail the entire event in They Flew into Oblivion. Suffice it to say here that with the fuel remaining, there could be little other option but that Flight 19 went down in the 660 square mile peat bog known as the Okefenokee Swamp.


Not only are the conditions inside the swamp not naturally conducive to a search this long after the fact, the entire area is a protected Federal Reserve. No trespassing allowed.  . . except in designated areas.

I went to these designated areas. They amount to about 2% of the swamp, but this is a huge area nevertheless.  I’ve been asked what happened to my Triangle site. I just recently let go down. After 18 years it was time to move on and consolidate at The Quester Files. I will, however, put up my Okefenokee Swamp picture page on the Quester site. It is my theory after all, and it is the Number 1 theory out there for the fate of the “Lost Patrol.”

It took about 10 years, two TV documentaries, my website and a published book, to finally give ascent to my theory on the fate of Flight 19. But the struggle has been worth it. They Flew into Oblivion to date is my most honored book. It inspired a Resolution in Congress in 2005, and it continues to garner praise and attention.

It’s an odd place, the Okefenokee. It’s a land that time forgot.  The path of Flight 19 to this other world is fraught with irony, tragedy and drama. Nothing can be more ironic than that the famous flight that launched our interest in the Bermuda Triangle actually vanished in a Federal Reserve in southern Georgia, far outside of the Triangle.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


The Mystery of the Martin Mariner

On the night of December 5, 1945, while Flight 19 was still in the air, 3 PBM Martin Mariner “flying gastanks” were in the air trying to find it. They were also called “dumbo” because of their ungainly appearance. The antenna on Miami’s dumbo had frozen over that dark night and therefore they were useless in the search. Training 32, Gerald Brammerlin’s dumbo, was headed straight out to sea, and he and his crew would be true heroes that night.  Training 49, however, which had launched with Brammerlin at Banana River by Cape Canaveral, would vanish. No trace was ever found. It would become part of the mystery of the disappearance of the “Lost Squadron.”

In fact, the loss of the Martin Mariner dumbo that night heightened the mystery. It made for a total of 6 aircraft and altogether 27 men who vanished that night (the Martin Mariner carried 13 men).  No wonder that this night and these events became the cornerstone of the Bermuda Triangle enigma. pbm3-1

Frustrated by being thwarted in my search for Flight 19 in the Okefenokee Swamp, I turned to the Mariner. I thought it was a sitting duck. It had been observed to vanish from radar that night. It wasn’t long after it had taken off. It was still close to the coast, north of Banana River. In the general vicinity there was a freighter, the s.s. Gaines Mill. She sent in a message that an aircraft exploded overhead and crashed into the sea. She also sent her position by latitude and longitude. It was in the report, of course. That made it fairly easy to go look for . . . if there was money.

Fortunately, the Triangle was quite the rage because of my website and then my book (Into the Bermuda Triangle) published by McGraw Hill in 2003. It was the first in 25 years on the Triangle, a subject that had long been in the deep freeze. Since my now defunct site ( in 1999 I had electrified the web and all of documentary and reality TV.  Producers were frequently asking me for plots.  When in 2005 NBC wanted to do a special 2 hour documentary on Flight 19, based on my MS of They Flew into Oblivion, I told them of the Mariner. The Exec. Producer, John Schriber, loved the idea; so did Larry Landsmann, the special project’s director.

Together they were able to fund David Bright (of Titanic fame) and two ships with cameras to do a week long 5 mile grid search. Finding a trace of it would be big news. NBC knew they couldn’t wait to announce it for the documentary. It would go over the newswires and this could be used as a promo for the upcoming documentary.


During that week we waited. Excitement was noticeable in all the producers’ voices as they called and updated me. Time was running out by the last day. Nothing. David Bright figured it was further north. On the last day he went north. The week was over and not a trace was found.

I was shocked. The water was only 74 feet deep. A professional diver could reach it on a straight dive. Yet there was nothing. Cameras had picked up nothing suspicious.

Years later in 2010 I told producer Bruce Burgess about it. He too funded another search with a local diver. Mike Barnette, and cameras. They found nothing as well.

engine closeup
This engine was found, but it was too far away and wasn’t the kind that a PBM would mount.

How could a big aircraft like this, which vanished not far off the coast of Florida, in only 74 feet of water, totally vanish on the bottom as well?

The easiest answer was that the Gaines Mill had been wrong or the real coordinates were mistyped in the report.  The other answer is that there just isn’t much left. What’s there has sunk beneath the bottom sands.

The PBM Mariner is still there somewhere in the general vicinity. It must be! But beginning 10 years ago I failed to locate one of the most famous missing aircraft in the Triangle, and it should have been a wreck that was fairly easy to locate. Six years ago I failed again. I was thwarted in the Okefenokee Swamp by law. But the sea is open territory, and even with two networks over a period of several years, the Triangle has not yielded the one approachable mystery that it should have.


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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

ZODIAC’s HOOD — Details in Crime

I have been examining these disgusting bits of racial paraphernalia with a more laudable purpose in mind than reveling in redneck ritual.  ZODIAC’s hood. Bryan Hartnell described it to a Napa detective, John Robertson. Then he visually assisted the sketch artist who finally completed a full body composite showing the ‘Zodiac’ Killer wearing the hood.

Lake_Berryessa_Zodiac sketchThe composite  doesn’t really capture the description Hartnell gave. He first described the hood as having 4 flaps. It wasn’t an overt statement, but it was implicit. The front flap hung down below the chest and had the Zodiac symbol sewn thereon. The back flap hung down the back and was of equal length. There were shoulder flaps.

The composite just shows a hood, with the black cloth draping over the shoulders, but in reality that would be awfully hard to imagine working. Hartnell described the hood as square with a flat top, so that it seems his description of shoulder flaps fits with a square hood.

The hood would have to be made with 4 pieces– two long pieces of cloth for the front and back and two shorter ones for the shoulders. The corners had seams, but were these 4 pieces actually sewn together or did each of the 4 pieces have seams?

As you can see in the rather carefully designed and sewn KKK hood above, the two pieces  of the hood have seams, but the pieces are not sewn together. There is a snap sewn on the inside to hold them together.

This may ultimately be ZODIAC’s design. The difference is that with a square top hood,  instead of the usual 2 piece round KKK hood, he would need 4 pieces of cloth.

Just what was used to make the top of the hood square? A graduation cap would be too wide. Remember, the eyeholes had to be close to the eyes. This was a rather small hood that was close to the face.  A piece of cardboard? That would not seem strong enough.

Robert Graysmith’s influential sketch– but it really doesn’t work.

In any case, he used something square for the top and then laboriously sewed 4 pieces of black cloth around it and over it. It had neat eyeholes and a carefully sewn Zodiac symbol in white cloth.  He clipped on shades over the eyeholes and tested it out. If each piece was not sewn together then I suspect each seam had a couple of snaps to hold each flap together.

This took some time and design. ZODIAC’s cryptograms took some time to devise and then carefully draw out.

My point is– ZODIAC carefully thought out much of his game and it clearly meant a lot to him. This must cause us to consider that the statements in his nasty poison pen pal letters were not off the top of his head. His implicit comment that he had a basement, for instance, doesn’t really mean he had a basement. Nor should his claim that his victims would be his slaves in the afterlife be taken as serious. But considering the amount of time he spent on his publicity game, there was something more to his crime spree than merely preying on unsuspecting youths at petting spots. 7112555_orig

Just what was his game and when did he start to develop it? It slowly evolves before our eyes– the confessions, the symbol, the name ‘Zodiac’, the cryptograms.  But the hood was not a part of the publicity game. The letters were meant to be read, the Zodiac symbol meant to be seen, the cryptograms meant to be deciphered in order to intrigue us. Not the hood. The victims were not meant to survive. We were never to know that he had worn it. It meant something purely to him.

Just how long would it have taken for him to figure out the actual size of the square that he’d need in order to fit the top of his head? Did he measure his head around and then square off the figure? That hood really took some doing.

Coupled with everything else– the cryptograms, the murder locations, always mailing his letters from San Francisco– the hood as described tells us to what extent ZODIAC devoted himself to his game of death and to his persona as “The ZODIAC.”

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

The Bermuda Triangle– the Mystery of the Deserted Lighthouse

To my knowledge there has only been one instance before this when all the lighthouse keepers have vanished from their post and island, leaving behind them the mystery of a deserted lighthouse. This was the famous disappearance off Scotland of the three lighthouse keepers at Eilean Mor in the Flannan Islands. There was evidence there, though, that the three lighthouse keepers had put on their oilskins and ventured out into a storm. To do what on the lonely island, we do not know. But in December 1900 when the relief boat came, they found a mystery but they found clues to suggest the men were all outside in a storm. The seas of the Flannan Islands in the Outer Hebrides are wild seas at the best of time. During a storm, the sea is a giant monster and each wave a potential tentacle that could lash onto the land and drag off a man to the deep.

The Grand Bahama Banks, August 1969, are a little bit different. Ivan Majors and B. Mollings, the lighthouse keepers on Great Isaac’s Rock, an island north of Bimini had  shallow seas around them. They had tropical weather, and they had radio. Yet to this day their joint disappearances remain mysterious. When relief came to the little spit of an island, the lighthouse was abandoned.

Great Isaac’s Rock is the little dash of land at the top of the picture.


There is much speculation but no concrete answer. To my knowledge there really isn’t much information in place to backwork what the two keepers had been doing that day. There isn’t much to say what they took either, if anything. All we know is that the lighthouse was abandoned and no trace of the two was ever found again.

One theory was that some drug transaction went down or it was an intentional disappearance. Theory comes easy, however, but without much information behind it theory doesn’t really take form. This may  be one reason why this unusual disappearance is not more often discussed. By contrast, the deserted lighthouse of Eilean Mor is a staple in the annals of the mysteries of the sea.

Forlorn and abandoned to this day– this photo by a visitor in 2003. 


Very few, unfortunately, know of the Mystery of Great Isaac’s Rock, as it is known. Because it occurred in the Bermuda Triangle, it has inspired fantastic theories. Alien abduction is one of the more popular. In a technical sense they didn’t disappear at sea. Electronic Fog could not have seized them. Nor time warps or ancient space warping rays from ancient and submerged Atlantis. This only seems to leave “aliens.”

It has even been said that a local well known diver, Bruce Mournier, saw two underwater UFOs in the vicinity heading out to sea. This is proffered in order to corroborate the idea of alien abduction. In actuality Mournier was recorded while recounting his experience and, though it is an odd sighting, it doesn’t really jive with anything to do with the lighthouse keepers on Great Isaac’s Rock. He specifically said:

“There’s two underwater UFOS or two things you never seen before. They’ve been buzzing alongside the boat and now they’re off the front kinda heading from south to north. So I looked out. I seen these two things. I guess they’re about 60 feet apart. They’re buzzing along in formation. They’re egg shape, they’re round, more or less egg shape/ round; I guess bout 40 or 50 feet in diameter, and the same distance long, a little bit to the egg shape side. And I follow them [visually] for about, oh, I don’t know how long. I just watched and tried to figure out what it was. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They looked like they were really moving out faster the further they got away. It looked like they were about 40 feet underwater— maybe 20 feet, 40 feet. It’s out in the crystal clear Gulf Steam. They kept on going off. As they faded away, I don’t know if they faded off in the distance or whether they made a dive down or what but they were gone.”Mournier

A strange encounter in the Triangle. Others have reported such phenomena as USOs.  But neither Bruce nor any contemporary linked them to the missing lighthouse keepers.

The Bermuda Triangle and its theories, though tantalizing, blinds us to the mystery. Great Isaac’s Rock was truly found deserted on August 4, 1969. The two lighthouse keepers have never been found again, and there is too little information out there to put back a detailed recreation of what must have happened. We need clues. We need many more clues.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 

EAR and Conspiracy of Terror

I’ve been to every street that EAR stalked and hit. But it is not the same thing 40 years later. He eventually developed a pattern of striking new communities, those only a few years old and some still under construction. One can theorize why he developed this new addition to his MO. A couple of examples suffice here: during the day he could appear to be a construction worker going about the community. Trees and bushes were newly planted and young. Nothing was so grown that it obscured his view of houses or made jumping fences impossible. Yes, all very good. But without experiencing a new community it is hard to get the feel of EAR sinister, calculating game. It is certainly hard to get a sense of how calculating a stalker he was. Like seagulls attracted to a ship’s wake, EAR found new communities and perched himself there for days on end, scouting, selecting.

I was struck by an old 1975 teleplay entitled Conspiracy of Terror. It wasn’t the plot. It was the image of a pristine, maiden community, if you will, 1975. The TV movie was clearly aiming at feeling out the audience to see if a TV series of a man and wife detective duo would make it in the ratings. Considering how bad the movie is no such series was ever developed. But the movie gives us a glimpse of Santa Clarita, California, north of Los Angeles, and just off Highway 5, in the year 1975.

I’m afraid you must watch it too. Ambiance, you know. Deal with it.

It is centered on Via Desca in Santa Clarita. Study the community on Google Earth.


From the opening credits and from the address on a house it was easy to find the community on Google Earth.  It is grown up today, 40 years later. The house in the movie has been torn down and remodeled. But Conspiracy of Terror gives us a brief window into a new community circa the era of EAR. It is not just a new community. It is one with CATs and canals, cul de sacs and walking paths between otherwise disconnected sections of the same community.

The movie inspires on many levels. We see the mid-1970s again. We see a new community. Here we see a new community designed in a specific way. It is one that overwhelmingly fits EAR/ONS’ MO perfectly. It is right off Highway 5 in the general LA area. EAR worked 2 highways in So. Cal– 101 and 5. But he never worked Highway 5 north of the 101 juncture (to our knowledge). Yet it was in the north here where so much new building was going on, and the developer’s style suited EAR/ONS. Only a fraction of the new Santa Clarita community was in place during the filming of the movie. For years construction continued. During EAR’s time in So. Cal (1979-1981) the community remained perfect for his prowling needs.

But there’s something more important than the contemporary ambiance that inspires a contemplative mood. The movie and the fresh community’s location may give us some insights. When EAR went south in 1979 he confined himself to the highway corridors mentioned above. He did not bother with Highway 5, north of Highway 101, although Santa Clarita and Valencia were the most unavoidable new communities in the area off the major artery coming into Los Angeles from the north. Instead he worked Santa Barbara/Goleta/Ventura on the 101 and then the south LA area of Irvine and Dana Point on I-5– two opposite poles.


A number of interpretations can be made for avoiding going north on 5 at the 101 juncture. But that is not my point here. . . yet.

For years I have sought the location of the “map.” Yes, all know what I mean. Among notepapers left in Danville, presumably by EAR when he fled, there was also a map. It shows a community under construction. There are many cul de sacs. Some are not yet with houses. For a long cul de sac there are houses indicated already. The second house from the end, by what appears to be a creek or canal, this house is blackened out. It looks like EAR’s target. He often struck the second house to the corner.

It seems this is a map of a genuine community and that it was drawn by EAR– in his own twisted mind a battle plan to assail a new community.

However, no one has ever found the community that this map portrays. Some decry it and say it is fantasy, that it is a hypothetical community. But there is much about it that reflects genuine community construction. The biggest problem is that the community is built around a lake or what appears to be a lake. The homes do not border the lake. Rather there is parkland around the lake. This is rare in California. Lake communities usually have houses built right on the border of the lake, each with its own dock. A creek feeds the lake and exits on the other side and wends through a shopping community. No one has been able to find such a community around such a lake. Such a design is more common to the Midwest and Florida.


Stockton Police took this aerial of Portage Circle South in 1977– giving us an example of the new community in which EAR struck Victim 23. It has similar design nuances to the Santa Clarita community. It also has a lake, but this is not the community on the map.

A homeowner’s lake fed by a creek seems hard to believe. In summer time the creek would dry out and much of the lake. The community would need its own well and pump to maintain the lake. In doing so, there would need to be a dam on the creek. This only feeds the idea that the map represents fantasy. But there is something real about the map. The community was under construction. Did debt, bankruptcy, something require it be redesigned halfway through?

No community that EAR had struck prior to the Danville escapade (No. 49) matches the community. After fleeing Danville, he moved on from northern California and appeared months later in Goleta around Santa Barbara.  None of his So. Cal attacks match such a community either.

But it is nevertheless true that once EAR’s prowling was discovered in a community, he never returned. Does that explain it? Did he feel the map was too accurate and that it would lead the police to stake-out the real community?  There was something about his Danville narrow escape that caused him to forsake northern California altogether and easily move on to So. Cal.  Had he already been stalking down there? Many have pondered. They too have searched the So. Cal area.


No one has ever found the community which is represented on the map. But EAR’s pattern gives us a clue where he would have been prowling. He avoided the heart of Los Angeles and its immediate suburbs because, frankly, there was no room for a new community, certainly not by the highways. The new construction near the major arteries was south and north– which means off 101 and I-5–  yet he noticeably avoided the first new community he would have encountered on I-5 when coming from Sac or the Bay Area.

There may be a reason why the community has never been found. All have sought a lake community near a half clover on a major highway. Let us proceed on the assumption the map is real but obviously not a perfect replication of the new community. It is EAR’s interpretation based on having driven the roads and walked around the paths. Let us also labor under a few other assumptions.

1, The community was altered before completion.

This could mean:

2, The removal of the lake.

3, A couple of those empty cul de sacs may have been redesigned and removed.lakemap_zpsa6073d92

4, The business area is now redesigned and is quite different.

The one thing that would not have been altered are the streets already built up– that long curving cul de sac, for instance.

Developers can be traced, of course. Each had its own style and architects. The developer at Santa Clarita was obviously one who was a major player in the 1970s So. Cal boom. But there are communities all over California that resemble elements on the map.

One is the lake community at Windsor, California. We know EAR was familiar with Windsor. One of the license plates on a car he was associated with in San Ramon was traceable to an auto wrecker in Windsor. This community lies along Highway 101 north of the Bay Area. EAR never struck up here, to anyone’s knowledge at least. In the Bay Area he confined himself to the Contra Costa Corridor.  But had he mapped out several communities in his travels?


A lot of the community was not yet built in the late 1970s. But how much of the map is representative of the actual community and how much is doodle? How would such a community look from the drawings of someone who had experienced only some of it on foot and then drew it in  his car? How much is even relevant on the map to EAR’s stalking MO? Does it really matter if he remembered the highway off ramp was a half clover or not? Windsor2

Nevertheless, real communities reflect similar design concepts that the map generally displays, indicating it is not entirely fantasy. EAR only needed general accuracy. As he brooded on it at home he could be doodling any number of details that were not relevant– such as delineating parking spots, etc.

Another example is found in the area east of Antioch, the community east of the Contra Costa Corridor. It is in the little community of Brentwood. The area was not even mapped out in 1979, but it does show that lake areas with parkland around them require a similar design as reflected on EAR’s map. If EAR only put his imagination on paper, he had a very prescient one.Brentwood

In short, in some form the community no doubt existed. It is rendered on the map by memory and from having walked the area and driven it. Thus we are at a disadvantage when trying to find something too close to the map’s appearance through the aerial view of Google Earth.

Does the map reflect one of the new communities around LA? EAR was probably already familiar with some places down south.  After the fiasco in Danville, there was only a few months break before he started striking in Goleta, then up and down 101 and I-5. However, he might have avoided hitting the actual community represented on the map, thinking perhaps that the map was drawn too well and the law might be waiting for him. ThunderbirdPL


We all know what location this map shows.


Although I am rather sure EAR occupied one level of auto wrecking while working the north, we must also consider the theory he was in construction as well (or later) in So. Cal. Was he working in the Santa Clarita area and therefore avoided striking there?  Or did he live here in the new community, and thus equally avoided the area?  Did he work security there in the sections still being built?

We know this, something about what happened in Danville scared him out of northern Cal. Either it was the paperwork he left behind in the rush or the “name” seen on his windbreaker jacket. But he got out of the north and he never came back, not as EAR anyway.

I’m still tracing the handwriting. Still searching for what that name could have been on the windbreaker. Still looking for the So. Cal abode. Perhaps finding the location represented on the map may be of great help.

Recently, an investigative coup was attained– the background sounds on the “Gonna Kill You” recording were identified. The aftermath of this triumph, however, was sullied. It revealed that law enforcement at the time had made no analysis of the tape or knew the sounds  were in the background of the victim’s house and never put this on any codicil accompanying the tape. When it was released decades later for public consumption, not even other jurisdictions knew much of the tape. Recently a Concord cold case detective had assembled a room full of blind people to listen to the tape. Contra Costa sheriffs must never have been told of any earlier analysis. It was pointed out to me by another who has investigated this case for sometime that it must also mean there was no analysis of the tape by the FBI audio lab.

Simply because the community on the map and the handwriting has not yet been traced does not mean this angle was pursued and dismissed as leading nowhere. Both may be viable clues to help chip away at the identity of the most calculating predator in history.  Who knows unless several determine to search, fully inspired by every possible detail?

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 

Oh, Gas– a Deadly Triangle

Inanity never seems to die. As I move my Bermuda Triangle material to The Quester Files, I am in the throes of deciding what to keep up and what is dated and needs to be rewritten or canned. Obviously,  I am going to have to keep this page in the theories section. The recent news glut on methane hydrates off Norway is old cabbage. I heard of it decades ago. I heard of such craters off Scotland somewhere where there’s supposed to be one where there is a sunken ship in the center of one of these craters indicating that when the methane erupted it took down the vessel.

The theory of methane hydrates causing ships to vanish in the Bermuda Triangle must rate as one of the most impromptu ideas conceived. Although Dr. Ben Clennell, of Leeds University, England,  is not the first to make note of the possibility of methane hydrates as a source for causing ships to disappear, he has become identified with the theory which, on September 21, 1998, at the Festival of Earth Sciences at Cardiff, Wales, he proposed methane hydrates as the future of  energy.

As a part of his elaborate dissertation he claimed that methane locked below the sea sediments in the Bermuda Triangle can explain the mysterious disappearances. He told how subterranean landslides can unlock the vast beds of methane hydrate. This would be disastrous, he told the audience, because large amounts of methane would reduce the density of the water. “This would make any ship floating above sink like a rock.” He went on to explain how the highly combustible gas could also ignite aircraft engines and blow them to pieces.

This theory was promoted in a semi-serious way by the press at first, but it later came to be dubbed the “Ocean Flatulence Theory,” and in some quarters earned its vociferous proponent the unenviable and humorous nickname of “Dr. Flatus.”


The theory is lacking for several reasons. One, the Bermuda Triangle is not the area of largest concentration of methane hydrates in the world. There are a lot off the Carolinas which, if this is in the Triangle, it depends on your own particular shape for the area. Two, the majority of ships and planes have not disappeared over this section of the “Triangle.” Three, a number of drilling rigs have in fact accidentally bored into beds of methane hydrates and slowly succumbed to the less dense water, sinking to the bottom. However, none of this was so fast that they could not signal their problem, and on a number of occasions news helicopters circling overhead captured every moment on film— but none of the choppers blew to pieces.

There are others in geology who stress that a natural eruption would be so rare it might happen only once every 400 years. They also remind us that the methane has to go through thousands of feet of sediment, thousands of feet of ocean, before it breaks the surface. The chances of a ship being over the precise spot is mathematically astronomical. And it is obvious that no planes are affected by this.

The theory gained circulation probably because it was something new, and because both the public and Dr. Clennell had a complete ignorance where most planes and ships  disappeared in the Triangle. Such a rare occurrence cannot account for the hundreds of losses over the last centuries, nor explain any aircraft disappearances. It also cannot explain those that vanished over the Bahamas, where the water depths are only 50 feet or so deep, not 1,000 feet. During his dissertation, Dr. Clennell admitted that he discovered large beds of methane on the coast line “near the Bermuda Triangle”  which is itself enough rebuttal. Near may matter in horseshoes and hand grenades, but not for ships and planes.

This cold gas is all hot air.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 

EAR/ONS– Breaking Up Behind a Stranger’s Call

In follow-up to my post Behind a Stranger When He Calls . . .  I have been informed that two persons on the web using the names saund and cerulean were able to trace the background sounds to a teleplay Breaking Up which aired on January 2, 1978, the night of the call. I was sent the film and told the area in question is around 28 minutes into the movie.

Indeed it is! Not only can the words be matched up, the inflection and tone is identical where the words cannot be made out clearly. I praise anybody who can sit through the whole movie. I could not. It was an excellent bit of detective work, and a reality that many have feared– a movie. There may be a couple of instances where there is a background voice that is not emanating from the drawing room drama, but principally the dialogue comes from the tely.

The question is, is the television on in the victim’s house or in the obscene caller’s house? I had wondered, perhaps worried is a better word, why the sheriffs never released an analysis of the background dialogue. It suggested they had identified it as either people in the victim’s home or had traced it to what was on that night, if it was a TV drama. The upshot was they didn’t mention it because it was not relevant to the investigation anymore.

Back then it would have been easy and even standard procedure to trace a TV show to see what jived with the time of the call. They probably had traced it to the movie, or the victim said outright that she was watching it at the time.

For us today, the fact that the dialogue is about 28 minutes into the teleplay tells us at what time “EAR” called to hiss threats. Back then the networks tried to hook you with 30 minutes of a movie and then hit you with a long commercial break at the half hour. I don’t know if that was done here, but even if there was a commercial or two commercial breaks already the call took place near the half hour, so around 8:30 p.m. or 9: 30 p.m. or soon thereafter.

I filmed the relevant part for those interested to access the 2 minute clip without the horror of having to watch the whole movie.

After having listened to an enhanced version of the threatening recording at Behind a Stranger When He Calls through earphones for about 30 minutes I had been able to detect a number of background lines. I reproduce them here with the corrected lines from the teleplay in BOLD.

The recording begins.

Woman No 1 to (unknown) “Were you combing a book?”

(Lee Remick to Vicky Dawson): (“What, are you quoting a book?”)

Garbled due to heavy breathing of EAR.

A couple of “what” could be heard, however.

@33 seconds (Woman No 1) “He’s going to tell me about paying on a loan. . .”

Lee Remick to Vicky Dawson: “Tell him he has pain in the lower left abdomen.”

Garbled . . .

@42  (Woman No 1) Garbled . . . “go off and make a payment. . .”

Lee Remick to Son: “Wanna throw up. It might make you feel better. . .” 

Son: “No, no. . .”

@45 seconds  Man (speaking already) “OK . . .” garbled.

@46 Woman No 2 (loudly calling) “Edward, out of here first.”

Lee Remick: “Call the doctor first!”

Sounds of some rolling (metal?) door ratcheting down a few notches.

@55 seconds (Woman No 1) “I, I don’t know how . . .”

@1:02 Some type of machine commences briefly.

@1:08 (Woman No 1) “When you get the comb, I dare you to enter the (Sands?) tomorrow.”

Son: “Will you hear me if I call?”

Lee Remick: “I’ll hear you if you even think of calling . . .”

Rushing down stairs:

@1:13 (Woman No 2, loudly calling) “Hey, Jethro, Que es?”

Lee Remick: “Hey, Amy, don’t phone yet!” or (“Aaaamy, don’t phone yet!”)

So the question is settled– the movie Breaking Up was playing in the background. Behind which receiver is another question. There does indeed appear to be a few other sounds and perhaps a man’s voice saying “Ok” that do not fit the teleplay. But, again, we don’t know at what end.dawson5

It is interesting to note that the part of Amy played by actress Vicky Dawson fits EAR’s typical victim profile. She would later appear in the movie, The Prowler, though it had a very different plot than anything 1970s (WWII plot). Vicky Dawson wasn’t established, so that I doubt EAR was her fan. Thus we can’t argue the point and say he had the movie on in the background. For those too young to remember the late 1970s, however, seeing Dawson’s character rather brings to life the real victims and what they looked like and how they lived at the time. When seeing something so dated, it does rather impress upon one how EAR/ONS’ era is slipping away into time.

Was there any background sounds during the “Is Ray There?” call before this? I don’t recall. But the TV may have been on “mute”– standard procedure then indicating a commercial break was indeed ongoing.

Unfortunately, the discovery of the film as the background source of much dialogue doesn’t advance us in identifying EAR or in helping me identify my POI as responsible. If these words were emanating from real people,  I interpreted some of the lines as being spoken while a business was closing, perhaps even in a warehouse due to the ratcheting sound and what sounded like a machine briefly coming on. “Abdomen” was not spoken loudly and I heard “pain in the lower” as “paying a loan.” I had actually thought that the first line was “Were you quoting a book?” but I could not get it to fit a real life situation. “Book combing” is actual done in professional printing.

Courage should nevertheless be taken by the discovery of the film. In like manner, the location of the map will also be discovered, and this may give us a valuable clue.  I still wait upon handwriting samples and “Dennis Becker” to try and give me a lead on possible lairs in the So. Cal area. But my next post delves into the map and, coincidently, an old 1975 teleplay helped re-inspire me just a couple of weeks ago.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.