Subjective Ambiguity– The Power of The Amityville Horror

I am trying to organize my future book projects. Two are in the pipeline and are set: BT II and HorrorScope. But three await prioritizing– Then Came The Dawn (Amelia Earhart); South By Northwest (D.B. Cooper); and Amityville: The Horror in Fact and Fiction.   I still have to do some hunting with D.B. Cooper, so it is likely that Amityville and Earhart will come out before that.

Here is the introduction to Amityville: The Horror in Fact and Fiction. This will give you an idea.

 

Subjective Ambiguity (By Gian J. Quasar)

 

Between December 8, 1975, and January 14, 1976, several unusual events are alleged to have taken place upon the Lutz family residing at their new home of 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island, New York. In a very true sense of the word the family was haunted. Their actions afterward confirm their dread to return to the house and resume their lives there. The source of this haunting is what has become the fulcrum of the controversy that still surrounds this case in the annals of the preternatural.

Skeptics and believers alike walk the same avenue with one goal in mind: uncover the kernel of truth. As the most lucrative haunted house franchise in the world, “The Amityville Horror” has become an inflated and profitable legend. Yet a chain of events indicates that the Lutz family fled their home in genuine fear for their lives.

At the very least an unusual set of coincidences were set in motion that convinced the family an malevolent “intelligence” was behind the acts that occurred against them within that house, acts which they felt were intended to endanger their lives. Not least of these coincidences is the fact that the previous family, the DeFeos, had been ruthlessly murdered— no less than 6 family members— in their sleep, and the only surviving family member, Ronnie DeFeo Jr., had been convicted of these bizarre crimes upon his own loved ones. He claimed, as was vogue in the 1970s, that the devil made him do it— in other words, he had been possessed.

The house at 112 Ocean Avenue lay vacant for over a year until the Lutzes moved in. The unusual events began with subtle deviations in the family’s routine, especially noticeable in the patriarch, George Lutz. He no longer felt himself and he became obsessed with staying warm in the abnormally cold house rather than going to work. In addition, there were moments in which the wife, Kathy, felt an unseen “presence” and even felt as though she had been touched by someone not there. Accidents also occurred. In one instance, one of the children got their hand stuck in a window and it seemed the window would not let go. These and other events progressed until the family feared for their life and fled one night in terror. In the short 28 days they lived at 112 Ocean Avenue their belief system was shattered and their lives were completely and drastically altered, never to be the same again.

Much has happened since then. Much has been claimed and counter claimed. Allegations of complete hoax were commonly and openly made. Even those who believed in the haunting thought there had been embellishment.

Nevertheless, some facts and sequence of events support that there is a basis in truth to some of the claims the family made. For one, they never returned to 112 Ocean Avenue to take anything but the most personal mementoes (e.g. family photos). George Lutz gave up a third generation and lucrative business and the entire family moved as far from Long Island as they could, ending up in San Diego, California, on the opposite coast of the United States.

Again, at the very least, an equally unusual set of circumstances took place after the family moved out of their home that catapulted them and their experiences to the forefront of American public fascination. Bank and bunk has been made out of it to this day. Yet that narrow window remains in which the family earnestly sought help and even inquired into the house’s background in an attempt to uncover something that may shed light on what they experienced. For that one week in January 1976, before the franchise was born, the truth remained intact. There are enough witnesses to the chain of events to make it possible to establish the kernel of truth.

This book sets out to do that. This is an arduous task. Forty years of fame has gone by. Neither fame nor hyperbole favors objectivity. They create an antagonist/protagonist world. In such formulae pros and cons are stark and set in motion one by the other.

I am one of the few who is neither an eager believer in such things, nor a scoffer. From middle ground I seek only the truth, in the context that it happened. For indeed, indeed, truth is not a factoid, it is not a single angle; it is the body context of the event. So must every witness swear on the stand to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” My goal is to make this an objective account of the events leading up to the “haunting,” a vivid window during the haunting, and thereafter a document of those events that have so successfully clouded the issue. The goal, of course, is to then place in one tome the actual events, so that there is one reliable record of this entire affair at the reader’s disposal.

An example of how tricky this may prove to be can be found in the varying opinions expressed by the main protagonists. George Lutz, the often-vilified patriarch of the family, said the house was not haunted. “We don’t think there is anything wrong with the house.” Rather George Lutz believed there was possession by an evil force. Is that not a haunted house? His wife, Kathy Lutz, believed that their transcendental meditation made them aware of the evil that resided there, but that the blessing of the house by the priest started it all, so that, logically, we must accept that she believed there must have been resident evil there, limited and exclusive to that house. After decades of silence, the two boys, Daniel and Chris, expressed their strongly worded views that George was invoking demons through his TM. Transcendental Meditation was frequently practiced in the faddish and quirky 1970s, and it did not lead to a myriad of haunted houses. This may reflect mere boys’ understanding of their stepfather’s practices, but then we do not know what names George Lutz was chanting to practice his TM.

Father Ray Pecoraro, the priest who blessed the house, and who has become a pivotal character of the story, admitted that when he was blessing the house a deep voice told him to “Get out!” and then he was slapped on the face. This would suggest a resident evil already there, one for which TM was not necessary to reveal. However, Father Pecoraro’s public views remained ambiguous. He upheld the teaching of the Catholic Church that houses cannot be possessed, only people. He did not believe that George and Kathy Lutz were possessed, he said, so he would not recommend exorcism. This public statement mutely reflects that George Lutz did present this fear to the priest. Since Lutz had contact with the priest over a phone conversation and perhaps shortly thereafter in person we know this was one of George Lutz’s first beliefs, that the house was possessed by demonic forces, and if not that then it must be he himself. What would make George believe in a possession rather than a haunting?

Father Pecoraro would not budge, but he did believe “something was there” in the house. Father Pecoraro spoke out on his own only once, for the late great In Search of . . . His explanation for what he felt was “there” was cut off in editing, so that today we do not know what he clarified. The raw footage has not been located. Thus we do not know to what extent the priest qualified a statement that was turned into something quite dramatic by TV editing. Nevertheless, he was an ecclesiastical judge. From this we can get a fairly good understanding of what he believed was “there.”

The answer to the inconsistencies and ambiguities is simple: nobody really knows what inspired the actual events at 112 Ocean Avenue for those 28 days the Lutzes were in residence, not even the Lutzes themselves. They only hold dear their own theories. The haunting can only be understood visually, not theoretically. I hope to make the reader of this book a witness anew to the actual events, as I have been able to piece them back together. Only a superficial examination of the main protagonists would allow one to be certain that the inconsistencies are indications of fraud. Actions speak louder than words. And this work is based on a recreation and examination of the actions. This will reveal that chronologically the story remains largely coherent, though embellished.

The evolution of opinions over “The Amityville Horror” was always over the cause. Irony and not scorn should have been the result. For in this the most famous “haunting” no one was truly sure what or who was haunted.

All hauntings are subjective. That is why they are so frightening. They are the cumulative result of the interpretation of events the participants feel are unusual; the more unusual the more they will be interpreted as naturally impossible. There can be no other interpretation to the naturally impossible but to believe that it is supernaturally possible— to be explicit, an intelligence is behind the haunting. With this we have now tread into the theory of the supernatural as the explanation.

If true hauntings were like their movie personas there would be little to fear. If ghosts were easy to see moving about a home in their routine, they would soon be nothing more than a botheration. If Sir Percy carried his head under his arm nightly while moaning in the passageways one would grow tired of him. There would be no fear. It would simply get to be too much. Fear would long have been vanquished and replaced by irk at the inconvenience of it all. We’d pack our traps and move out in a huff.

An unseen enemy or potential enemy is what we fear. Fear is in the present. It can be dealt with. Anxiety, however, is over the future. It grows more intense. We do not fear what we do not know as much as we fear what might possibly be. Fear of what is will eventually subside. But fear of what is to come is what truly haunts us.

By no means am I minimizing a haunting. Nor is this an endorsement that hauntings are caused by supernatural forces. I am underscoring that the interpretation of the effect and not the cause is the source of the haunting within us. Whether the effect was set in motion by an unknown natural phenomenon or, indeed, by a supernatural entity, there is no difference. We are left to interpret otherwise ambiguous but abnormal effects. And it will be our interpretation that sets us on edge.

Knowledge builds upon knowledge. In all things, data adds to the interpretation of more data. The human mind cannot stop the process. A few strange sounds in an old house might be unnerving, but when added to yet more unexplained events— cupboards found open, doors that slam on their own— and we begin to ponder and try to add it up. Based on our personality, our conclusions will drive us to action.

For the haunting at 112 Ocean Avenue in 1975-76 the same can be said. The Lutz family’s belief in the haunting occurred only after Christmas 1975. It was only in retrospect that they looked back at their first two weeks in the house and then interpreted events from day 1 as bearing on their current predicament. This only added to the fear and, of course, heightened the anxiety as to what might happen next.

In this volume we will try and get to the bottom of it all. This is not a book of theories. This is a vivid reliving of the 28 days in 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island. Events and their chronology are put back in place as best as I am able. I trust no one source. I do not blithely accept a pure motive for any single statement. Everything must be weighed in the greater context in which the claim has been made. This book has no agenda to convince the reader to believe in supernatural forces or to dissuade them. Plainly put, the purpose of this book is to haunt you with the same haunting. We will see what interpretation you place upon the events.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

Advertisements

The ZODIAC Step=by=Step

In order for me to nail my guy as the Zodiac Killer it is not necessary to put back together every aspect of his life, but tracing his rather strange stepfather may help to explain Steve’s visits to the Bay Area. His mother at this time had remarried yet again and was no longer living in the Bay Area. Though they had long been divorced, his stepfather had remained in the Bay Area working as an mechanical engineer at an aircraft plant. He would eventually return to Kansas by 1970.

The stepfather was a shy, quiet man. He never remarried after Steve’s mother left and divorced him. He never had children. He never had celebrated a holiday in his life– not even the 4th of July. This is the man who had raised Steve and gave him his surname. Steve must have celebrated it by 1969, if only in the military. But that I do not know.

On July 4, 1969, Steve was not in a position to celebrate the 4th with his family, and his quiet stepfather might have been in Kansas with his ailing father. This perhaps leaves an east bay apartment unattended, and Steve might, just might have dutifully checked on his stepfather’s mail once in a while.

There is also Steve’s mother’s new husband. It is necessary to check on the properties he held in the east Bay Area.

Again, none of this is necessary to dryly expose ZODIAC– but it helps to explain how someone an hour away from the Bay Area continued to visit the places he had once known so well. The Zodiac Killer had slipped through the dragnet, and this is probably why. His lair was far removed from his killing fields, and the police didn’t suspect a visiting killer.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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– Another Anniversary

Well, I’ll be heading up to the Superior Court for another name search to locate more records soon. I hope the final piece falls into place in my quest. Another anniversary is coming up– the 40th anniv. of the EAR’s most terrifying month– 5 victims in one month. It is in curious juxtaposition to the Summer of Silence– the Summer of ’77. While the rest of us were enjoying repeated viewings of Star Wars, Sacramento was in a summer panic. Dr. James Gilmartin upped the Bee‘s reward and it came to $30,000 bucks. CB vigilantes roamed the East Area.

EAR was gone for the Summer of ’77. Was it all the citizen patrols?  It is possible. He never struck 5 times in a month again.

There are three clues back-to-back– the mania of May; the absence in the Summer; striking in Stockton when he returned. Three breaks in his previous MO.

The victim in Stockton heard a VW start afterward. A VW had been associated with EAR before this– a Baja bug.

EAR would return to Sacramento for his next victim. He would strike in a part of La Riviera where he had never struck before. Next he would strike in Foothill Farms– another new location. No. 26 was yet again in a new location. With 27 he came back to La Riviera. 28 was back in Foothill Farms. 29/30 was off Winding Way in another new location. Soon he would expand to Modesto and Davis.

Those who have followed my work know why I view the Foothill Farms strikes as significant at this point. But it can equally be said that EAR felt something had come close after his mania in May. He made a point to stop and then shift to new locations. He was intent on not getting caught, of course, but equally it can be said he was intent on continuing.  His dedication must have been something. It took him a while to learn new neighborhoods. Now he was learning new ones in Sacramento and, as Modesto, Stockton and Davis would prove, he would start using the highways and never venture far from them . . . except in Modesto.

This progression is also a stark clue. His first year he was limited to certain areas. After the Summer of ’77 he had enough time and freedom to expand, eventually hitting other towns.

In subtle ways his MO revealed that he already knew certain areas before he had started his crime wave– Del Campo Park area, Del Dayo, western Rancho Cordova. But it is more interesting to note where he did not prowl. He could not afford to be seen in a neighborhood where he had grown up and could still be recognized. Which area within juxtaposition to these did he not prowl?  I keep coming back to Stollwood Park. He struck only once in an area his MO would have regarded as ideal.

All these are clues. All of these are stepping stones in the path to uncovering EAR. Hopefully, my next court visit is the final stepping stone.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

Out of the Past– The Nuances of The Doodler

I have been plunged back into Dirty Harry’s San Francisco in my pursuit of the Black Doodler. He is one of the most unique serial killers in history. He was charming, talented, and his motive hard to figure out. He targeted gays in The Castro. He had the most unique MO imaginable: he drew little caricatures of patrons of the late night bars. Enchanted by his talent, a proposal was made. They left together and that was about it for the patron. In some secluded place in Golden Gate Park or Ocean Beach, or in their pad if they had one, The Doodler would then whip out what was essentially his Norman Bates edition butcher knife and have at them.

A few survived, and from them we get the overall picture of The Doodler and his MO.  But not his motive. He must have killed about 8, with three known survivors. The police must have figured out his identity or heavily suspected who it was. It is said that The Doodler stopped because he was identified. But he was never prosecuted because each of the 3 survivors was somebody– a European diplomat, a prominent local citizen, and a “nationally known” entertainer. None would testify.

So much for the recap. screen-shot-2014-12-11-at-3-22-41-pm

But I have set out on the track of The Doodler.  It wasn’t difficult to find his trail. But this has not shed light on evidence or motive.

Context is everything. I have had to  delve back into the world of the Castro, 1973-75. A surprising picture emerges.

The first thing I learned is that gay culture is very judgmental and hierarchal in nature, and this culture seems to have arisen from the bar scene.  There was no other real meeting place back then. As such, enormous political and social differences just smoldered.  Most gays regarded the bar scene as an evil necessity. When online dating became possible with the internet, the bar scene collapsed. The Castro, the center of San Francisco’s gay culture, was once peppered with bars. Today, there is only a fraction.

But back then it was the only place to meet someone who you could be relatively sure was gay. No one wanted to out themselves. Being “in the closet” was the phrase most frequently used for a secret gay man. But, as I said, the bar scene is not the place for most people. And few really wanted to acclimate back then. The “prominent” citizen was well protected because the culture protected its own. The diplomat, if anybody knew he was one, was shielded, as was the “nationally known entertainer.” This same protection extended to every other patron. It wasn’t something overt. It came with the territory. People used fake names, fake backgrounds. It was easy to protect identity.

The culture was also divided into pockets.  There were those who likened themselves to ancient Greek culture. Homosexuality was  part of their intimate life but like all intimate things it was not meant to be a public matter. They felt themselves not distinct from mainstream culture and politics. There were those who simply tried to dominate the herd, and kinky lust was the prime characteristic. Obviously, the two attitudes did not reside well in proximity.

Some bar names and their double entendres reflected the origins of the scene– Bear Hollow and nearby was The Pipeline.  Well, that made perfect sense to some. It is not surprising that the bar scene collapsed with online dating. A small element within gay culture had established a stereotype most within it did not like, nor frankly approve of.

In the 1970s this contentious (though it was smoldering) late night bar scene was the perfect environment for a serial killer to select his victims and still maintain his secret identity. It was underground. Language was inference. Identity was fake. In addition, who would really be a witness to anything that would suggest murder? The victim was seen leaving with a certain other person.  That didn’t mean the other patron killed him, did it? It was only after a while that it became obvious that the victims were leaving with the same guy. Moreover, he was black. Being gay was controversial enough. But interracial relations? In a judgmental society no one wanted to be known as a “Dinge Queen.”

This is the society in which The Doodler moved at night.  But he does not appear to have moved within it at any other times. You could, in fact, do that. It took being recognized within this culture, which meant the bar scene first, developing your own friends,  meeting elsewhere, being within a network of other friends who knew who everybody was. But The Doodler doesn’t seem to have been known. He was talented, convivial: this attracted patrons to him.

There was enough information so that a composite was done by the police. Thus his identity was not immediately known to the community. Yet this still didn’t identify him. Such a poster wasn’t something the bars would hang up to warn patrons. You weren’t going to find it in the post office. It cycled underground like the entire culture did.

The end result is that The Doodler serial crimes came and went. Despite the unique MO and the colorful time in history— Dirty Harry’s San Francisco– he is largely obscure. Even the number of his victims is hard to determine. Brutal death by butcher knife marked his wake. The two extremes of his signature were a nice artsy sketch of the victim beforehand and afterward the end result:  the victim butchered in a dark recess in public.

I must admit I am slow following through on The Doodler crimes. Information is scant. It is also hard to follow up on a true crime mystery if the chances are nil that the killer would be brought to book. It seems he would never be prosecuted. As we know, the three survivors refused to testify. I think only one is alive today. His account would be valuable for the sake of putting in the details of the MO– from the moment of contact in the bar to the time he drew out his knife au moment juste. This would serve to confirm that there was nothing sexual in The Doodler’s aim. He attacked them before anything happened. But only one person seems capable of confirming this today. It would provide an enormous clue to the Doodler’s MO.

But in learning of the culture of the time we are left with some valuable leads. We can proceed to uncover just how much The Doodler himself knew of this culture. His list of known victims seem to follow a pattern of progression, and we must look at this in our next Doodler post.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

Marveling at the Beast– The Shadow of EAR/ONS

In the Book of Revelations John marveled at the sight of the beast. It isn’t adulation. It is marvel. For a brief moment, that nanosecond flirt with exultation, so do we marvel at anyone who acts outside of the box of the conformity we live in. In our amazement, we are trying to understand it. This is to marvel. When it is an arrogant killer, we not only marvel but we become consumed with the mystery.

An audacious serial killer is the beast. But he is also a mystery. John beheld the Beast. There was no mystery. But for serial killers, well, we do not see them. An audacious one captivates by making us marvel. But he intrigues us by being unknown. We love nothing more than a good mystery and thriller. To hunt a serial killer is to live a real life thriller.

Perhaps this is why so many have an interest in some of the most inexplicable crime sprees in history. Jack the Ripper is still the focus of attention even over 125 years after his audacious crime spree. The Zodiac has joined his ranks. EAR/ONS– the Night Predator– has now entered this level.

Perhaps I am fortunate that mystery captivates me more than any desire for a thrill. As I have said many times, I like to solve mystery, not just wallow in one. But I must admit to a certain amount of obsession over the first few years of tracking EAR.  I had to uncover as lot of territory. I had to devote a lot of mental energy. I had to stand amazed and marvel at how this phantom brat pulled off his crimes and was never in the dragnet. At times he seemed clumsy; at others he seemed a deadly, calculating snake. But I had to stalk the ultimate stalker.

I can now follow the trail of EAR/ONS more at a distance. It was a relief to get the foundation over. I never had to relay the foundation of a crime spree before. I could come along and analyze what had been compiled. I could find new clues and follow these to new evidence. But those cases I tackled had lots of official information released to the public. 1976Suspect_Icyu2

EAR/ONS was not that way. He was preserved in a semi-fictional account by one of the detectives, then another tried to remember enough details to add to the information. Ironic that this is how the number one crime spree in history came to be preserved, and it is out of this medium that it has slowly grown to become what it is. It is within this foggy world I had to stalk. Not to take any credit for myself, but it is a fact that when I likened him to the “real life Michael Myers” it clicked. People could identify with what he was– unnatural, unstoppable, the embodiment of cold, emotiveless evil. I walked in the shoes of Dr. Loomis, in a way. I came to appreciate what this evil form was all about. I walked in his footsteps. I studied the maniac from his pattern.

Wherever I went in pursuit, I got the number one compliment from law enforcement: “I can’t help you, but I’m not going to stop you.” It may seem like a movie line, but it is said in real life. It was a pass. It let me walk around neighborhoods freely. “If they call I’ll tell them I know who you are.” It works both ways. I’m obliged to tell them when I have something like a silver bullet. So far it has not turned up. There are those with badges who know who my prime POI is and the nest I’m working within. But it is up to me to sink or swim.

It isn’t easy to dig through the dust of time. A badge really doesn’t help. Cops aren’t trained in the pursuit of history. They use media announcements and press conferences to try and get history to come talk to them. Nothing wrong with that. But I have to delve into the stuff. 40 years is a lot of dirt, and a lot of cops never heard of EAR/ONS either. He was so careful he deftly walked into history just as skillfully as he had stalked through the night 40 years ago.  It has taken 6 years and lots of research, pavement pounding, and analysis just to bring him back from history. I have succeeded in materializing the phantom. This actually isn’t much for 6 years of work.

Now to give form to the shadow.

EAR is still gaining in momentum. The Night Predator section of my Q Files is still the most popular section. They come from all around the world to read it. But that is not enough. I don’t want to cement in popular culture another Ripper and let it go nowhere from there but into a real life comic strip. This case must be solved.

The days ahead are going to be busy– I have two books coming due, as you all know, several other feelers are out on other cases such as the Shadow Slayer or Phantom of Colonial Parkway, the Doodler, The Phantom of Texarkana, and The Cleveland Torso Killer,  and other topics. Moreover, I’ve been asked to star in my own television series. It’s not about True Crime, but largely about a single topic that I investigate. I’m not one to angle to be in TV. I don’t care for it, but the request is from some of the best people in the “reality TV” business. So I must take it seriously despite my reticence.

Within this helter skelter of schedules to come, I will still be pursuing EAR with as much intensity as I can. I’m focused and narrowed in on my target. If I only succeed in eliminating another POI that is at least something. We pick up the pieces and move on. But I doubt we should have to move far. All the clues and evidence speak of the nest of auto-wrecking that I uncovered and those within orbit around it.  I have told you all it won’t be an easy task. EAR was the unsuspected so long ago. History is bringing his crime spree to light, but history has also given him a lot of time to devolve into the shadows. Considering what a phantom he was, this is saying something. I am grabbing at a shadow and trying to hold on.

In a sense EAR/ONS is not Michael Myers. He has no name and no past.  Dr. Loomis marveled and was then frightened by looking into the abyss of evil incarnate.  But we cannot do that with EAR. We can only stalk his footsteps and examine the carnage he left behind. Yes, we should marvel at the beast. He left about 65 victims in his wake, many capable of speaking to this day. But few wish to do so. Silence– fear— protects him even to this day. We marvel at his shadow. He was such a beast that just his shadow has inspired our marvel.

We must all be vigilant. We must all be ready to consider every clue again.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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 Problem with Mantell

Sadly, the death of Captain Thomas F. Mantell Jr. has become the subject of a narrative rather than the product of investigation. The original “Project Saucer” team did a good job of investigating, and then J. Allen Hynek tried to make heads or tails out of the witness reports to correlate them with Venus. The synthesis of the investigation, however, was right: there had to be more than one object responsible.

The discourse today is for one side to insist that Mantell went to his death chasing a flying saucer. The other side responds and says it was probably a skyhook balloon.  In truth, both are very, very wrong.

The tower staff at Godman Field made several mistakes in their depositions. Two of them– Blackwell and Oliver– called the town of  Madisonville “Mansville.” Colonel Hix, I believe, called it Maysville. There is really a Maysville, Kentucky, but it had nothing to do with the incident. This confuses people to this day. Wikipedia, that distiller of false facts, will even open up the incident with this claim. In fact, the object was first sighted over Madisonville to the south of Godman Field. Quentin Blackwell, the tower operator, then said that the State Police called in from “E” Town. This is Elizabethtown, which is to the East of Madisonville. They said it was over “Mansville.”  Owensboro and then Irvington reported the object. All said and done it is very possible to calibrate where this “huge 250 foot” object was– over Madisonville. Kentucky, to the South of Fort Knox and Godman Field.

When those in the tower at Godman got enough calls they got their binocs and looked out. Sure enough to the south of Godman there was a bright object “hanging high in the sky.”  Colonel Hix said it looked like a parachute, white with the sun sparking off the top and a red border on the bottom. Another officer said it looked round with a red top. One said it looked like an ice cream cone, which sounds like a balloon.

Mantell and his squadron were passing over the field and Godman contacted them and ask them to check into it. Mantell ripped round with 2 wingman and headed about 220 degrees, zipping Southwest at about 360 mph. He continued to ascend. The chase is generally well known. At one point he told Godman tower that the object was “tremendous in size” and metallic. Finally, toward the end his wingman Al Clements saw it. He described it as lower than the sun and to the left. It was a bright spot, too distant to tell size or shape. It was like the reflection of the sun off a canopy. P-51D

This sounds like Venus.

The last Clements saw of Mantell he was still climbing almost straight into the sun heading up to 25,000 feet.

Putting it all together, they all could not have been looking at the same thing. Clements does sound like he was describing Venus. But Clements is also the pilot that went back up about 45 minutes later, now fully loaded with oxygen. He zoomed back 100 miles south of Godman to the Tennessee border.  He didn’t see anything.  And he was looking for it this time. If it had been Venus, it still would have been there.

Correlating all the data, the balloon answer doesn’t fit. First, there is a benefit in having the accident report. The weather is contained therein. The winds were from the South/southwest at Bowling Green and Nashville at this time. The object was obviously heading south/southwest.  A balloon could not have drifted against the wind unless it was so high the wind estimates didn’t apply.

The object first appeared over the Madisonville area. It wasn’t a balloon that drifted from Ohio. Maysville on the border of Kentucky and Ohio was not involved in the sightings. “Mansville” in the documentation meant  Madisonville. Had the object drifted west of Maysville, it would have passed over Standiford AFB and even Frankfurt, the capital. No one reported it there. No, it appears South of Godman and there it remained for about an hour, long enough for the surrounding towns to report it and describe it as 250 to 300 feet. thomasmantell

It clearly didn’t remain long after Mantell hot footed it South. He covered the entire height of Kentucky in 20 minutes, never gaining on it even at the end when he died over Franklin on the border between Tennessee and Kentucky.  It was near Bowling Green, near thereby to Franklin,  that Al Clements saw the object (apparently) and thought it too far distant to tell what it was. A balloon can’t move that quickly.

So was everybody seeing the same thing?

Evening reports, even from Godman tower, describe the bright light in the general vicinity where the object had been seen in the afternoon. It is obvious they are clearly describing Venus. All the bases reporting this bright light give a time when it disappeared over the horizon and this time corresponded with the setting of Venus. Another object was seen by Lockbourne AFB in Ohio later in the evening, but it was clearly not a part of the afternoon’s events.

Thus in the end Project “Saucer” (Sign) couldn’t figure the case. Their joint conclusion was more than one object and Venus must have been responsible for the multiple sightings. Logically, they opted to believe that Godman and the surrounding towns saw a real object, but when Mantell ripped around and went up high he may not have seen it but rather saw Venus.

But where did the object come from and where did it go? The excuse it was a skyhook from Clinton County AFB in Ohio has no support, and the winds were contrary that day. Moreover, it would have been reported by Frankfort and Standiford first, before it drifted southwest against the wind, passed Godman without them seeing it before it appeared South of there over Madisonville.  Since Elizabethtown is to the East of Madisonville, and we know the State police there reported it, this could not have been Venus. “E” Town people would have been looking West, and Venus was to the South. No known balloon launch could have accounted for the position of the balloon and then its quick ascent.

In essence, the Mantell “UFO” was never explained. Balloons can’t account for it. Nor can Venus.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

On the Track of the Ransacker

Though I intend to stealthily scout out Visalia, an “operative” has been doing some nice footwork for us all. These pics will help place in context some of the neighborhoods that the Ransacker struck. If I could only get some addresses I could see how significant the ditches (Evans Ditch), parks, and other open areas are to the Ransacker’s Prowling MO.  My thanks to the “Visalia Operative.”

Beverly1West Beverly– looks like a very nice, wide street. Older homes.

Dollner-ditch

The ditch on Dollner. A familiar landmark to those who seek EAR/ONS. Evans Ditch also runs behind a number of the streets. Below, Dartmouth seen through the park from Woodland. Behind Dartmouth runs Evans Ditch.

Darthmouth-park-from-WoodlandPrinceton is another street The Visalia Ransacker is said to have hit. Again, the ditch at Princeton, below.

Princton-ditch

Below, an unsuspecting Haddonfield. I find it hard to believe that the Ransacker just stopped cold in this case. I wonder if that composite is really of our man. West Beverly again on a lovely day.

Beverly3-cropped