The UFO Phenomenon: How it Can Cause Sinister Death in Multiple Ways

Man scared by UFO

The UFO phenomenon can be a strange thing to enter into. It can enlight you. It can amaze you. It can terrorize you. It may, however, even kill you too. And, no, I’m not sensationalizing. As you’ll see now. Let’s begin with one of the most famous and tragic affairs of Ufology. Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr., gained infamy in 1997 when he convinced thirty-eight of his followers in the so-called Heaven’s Gate cult to take their own lives – chiefly because doing so would see them return in reanimated, immortal form. But before we get to death, reanimation and immortality, let’s see what it was that led to that terrible tragedy. On March 26, 1997, Applewhite started brainwashing his duped clan into believing that if they killed themselves they would all reanimate – in some angelic dimension far different to, and far away from, our own earthly realm. Since the comet Hale-Bopp was just around the corner, so to speak, Applewhite even weaved that into his story. There was, he said, a huge UFO flying right behind the comet, and when death came for the group it would transfer them to that same UFO and new and undead lives elsewhere.

His loyal followers eagerly swallowed every word. To their eternal cost, they eagerly swallowed something else, too: highly potent amounts of Phenobarbital and vodka. In no time at all, almost forty people were dead, all as a result of the words of Applewhite. Aliens did not call upon the members of the Heaven’s Gate group. No UFO was ever detected behind Hale-Bopp. And the dead did not rise from the floor of the Heaven’s Gate abode, which was situated at Rancho Santa Fe, California, and where one and all took their lives. Their bodies stayed exactly where they were until the authorities took them to the morgue for autopsy. Now, onto another case that ended a life.

March 5, 1946, Death in Brazil: many UFO encounters leave the witnesses in profound states of wonder and amazement. Others provoke terror and paranoia. Just occasionally, however, the UFO phenomenon becomes downright deadly. Take, for example, the encounter of a Brazilian man named Joao Prestes Filho, a farmer from the village of Aracariguama. On the night in question, and quite out of the blue, Filho found himself bathed in a powerful glowing light, which emanated from something unknown in the skies directly above. Whatever it was, it ensured a horrific death for Filho. The heat coming from the object was so hot that Filho fell to his knees. Worse was to come: his skin suddenly began to heat up. Then, it began to bubble. In mere minutes, he was exhibiting the physical effects of someone suffering from severe burns. Filho’s family, utterly terrified, raced him to a nearby hospital. It was all to no avail. During the journey, Folho grew progressively, and quickly, worse. His skin began to fall off his bones. One of the medics at the hospital – Aracy Gomide – confirmed poor Filho literally melted before the horrified eyes of the medical staff. Proof that not all close encounters are positive ones.

May 15, 1971, Ufological deaths:who died on October 13, 1974, at the age of sixty-three – was most remembered for his work in the field of superhero comic-books. He wrote for DC Comics’ “World’s Finest Comics” and “Mystery in Space,” Marvel Comics’ “Young Allies,” and Fawcett Comics’ “Bulletman,” amongst many others. As someone who finds superhero stuff to be utterly ridiculous, I’m pleased that Binder did more than just focus his time on spandex, cloaks, masks, and stupid “super-powers.” He was also the editor of “Space World” and had a deep interest in UFOs. In 1967, Binder’s book What We Really Know About Flying Saucers was published. On May 15, 1971, however, Binder penned a feature for Saga magazine. Its title was “Liquidation of the UFO Researchers.” As you might guess – and guess correctly – the article was focused upon alleged mysterious deaths within the field of Ufology. It began in eye-catching fashion: “Over the past 10 years, no less than 137 flying saucer researchers, writers, scientists, and witnesses, have died – many under the most mysterious circumstances. Were they silenced, permanently, because they got too close to the truth? Before the 1967 Congress of Scientific Ufologists, Gray Barker, the chairman, received two letters and one phone call telling him that Frank Edwards, the noted radio newscaster and champion of flying saucers, would die during the convention. One day after the meeting was convened there was an announcement that Frank Edwards had succumbed to an ‘apparent’ heart attack. How could anybody know that Edwards was going to die, unless it was planned?” How, indeed?

(Nick Redfern) When Ufology becomes seriously sinister

Within the field of Ufology there are longstanding rumors that the May 22, 1949 death of James Forrestal – the first U.S. Secretary of Defense – was linked to the UFO phenomenon. So the story goes, while suffering from severe depression and anxiety, and ultimately spiraling into a complete nervous breakdown (as a result of his exposure to what the US Government knew about UFOs), Forrestal was on the verge of revealing his knowledge of an alien presence on Earth. The theory continues that powerful figures decided such a thing simply could not be allowed to occur. The result was that Forrestal had to go. And “go,” he certainly did: out of a window. In the early hours of May 22, Forrestal plunged to his death from the 16th floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital. The big question is: was he pushed or did he jump? There’s no hard proof in the public domain that Forrestal was briefed on the more sensational and top secret aspects of the UFO phenomenon. Although, logic dictates that he would have been briefed (at least to some degree), since he accepted the position of Secretary of Defense in 1947 – the year in which the flying saucer was “born” and when the military was indeed taking the mysterious matter very seriously. Even outside of Ufology, there are suspicions that Forrestal’s death was no suicide.

So the story goes, on the morning in question, a man named Harold Dahl, his son, and two still-unidentified individuals witnessed six, disc-shaped aircraft – one in the middle, wobbling in a strange fashion while the remaining objects surrounded it – flying in formation over Puget Sound, Washington State, at a height of around 2,000 feet. Dahl described the objects as being “shaped like doughnuts,” and with “five portholes on their sides.” Suddenly, the central disk began to wobble even more and dropped to a height of no more than 700 feet. The remaining discs then broke formation, with one of them descending to the same height as the apparently malfunctioning disc and then proceeded to “touch it.”

Without warning, the malfunctioning disc then began to “spew forth” what appeared to be two different substances: a white-colored material that Dahl described as a thin, white “newspaper-like” metal that floated down to the bay; and a black substance, that also hit the water, and that was reportedly hot enough to “cause steam to rise.” Indeed, sections of the black substance allegedly hit both Dahl’s son and his pet dog that were also on the boat, and reportedly killed the animal outright. According to the story, Dahl reported the events in question to his superior: Fred Crisman, a man with a long and complicated life story, and suspected ties to the murky world of American Intelligence. Since Dahl had supposedly retained samples of the recovered debris, he convinced Crisman to go to the Maury Island shore and take a look for himself. Crisman later claimed that he saw on the shore an “enormous amount” of both the black and the white material, and recovered some of it for his own safekeeping. One more thing: Dahl was threatened by one of the dreaded Men in Black. In fact, Dahl’s life was hanging precariously. Luckily he lived his life. Unlike so many.

(Nick Redfern) Beware of the Men in Black

Crisman duly reported his experience to the publisher Ray Palmer (of “Amazing Stories” fame), who hired none other than Kenneth Arnold to investigate the Maury Island affair. Arnold, whose own, historic encounter came three days after Dahl’s encounter at Maury Island, delved deeply into the story, and was later joined by two Air Force investigators, Captain William Lee Davidson and First Lieutenant Frank Mercer Brown, who were working under General Nathan Twining to collect information on the then-current wave of UFO encounters that was being widely reported across the United States. Crisman turned over samples of the mysterious debris collected at Puget Sound to the Air Force investigators, who intended to fly it to their final destination at Wright Field, Ohio. Fate would have another outcome, however. Shortly after Brown and Davidson departed from Washington State, their plane crashed, killing both men. A team was dispatched to clean up the site. Reportedly, however, the strange debris could not be located. No wonder that the Maury Island controversy continues to provoke furious debate, decades later. Now, onto another affair.

While there is a great deal of dispute about who shot JFK, there’s no doubt about who killed Lee Harvey Oswald. It was Dallas strip-club-owner and Mob-buddy, Jack Ruby. Journalist Dorothy Kilgallen was deeply interested in the circumstances surrounding the JFK affair, and particularly so Ruby’s links – to the extent that she managed to secure an interview with him. Back in 1955, the following words of Kilgallen appeared in the pages of the “Los Angeles Examine:” “British scientists and airmen, after examining the wreckage of one mysterious flying ship, are convinced these strange aerial objects are not optical illusions or Soviet inventions, but are flying saucers which originate on another planet.” Kilgallen claimed her information came from a British official of Cabinet rank. Kilgallen was also told that dead aliens were in the hands of the U.S. and U.K. governments.

(Nick Redfern) Dead aliens: a connection to the death of Dorothy Kilgallen? The chances are high.

Some suggest Kilgallen’s death on November 8, 1965 was not the result of an accidental overdose of booze and pills. They see a far more sinister explanation. One day before his death, JFK spoke at the dedication ceremony of the Aerospace Medical Health Center at Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. The base had been chosen to conduct groundbreaking work in the field of space-medicine; figuring out how to keep astronauts free from deadly radiation, learning more about how gravity-free environments can affect the human body, and so on. While at Brooks, Kennedy met with personnel from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (the alleged home of the legendary “Hangar 18”). JFK also met with staff from Fort Detrick, Maryland. For years, rumors have circulated to the effect that Fort Detrick has been the home of classified research into “alien viruses.” As all of this demonstrates, the UFO scene can be dangerous. Very dangerous.

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