Rendlesham Forest UFO: Hoax or Government Coverup?

Here is the supposed landing site of UFOs which reputedly landed in the eastern edge of Rendlesham Forest. Image by Simon Leatherdale.

Rendlesham Forest – the reported landing site of UFOs, according to military members in 1980. Image by Simon Leatherdale.

Rendlesham Forest UFO: Was this ‘flying saucer’ real – or just another hoax? From the BBC to Matt Lamy – no one really knows for sure.

According to the BBC’s investigation, reports of UFOs began on December 26, 1980; however United States Air Force (USAF) dates them in the early morning hours on the 27th. Security policemen John Burroughs and Budd Parker reported that they were on duty by the east gate of Royal Air Force (RAF) Woodbridge, in Suffolk, United Kingdom (UK), when they noticed an alien craft’s mysterious lights which hovered, then landed in the forest.

On December 27, 1980, Lieutenant Bruce Englund allegedly told Base Commander Ted Conrad that the UFO returned during an officers’ party at RAF Bentwaters.

UFO Hoax: Military “Confessions”

According to an article in the BBC’s Inside Out, written on June 30, 2003, former USAF Security Policeman Kevin Conde said the UFO incident was a practical joke that he played on the men stationed at the Woodbridge base. He said he drove his patrol car to a place where people in the gatehouse couldn’t see it, turned on the red and blue emergency lights and shone white flashlights through the haze into the air.

According to Conde, the lights weren’t from a UFO, but were those of a 1979 Plymouth Volare.

In December, 1980, Suffolk bases were on high alert because the United States’ relations with the USSR (now Russia) had deteriorated. Conde questioned the airmen’s behavior in light of the perceived Russian threat. He queried, “If they’re out in the forest seeing red and blue pulsing lights and I’m back here doing this prank with red and blue pulsing lights, what else do they think they’re seeing?” He added that people should question the competence of military officers in charge of a front line base during the Cold War, especially those who couldn’t even tell the difference between a UFO’s lights and a police car’s.

However, James Easton, a writer specializing in UFOs, found eyewitness reports concealed in a now-released US government file which conflicted with the others. Some men confessed that the mysterious lights were beams from the Orford Ness lighthouse. One man said he touched a UFO. Another alleged that nothing happened at all.

After his investigation, Easton declared the lights were from the now defunct Shipwash Buoy in the area.

Rendlesham’s Missing UFO Files

Then, at some point, a number of files went missing from the government’s Rendlesham archive. The Ministry of Defense received a request for its records of the Rendlesham Forest incident in 2000. When officials looked for them, they discovered an enormous gap in the defense intelligence files relating to the UFO. A series of notes ensued, sparking speculation that someone took the files home; others believed that there was an intentional attempt to cover up the incident.

Neil Henderson of BBC News, wrote an article about the occurrence, “UFO Files Reveal ‘Rendlesham Incident’ Papers Missing.”

Officials apparently noticed the disappearance when someone released 8,000 previously classified documents about UFOs. Missing documents included photographs and sketches of UFOs created by the public, eyewitness reports and a commercial pilot’s and his son’s testimony.

What Happened in the Rendlesham Forest: Matt Lamy’s Version

According to Matt Lamy, in his 1980 book, 100 Strangest Mysteries, the NSA, one of the US’s most covert intelligence organizations purportedly used the forest for research into over-the-horizon radar systems to detect targets at very long ranges during the Cold War.

Shown here is a sculpture of a UFO ermanently exhibited in Bremerhaven, Germany. Image by Garitzko.

Shown here is a sculpture of a UFO permanently exhibited in Bremerhaven, Germany. Image by Garitzko.

Lamy says, when USAF patrolmen Burroughs and Parker said they saw the alien craft land in the forest, officials tried to convince them that an airplane crashed, but according to the airmen’s statements, there was odd electricity in the air and a sudden light flash before the airship rose upward. The following morning, men reported finding evidence of the UFO’s presence: broken tree tops, three holes in the ground in a triangular formation and ‘infrared radiation.’

When the UFO allegedly returned on the 27th, Base Commander Conrad asked his deputy, Lt. Col. Charles Halt, to investigate. Halt gathered a team of specialists, took a Geiger counter to measure radiation, and a Dictaphone to record notes. He set up a cordon around the woods to prevent curious airmen and villagers from getting in the way. An hour earlier, security patrol saw strange lights floating in the sky above the forest that suddenly disappeared. Radio communication to the base and with each other showed static interference, like that experienced the previous night.

Men in the forest sighted the UFO at 1:48 AM. They reported seeing a glowing light resting on a pillar of yellow mist moments before it split into an array of rainbow colors. They followed the craft for an hour before it shot up into the sky. Hundreds of military personnel and civilians witnessed the mysterious incident.

USAF police saw a dim reddish light opposite a lighthouse over an eerie mist on the ground. It transformed into a solid triangular object with a rough surface, that covered an area of approximately thirty feet. They described it as featuring a sharp pyramid about twenty feet high on top of the UFO. They also claimed that there was a distortion in perceptions and time; everything moved in a dreamlike pace.

At RAF Neatishead, an unidentified object appeared on radar. It returned no signal and outperformed the RAF’s aircraft. A major investigation requisitioned the Neatishead and RAF Watton radar tapes a few days later. USAF intelligence officers who collected the tapes at Watton claimed a UFO crashed and that the base’s senior officers witnessed it. They added that witnesses saw aliens floating in beams of light underneath the spacecraft.

Lamy wrote that UFO researcher Georgina Bruni published a “seminal” book about the Rendlesham UFO, You Can’t Tell the People, in November 2000 after she interviewed witnesses and toured the US base. Her research attracted the attention of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose words were, “You must have the facts, and you can’t tell the people.”

Speculation Prevails About the UFO Sightings

According to Lamy, Halt and his British liaison officer, Squadron Leader Donald Moreland, met with their respective governments. Lamy says they decided not to release any information to the public, but to allow subterfuge and speculation to prevail about what really happened in Rendlesham Forest.

Smurl Haunting: Alleged Paranormal Phenomena and Demons!

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Mass hallucinations and alleged witch-hunts have taken place for centuries – could the Smurl haunting be part of the same phenomenon? Image by Howard Pyle.

Strange things happened in the West Pittston, Pennsylvania, duplex where the Smurls lived. Janet and her husband Jack, along with children Heather, Dawn, Carin, and Shannon, and their German Shepherd named Simon, lived in the duplex next to Jack’s parents, John and Mary Smurl.  According to the Smurls, the phenomena began in 1974.

This case involves demonologists, a skeptic, a “priest,” and an exorcist who was an expert in the paranormal – what happened to the Smurls in the 1970s?

Alleged Paranormal Phenomena

The family claimed that a TV burst into flames, water pipes leaked, scratches appeared on walls, and toilets flushed by themselves. They also heard footsteps and music from unplugged radios while empty rocking chairs swayed, and experienced foul odors permeating the place, and drawers opening and closing by themselves. The Smurls also claimed the house had a paranormal macro menagerie: an incubus and a ghostly pig-like creature.

The Smurls stated that they tried to get help from the Scranton Roman Catholic Diocese, which said it would consult experts. Janet alleged she thought a Father O’Leary was helping, but she came to believe he was a demon in the disguise of a priest!

In 1986, the Smurls finally heard about and contacted self-proclaimed demonologists Lorraine and the now-late Ed Warren.

Warren Investigation and Exorcisms

The Warrens’ claim to fame stems from their involvement with The Amityville Horror which they proclaimed was real. The American Society for Psychical Research and other prestigious parapsychological organizations debunked this; one of the fraud’s perpetrators, George Weber, even confessed to the media that it was a hoax.

In West Pittston, the Warrens conducted no scientific investigation and didn’t question the Smurls about their feelings regarding the alleged phenomena; however, they announced that three spirits and a demon haunted the house. They asked a Father Robert F. McKenna (later a bishop, who was a member of an order of Catholicism that the Vatican does not recognize) to perform an exorcism. Two unsuccessful exorcisms ensued; the third one appeared to work, but the family later determined that it had failed.

It was around this time that the Smurls contacted the media and a book publisher.

CSICOP Investigation of Paranormal Activity

CSICOP is an acronym that stands for the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The organization investigates alleged paranormal phenomena. (The organization has since abbreviated their acronym to CSI.)

CSIOP Chairman Paul Kurtz offered to investigate the Smurl Haunting because of the attention the case garnered, and because of the Warrens’ involvement, and wrote a report about the results, “A Haunting in West Pittston? Not a Ghost of a Chance,” that appeared in the Winter  1986/87  issue of The Skeptical Inquirer.

Kurtz sent two teams of investigators to West Pittston. When they arrived, the Warrens denied them access to the house, although the Smurls gave one of the teams permission to investigate the Haunting claims. CSI members extensively phone interviewed the Smurls, neighbors and reporters working on the case.

What Caused the Smurl Haunting Reports?

Kurtz believed the hauntings were a hoax for a few reasons, including conflicting report from teenaged Dawn, and Jack’s health – he had brain surgery three years before the incidents to relieve water on the brain, which might contribute to delusions.

Allentown psychologist Robert Gordon thought that the family possibly suffered from mass hysteria similar that which happened during the Salem witch hunts and trials. He said shared tension might cause this, and common symptoms could involve delusions or hallucinations. When Kurtz asked the Smurls to undergo comprehensive psychological and physiological exams, they refused.

Neighbors had complained to town officials for years about foul stenches originating from a sewer pipe near the Smurl’s home as well, this could be the source of the odors the Smurls reported. In addition, There was intermittent settling of homes in the area due to layers of underground mine veins, which could have caused rocking chairs and other disturbances.

Kurtz noted the possibility that financial gain could have caused the hoax as well. Within days of the story about the alleged haunting making national news, a witness allegedly saw Jack negotiating with Scranton businessman Ralph Loma, head of the Star Group, a Hollywood production company. Jack initially denied this, but Loma confirmed he tried to get exclusive rights to the story about the case. In November, St. Martin’s Press proclaimed that it signed a book contract with the Smurls.

Ed Warren, in attempting to defend his refusal to allow the CSI team to investigate the Smurl’s home, called a press conference. He claimed he had tapes of terrifying sounds and a videotape of the dark form in the duplex. When someone asked for them, he couldn’t remember the name of the TV company to which he gave the tapes. He also said the Catholic Church had the “evidence.” The Catholic Church says that they don’t.

Scranton Diocese Investigation

The Scranton Diocese asked Father Alphonsus Trabold, exorcist, professor and paranormal expert from St. Bonaventure University, in New York, to investigate. When bishops feel that they don’t have a qualified exorcist in their diocese, they’re allowed to find one in another district. In 1998, I spoke with Father Trabold to find more information about the incredible phenomena in The Haunted, a book co-authored by the Warrens and the Smurls with Robert Curran.

Father Trabold told me at that time that he had previously worked with the Warrens until he discovered they weren’t sincere, were not what they purported to be, and were given to sensationalizing. He chuckled when explaining that when he went to one of their lectures, they saw him and toned down their act, so he wore disguises when he went to their future talks.

Father Trabold was very kind when he talked about the Smurl case and his investigation. He believed the family was sincere and that something happened, but he couldn’t say it was demonic.

Smurl Haunting Unproven

While the Smurls possibly experienced strange occurrences in their home, the facts don’t support proof of a demonic presence. Was their experience the result of mass hysteria, local conditions, greed, or some combination of the above? We may never know.

Reported Bigfoot Killing 2014: Déjà Vu 2008?

Stories of Bigfoot rampage throughout the world - is Rick Dryer's Bigfoot the real deal? Image by Plazak.

Stories of Bigfoot rampage throughout the world – is Rick Dryer’s Bigfoot the real deal? Image by Plazak.

On January 6, 2014, Rick Dyer told the press that he shot and killed a Bigfoot, also popularly known as Sasquatch or a cryptid, in the woods outside of the city about a year before. He said he heard the large ape-like hairy biped prowling near his tent and released a gritty clip from a video as proof.

Dyer is the same man who perpetuated a Bigfoot hoax in August 2008, but he’s not the first to make this claim; Bigfoot hoaxes actually began in the nineteenth century.   

Sasquatch Scam: Jacko

The first known Bigfoot hoax happened in Yale, British Columbia on June 30, 1884 when a hunter captured ‘Jacko. ‘The description of the creature makes it appear that he was a chimpanzee. Although newspapers published Bigfoot hoaxes to amuse readers, they didn’t attract national attention until the 1950s, courtesy of notorious scammer Ray Wallace.

Birth of Bigfoot

The 1958 “Birth of Bigfoot” case took place in California’s Bluff Creek region. Wallace created copious films, photographs, tape recordings, fake footprints and artifacts pertaining to the cryptid.

Patterson-Gimlin Tape

In 1967, it was time for another Bigfoot case. Roger Patterson and his assistant Bob Gimlin claimed they had a videotape of a Bigfoot. They shot this video, known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, in the Bluff Creek region. Wallace claimed he told Patterson where to videotape the Bigfoot.

Was the Bigfoot a person in costume? It’s easy to construct an apelike costumes, as evidenced by the film Planet of the Apes and sequels. Hair covers most of the cryptid’s body. The limbs are humanoid, necks are absent, faces and noses are flat with sloped foreheads and brow ridges and the heads are cone-shaped. Bigfoot is, on the average, 7 feet tall, according to reports, but photographers can overcome height discrepancies by choosing the right background.

While the public learned of Wallace’s trickery in the Birth of Bigfoot case, the Patterson-Gimlin video remains a subject of controversy because no evidence appeared to irrevocably contradict its claim. Patterson died in 1972 and avowed to the end of his life the film was genuine. Gimlin maintains the same.

Rick Dyer and Matthew Gary Whitton’s Bigfoot Scam

On August 16th, Matthew Gary Whitton and Rick Dyer claimed they were hiking in early June when they discovered the corpse of a seven-foot, seven-inch tall, five hundred pound, half-ape, half-human creature near a stream in Georgia and saw about three similar living creatures.

They maintained they stored the Bigfoot’s corpse in a freezer. The pair started a website in July, BigFootTracker.com, now long defunct, where they showed a picture of the Bigfoot’s corpse crammed into a freezer. The story made international news because this appeared legitimate, but a future event proved otherwise.

After a Bigfoot research group, Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., learned about the corpse; members signed a deal with Whitton and Dyer for an undisclosed sum of money. The pair gave the research group a block of ice that purportedly contained the corpse. The charlatans disappeared. When the ice melted, the group found a rubber ape suit filled with rotting animals’ entrails. Whitton and Dyer, in an interview with CNN, said that the fraud began as a joke, then ran amok when they decided to maintain the façade.

Bigfoot Dead? Texan Claims He Killed the Infamous Monster

According to ABC’s San Antonio, Texas affiliate KSAT, the same Rick Dyer is back in the news, claiming he nailed some Wal-Mart pork ribs to a tree to lure his prey so he could kill the creature. According to one lone source, regarding the KSAT broadcast, “Dyer says he shot and killed the mythical monster in a wooded area of California near Loop 1604 and Highway 151 in September 2012.”

Dyer released his own video with additional photos of the Bigfoot’s body, titled “New Bigfoot Pictures NOT on KSAT12,” and made a number of statements about the situation.

He said there was a long dispute with his investors and he had to go to the state of Washington to retrieve the creature’s body. Dyer claimed that he had someone conduct every test to prove the creature was a Bigfoot, including DNA, body scans and 3D optical scans. He said he would hold a news conference to reveal the test results and display the body.

Dyer claimed he invited over 100 people to see the body and he recorded their reactions when they saw it. He said the witnesses became believers. Dyer said that he, despite perpetuating past hoaxes, really shot a Bigfoot and claimed the title of the best Bigfoot tracker in the world. In order to prove this claim, Dyer said he would take the body on a road tour across North America and charge people a “small fee” to see the body after the future news conference ended.

In spite of his earlier television interview, Dyer told Portland, Oregon’s Fox News affiliate KPTV that he had to kill the Bigfoot for “redemption” because of his 2008 hoax. He also claimed there were a couple of Bigfoot animals, not just one. He said that he just received the body from a university in Washington, where the creature’s body underwent testing, but mentioned nothing about the investors having the body. He stated that he would hold a “medical press conference” on February 9th and university members would be there. Dyer also promised to donate the body to a museum after the tour.

The Death of Bigfoot 2014: Another Rick Dyer Hoax?

According to all previous reports of the 2014 Bigfoot story, except for one dissenting report, Dyer killed the Bigfoot in Texas. How did the investors get the body? Why was it transported to Washington? Was it kept in a freezer to prevent it from putrefying? If so, how was it kept from putrefying while being transported? At some point, someone taxidermied the body, but no one knows when. Why has the taxidermist kept silent?

Why did it take Dyer so long to reveal his killing a Bigfoot? Was it because of the dispute with the investors? Who are they? Why would people invest money for a known charlatan to continue his hunt for the elusive Bigfoot? Will the press conference actually take place on February 9th?

So many questions remain, but the only one who can provide all of the answers is known hoaxster, Rick Dyer.

Vampire Frauds: Charlatans’ Case Histories

Vampire Charlatans and Psycho Vamps Act Like the Living Dead.

Vampire charlatans acted like the living dead to get what they wanted. Image by David Henry Friston.

Historically, the belief in vampires has existed in many countries; most prevalent in the Slavic regions. People feared the creatures because they believed vampires could create droughts, crop failures, diseases, nightmares and poltergeist activity. According to legend, vampires could shapeshift into different animals; including cats, wolves and snakes. There were also European cases of vampire chicanery created to benefit the charlatans. These scammers profited from their fellow citizens’ fears.

Vampire Fraud in Baja Serbia

According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley in her book, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters, an unnamed man wore a shroud with bells sewn into it, a white cap and socks; daily visiting a recently widowed woman who lived with her in-laws, usually around midnight, in what is now Hungary. Other household members were so frightened that they ran from the house. When his visit was over, he left the house, screamed and rang the bells to imitate the sounds that people believed vampires made. After several months, suspicious young men captured the so-called vampire and revealed him as the family’s neighbor.

The couple confessed that they were having an affair, had poisoned her husband and decided to have the neighbor disguise himself as a vampire, so people would think that he was her dead husband. This scared the others out of the house so they would have a place to meet and continue their relationship. The result? A death sentence for both.

Fake Vampires in Decani, Kosovo

Guiley also tells us that after World War I, Slavic Muslim Gypsies feigned vampiricism and travelled from town to town. They damaged crops and scared people, usually by throwing stones from rooftops during the night. The terrified people fled from their homes. The “vampires” eluded the police–until they stopped at Decani.

The village monastery’s abbot climbed on top of the roofs and saw the men throwing stones while the women and children stole crops from the fields and property from inside homes. He or someone called the police which ended the “vampire’s” thefts.

Vampire Charlatan in Zagradje, Montenegro

Professor T. J. Vulkanovic wrote that his uncle was a charlatan vampire during the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars. His uncle covered himself with a sheet and travelled around local villages for liaisons with young women. The uncle told the girls he was a vampire, so he could have his way with them. Finally, one night, armed peasants in Zagradje chased him with their dogs and almost killed him. He then stopped his illegal jaunts. Vulkanovic’s account is in Jan L. Perkowski’s book, Vampire of the Slavs, in the chapter appropriately titled “The Vampire.”

Vampires Through the Ages

Over the years, unethical people have used ‘vampires’ as a way to avoid trouble or take advantage of the unwary.

  • Women have created vampire hoaxes to hide prohibited love affairs when they became pregnant, claiming that the babies’ fathers were vampires. People believed that vampires were sexually voracious and returned to have trysts with spouses or others, and were too scared to ask any questions.
  • Some charlatans pretended that they were vampires when food was scarce, and wore shrouds. They raided granaries and mills to get the provisions they wanted.
  • There were also young people who gathered together, wore cloaks and vandalized towns, as “vampires,” most likely for fun.

Whether they were trying to steal crops or get friendly with local girls, fake vampires in many different forms captured the attention of those around them. Unfortunately, as you can see, the vamp’s tales typically had unhappy endings.

Croglin Grange Vampire: Chicanery and Controversy

Was the Coglin vampire have been based on pulp fiction, or historical fact? Image by

Was the Coglin Grange vampire have been based on pulp fiction, or historical fact? Lithograph by R. de Moraine (1864)

As the story goes, Croglin Grange in Cumberland, England, was a one-story stone dwelling on a hill near a primeval churchyard and church. According to legend, the Fisher family owned it for centuries; then in the 1800s, the Fishers moved into a larger home and rented the property. In the spring, siblings Edward, Michael and Amelia Cranswell leased the dwelling. Was this the beginning of a vampire story or a pulp-fiction hoax?

Croglin Grange Vampire: The First Encounter

According to the legend, the first encounter came when the weather was hot. Amelia didn’t feel well, so she went to bed early, and closed the window. As she looked out of the window, Amelia saw what looked like two small lights in the churchyard, which moved from the graveyard, went over the wall and approached the house. Amelia felt anxious, bolted her bedroom door, ensured that the window was securely locked, then went to bed to try to sleep.

As the story goes, Amelia heard rustling by her window and scratching at its pane; then she saw a shriveled brown face and glowing eyes. The creature removed a pane, then unlocked the window – then stalked toward her, then bit her throat. Amelia shrieked, and her brothers rushed to her room; they had to break the locked door open with a poker. One brother tended to Amelia while the other went to the window and saw something race toward the churchyard, then disappear over a wall.

Someone sent for a doctor, who told them that they should take a vacation after her wound healed. The trio went to Switzerland. After Amelia recuperated, legend tells us, they returned to the Grange. Upon their return, the creature repeated the visit. The brothers investigated the churchyard, and found a hideous creature in a coffin, which they burned until only ashes remained.

Croglin Grange Vampire Controversy

Where did the story of the Croglin Grange vampire originate? Clergyman, writer and storyteller Dr. Augustus Hare included the event in his book, Story of My Life, published in 1875, saying he heard it from a Captain Fisher. According to another source, however, the book’s name is Memorials of a Quiet Life and was published in 1871. The accounts are the same, but with varying sources; a little like memes that circulate on Facebook today.  Controversy and investigations ensued.

  • In 1924, Charles G. Harper decided to challenge Hare’s account about the vampire. He visited Cumberland and couldn’t find a house named Croglin Grange. He found a Croglin High Hall and a Croglin Low Hall, but neither fit the Grange’s description. There was no church and no vault nearby, as described by the brothers and villagers. Harper concluded that the entire story was false.
  • Later, F. Clive-Ross challenged Harper’s findings. He claimed he interviewed local people and presumed that Croglin Low Hall was what Hare referred to as the Grange. A chapel existed near the house and its foundation stones were still there in the 1930s. He discovered that Hare made a massive error; the story took place in the 1680s, not the 1870s.
  • In 1968, parapsychologist and writer, D. Scott Rogo challenged Hare’s story once more, linking it to a popular book, Varney the Vampire, published in 1847, with an unknown author. The book was a sensational “Penny Dreadful” pulp. Some of the authors who wrote exciting pulps didn’t admit they wrote them. Rogo’s research proved there was another “Penny Dreadful,” published in 1929, that had Varney and the Grange in it. He believed, as a result, that it’s highly likely Croglin Grange was a hoax.

Vampire Stories: Recent Research

Journalist and writer Lionel Fanthorpe recently researched the vampire stories and theorizes that some events happened in the 1600s. In Oliver Cromwell’s era, someone demolished a vault close to the Grange.

Is it possible that Varney’s anonymous author and either Fisher or Harper knew bits of history about the vaults and decided use them as bases for their horror stories? Either way, the locals don’t consider Croglin Grange chicanery – they view it as folklore.