Animal mutilations have been in the news for more than three decades and represent one of the most curious phenomena of the past forty years. There is strong evidence that some mutilations might have been related to the appearance of UFOs, and it was this possible link that got my attention.
The first few reports came in the late 1960s. In the mid-1970s there was
almost an epidemic of mutilations in the American west, especially in Colorado
and New Mexico. Then the numbers dwindled for a time only to start rising
again in the late 1990s. More
than a dozen mutilations were reported in Montana
in 2001 and in Argentina in 2002. (The Argentine mutilations, began in late April 2002 and
were continuing with great frequency well into September as this was being
(The Argentine mutilations,in a broad area southwest of Buenos Aires,
began in late April 2002 and were continuing with great frequency well into September as this was being written.)
Cattle and horses seem to be the favorite targets of whoever or whatever is behind the mutilations, but apparently no animal, domestic or wild, is immune.
Carcasses of animals were found with portions of the body – such as strips of skin or flesh around the head, neck or jaw – removed with a precision unmatched by human surgeons. Sometimes the eyes, ears or tongue are removed, the rectal area is cored out, and the reproductive organs removed.
Usually there are no tracks of animal, man or vehicles near the bodies, and other animals, including predators, avoid going near the bodies.
This is a controversial subject. A number of people declare mutilations are nothing more than the work of predators, such as coyotes and birds. Other people, especially ranchers who owned the animals, vehemently deny such claims, saying there is no way predators could be involved. Law enforcement officials, veterinarians and other scientists have weighed in on both sides of the issue.
In quite a number of cases “strange lights” were seen in the sky just before carcasses were found, further adding to the dispute because some people involved – particularly ranchers and police officers – believed UFOs were the culprits.
PEIECE OF PAPER UNDER CARCASS
I was never deeply involved in the mutilation phenomenon. I got interested in mutilations in 1977 because of the possible UFO connection, spending four days in Colorado talking to farmers, ranchers and police officers. Except for some phone queries in the following years and a few interviews while on vacation in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico in 1980, I never looked into any other mutilations.
The first case I ever heard about concerned a cow owned by farmer Jerry Karg in Logan County, Colorado. The man who told me about it was David Wagner, a neighbor of Karg’s and farmer himself.
"This was one of Jerry Karg's cows,” said Wagner, then sixty-nine. “I found it. I guess it was one of the first ones that was mutilated out here.
"The way it happened, I had a calf missing and there's this pasture a quarter of a mile from me and I went over there to check on this calf. I saw this cow lying there by this gate. I didn't pay much attention to it. It looked like she was trying to have a calf and I thought they had had a vet there and I figured she'd died so they just left her lay there.
"But when I was coming back from the pasture, I checked that cow. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon and they had a piece of paper lying right under her rectum about eighteen inches wide and three foot long. I don't know what kind of paper it was, some kind of wax paper it looked like, but that's all they had done.
"I think what happened was I must have just walked in on them and scared them off, because after I left that's when they come back and finished her off. They took her tongue out, cut one tit off, one ear off and had the jawbone cleaned off just slicker’n a whistle."
Wagner told me this story in August 1977, two years after he found the mutilated animal. The “they” he kept talking about wasn’t anyone he had seen, but referred to the unknown mutilators.
NO MEAT ON JAWBONE
"When I went to work the next day," Wagner said, "I heard about a mutilation, so when I came back home that afternoon I went over to this cow again. The only reason I went there the first time was because she had a tag in her ear and I wanted to see whose cow it was. That's how come I knew.
“The tag was laying there but they had the ear. And it was just a slick cut around the rectum, about nine inches or a foot around, pulled all that out and cut one tit off and one ear and one side of the face and the jawbone was still in, pulled her tongue out, and they had this jawbone just like you'd sandpapered it. Boy, it was slick! Wasn't a bit of meat on it.”
I flew to Denver on August 29, 1977, rented a car and drove to Sterling, the county seat of Logan County, about eighty miles northwest of Denver. I spent four days in that area and learned that Karg's cow was one of the first reported mutilated in Logan County.
Between August 1975 and August 1977, the Logan County sheriff and his deputies investigated seventy-seven such mutilation deaths. There were probably more because some ranchers and farmers simply stopped reporting them because they felt there was nothing anybody could do.
Dr. T. L. Rieke, a veterinarian who had practiced in Sterling since the early 1940s, performed an autopsy on the Karg cow.
"I don't entirely go along with what you call mutilations," Dr. Rieke said when we met in his home in Sterling. "But I am puzzled about one thing. There's something there that I don't know for sure about. When I ‘posted’ her, the uterus was gone, taken out from behind, which is unusual."
I asked Dr. Rieke how he could explain the missing uterus.
“I don't," he replied. "That's still got me baffled. I don't know."
A number of people believe the mutilations were simply the work of predators, such as coyotes and the like, but many ranchers, farmers and law enforcement officers strongly dispute that.
When I talked with Wagner about Karg's cow, he said: "Couldn't have been predators. You could see the marks. It was a knife cut. It was just as slick as a whistle. If it had been predators, you could have seen the teeth marks. And there were no tracks whatever. I looked real close."
Wagner also believed the cow had been killed just before he spotted it.
"I live just across the road from Karg's place and this Donald McDonald, who owns the pasture, he was there fixing the fence that afternoon. He had an appointment in Denver and he left there at two-thirty sharp and there wasn't a thing there at that time. The cow wasn't there then. So, between two-thirty and four o'clock is when it happened. That's when they got the cow.
"When I left there I drove clear around the road to where my cattle were and, hell, I couldn't get within a block of them. They were so spooked when I stopped they just took off with their tails in the air just like a bunch of deer.
"So they (the mutilators) either came back right after I left or that evening or the next morning. I don't know when it was. I get off work at three o'clock and when I got home is when I went over and checked again. The piece of paper was gone the next day."
In the past thirty-five years, thousands of such animal mutilations have been reported throughout the United States. There were so many UFO sightings reported around the same time mutilation deaths occurred that many people were convinced UFOs were behind the mutilations. Others felt mutilations and UFOs are simply part of the same overall phenomenon.
At that time, animal mutilations had been reported in about two-thirds of the states, with Colorado being hit especially hard, particularly the eastern part of the state. Logan County had a fairly heavy toll, with mysterious lights in the sky – dubbed “Big Mama and the baby UFOs” – often being reported.
"There is a very definite connection between the lights and the mutilations because each time we’ve had mutilations the lights have been seen," Harry L. “Tex” Graves, then sheriff of Logan County, told me in an interview in his office in Sterling.
HUGE BRILLIANT SPOT IN THE SKY
A round-faced man, then forty-seven, with dark hair and mustache, he talked willingly about mutilations but when I phoned some time later he politely declined to say anything more because, he said, he had been misquoted too many times. The year after I talked with him, he ran for re-election and lost and went into private business in Sterling.
“Big Mama,” he told me in that first interview, “looked like a huge brilliant star that would sit in one spot in the sky for ten minutes to an hour and a half and then suddenly disappear at great speed. Sometimes small lights would appear to drop out of Big Mama and then shoot off horizontally and vanish in several seconds.
"Sometimes, after the little ones drop down, you can look down on the ground and see one, two or three little ones down around there. When the little ones get done with whatever they're doing, then they join up with the big one and they disappear."
Graves said the object definitely moved across the sky, sometimes hanging motionless for a while and then moving away very rapidly.
"We've chased it by plane without lights, we’ve chased it with cars, we've even taken men out before dark and stationed them in remote areas and we still can't get close and see what it is. It’s weird, very strange.”
Deputy Bob Stone described Big Mama as "a big, huge white light. Through the telescope, it looks just like a huge circle. It seems to stay in a certain place for a while and then it will move at an incredible rate of speed and it's gone.
"One night Deputy Gary Cure and I were but watching Big Mama and it appeared that another light came out from underneath and in three seconds it just went out of sight it was moving so fast."
Undersheriff Jerry Wolever, then forty, said that when the mutilations were really heavy in 1975 and 1976 the sheriff's office was getting reports of strange lights almost every night.
RARELY ANY TRACKS NEAR CARCASSES
"We were receiving calls about lights daily and nightly and we had this one map plumb full of little colored pins, and then we started putting up our other map of where the mutilations were occurring and they were concentrated in the areas where the light reports came from," said Wolever.
"I'm not saying the mutilations are the result of UFOs but we think it stands a doggoned good possibility. Anything that's unidentified in the air that's not supposed to be there at that particular time of night could be identified as a UFO. It could also be a spook from out there," he pointed his thumb toward the sky, “so we’re not ruling that out either.
"We've talked about it among ourselves many times. It wouldn't surprise us a bit if one night we popped over a hill and in our headlights we'd catch a flying saucer and little green men mutilating a cow.”
In the so-called "classic mutilation” the victim is usually a cow, although bulls are often found, with horses and other animals forming a small percentage of the known cases. Rarely are any tracks of man or animal or vehicle found near the carcasses.
For some reason other animals, both domestic and wild, refuse to go near the bodies. Whole sections of skin or hide are removed without cutting the cross hairs of the hide or leaving any trace of a blade mark on the flesh underneath. The sexual and reproductive organs are sometimes removed and the entire rectum area is cored out.
The bodies frequently had no blood in them and they decomposed either very rapidly or very slowly. Sometimes the animals were found flat on their backs with all four legs sticking straight up in the air, an unnatural position for an animal. Occasionally animals were found with their front legs and shoulders tucked underneath them, as if they had suddenly fallen dead in mid-stride or had been dropped.
HEALTHY BULL BECO/MES A VICTIM
"We had two mutilated animals that weighed about a thousand pounds each and one that weighed about eleven hundred pounds that got hit by lightning," said Graves. "We watched these three carcasses for twenty-three days and the one that got killed by lightning, the predators had strung it over a quarter of a block chewing on it and twenty-three days later it still had flesh on it for the animals to eat and chew on.
"The two that got hit by mutilators, in nine days they were completely gone and no animals had chewed on them. All that was left was the bleached bones and dried skin, like they'd been out in the sun maybe six months.
"The predators would not go near the other two animals. The closest predators would come was between twenty-two and twenty-five feet. You can even see in the sand and dirt where the predators had gotten into a fight, but not close to the carcasses. Neither will animals in the pasture, cattle or horses. There's something there the animals know that we don't."
Sheriff Graves told of another case involving a two-thousand-pound bull.
"When he made up his mind to go, you couldn't hold him. He just went, through a corral fence, a barbed wire fence, anything. Well, about three o'clock the afternoon before, he was as frisky as the dickens, ate well, drank well. At noon the next day we got a call that he was laying out in this pasture.
“During the night two big dogs at the house had begun barking and woke the people up in the house. When they let the dogs out, they ran out about twenty or thirty feet to the fence and then stopped and came back whining. They were headed toward the spot where the bull was found dead the next day.”
Most veterinarians believed predators are responsible, but Graves and many other law officers and ranchers strongly disagreed.
"My chief deputy was raised on a ranch, I was raised on a farm, my undersheriff grew up around here and my other people grew up on farms and ranches," said Graves. "We've seen what predators can do and what they will do.
IMPOSSIBLY PRECISE CUTS
"We've checked out a lot that we felt were natural deaths. The animals had chewed on them. You could see the tracks of the animals around the critter. You could see the dig marks where they'd got a bite and tugged and jerked and their feet slid, but with the mutilated ones there's none of this. None whatsoever.
"If you’ve ever watched a coyote or dog, they'll bite and they'll tear. While they're doing this, their feet are digging into the ground. But there's none of this near a mutilated animal. The earth's not disturbed in any way."
Graves said he and his men had tried to cut the skin on an animal without cutting the hair.
“The hair lays down flat and if you cut through that you’ve got to cut the hair. But where they take these patches of the animals there's never any hair cut. It's as if the hair was standing up and the blade went right between the hairs, which is impossible to do.
"Another thing, if you take a good sharp blade like a razor or a scalpel and try to cut a patch of skin out, that blade is going to go through and nick the flesh underneath. You'll have a hairline cut or something, and we've never found a hairline cut on the flesh. They never take any of the flesh at all, just the hide and these other parts.'
The mutilations have often been described as having been done with surgical precision, perhaps even with lasers. In her Emmy Award-winning television documentary for Denver's Channel 7 in 1980, Linda Moulton Howe had a surgeon try to duplicate the mutilation cuts on a dead chicken. Using a sharp scalpel, the surgeon cut a hole in the skin about the size of a silver dollar. It was jagged in comparison to the cuts made on mutilated carcasses.
The surgeon then used a laser to cut another hole. It left burned scar tissue around the edges of the hole, whereas the cuts on a mutilated carcass are neat and clean and unburned.
CULTS RULED OUT
Logan County Chief Deputy Tom Bohannon, a tall, square-shouldered man, said he and the other officers had considered the possibility of cult members doing the mutilating.
"The subject entered out minds but we disregarded that because of the type of equipment it took to do the job it would be an enormous price," he said. "I don’t think even all the churches in the country could subsidize the activity and the equipment that it takes.
“Any time you get a human involved in a mutilation of the type we’re talking about, you're going to find evidence at the scene. At the present time I don't know of any equipment available through the government or private enterprise that's capable of being operated to the extent that it won't leave some sort of track that would lead us in the direction that would solve the crime."
Kenneth Gillham, who owned a farm ten miles north of Sterling, found two of his cattle mutilated just two weeks before I visited the area.
"One heifer was in a drainage ditch on her back with all four legs sticking straight up in the air," Gillham, then sixty-three, told me. "There was about ten inches of water running in this ditch. There was no mud on her feet up in the hair part. The hoof part had just a little mud but the pasture was wet
"It's real strange how she got there. If she'd walked into creek by herself, she would have had mud up to her knees, but they were plumb clean.”
Except in two cases where strange indentations were found in the ground, no tracks of any kind were ever found near a mutilated animal in Logan County, Sheriff Graves said. "No foot prints, no tracks, no hand marks, no knee prints."
In one of those two other cases, Richard Gillham found indentations in the ground on his father's ranch near Peetz in the northern part of the county after he discovered a cow that had been mutilated. It was about six miles from the ranch house.
SAUCER-SHAPED DENTS IN GROUND
"There were a series of circles about four inches in diameter," said Gillham, then twenty-seven. "These circles were around five feet apart and in tripod formations. This would be about forty feet from the cow. They were indentations. The ground was real hard and these dents were probably a quarter to half an inch deep, which means there must have been some weight on them.
"Jerry Wolever came out and took a bunch of pictures of the cow. It had some kind of white chalky stuff on it they had never seen before.
"The cow laid there a long time after I found it. Usually in this area with the coyote population being what it has been they will pretty well work an animal over. But it laid there and completely deteriorated and we never did see anything really chew on it."
Sheriff Graves said the other case occurred southwest of Sterling.
"The marks there were around fourteen inches apart and they just looked like a saucer that had been turned upside down and set in the ground," said Graves. "They were the same pod marks just like the big ones, disc-shaped, only they were about fourteen inches apart."
Two curious incidents occurred during this period in Logan, which is a huge county with vast open areas dotted with missile sites that are under the command of Warren Air Force Base in nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming.
High fences and electronic gear, sensitive enough to be set off by a rabbit hopping through or a bird flying by, surround the missile silos. Each group of silos is under the control of a Launch Control Facility, which is under the control of Warren AFB. One of those launch control facilities was located near Peetz.
In late September 1975, Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Gillham and another couple saw strange lights on their way home to their ranch near Peetz. A month later they found a mutilated cow on their ranch and a month after that Mrs. Gillham was home alone one night when she saw another strange light in the sky.
MYSTERIOUS BIG RED LIGHT
“I called Laverne Wagner and he and another deputy and a fellow that was in the sheriff's posse came over," said Mrs. Gillham. "The light was gone by the time they arrived and we sat having some coffee, wondering if it would come back again. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the light again. So they jumped in their cars and went over there."
Roger Adams, a neighboring rancher who was a member of the sheriff's posse, was one of the three men.
"By the time we got there the light had gone out but it seemed to us the light came from one of the missile silos about ten miles from the Gillham place,” Adams said. "The light went out by the time we got within two or three miles of it. It was real red and a pretty good size for showing up that far.
"When we arrived at the missile silo, we found two young soldiers in a jeep, armed with rifles. They were just locking the gate and coming out. One of them was talking to somebody on a two-way radio and telling them about us stopping them and told the fellow on the other end that there was no problem. We talked to them for a few minutes, took down their identifications and the number of the jeep."
The next day Sheriff Graves routinely checked the IDs with officials at Warren Air Force Base.
"We talked with some major or colonel and we were told they had no record of any soldiers or jeep with those IDs," said Graves.
The other incident also involved two men who were believed to have been Air Force personnel.
“I was flying that night,” said Undersheriff Wolever, who is a pilot. "That particular night we had received a call that lights had been sighted in Battle Canyon west of Peetz, and later we received another call up in the Chimney Canyon area.
PHONY AIR FORCE MEN?
"We sent three cars out and I was up in the plane with a friend. Tom Bohannon met up with a couple of Air Force men north of Pawnee Pass, and Tex Graves was in his car going toward where this light had been reported. Up in the plane we could see this light but it always stayed the same distance ahead of us.
"Tom Bohannon’s car was parked side by side with the Air Force pickup truck and the Air Force people said they were receiving radio messages from Warren stating that they had a fix on their radar on a helicopter. I was headed northwest toward Kimball, Nebraska, and couldn't see anything.
“About that time we got another message from Bohannon stating that the Air Force had said another aircraft was seen north and east of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. They had one of their vehicles go to the missile silo at Pine Bluffs to turn the lights on so we would be able to spot it.
"When we got there we saw the lights and a pickup truck leaving the area, and about that time the Air Force said a fixed-wing aircraft had been seen east of us towards Potter and Dix in Nebraska. We headed in that general direction but about the time we got there they said it had been seen west of Kimball. So we just came right back. When we got there, they said it was sitting on the ground.
"This was all supposedly coming from Warren Air Force Base through their pickup to our deputy, who was radioing the information to us. But when we got back there we saw nothing, and we flew back over to the missile site. Meanwhile, Tex was driving back and forth in his car
“By the time we got back to Kimball, they stated that whatever had been on the ground had taken off again, was airborne and was headed southeast in the same direction we were.
"We never saw a thing. We had been flying about three and a half hours and were low on gas, so we went back home.
"The next day we started checking and found out Warren has only weather radar, which covers only about fifteen miles, and Warren is about eighty miles from us. So they couldn't have been tracking this whatever it was.
ANOTHER COUNTY HIT HARD
"Another thing that was funny was that one time they said 'helicopter' and another time they said 'fixed wing aircraft.' I know they have some pretty sophisticated (radar) equipment but I don't think any of it can tell whether it's a helicopter or a fixed wing. The guy that I had with me had been a Vietnam helicopter pilot and he said that sure sounds strange. So, that's why we started checking the next day and found out Warren only had weather radar.
"Tom Bohannon felt there was something screwy going on. He said they were jabbering on the radio and he couldn't hear everything that came on the radio to them. He said then one of the men would walk over from the pickup and tell him what supposedly had come over the radio. So, we don't know. We kind of figured (later) that the Air Force people kind of screwed us around."
I asked Wolever if Bohannon was sure these were genuine Air Force people he was talking to.
"Well, you have those Air Force pickups running around here all the time day and night, so it's hard to say. Bohannon didn't know the guys he was talking to.”
Elbert County, southeast of Denver, was hit even harder than Logan, with eighty-eight mutilations in 1976 and 1977. William Waugh, then undersheriff of Elbert County who retired in October 1979, investigated many of them.
"I'm very interested in the mutilations," said Waugh, a blue-eyed, square-jawed man with steel gray hair, during a visit to his home just west of Kiowa in June 1980. "I'm curious like everyone else. I don't have a closed mind but I lean more and more toward UFOs than anything else."
Since early 1976, Elbert had recorded about a hundred mutilations with eighty-eight of them coming in 1976 and 1977, Waugh said.
"When the mutilations started, we didn't know what the hell was going on. We soon found out. Half the people around Kiowa were scared to death.
CALF WEDGED UNDER TREE ROOTS
"Around here we hadn't even heard of mutilations when we first went out on one. We had ranchers who didn't believe it until it happened to them and then they changed their tune. But we could never get our vet to admit it.
"I took a photograph once of a calf that was wedged down under a root of a tree, with its head on one side and its hind feet and tail on the other. There were no tracks. It could never in the world have gotten there by itself. Even if it had gotten down on its knees, as a cow sometimes will, it couldn't have gotten through there, and the calf was wedged in there.
"I went out on another one southwest of Elbert and the cow was on the side of a hill with her head down. Now, a cow will never lay down that way. Their head would be up, but this one was laying down the other way
"Another time there were headlines where the CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) claimed predators and not mutilators were to blame. Right after that the sheriff found a cow in a creek bed east of Simla. There were no tracks in the sand and the rectum had been cut out but the inside was packed with sand. It was just packed in there and yet there were no marks where the sand had been scooped up or anything in the ditch. The sheriff made the remark, 'Well, it looks to me like they were mad because the CBI said predators and they just wanted to show us.'
"And there was this other cow that had fallen in this one spot and then crawled over to where we found her. She left a trail of blood. That's why we started checking and found where she had been down. It looked like she had used all her strength to get to where she died, but she didn’t die instantly. Yet, there were no other marks on her and we couldn't find any prints or any tracks outside of hers.
“If these animals were dropped, that would rule out a helicopter. You cannot get a helicopter near a herd of cattle without them scattering, being afraid. You could with something silent, you know, come in and pick one of them up and maybe the others wouldn't be alarmed. But with a helicopter, you couldn't get into a herd."
OFFICER ENCOUNTERS TWO UFOS
After a while, Waugh said, many ranchers stopped calling the sheriff's office to report mutilations. "They said it never did any good to call the Sheriff's Department because they can't do anything about it. I'd say, 'Well, that's true, but at least on my part I would like to know.’”
Waugh said he had had several personal encounters with UFOs.
"One morning around two-thirty or three, a posse man and I were sitting down on the road and we saw a big orange ball of light coming up behind a house. I saw three little lights in what could be a cockpit, but you couldn't see anything else. It was moving fast.
"Another time one came right down the road at me and it was car level, just like the lights on a car coming at me. And then it went down! This thing came at me right down the road and it scared me. Anytime a man says he doesn't get scared by anything is a damned fool or a liar. I was scared.
"I cut my motor and grabbed my rifle and jumped out of the car but the thing seemed to have gone down into the ground. I mean it vanished. There was a dip in the road but it was just a short ways in front of me. It went down and didn't show up again. I don't know what happened to it.
"What I had seen was just a big orange ball. That's what we'd see in the sky every time there was mutilation."
Although he grabbed his rifle, he said he wouldn't have shot at it. "I made up my mind to this – if I came across something I wasn't going to start shooting until I knew exactly what I was shooting at because if I did and they can kill a cow and we don't know how, my shotgun or rifle or .38 or whatever isn't going to be nothing, and I wasn't going to be stupid enough to shoot at them and get them mad at me.
"I used to tell people there’s nothing to be afraid of. If they wanted to take people they would have taken them before they took cattle. I don't think, outside of the ranchers losing beef, it's anything to worry about unless they decide to start experimenting on humans.'
POD MARKS INDICATE COW WAS CHASED
One of the most unusual mutilation cases involving pod marks occurred on a ranch twelve miles east of Dulce, New Mexico, in June 1976. State Trooper Gabe Valdez and Howard Burgess, a retired Sandia Laboratories scientist, investigated the case.
"It was very surprising," Valdez said in describing his reaction to the mysterious markings that he found. "I knew it was real strange. We went to the scene and about five hundred yards away from the mutilated cow we found evidence of where a big craft had landed. We found triangular-shaped pod marks and leading off from it were smaller tripod marks. They were real visible.
"The pod marks were circular and fourteen inches in diameter. One side of the triangle formed by the marks was five feet long, one was six feet and the other six and a half feet. You could tell where it smashed the grass where it had landed.
“The little pod marks were four inches in diameter and each leg of the triangle was twenty-eight inches. From the depth of the indentation, I estimated the weight of the small object was about a hundred pounds.
"The small pod marks came out of the biggest side of the craft, the six and a half foot side, about five hundred yards from the mutilated animal. We could trace where the animal was eating at the time they started chasing her.
"They chased the cow a good six hundred yards and they hit her with something. We suspect it was some kind of a tranquilizer. She fell down, struggled and got up, walked a ways farther, fell down again, then got up again and then she finally fell down and died.
"We could tell all this from the marks in the ground. The ground was real soft. We could tell she'd been chased because you could see the small tripod marks after her and see where the cow was running away.
“There were two or three of the little objects following the cow. Those tripod marks were all over the field. They chased the cow and they returned to the craft. We were able to follow the tracks all the way to where the cow was mutilated and back to the aircraft again.
OILY SUBSTANCE FOUND
"Every place the small tripod followed the cow, it would scorch the grass. You could see where the grass was scorched.
"We also found an oily substance in the middle of these small tripod marks. But we couldn't analyze it because it disintegrated. All we know is that the laboratory said it was a petroleum-type substance. They couldn't identify it."
Valdez said no one on the ranch had seen anything strange at the time but he did get reports from others in the area.
"People reported seeing during the night strange flying craft in the area. They were seeing these huge kind of blimp craft with of lights on it.”
At the mutilation scene, Valdez found that the cow's udder, reproductive organs, one eye, the left ear and the tongue had been removed.
Manuel Gomez, the owner of the ranch, may have interrupted the mutilators in the middle of the job. Howard Burgess, who helped Officer Valdez investigate many mutilations, said:
"The interesting thing was that the owner of the cow got there and the mutilation job was about half done. Some of the parts that had been removed were lying alongside of her. He jumped back in his truck and headed for town to get Valdez.
"When they came back, the job was finished. All the parts were gone and in the tire tracks that Gomez had left on his first trip were these little round pod marks where they had walked over his tire prints.
"This is one of the best cases I’ve ever seen for proof that it is an actual cutting job. They were evidently interrupted in the middle of it. Gomez has to come up a long canyon and you could hear the truck coming before he ever came in view of the cow."
UFOS INVOLVED, SAYS SCIENTIST
Burgess, who retired in 1973 after working in the development of atomic weapons and space programs at Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque, checked the scene for possible radiation.
"We found radiation," he said. "It wasn't outstandingly high but it was high enough to be unusual or not expected. This radiation was not on the animal itself but around the area where the craft had landed."
Valdez later found two other cases with similar pod marks, both in 1978.
"I found pod marks again on Manuel Gomez's ranch right in Dulce and the other was at the ranch of the tribal police chief, a good fourteen miles west of Dulce.”
Valdez said that after the first mutilation on the Gomez ranch in 1976, he had investigated more than forty others over the next several years. Both he and Burgess believe UFOs were involved.
Said Burgess: "I've followed the UFO thing since it first happened in 1947, when they really got going, and I've had two really good sightings of my own while I was on work duty in atomic research, with other people, so I have witnesses.
"With the true definition of unidentified flying objects, if it is unidentified to me and I use all the things I can think of to identity it and if I can't, then it's a UFO. That doesn't necessarily mean little green men, but, yes, there are UFOs involved in these mutilations."
Then he added: "I am familiar with cases that leave you with the feeling that the surgery was completed on board a hovering craft and the carcasses then lowered or dropped to the ground. This would explain the lack of all tracks and the cleanliness of the blood removal."
During a visit to Chama, New Mexico in July 1980, I had another talk with Officer Valdez.
EVIDENCE INDICATES UFOS
"The UFO thing is pretty convincing," Valdez said as we sat in the shade of a motel porch. "I keep trying to disregard UFOs but it keeps coming back. A lot of law enforcement people are embarrassed because UFOs keep coming up in this. But who else has the sophisticated aircraft? The veterinarians can't figure it out.
"I keep trying to push the UFO thing aside but you can't push it aside because there's too much evidence. Every time we see these lights we have a mutilation.
“If we have a cult move into the area, I'll know about it. I know the people here. If someone murders someone, I'll find him sooner or later. If there's arson, I'll find out who did it. But the mutilations I can’t solve.
"If predators are involved, we have some predators with super powers, because we find where these carcasses are being lifted up off the ground and later they leave clamp marks on the legs. It is also hard for me to believe that a predator can take the heart out of an animal through a small wound in the neck."
When are the mutilations going to stop? Who is doing it? What can we do to prevent this?
These are questions that Manuel Gomez asked at a mutilation conference called by U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt of New Mexico in Albuquerque in April 1979. Gomez, one of more than a dozen speakers, had lost five head of cattle at that time.
"It's not easy for myself or my family, the fear and mental anguish all the time, not knowing when or where or how many more mutilations will occur, tonight, tomorrow or the day after," said Gomez.
Rawleigh Tafoya, the tribal police chief, also spoke, telling the conference: "I personally lost three head of cows and my neighbor, Mr. Gomez, has lost quite a few. Other tribal members have lost cattle too. We are concerned about the cattle, but we're wondering if that’s the extent of these mysterious things that are happening.
"I'm beginning to wonder whether the lives of human beings may be next. We don't know what we're dealing with. Some people have mentioned UFOs. I personally don't believe in UFOs because I have never seen one. I have never seen all the lights that have been seen. Now, my officers have, and I have no reason to doubt what they have seen. They have seen something but we don’t know what it is. Because we don't know what we're dealing with, we are concerned.
"There definitely is something going on there. My tribe has expressed concern. What's next? Who's next?"