Tony Brangalia sent me a note about the Lydia Sleppy story as it relates to the Roswell case and since we can document that she told this prior to interviews with Stan Friedman, Bill Moore and me, I thought I should pass it along.
Tony wrote, "Peter Gutilla, a correspondent with Saga, first learned of Lydia's story (essentially ‘by accident’) in a 1973 conversation he had with Lydia's son, who was employed as a Park Ranger and who was referred to simply as ‘G. Sleppy.’
"Lydia's son was actually relating to Gutilla his own sighting of a UFO that he had seen in the woods sometime prior. He then mentioned to Peter that his mother (Lydia) had a far more interesting UFO story to tell.
"Gutilla happened to relate to Stan Freidman his unusual conversation with G. Sleppy... Today Gutilla seems somewhat circumspect that his unacknowledged lead had helped provide to the world what would one day become the Roswell saga.... Gutilla is still around as a low-key 'hobbyist fortean,' with a few articles he authors appearing on the net from time to time, often on cryptozoological subjects like Bigfoot.
"Lydia's story first appeared in an article (related only in part, and without using her name) in the Winter 1974 issue of Saga (actually it was Saga’s UFO Report on page 60). The article was authored by Stan Friedman and by his co-author Bobbi Allen Slate (deceased.)"
So what did that short note say? "...[I]n New Mexico, a woman with a responsible position at a radio station received a call from the station manager. He had been out checking reports of a UFO which had crashed in a field and was trying to track down the rumor that pieces of the object were supposedly stored in a local barn. In his excited call to the newsroom, the station manager verified the UFO crash report, and also claimed he had seen metallic pieces of the UFO being carried into a waiting Air Force plane which was destined for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
"As the woman began typing out the fantastic news item over the teletype to their other two radio stations, a line appeared in the middle of her text, tapped in from somewhere, with the official order: "Do not continue this transmission!"
Clearly this is the Lydia Sleppy story, published four years before Marcel said a word to any UFO researcher. We know that the "station manager" was a reporter, Johnny McBoyle, who told researchers that he’d seen a craft that looked like a battered dishpan. We know the station owner was Merle Tucker who owned KSWS in Roswell and had been out looking to buy another radio station or two.
I have talked to all these people. Lydia Sleppy confirmed for me that she had been there and had been attempting to put the flying saucer crash out on the wire when she was stopped... ordered to stop. Tucker told me that he was afraid that his employees, Sleppy and McBoyle might have gotten him into trouble with federal regulators. McBoyle told me that he wasn’t sure what he had seen, but knew that it wasn’t any kind of a weather balloon, or array of balloons.
I’m not sure what my friend Christopher Allen (CDA) will make of this. He’s always wanting us to find stories that pre-date the big Roswell explosion of 1980. Clearly this fits the bill. The publication date of the article is Winter 1974, which means the issue was probably on the news stands a couple of months earlier, or in the Fall 1974 and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the article was written in 1973, given the lead time of these things. Six or eight months between submission and publication isn’t unrealistic.
But, we do know when it was first published and this, I believe, makes it more credible.