Saturday, July 28, 2012

Steve Pierce and Travis Walton

Several months ago the story that Philip Klass had attempted to bribe one of the witnesses to the Travis Walton abduction made its rounds. I took a somewhat middle of the road stance, suggesting that I could believe that Klass might attempt something like that, but that the evidence for it was rather thin. I now have additional information.

Steve Pierce
There were, in essence, two people who know the truth about this. One, Philip Klass is dead and the other, Steve Pierce had not been readily available for comment. However, on July 1, 2012, at the Roswell UFO Festival, I had the chance to sit down with Steve and get his side of the story. What follows is what he told me then.
Although my real interest in this was Steve’s interaction with Phil Klass, he did tell me part of the story from his perspective as one of the wood cutters in the truck driven by Mike Rogers.
They had seen a bright light and thought it was something that hunters in the area had set up. It was a solid light and a very bright white. One of them, Alan Dalis, thought that it was a spaceship.
Travis, outside the truck, began to walk toward it with everyone yelling for him to come back. A beam of light hit him in the chest and he flew backward. Rogers, and some of the others thought that Walton had been killed, and they took off in the truck. Some of them, Steve Pierce included, wanted to return. Rogers was talking about how he had left his best friend behind.
And one of them, Dwayne Smith, thought that Walton had been incinerated by the beam.
But they did return only they couldn’t find Walton. They drove into town and called the sheriff. Steve said that the cops looked for beer bottles, thinking that they all had been drinking. Rogers, Kenneth Peterson, and Dalis, to face his fears, went back out. Steve went on home.
He told me that the next morning, the police arrived and he heard them talking with his mother. He slipped out the back door and went over to his girlfriend’s house. The police thought that Walton was dead and the others were covering up the crime.
Eventually, the police convinced them all to take lie detector tests to try to learn the truth. They drew straws to see who would go first and Steve apparently lost. The polygraph operator asked if they had done bodily harm to Walton, and Steve answered that they hadn’t. He, as well as the others, passed the test, which wasn’t about the UFO and abduction, but an attempt to learn if a crime had been committed.
Walton, of course, showed up five days later, and told his story of the abduction and what he had experienced. It was then that so many UFO researchers, including the Lorenzens of APRO, the National Enquirer, and others began their search for the truth.
Steve Pierce ready to answer questions.
Steve didn’t have a large role in that. Eventually a local deputy named Jim Click, came to his house. Click said that Klass had called him and wanted him to relay a message to Steve. Klass was willing to pay ten thousand dollars if Steve would say that the whole thing was a hoax.
Once that offer had been made through Click, Steve said that he began to get regular phone calls from Klass reinforcing the offer. When he moved away from Arizona, he was surprised that Klass could track him down. He said that his name wasn’t Steve Pierce, but Jeffrey Steven Pierce. He had begun to use his middle name after his fellows in elementary school began to tease him about his first name.
It turned out that Klass had a copy of that first polygraph examination that listed his name as Jeff S. Pierce, so Klass had that information. That was how Klass could find him.
After Steve moved to Texas, and after hearing from Klass on a regular basis, Steve said that he told his wife that he just might take the money. He said that he had some bills and that much money had an appeal to him.
His wife asked if the story was a hoax and Steve said, “No.” She said that he couldn’t take the money. In fact, if he did, she would never spend any of it.
Steve told me that after three years, and the once a month telephone calls from Klass, he finally told Klass, “Yes, it’s hoax.” He then wanted to know how to get the money.
Philip Klass
According to Steve, he met Klass once in Texas. Ironically, Steve said that he found Klass to be a nice man when he wasn’t on the trail of a UFO story. He seemed to have gotten along well with Klass when they weren’t talking about the abduction.
This is an observation that I do not find hard to believe. Over the years I had many discussions, meetings, communications and telephone calls with Klass. Though he didn’t remember it, while I was in Washington, D.C. at a DIA school, Klass took me sailing on the Potomac River one afternoon. It wasn’t a long trip, just a little run about the area.
At the dinner meeting, Steve wanted to know how to get the money. Klass said that he needed to find some evidence, find the generator used to create bright light. Find “stuff” to prove it was a hoax.
Steve asked, “When do I get the money?”
And Klass said, “After you find the stuff to prove it was a hoax.”
Steve told me, “Phil Klass is the only person I ever told it was a hoax. I wanted the money.”
Steve said that not long after the incident he had a falling out with Walton and Rogers over things that had nothing to do with the UFO sighting or the abduction. He also said that he was annoyed about the way he was portrayed in the movie Fire in the Sky. He said that he wasn’t one of those crying as they fled the scene.
After this, Steve became a long haul trucker and stayed away from the UFO arena for several decades. It was only recently that he got back in touch with Walton (or maybe it was the other way around). He said that he had been to three of the UFO conventions or symposiums in the weeks prior to the 2012 Roswell Festival.
Here’s the thing. I sat there listening to his story, taking my notes, watching his face and his body language, and I have no reason to suspect he is lying. He said that you could prove that Click had come out to his house, but I’m not sure you would be able to prove the substance of the conversation.
He did know Klass and described his personality correctly. I had noticed the same things. Klass was quite charming when he wasn’t in the middle of a UFO debate, but that he would color things by his wording and descriptions to give a misleading impression. As I have said in the past, Klass wasn’t above writing letters to witness employers and causing trouble for those who didn’t agree with his analysis.
The question becomes, “Did Klass offer him ten thousand dollars?” and if he did, was it a bribe to get him to say it was a hoax? Clearly Klass believed that to be the case, so, to Klass, it would have been a payment to someone for finally telling the truth.
My impressions were that Steve Pierce was telling the truth about his experiences. If the Walton abduction was some kind of an elaborate hoax, Steve was not a part of it. He did say to Klass that it was a hoax, but there is that cloud of ten thousand dollars hanging over that claim. Steve has since repudiated it on a number of occasions.
I had wanted to get his take on this one aspect of the story. He answered my questions without hesitation, he explained the circumstances of his admission that it was a hoax (which he said he only said to Klass), and he explained how the falling out between him and Walton took place.
I have no reason to doubt his story.

17 comments:

carddown said...

The real $10,000 Klass offer:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/aliens/philipklass.html

Lance said...

It was reported elsewhere that Piece claimed that he actually moved his home in order to get away from Klass.

I'm sure that strikes the conspiracy buffs as reasonable...

Did he have that Kaufmanesque feeling of sincerity, Kevin?

Robert Sheaffer uncovered the whole (different) story (including phone transcripts) over at his site. But then, I know that contemporaneous evidence never has much weight amongst the UFO brain trust.

What a shame you didn't bother to consider that in light of the fact that one party can't deny these dumb accusations.

Lance

cda said...

Monthly phone calls from Klass? Really? Lance has given you a reference to this 'bribe' story and the other side thereof.

I suggest that if Klass ever did mention the sum of $10,000 to this guy Pierce, or to anyone else who might have passed it on to Pierce, it was in connection with Klass's $10,000 offer to anyone for proof of ET visitation as detailed in his book UFOS EXPLAINED, chapter 31.

KRandle said...

I knew when I posted this that the Klass defenders would spring into action but I didn't know it would be this fast.

For those with short memories, I published the other side of this controversy on March 3, 2012, which included a link to Robert Sheaffer's website with all its information from Klass about this, and the results of Robert's investigation as well.

carddown -

We all know about Klass' $10,000 bet... I believe that he only had four takers (I know Stan Friedman took him up on it) and this isn't really the same thing.

Lance -

Is it possible for you to comment on a posting without getting snotty? What a shame that you don't want to see the other side of the story...

CDA -

Your memory is as short term as Lance's... I already posted the other side of this controversy. Why is it that you don't want to read what the other guy has to say, especially when I talked to him in person?

And all - once again, this ten grand was not the same as the ten grand in the bet... it, according to Steve Pierce, was money offered for proof that the Walton abduction was a hoax.

Lance said...

Kevin,

I just wanted to remind folks that Pierce made the rather farfetched claim that he moved to get away from Klass.

I mentioned this claim back in March as well.

You simply ignore this and pretend that you can tell if someone is sincere by talking with them--not something you have a great track record for!

Your post lends support to Pierce's story despite there being clear reasons in hand doubt it, including phone conversation transcripts and the tall tale of moving his home to escape Klass.

To my way of thinking, you use the exact same conspiracy buff "logic" to "prove" whatever you want to be true in the stuff you do related to Roswell.

Klass had a rotten disposition sometimes. There is no doubt about that. That you choose to hang a dubious cloud over Klass' head because someone WHO ADMITS IN HIS OWN STORY TO YOU THAT HE WAS WILLING TO DO ANYTHING TO GET MONEY seems sincere is sadly typical of the kind of thinking you use in your Roswell "investigations".

Perhaps Pierce is just enjoying his newfound fame among the non-too-discerning saucer crowd in the same way that Dennis, Kaufmann etc etc. did.


Lance

KRandle said...

Lance -

I merely reported what Pierce told me. I mentioned my reactions to his story. I mentioned that we both had found Klass to be rather charming when he wasn't involved in a flying saucer "investigation."

You seem to overlook that Klass made up solutions for UFO cases... Yes, I have examples. Just reread what he wrote about Socorro and the mayor inventing the tale for tourism.

In his Kaufmann reporting he was wrong about Kaufmann's rank leaving the service, he was wrong about why Kaufmann wanted to remove his name (it had nothing to do with Pflock). He missed the boat when he talked about who would have been involved in the recover after the first day.

And you don't have to shout... you wouldn't know about Pierce going to take the money if he hadn't said it and I hadn't reported it.

I didn't report on the alleged claim that Pierce moved to get away from Klass because he didn't say that to me, and this was about what he said to me.

To my way of thinking, you reject everything that doesn't fit into your world view because it doesn't fit into your world view. You know there is no alien visitation and therefore there is none.

And I repeat, I knew that all those who believe Klass did nothing wrong would rise up to defend him when all I did was report on what Pierce told me...

cda said...

Kevin:

Klass may have invented a solution for Socorro. I don't deny this. He also made mistakes and had questionable ethics at times (such as when he once tried to interfere with the organisation of a UFO conference).

But consider: What do you think you, and plenty of others like you, have done with Roswell? You have invented a solution that is unacceptable, and unknown to science, all because you want to believe certain verbal testimony given to you decades afterwards which contradicts the testimony and evidence given at the time, and which flies completely in the face of the official investigation at the time and another one 47 years later.

The hard evidence that Socorro was a hoax is not there. Ditto with Travis Walton.

The hard evidence that Roswell was ET is likewise not there. And it never will be, will it?

Lesley Gunter said...

The thing that always amazes me about the Klass fans is that no matter how many lies he has been shown to tell or how many lies he has wanted others to tell - they still have a core belief in him. Strange since they would not feel the same way about anyone telling something from the other side of the topic, who had lied about anything! I guess all is well in fandom! ;-)

carddown said...

Klass debunked the $10,000 bribe story himself.
Read the conversation between Klass and Pierce:
http://www.debunker.com/historical/APS_Files_Walton.PDF
(Save the PDF, then rotate it to the proper view.)
The $10,000 bribe story is false.

edithkeeler said...

What is it about this case that generates such animosity? It's not the first, nor the only documented alien-abduction case.

Travis Walton wrote about this in some detail in his book. The hostile reactions of some people with whom he came in contact. The ferocious personal attacks by debunkers and even some UFO groups who, after failing to gain access to investigate the case, attempted to discredit him. Klass was the most fervent, but he was not the only one. Perhaps it's because the facts of the case leave little wiggle room for either side. When you have multiple, close-range witnesses to an event, all of whom have passed polygraphs, there isn't a lot of material on which to build a case of mistaken identity. Even in the Roswell case, investigators on both sides can, with some civility, argue their cases for or against the fact that the first-hand witnesses were simply mistaken about what they thought they saw. I don't know that I've ever heard anyone suggest that any of the Walton witnesses were mistaken. Either it really happened, or it was a hoax. Putting the polygraphs, the $10,000 bribe, the logging contract theory and all other possible hoax motives aside... if it was a hoax, debunkers, prove it! Your belief that there are no UFOs, ETs or alien abductions does not prove it's a hoax any more than a believer's belief in those things proves that it happened. Where is your hard evidence? Were the lights and generator used to hoax the event found hidden in Walton's garage? Do you have receipts showing that he, his family or the any of the other men purchased or rented these items? Of course not, because this would be proof and this case would have gone away long ago.

Has there ever been a "Mythbuster" type attempt to actually re-create the elaborate hoax scenario that Klass and others have suggested? It's been done in other cases, why not the biggest hoaxed abduction case of all time? If it's such an obvious hoax, then take your big lights and generator (those of the type that would have been available to Walton in 1975), and drag them up those unpaved logging roads to the Mogollon rim, stage the event, invite the original witnesses to the site to observe your re-creation and then ask them if it looks anything like what they saw that night.

What Klass did or didn't do is old news and is dead and buried along with him. If you have some new evidence that this was a hoax, bring it..if you do not, then your opinions are just that, opinions, no more or less than Kevin's opinion that Pierce is telling the truth.

Flying Tiger said...

http://flyingtigercomics.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/twenty-five-rules-of-disinformation.html

Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil
2. Become incredulous and indignant
3. Create rumor mongers
4. Use a straw man
5. Sidetrack opponents w name calling, ridicule
6. Hit and Run
7. Question motives
8. Invoke authority
9. Play Dumb
10. Associate opponent charges with old news
11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions
12. Enigmas have no solution
13. Alice in Wonderland Logic
14. Demand complete solutions
15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions
16. Vanish evidence and witnesses
17. Change the subject
18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad
19. Ignore facts, demand impossible proofs
20. False evidence
21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor
22. Manufacture a new truth
23. Create bigger distractions
24. Silence critics
25. Vanish

Eight Traits of The Disinformationalist

1. Avoidance
2. Selectivity
3. Coincidental
4. Teamwork
5. Anti-conspiratorial
6. Artificial Emotions
7. Inconsistent
8. Newly Discovered: Time Constant

Robert Sheaffer said...

Kevin,

So here goes the old "argument from witness reliability" once again. J. Allen Hynek used to say that he, as a highly educated and scientific-type person, could judge whether or not a person is credible, just by listening to them talk. And if they described an object violating all of the laws of physics, if they said it 'credibly,' then for old J. Allen that was proof enough that such objects were real.

Do you have that skill as well? You can decide, just from listening to him talk, that what Steve Pierce says is true? Even in the absence of any proof whatsoever, Pierce's unsupported word suffices?

Kevin, did you ask Pierce to provide any DETAILS, let alone proof, of what he claims? When, exactly, did Klass supposedly visit him in Texas? Where in Texas? Does he have any proof that this visit, or these phone calls, ever took place? Does he have any note or letter from Klass, something like "I'll be there Saturday?" Of course not.

Remember, Pierce told the 2012 International UFO Congress that Klass flew out to Texas to wine and dine and try to persuade him. He also claimed that Klass kept following him, he had to move to like three different states, to get away from Klass. (Anyone who doubts this can check the DVD of that session.) Kevin, did you ask Pierce exactly what states those were, when did he move there, can he provide any proof that Klass was involved, etc? I suspect not.

Of course, for those who share J. Allen Hynek's ability to infallibly judge character, proof of Pierce's tale would seem unnecessary.

Kevin, I quoted and linked to your Blog entry about Chasing UFOs in my most recent Blog on that subject. Good work!

Terry the Censor said...

Wow! I have my doubts. Is that allowed without being called names?

Anyway, here I go:

> [Jim] Click said that Klass had called him and wanted him to relay a message to Steve. Klass was willing to pay ten thousand dollars if Steve would say that the whole thing was a hoax.

Has anyone verified this story or even attempted to find if Click is still alive?

Klass himself reports on this episode on p 221 of "UFOs: The Public Deceived," published in 1983! He says he learned about this from reading Bill Barry's book! Klass says that only afterward did he contact Click, who gave him Pierce's contact information. No one challenged Klass' rebuttal for 29 years! Why now?

> Jeffrey Steven Pierce. He had begun to use his middle name after his fellows in elementary school began to tease him about his first name.

Can anyone on Earth tell me how a kid could be teased for having the name Jeff? Anyone???

> Klass had a copy of that first polygraph examination that listed his name as Jeff S. Pierce, so Klass had that information. That was how Klass could find him.

Can anyone verify this claim? It does not appear in any of Klass' books (oh, have people failed to mention that?).

> Steve said that he told his wife that he just might take the money.

Has anyone spoken to Mrs. Pierce about this? Or is the story just better without investigation??

> Steve told me, “Phil Klass is the only person I ever told it was a hoax. I wanted the money.”

So, we are to believe that Pierce DID say this but Klass NEVER told anyone that Pierce confessed to a hoax? And are we to believe this even though Klass denies Pierce made such a confession to him in the 1983 citation I made above???

> He did know Klass and described his personality correctly. I had noticed the same things. Klass was quite charming when he wasn’t in the middle of a UFO debate

I never met Phil Klass but I also know that. Why? Because I read UFO books and blogs.

Terry the Censor said...

PART II

> “Did Klass offer [Pierce] ten thousand dollars?” and if he did, was it a bribe to get him to say it was a hoax? Clearly Klass believed that to be the case

"Clearly"? Quite a statement in the face of Klass's 1983 disavowal.

> KR: "I merely reported what Pierce told me."

No, Mr. Randle, you sanctified it, you have conducted apologetics for it. This disturbs me. I think your distaste for Mr. Klass (likely well-founded) inclines you to accept a tall tale. That's not the same careful, evidence-based Kevin Randle I read about in "Reflections of a UFO Investigator" (I sensible book I highly recommend).

This (so-far) baseless allegation reminds of something I read in Moseley and Pflock's "Shockingly Close to the Truth," p 284.

"A weird touch was added to the [1985 NUFOC] proceedings by Bill Moore who was in the audience...he shared with us the intriguing 'fact' that Phil Klass had threatened to kill him. When called on this, he retreated to the position that even if Klass did not mean the threat seriously, he was nevertheless 'sick.' All the Believers in the audience semeed to agree with this," with the exception of Moseley.

Pathetic.

> KR: "You [Lance] seem to overlook that Klass made up solutions for UFO cases"

So that makes it okay to tell (and bless!) stories about Klass that have no confirmation whatsoever? Confirmation NO ONE has looked for, I might add? Isn't that hypocrisy? Or is this a grade school playground?

> KR: "I knew that all those who believe Klass did nothing wrong would rise up to defend him when all I did was report on what Pierce told me."

That's too easy, sir, to redefine genuine dissent into mere partisanship. Does doubting Pearce -- by definition! -- make me a liar??? Is there no objection that will be countenanced then? They are ALL dismissed out of hand? I object to Pierce's tale on the merits, as noted above and in previous comments sections.

And I say all this as someone who holds no brief for Phil Klass. As stated sometime ago on this site, I avoided his writings because of what seemed like Klass' unrelenting partisanship, and partisanship is not something I find trustworthy. My study of the Hill case forced me to look at Klass and his co-equal in fact-free overzealousness, Mr. Friedman.

Regardless of my disgust with ideologues, I still do not think anyone is free to tell lies about them. Claims need to be verified, tested, not passed on wholesale and rationalised because the appeal to our biases.

Shame!

Robert Sheaffer said...

"> Klass had a copy of that first polygraph examination that listed his name as Jeff S. Pierce, so Klass had that information. That was how Klass could find him."

"Can anyone verify this claim? It does not appear in any of Klass' books (oh, have people failed to mention that?)."

This claim is true. I queried the Klass papers archive at the American Philosophical Society, asking for any and all correspondence, papers, etc. pertaining to Steve Pierce. Everything that came back is here: http://www.debunker.com/historical/APS_Files_Walton.PDF , and I encourage people to read it.

A copy of the original polygraph report is included, and it refers to Jeff S. Pierce. There is also an eye-opening transcript of Klass' phone call with Pierce.

What did not come up: any letters, notes, transcripts, etc. between Klass and Pierce indicating that Klass was traveling to see him, that Klass wanted him to 'confess," etc. That claim is entirely unsupported.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with this account and I donlt think it hurts anyone. It's simply a matter of perception. First off, Klass wasn't offering a bribe. He was offering money in return for evidence. Pierce initially didn't understand that and thought he'd get the $10K just for proclaiming the thing a hoax. When he actually got to talking to Klass he discovered the $10K was to be in return for something tangible to prove the hoax, which Pierce didn't have. To me, that exonerates Klass and reflects more poorly on Pierce.

But Pierce is absolved, too. Turns out the money was irresistable, but when he finally took the bait, he couldn't follow through because it wasn't a hoax and had zero proof that it was.

It's a win-win scenario, kind of.

ClassicUFODude said...

I'll keep this short: I only know Steve from Facebook (which didn't work out very well for Mante Te'o, eh..?) but I find it extremely unlikely that any of this was an invention. He's an extremely normal, friendly, blue-collar guy. I'm biased because I've seen an enormous UFO (much larger than the one reported by Steve et al) from a very close distance. For God's sake - virtually nothing good comes of reporting a UFO siting, nor, from inventing a malicious story about a UFO researcher/debunker. There really isn't any motivation for either. And, as you've reported, Steve went as far as to admit that he actually found Klass to be a likable guy, away from the topic of UFOs. Steve had a bunch of kids, and, bills - and I think he had various issues with Walton and Rogers (I don't have any unique insight into their problems). I've always wondered if, while struggling to get by, he wasn't a little irritated that a movie had been made, and, he (1) was never consulted for any input, and, (2) the other guys made a few bucks, and he got nothing. But I think you can take Steve's story to the bank. Hey - this is the internet - that's just my opinion.