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.
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.
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.