Well, the great Aztec debate is over and the winner is… Yeah, you’d think that but it was probably Scott Ramsey. After all, he had immersed himself in the case for twenty years and was able to divert the conversation into other arenas without doing much damage to his own point of view. You can listen to the show here:
Take, for example, this investigation that was apparently launched by the Air Force Office of Special Investigation into a claim that someone had offered for sale pictures of the Aztec flying saucer in late 1948. This was clearly a hoax of some kind because the man offering the pictures, a fellow named Cline, apparently didn’t exist and was never found. The Army CID and then the AFOSI were involved which seems to lend some credibility to the tale, but the reality is, while the military was involved, there was nothing to suggest that the pictures ever existed and that it seems to have been some sort of con. Just because Aztec and pictures were mentioned it doesn’t actually prove that something happened near Aztec.
Ramsey wrote, “A skeptic might suggest that the photo sting might have been part of a con game attempting to capitalize on Scully’s best-selling book, but the other interesting part of history is that Scully’s book was published, not yet on the booksellers’ shelves when this “sting” took place. If this were some crazy marketing scheme by Scully, he would surely have made reference to the Aztec photos in his book, but no such reference is found in the book to photographs other than the Dr. Gee comments about them.”
There are several flaws here, the first of which is that the publication date is not the date the books land in the bookstores. They’re usually there earlier than the publication date and are often for sale prior to that date.
But what is overlooked here, and which I didn’t think of while in the debate, is that Denver, where all this took place, was where Silas Newton, in March 1950, had made his famous UFO speech at the University of Denver. Newton was talking about a crash and mentioned specifically that one had fallen within 500 miles of Denver.
In fact, according to newspapers and other documents, there had been a lot of discussion of the UFO crash in the Four Corners area of New Mexico since the beginning of 1950. In Scully’s book (page 20 of the old hardback), Scully wrote:
In fact the night the Denver Post was exposing Scientist X and the Farmington citizens were exposing Operation Hush-Hush, I was dining in Hollywood with the man all Denver was hunting for. He had just talked to George Koehler in Denver by long distance. Koehler had worked for him and had married his nurse. The Farmington report had set Denver in an uproar, Koehler told him.
“Do you remember my telling you,” Scientist X said as he hung up, “that the first flying saucer was found on a ranch twelve miles from Aztec?”
I remembered when he reminded me but I had forgotten. “Yes,” I said, “I remember now.”
“Well, he said, “Farmington is only twenty-eight miles from that ranch…”
The point here is that the name of Aztec and details of the crash were being bandied about many months before Scully’s book came out, and many in the Denver area were aware of the case. So, a hoax, appearing in Denver in the weeks after the official publication date of Scully’s book isn’t all that impossible… in fact, had it been any other city besides Denver, that whole episode might have greater importance.
Had I known that this would become an important point in the debate, I would have been ready for it. Scott chose the ground for the battle and I moved to meet him, rather than retreating for an advantage. My mistake.
So, let’s talk about the conman, Silas Newton. Scott said that I had said that when Newton died 140 claims were filed against his estate. This figure came from Jerry Clark in his UFO Encyclopedia and he cited Bill Moore as the source. Scott said that he had only been able to document one of these claims which, to me, is one too many (though claims filed against an estate are not all that rare). The suggestion was that the information came from Moore and therefore was unreliable because Moore, in 1989 had committed UFOlogcial suicide admitting to various and somewhat unethical activities. Moore was unreliable. We can ignore what Moore said for that reason and I just wasn’t going to defend Moore as a researcher, given what I knew about him.
But the information about Newton being a conman runs far beyond what Moore had said in 1989. According to J. P. Cahn, Newton had a long history of engaging in shady activities. In 1931, he was arrested for conspiracy and was later arrested for larceny, false stock statements, and interstate transportation of stolen property. He seemed to have a long arrest record, but in many of the cases had the charges dismissed when Newton made restitution.
Not exactly a sterling reputation… and one that didn’t seem to end until his death. So, the information is that there had been 140 claims against his estate, but nearly all of them dropped when it was learned that he had about $16,000.00 in assets. I suppose the single case that was left, at least according to Scott, was the one that wasn’t dropped.
We talked about the case in Denver in which Newton and GeBauer were on trial for fraud. They lost the trial but the debate seemed to center on whether this was a criminal trial or a civil trial, but in the end the distinction isn’t great… meaning that the judgment went against them. They lost and were forced to pay restitution and to prove what a sterling character Newton was, he never did make restitution.
So the real point wasn’t how many people attempted to have Newton pay them after Newton died, but that he had a long history of con games.
I asked Scott if he had ever interviewed Manuel Sandoval, a part-time police officer from Cuba, New Mexico who had been on the scene. Scott readily admitted that he hadn’t and that was clear from the book. I have been back through this book (having not read it for about two years) and I still say that it seems that he had interviewed Sandoval, given the way the chapters are written. Scott said it’s clear that the information came from Sandoval’s best friend but if you read the information starting on page 3, it seems that he is quoting Sandoval… and he does again later in the book. This point might have been a little too subtle, and Scott argued that it wasn’t true.
We talked about the information that came from Donald Bass, known as Sam, which came by way of Virgil Riggs. I noted that there was no confirmation that Bass had been killed by a hit and run driver in Vietnam as alleged. Scott said that the database I used suggested there might be omissions in it, but there is little room for error. I did check others, but cited only the one. Scott had no information to refute this only that the one database might have been incomplete.
Here’s the problem. Scott wrote that he had Bass’ service number but apparently has not checked with the Records Center in St. Louis. I sent him the information on how to access that information but have not heard back. If Bass had been killed in Vietnam, the St. Louis Records Center would be the final authority on it because it would be noted in his record. Given that Scott has a service number for the guy, we can get information about him. This point should be checked.
This is a minor point, but what I was suggesting was that some of the avenues, some of the easy ones had not been followed. It would only take a short letter and a stamp to get the information, but that hasn’t been done. Instead Scott just said the database might have been incomplete, which doesn’t really advance his position or validate the claim.
And while it seemed that the debate went Scott’s way most of the time, I believe there was one knockout punch I delivered. I asked if Scott had any documentation for the Aztec crash that preceded Scully’s reports on it. A newspaper clipping, a diary, a letter, anything with a date that preceded Scully, but he said he didn’t have anything like that.
That might be the real game changer. Something, anything, that can be shown to have been written before Scully released the information, would go a long way to validate the Aztec crash. At this point there are no newspaper articles, no magazine reports, and no government documents to show this.
There were some other points that were made, but not much of substance. I mentioned that the man who was sheriff in 1947 had said it didn’t happen. Scott countered that he had talked to the family and well, maybe that wasn’t quite true… I’ll stick with what Coral Lorenzen had to say when she talked to the sheriff in the mid-1970s.
I mean that’s sort of where it all ended. Scott believes there was a crash and I do not. He is required to prove his case and I am not. He is the one making the claims of the crash so the burden of proof is on him. I don’t believe he met that burden, but I do remember the Mogul debate that took place in Roswell in 1997 between Karl Pflock and me. Those who believed Mogul thought Karl had won and those who did not believed I had won. I don’t know if either one of us swayed an opinion and it was the same thing here. I don’t think either of us swayed an opinion.