Periodically questions are asked about certain witnesses and certain testimony because it seems there are several versions of that testimony out there. Sometimes it is the researcher who hears things wrong or gets something wrong but more often it is the alleged witness who has radically altered his or her tale. Some alteration is expected because no one actually tells a story the same way twice unless it has been memorized as opposed to having been lived. Major alteration is an indication that the story is probably not being accurately reported by the witness and the fault lies at the feet of the witness rather than with those reporting it.
Ah, the value of audio tape.
Brian Bell, apparently annoyed that I have suggested in the past that some of the witness testimony was unreliable, asked, “Ragsdale and Truelove testimony - He said they were in a car - you changed their story to say they were in a WW2 jeep and also changed it into a ‘wild night with lightning and thunder; a 30 to 40 mile an hour wind driving dust and dirt.’ You changed the facts and the details of a witness's testimony.”
Well, I would have ignored this because at the time I was working on another project and didn’t want to delve into this. But, coincidently, that project required information on Ragsdale, so I found myself rereading some of that testimony and looking at other, later testimony provided by Ragsdale. Here’s what I learned.
According to the taped interview of Ragsdale (please note that it is on tape) conducted by Don Schmitt on January 26, 1993, it was clear that Ragsdale said he was in a jeep. Ragsdale said, at one point, “…we got into a damned jeep to take off.”
He also said, during that January 26 interview, “We had the windshield down on the jeep…” This is a nice little detail that underscores the claim that he was in a jeep.
So, it was Ragsdale who said jeep, although he didn’t say a thing about it being a WW2 jeep, and I don’t believe he ever said anything about a car. Of course suggesting it was a WW2 jeep is a logical deduction, given the timing.
I did notice, however, that Ragsdale later claimed it was a pickup truck. In an affidavit which was not properly executed, Ragsdale said, “My friend and I had a pickup truck on this weekend.” So, I didn’t change anything, Ragsdale did. I have been unable to find any reference to a car.
As to the weather that night, I don’t believe I said, “Wild,” but did write, “The night was anything but quiet, as lightning flashed and thunder boomed. A wind, blowing at thirty or forty miles an hour, whipped across the bleak desert landscape.” This information came from an April 24, 1993 interview with Ragsdale at his house in Roswell.
In his 1995 affidavit, Ragsdale claimed, “The weather was perfect, and we were looking up at the stars. A storm was in the west, with lightning, but far away enough we couldn’t hear the thunder.”
Of course, in his 1993 affidavit, which was properly executed, Ragsdale claimed, he was out there “…during a severe lightning storm.”
Again, I didn’t change the testimony but it was changed later, as Ragsdale changed his story. For another example, take the location of the crash, according to what Ragsdale claimed. In his January 26 interview, he kept making reference to the Foster ranch and said, of the location of the crash, “… it’s a good thirty to forty miles.”
In his 1995 affidavit, he said, “A sign post on the Pine Lodge Road indicates ‘53 miles to Roswell’. Near this sign is a road going south toward Pine Lodge… and the turn off to Arabella leads east and south.”
But using a map with Don Schmitt in 1993, he pointed to the El Paso Natural Gas Pipeline north of Roswell and while the pipeline didn’t exist in 1947, in 1993, he used it as a reference point and it was nowhere near the Pine Lodge or Boy Scout Mountain as claimed by Ragsdale.
And finally because I have been accused of not following up on information that might lead away from the extraterrestrial, or in this case, impeaching a witness, Ragsdale claimed that he and his friend, identified as Trudy Truelove, had picked up bits of the metallic debris that exhibited strange qualities. But Ragsdale said that the debris was stolen.
In a very confusing statement, his wife claimed, “Well I had this fiddle that had been passed down for well, I proved that it was passed down for five generations, and I worked with it and it was a Stradivarius. It was very old and very expensive…”
They had been talking about a break-in at the house and the story continued. “Anyway the subject came up and my husband told them about having, you know the box in the house and he made the remark, well where do you keep stuff [the metallic debris] like that? …All they did was riddled the closet…. They went strictly to that closet and anything of value in that closet they took.”
Or, as we understand it, the house was burgled. The burglars went through a closet where the debris was kept and took it. These crooks, according to the Ragsdales, avoided other areas of the house and didn’t touch a coin collection that was in plain sight.
I did contact the Roswell Police asking if there had been any reports of the burglary but they could find no record of it. They did make it clear that the records were somewhat spotty so that crime report might have been destroyed as they purged files.
But even the burglary story has changed. In the 1996 affidavit, Ragsdale said, “My truck and trailer was stolen from my home. Again with material in the truck, never to be heard from anywhere. My home was broken into, completely ransacked and all that was taken was the material, a gun and very little else of value.”
I was also concerned about this claim of a Stradivarius, but have learned that there are some very cheap copies out there, marked with the Stradivarius name, so it didn’t seem impossible for Ragsdale to have one with the Stradivarius name in it. Of course, it wasn’t the expensive one because, had it been, I would have found a police report among other documentation such as a newspaper article.
The point here is that I hadn’t changed the testimony as claimed, but the witness had changed his story and I believe that was under the influence of Max Littell. It became a much better story, filling in the gaps that were in the original such as Ragsdale never getting down, close to the crash but seeing it in the distance the next morning. In the new version he was walking the scene and looking into the wrecked spaceship. My favorite part is his claiming to see a jewel-encrusted throne in the ship… A throne? In a spaceship?
Today I don’t think there are many who believe that Ragsdale saw anything. His testimony is tainted by too many major alterations. In 1997, there was a push to condemn me for what I had written about the tale, but then, I did have the original tape. Statements were taken from others to suggest that they believed Ragsdale’s new story, or showing how I had gotten the original details wrong. Apparently they didn’t bother to review the record. It is easy to sling allegations and difficult to verify facts. Here, the tape proves that I had reported what Ragsdale had said originally, until he decided to make the story better. The fault lies, not at my feet but at Ragsdale’s.