Friday, April 24, 2015

Max Littell and the Roswell Nuns

I suppose this could be called another of my “Chasing Footnotes” posts, but that isn’t quite right. Many will remember that Lance Moody was annoyed with me for the Catholic Nuns story as outlined in The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. I won’t dwell on that and those who wish to read about it can use the search engines supplied or look at:

What brings this up is that I found another reference to the nuns in a publication that I had no hand in. According to that booklet called, The Jim Ragsdale Story:

Mother Superior Mary Bernadette and Sister Capistrano reported seeing a bright object plunging toward the ground late in the evening of July 4, 1947. The two Sisters were on duty at St. Mary’s Hospital, located on South Main Street in Roswell, New Mexico. Many points of concurrence do fit the reports of others, especially Jim Ragsdale’s eye witness account of a UFO crash, during this rather short time frame. Be assured that the nuns told it exactly like it was on that 4th of July night in 1947.
The author, who is unidentified in the booklet but is probably Max Littell, then, wrote, “Let us do some speculating together with established facts and figures.”

He suggested that some might believe the nuns could have been watching fireworks set off by Roswell residents celebrating the nation’s birthday. But he also wrote that the nuns would have known the difference between the fireworks and the bright object they saw. He uses the location of the hospital as a way of suggesting that the nuns were looking toward the west and would have been able to see the object fall near Boy Scout Mountain some fifty miles away where Ragsdale, in later years, claimed he was camping. This was some of the new corroboration for the Ragsdale tale, according to Littell.

While I could suggest this is also independent corroboration of the nun’s story, I don’t actually know that it is. Littell worked very hard to remove all trace of Don Schmitt and me from the Ragsdale tale and I have no doubt this extended to his coverage of the nun’s story.

In a chapter called “Max Littell Meets Jim Ragsdale,” he wrote, “In 1993, shortly after opening the Museum, we did have an investigator/author visiting us, and when his partner took the car on another errand, he needed a ride to his motel. I offered, and the individual said, ‘Great, but I need to go by and see a party on the way… This party turned out to be Jim Ragsdale.”

So, let’s put this in a different perspective. The investigator/author was Don Schmitt and, of course, the partner was me. I had to go out to interview a witness west of town, who, it turned out, had nothing to add to the Roswell case. Don, with Littell and Mark Chesney, drove over to see Ragsdale.

In the same vein, Littell wrote after Don had completed the interview, “Getting out of the car, the writer said…” Once again, Littell has referred to the person as the writer, but it was still Don Schmitt. In fact he never identifies either Don or me as those involved in this first telling of the Ragsdale tale or that we were the ones who found him in the first place.

Littell then wrote, “The investigator had apparently recorded the interview, or had taken enough notes [the interview was recorded so that it can be verified that Ragsdale changed his tale] that he could prepare a statement from Ragsdale. He asked if I could get the statement signed and notarized. Since I have been a notary for fifty years, I said that this could be easily accomplished.”

And here’s where the tale again slips off the rails. Littell wrote, “Within a few days, the instrument [affidavit] arrived, and I met Ragsdale for the first time. The instrument was read to him, he signed it, and I mailed it back to the investigator. Notaries do not make copies of the instrument, so I do not remember any of the statements made.”

Well, the interview took place on January 26 and the statement was signed on January 27, not a few days later. In an unsigned note on the letterhead of the International UFO Museum and Research Center, Littell wrote, “Kevin: Three Notarized copies exist. This one [sent to me], One left with the Ragsdales and one in our file…”

Or, in other words, Littell did make copies for us and sent them to us, but kept one for their files at the Museum. Therefore, Littell knew exactly what it said and it did not agree with the longer one he obtained in 1995.

What all this tells us that we can’t trust Littell’s version of these events and that he was working hard to remove from the record any mention of Don’s January 26 interview and my April 24, 1993 interview. Copies of the interviews were supplied to the Museum. If those were mentioned, then questions would be raised about the validity of Ragsdale’s later version of events and the new affidavit because it would be clear that Ragsdale had significantly changed his story and that we had quoted him accurately in our reporting of the first version.

This was all a long-winded way to suggest that I believe the information about the nuns was lifted from The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. It seems from the way it was worded that Littell had interviewed the nuns or someone associated with them, but there is nothing there that Don and I didn’t already know. Littell is dead and Ragsdale is dead so I can’t ask where the information originated. It is possible that Littell talked to one of the nuns who was still in Roswell, the one that Bill English told us about and Sister Day told us about, but I simply don’t know. If Littell did, the criticism is the same because he used the same source we did, no one has been able to locate the alleged diary entries after years of trying and there is no other corroboration for the tale.

While the information in Littell’s booklet about Ragsdale could be seen as confirmation of the nun’s story, I simply can’t tell if it was newer and better information or if he simply used the material that Don and I had gathered and shared with him. This is a dead end and it is in no way corroboration for the nun’s story.


cda said...

Amazing what lengths some people will go to in order to try and show how one story 'corroborates' another story.

If I see a pink elephant in Borneo and someone else sees a white one in Sri Lanka on the same day, then clearly one story corroborates the other.

Anthony Mugan said...

As far as I can see there is nothing in the alleged nuns' sighting that requires it to be taken seriously. Sister Day may or may not have seen a diary entry about a bright light that could have been any one of a number of things on a day that may or may not ( given the vagaries of human memory) have been the 4th July 1947. Neither of the alleged original witnesses have left any statement on the record and the alleged diary has not been found. Given the amount of discussion around the case in general broad consistencies of timing and geography between different claims are hardly convincing...particularly when such apparent consistencies turn up in probable or certain hoax claims.

Any such lead will almost always start off with insufficient information to consider it secure and all credit for those who invest so much time and effort in chasing down these leads. Perhaps the extraordinary amount of noise that has built up around Roswell suggests we all need to strip the case right back to core data that can be supported or potentially tested further...the rest of it needs to be available for researchers should further information ( e.g the actual diary in this case) ever come to light, but most of these claims are unsubstantiated in my opinion and should be clearly labelled as such.

D.J. Mahar said...

The report of the nuns may ultimately prove without value but it certainly isn't without interest.I suppose footnotes might also serve as a "junk drawer" of sorts, if only to make readers aware of the claim, rather than tossing it out completely. Perhaps further on, someone encountering this tid-bit might shed further light on it.

KRandle said...

All -

The nun's diary is important, if it exists, because it would be a record written in 1947. For that reason alone, it was worth chasing. But here we are, some 25 years later, and as far as I know, the diaries have not been located. The last information I had was that there were housed in Wisconsin, but that these diaries only went back to 1960. As far as I'm concerned, unless someone can produce them, I am of the opinion that they don't exist. The original information about them came from a source that we now know to be unreliable.

D.J. Mahar said...

The diaries - if they exist - may likely be buried in some New Mexican landfill, a few strata below the Atari cartridges.

Projects for future Roswell investigators! :)

Brian B said...

And even if the diaries were found, the nuns would have probably said they saw a meteorite. After all, they were reported as being "avid astronomers" and if they had seen a rocket, plane, bomb, or spaceship crashing to the earth it is more than likely that they would have done more than just write a few notes in their star gazing diaries and go to bed.

Unknown said...

"A DIfferent Perspective" has been included in our A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that we hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

CommanderCronus said...

So a group of nuns saw a bright light in the sky on the evening of July 4th, which somehow supports the crash of a UFO? I suppose the alien was sighted later that year, on the evening of October 31st. In March, someone found a blue Easter egg in a bush near Aztec...

Brian B said...

I might add that according to Randle and Pflock, the whole nun's diary thing was handled by Schmitt (presumably because of his Catholic connections?). Well we know how much that is worth given what he has or hasn't done in regards to truth telling.

KRandle said...

Commander -

The point is, if the diaries exist, we don't know what they suggest. The description of the event might give us some clue, which would be nice to have... but at this point, I simply don't believe the diaries exist and have given up the chase.

cda said...

Diaries at a convent (or monastery)? I thought monks and nuns were highly discreet and secretive people who never divulged what took place therein. Therefore they would never keep such things as a diary, which would be available for others to see. Am I wrong?

Capt Steve said...


15 seconds of Google will show that nuns DO indeed keep diaries, and have since the medieval period.

Brian B said...

Yes CDA they actually do keep diaries, usually prayer diaries, but that does not discount also personal diaries of non-religious content. Like others, I contend that these diaries don't exist or if they did would not provide much of any proof of unusual events other than normal night time sky observations (assuming they were indeed avid astronomers as acclaimed).

Terry the Censor said...

> nuns DO indeed keep diaries

Of course they do! They need something sensational to read while on vacation.