April 6th, 1997
Editor: Joseph Trainor
More surprising revelations emerged this week in the wake of the recent mass suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate group at Rancho Santa Fe in California.
On Sunday, March 30, 1997, Yuba County deputies checking out a trailer in a remote canyon near Marysville, California (population 9,900) discovered the remains of a man who gassed himself to death "because he wanted to join the crew of 39 on the Heaven's Gate spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp comet."
(See the New York Post for April 2, 1997, page 12)
The victim was identified as Robert Leon Nichols, 58, a former roadie with the rock band Grateful Dead. Nichols was last seen alive on Sunday, March 17.
"Nichols was lying on his back in bed with a clear plastic bag over his head. The hose to a propane tank was under the bag and a 3-by-3-foot (1 square meter) mostly purple scarf covering his upper torso." (See the Boston, Mass. Herald for April 2, 1997, page 25)
A suicide note found with the victim read, "I'm going on the spaceship with Hale-Bopp to be with those who have gone before me."
Interestingly, the Nichols note is dated 10 a.m., Thursday, March 28, 1997--"several hours before the public was told how the cultists died and that their bodies were covered with a purple shroud." (New York Post, April 2, 1997, page 12)
On Tuesday, April 1, the North County Times of San Diego reported that police had discovered a small arsenal of rifles, shotguns and handguns in a pair of storage sheds rented by the group.
"Lt. Jerry Lipscomb of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department office said authorities found the cache of weapons after the owner of the 10-feet by 10-feet sheds realized one of the dead cult members was his customer." The storage sheds were located in Escondido, California, 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the group's rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.
Weapons included two semi-automatic rifles with scopes, a bolt-action rifle, two semi-auto handguns and two revolvers. Police also confiscated boxes filled with books, videotapes and ammunition.
On his weekly radio show on WWCR in Nashville, Tennessee, militia spokesman Mark Koernke said he recognized the top videotape as one of his 1995 productions, "America In Peril 2."
"The final days of Heaven's Gate appear to have been a combination of fun outings and mundane chores...Four cultists went on a bus trip through Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Gold Beach, Ore. (Oregon) before returning through Santa Clarita."
(Providence R.I. Journal-Bulletin, April 4, 1997)
The four members of the "away team" also visited Ashland and Medford, Oregon.
(Editor's Comment: The quartet travelled by bus from Oregon to Sacramento on Interstate 5. Nichols's home in Marysville is 40 miles north of Sacramento. Nichols could have driven to Williams (population 1,655) on Highway 20 and met the quartet's bus when it came off the interstate.)
At least two Heaven's Gate members and Robert Nichols were linked to past UFO flaps.
In July 1996, two college students reported seeing a UFO along the Feather River south of Marysville, home of Robert Nichols.
Lindley Ayerhart Pease, 41, who died at Rancho Santa Fe, was born and brought up in Exeter, New Hampshire. "Pease, 41, whose parents owned the former Eastwind Hotel on Hampton Beach, along with Applewhite and 37 other cult members died in a mass suicide last week in San Diego." (See the Boston Herald for April 2, 1997, page 20)
Hampton Beach along Route 88 had the highest number of reported UFO sightings during the flap of September-October 1965. Pease was a 9-year-old boy at the time. (See INCIDENT AT EXETER by John G. Fuller, Berkeley Books, New York, 1966, pages 98-103)
Julie LaMontagne, 45, a former R.N. and second- in-command to Marshall Herff Applewhite, "graduated in 1974 from the University of Massachusetts (in) Amherst nursing school. She was recruited in Amherst in 1975, according to her foster mother Theresa Boucher, and became personal nurse to Applewhite." (See the Boston Globe for April 3, 1997)
In October 1973, there were numerous UFO sightings in Belchertown, Amherst and North Amherst, all near the UMass campus where LaMontagne was a student.
An AP story identified LaMontagne as "one of the last two members to die."
(Editor's Comment: According to medical examiner Dr. Brian Blackbourne, the last two cult members took Vicodin, a derivative of codeine. Why would ex-nurse LaMontagne take codeine when all she had to do was put on a white uniform and R.N. cap, walk into any southern California hospital and help herself to more potent pharmaceuticals?)
On March 30, the New York Post reported that the Heaven's Gate victims all had $5.75 on their persons, likening this to Captain Stormfield, the hero of a 1907 short story by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
UFO researcher Bufo Calvin has disproved that claim and unearthed more evidence linking the group's founder, Marshall Herff Applewhite, to the Twain short story.
"Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven" opens with the hero, a San Francisco skipper "dead 30 years" flying through deep space. He races a giant comet, which puts him off course. As a result, he arrives at the wrong "gate" and finds himself among throngs of aliens ("a sky-blue man with seven heads and only one leg.")
Eventually he gets to the Earth section of Heaven and spends the rest of the story trying to adjust.
Bufo Calvin uncovered this item in the story: "And mind you, I'm not talking about only the grandees from our world, but the princes and patriarchs and so on from all the worlds that shine in our sky, and from billions more that belong in systems upon systems away outside of the one our sun is in. There were some prophets and patriarchs there that ours ain't a circumstance to, for rank and illustriousness and all that. Some were from Jupiter and other worlds in our own system, but the most celebrated were the poets, Saa, Bo and Soof, from great planets in three different and very remote systems."
Applewhite first called himself "Bo," when he founded the group in the early 1970s. Did he borrow the name from the extraterrestial poet- philosopher in Clemens's story?
In the story, Clemens also wrote, "Why, Peters, we don't know anything about comets, down here. If you want to see comets that are comets, you've got to go outside of our solar system--there's there's room for them, you understand."
Could Clemens have been referring to the Oort Cloud? If so, then how could he have been aware of it in 1907, eight decades before the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope?
During the week, a ROUNDUP reader wrote in and noted that the second half of the comet's name Hale-Bopp can be reduced to BO and P**P, a shorthand version of "Bo and Peep," the names Applewhite and his now-dead consort Bonnie Lu Trusdale Nettles called themselves in 1975.
Another reader pointed out that, in addition to Helena Blavatsky, the comet's initials H.B. could also refer to Hugh Auchincloss Brown, the catastrophe theorist. In the 1960s, Brown warned that a buildup of ice at the South Pole could result in the Earth's surface slipping around over its molten core. Florida could wind up where Alaska is now, with a frozen climate. And vice versa.
Newsweek magazine reported, "And, finally, we're told by one doomsayer on the Web to read the best- selling LUCIFER'S HAMMER (1977) about a comet that "causes major trouble for Earth"; it was discovered by fictional astronomers Time Hammer and Gavin Brown, and then named Hammer-Brown. These are the very same initials as Hale-Bopp! The point? Our Web friend doesn't say." (See Newsweek, April 7, 1997, page 43)
On Friday, March 21, 1997, John B., working as an extra in the new Kevin Costner movie "The Postman" reported for an early cast call at 4 a.m. at the movie set near Tucson, Arizona.
Suddenly, John spotted "an orange spherical object just north of the Yaqui Reservation in South Tucson. It was just hanging there, appearing to spin. I watched for a good five minutes, and it never moved." The UFO darted away at high speed at about 4:07 a.m.
The following day, Saturday, March 22, John added, "I had a real early call and about 4:30 a.m., over the same location, was a triangular-shaped object which seemed to just float in space. It had an orangeish, goldenish hue. And since neither Venus nor Jupiter are triangular in shape, I figured I'd seen my second possible UFO in two days."
Later that same day, Saturday, March 22, at about 8:30 p.m., Lance C., age 12, and an adult friend were out looking for the comet Hale-Bopp in a residential section of Tucson. "I heard a whistling sound or something cutting through the air, which made me look straight up," Lance reported. "I saw three plate-like things (saucers) hovering high above my head. The three ships moved in a circle (counterclockwise) as though they were connected, but I saw nothing that connected them. At the same time, two of the ships would move toward the center of the circle, meet, and then move back out the same distance. They hovered briefly and then quickly headed off into the northern sky."
Also, the night of March 22, in Victorville, California (population 14,220), a security guard at an apartment complex reported seeing "a reddish-orange ball swoop down and hover over some bushes and trees" at the rear of the building. The apartment complex suffered a power outage. The guard's hand-held walkie-talkie also refused to function. Power was restored when the UFO flew away. (Email Interviews)
The night of Monday, March 31, 1997, A.J. was at Willoby Spit, a small seaside peninsula in the West Ocean View section of Norfolk, Virginia, observing the comet Hale-Bopp with his binoculars.
"I'd finally managed to focus the binoculars and was scanning the (northern) sky for the comet," A.J. said, when "I was very stunned, surprised, in awe, to see a peculiar craft of unknown origin cross my viewing path."
A.J. described the UFO as "a silvery cigar-shaped craft...I did think it had kind of an iridescent hull or exterior. After a few minutes it shot straight up at what I believe to be a 45-degree angle and disappeared. There's no way I could have missed its departure unless it went either super-fast, or cloaked itself or exited the (Earth's) atmosphere."
The Southern Ontario CSETI working group, led by Jennifer Jarvis, completed a second week of observations along the shores of Lake Ontario. But the UFOs, as if responding to the team's presence, have changed their tactics and moved their "diving point" away from St. Catharines, Ont.
Because of the blizzard on Sunday night, March 30, 1997, the team was unable to go on stakeout. However, "we were there every night but Easter (Sunday)," Ms. Jarvis reported, "We have had sightings every time, and some extraordinary activity last night, Tuesday, April 1. Combined with watching Hale-Bopp behind us, it was an amazing evening. We appear to have filmed around 20 events. At one point, two of these bright orange objects appeared to be engaged in communication or altercation."
Approaching UFOs seemed to be operating on low power and were only visible with binoculars. The UFOs continued to dive into Lake Ontario and submerge, as they did last week. However, the team estimated that the UFOs were now entering the lake at a point 40 miles (64 kilometers) offshore and further east of Grimsby and St. Catharines.
(Many thanks to Jennifer Jarvis for this update.)
[Note: You can read Jennifer's response here on UFOINFO
On Monday, March 31, 1997, at 12:55 a.m., three UFOs were seen by people working in the control tower at Aeropuerto Internactional de Chacalluta, just outside of Arica, the northernmost city in Chile.
According to the eyewitnesses, the UFOs were hovering just offshore, over the Pacific Ocean, near Morro de Arica (hill) and remained there for two hours. At about 3 a.m., the objects "flew away at very high speed," heading for the Andes.
Airport director Julio Schettner said the UFOs hovered "at an altitude between 3,000 and 4,500 meters (10,000 to 15,000 feet) and emitted blue, red, green and yellow lights which made them clearly visible to the naked eye."
Schettner added, "In our tower, it was not possible to track them on radar, so we contacted control towers in (Arequipa) Peru and Santiago (de Chile). None of them had flights registering in Arica at that moment." He added that he "had been doubtful about the existence of UFOs but not any more," adding that they left Arica "at an astonishing speed." (See the newspaper La Tercera de Arica for April 1, 1997)
On Wednesday, April 2, 1997, the Direccion General de Aeronautica Civil (DGAC), Chile's civilian aeronautical ministry, announced that the three UFOs in Arica had been confirmed on radar.
DGAC radar and Fuerzas Aereas de Chile (FACh) air force radar tracked the Arica UFOs "travelling at speeds of up to 12,800 kilometers (8,000 miles) per hour." In the capital, Santiago de Chile, a DGAC spokesman said, "Chile is experiencing OVNI (Spanish acronym for UFO) sightings. The phenomenon is real. It is not meteoric or climactic." (See the newspaper La Cuarta of Santiago de Chile for April 2, 1997. Muchas gracias a Luis Perry para esas noticias.)
On Thursday, April 3, 1997, at 10:22 p.m., a man aged 35 standing outdoors at Umina Beach, near Gosford, New South Wales (N.S.W.) spotted a V-formation of 12 UFOs passing overhead. He described the objects as "twelve illuminated triangles or Stealth- type aircraft." The UFOs passed over Umina Beach heading north toward Palm Beach, and then "descended and seemed to disappear into the sea."
"I was frightened by the event because, when I was outside, I first felt some kind of electrical field pass through me, just before I turned to see them pass overhead," the witness said. "I was stunned, white as a ghost."
Following the UFO formation was an AWACS four-engined jet plane with a radar dome mounted on top of the fuselage. "A little later," the witness recalled, a large military helicopter, possibly an RAAF Westland Sea King HC.Mk4 "mounted with two very bright spotlights" flew towards Palm Beach in the same direction as the UFOs and the AWACS plane. Bringing up the rear was "a small light aircraft."
Ross Dowe of Australia's National 24-Hour UFO Hotline checked with the Royal Australian Air Force and reported, "The RAAF showed that they had not recorded any aircraft in that area."
However, Mr. Dowe added, recently the Royal Australian Navy has been conducting a joint naval exercise with the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet near Jervis Bay, Queensland. The maneuvers are part of Operation Tandem Thrust 97. (Many thanks to Ross Dowe for this story.)
On Tuesday, April 1, 1997, at 10:55 p.m., Manuela Hoogstratten of Oosterwijk, Netherlands spied her second UFO within a month. Oosterwijk is a village on the De Linge River near Leedam 55 kilometers (33 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.
"I was taking a walk with my fiance," Manuela said, "We were looking at the stars and Hale-Bopp. It (the UFO) was the size of a star and not so bright as Venus, and it was moving fast. It hovered in one place first and then it made a curve to the right. Twice it lit up and accelerated a few times and then it disappeared in a straight line. It wasn't the curve of a falling star. Its path was like a roller coaster."
From Manuela's report, it appears that the UFO hovered for a minute or two over the NATO military radar station at Nieuw Millingen, 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Oosterwijk. (Email Interview)
Here's the actual newspaper report of a UFO incident that took place in the northwest corner of Kansas one hundred years ago.
"April 2, 1897 - Reports That It Has Been Seen Again by Kansas People - Kansas City, Mo. The mysterious air ship seen often in Kansas during the past two weeks was seen again last night (April 1, 1897) at Everest, Brown County, in the northwestern part of the state. It was first observed about 9:30 o'clock by two or three persons. At that time only the brilliant headlights were visible, but a few minutes later, as it came nearer, the outline of its huge framework and what seemed to be an enormous cigar, came plainly into view. By this time, half the citizens in town were viewing the sky."
"The ship was seemingly erratic in its movements. Instead of moving in a straight line, it rode up and down, now to the left, and again to the right, but always, apparently, under absolute control. When first observed, it was coming from the north. It was in sight fully 15 minutes, disappearing far towards the south. On each previous occasion, when the ship has been seen, it has come from the north in the early evening and returned in the early morning. In all expectation that this program will be repeated, a good number of the citizens of Everest will remain out all night, hoping for another glance at the mysterious visitor." (See the Evening Times of Pawtucket, R.I. for April 2, 1897, "That Western Airship," page 2.)
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