MYSTERIOUS EXPLOSION CAUSED THE FIRE AT THE CHURCH IN UGANDA"Rutemba Didas heard what sounded like an explosion, then saw black smoke billowing from the brick structure on a hilltop compound where members of a religious cult had been living for several years."
""The farmer and his neighbors heard screams coming from the chapel" the morning of Friday, March 17, 2000, "but they couldn't get close to the new building where the members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God lived in this remote corner of southwestern Uganda."
"'We did not see any person running away. We really don't know what happened to the leaders,' Didas said, standing a short distance from where the charred bodies lay spread across the floor of a 120-foot-by-30- foot structure."
"Circumstances surrounding the deaths--who the dead were and how the fire was started--remain foggy."
"Little was known about the cult, although it appeared to incorporate Christian beliefs, and local farmers said it was led by a former prostitute."
The fire took place in Kanungu, a market town about 320 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
"In Kanungu, cult members locked themselves in the chapel early Friday and nailed doors and windows closed, then sang for a few hours before dousing themselves in gasoline and paraffin and setting themselves ablaze, said David Ssepppuuya, deputy editor-in-chief of the government-owned New Vision newspaper, quoting investigators."
"'According to an eyewitness on the site, they came around and said farewell to the people and they heard that the Virgin Mary would appear on Friday, so they did expect to die on Friday,' Sseppuuya said."
"Didas said the cult was established in 1994 by former prostitute Credonia Mwerinde at her family's compound."
"He said members of the cult did not socialize with others in the area and communicated only by gesture, although they did sing and pray aloud. The women wore white veils, and the men wore black, green or red shirts, he said."
"Local leaders said members of the sect slaughtered their cattle and feasted for a week before the fire, drinking soft drinks and singing religious songs, according to the independent newspaper The Monitor."
"Cult members from inside and outside the compound had been invited to a ceremony Friday to inaugurate the chapel, which had been built by Mwerinde over the graves of her parents."
"In other building of the compound, there were images of the Virgin Mary and several rosaries."
"Tumwesigye Kajungu, a former schoolteacher from the trading center who refused to join the cult, said his wife and six children died in the blaze."
"'I last saw my wife on March 8. She told me something was going to happen on the 15th. And if nothing happened, she would see me again,' he said."
Uganda's Ministry of the Interior said they expected the death toll to reach 330.
(Editor's Comment: Got the picture so far? Another group of kook Christians committed "mass suicide" by setting themselves on fire. But if that's the case, then how do you explain this next report?)
""Prisoners dug a long trench Monday" March 20, 2000 "and a bulldozer shoveled charred corpses into a common grave, the final resting place for hundreds of members of a religious cult led by a former prostitute. Most of the victims apparently were women, and police counted the bodies of 78 children, the (Uganda) interior minister said."
""'These are the ones we could count,' Interior Minister Edward Rugumayo said, 'The others are unrecognizable.'"
"Rugumayo spoke to reporters in Kampala after inspecting the burned hulk of the church hall just outside Kanungu...He said that in addition to the 330 bodies found after Friday's fire in the church, five bodies were spotted through a hole in a nearby pit latrine." (my emphasis--J.T.)
"Rugumayo said police were sure there were more bodies in the latrine, a walled communal structure common in African villages but were awaiting digging equipment to excavate the pit. He did not offer an explanation of how or when the bodies got into the latrine."
"In the last few months, Ugandan police had dismantled two cults accused of being a menace to themselves and the country."
In September 1999, Ugandan police cracked down on the Church of the Last Message of World Warning, "whose members were accused of abducting children and abusing minors.. This sect, located in a farm in central Uganda, professes 'doomsday beliefs' under the guidance of their 'prophet,' Wilson Bushara of Bukhoto in Nakaseke County, Uganda."
Members of the World Warning church are exclusively Tutsi and Bahima indigenous people from southern Uganda, Burundi, northern Tanzania and eastern Zaire.
In November 1999, Ugandan police "scattered an illegal gathering of the cult which has grown around the young prophet Nabassa Owajwa in western Uganda. This young woman, aged 19, claimed to have died in 1996 but to have been resurrected by God to exhort the masses to repent before the year 2000."
Just over the border from Kanungu, in the neighboring African nation of Rwanda, the Virgin Mary (formerly known as Miriam bat-Joachim--J.T.) appeared to a teenaged girl named Marie Clare from 1980 to 1985 and left several messages. In one message, the apparition claimed she would return to Africa "in twenty years' time," i.e. the year 2000. (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for March 20, 2000, "Cult fire death count could hit 470,' page 3A and March 21, 2000, "Uganda cult deaths," page 2A. Also thanks to Scott Corrales for the EKE news story.)
(Editor's Comment: Here we go again. Another unpopular religious sect wiped out by forces unknown, just like Heaven's Gate in 1997 and the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas in 1993. The motive is clear. Somebody wanted to halt the Marian apparition in Kanungu. But you have to wonder what secret tribunal vetoed the continued existence. of Ms. Mwerinde's sect. This appears to be Bogus Suicides Week. Check out what's going down in Canton. Ohio.)
UFO WITNESS SLAIN IN SUSPICIOUS PLUNGE FROM HOSPITAL WINDOW"A 39-year-old Guernsey County patient at Marcy Medical Center" in Canton, Ohio (population 64,161) somehow got through the open window of his ninth floor room yesterday (Monday, March 13, 2000) and plunged seven stories to an adjacent roof."
"The men, from Kimbolton, was declared dead at the scene. Canton police found a bag of his clothing next to the body. He was wearing his hospital gown."
"Stark County coroner's investigator William Dishong said there was no evidence of a struggle or foul play. However, police are investigating to determine if it was a suicide or a criminal act."
"Relatives said they were planning to bring the man home from the hospital yesterday when they heard of the accident, which happened about 8:30 a.m."
"A cousin, William Robert Juergens, said hospital officials" claimed that the patient "was 'seeing flying saucers' and was agitated the night before."
"'I don't understand why they didn't have him psychologically evaluated,' Juergens said, 'I was told that he was pacing all night, that he wasn't sleeping.'"
"Canton Detective Capt. James Myers said the man took his action quickly. The other patient in the semi-private room with him was not aware of what happened."
"Dishong said the man apparently closed the curtain separating the beds. He said a nurse had been in the room...two minutes before the patient was discovered missing. The nurse said the window was closed at that time. But when she returned, the window was open, and the man was gone."
"'I don't remember any other incident where anyone jumped at a hospital,' Myers said."
(Editor's Comment: Memo to Captain Myers--In 1949, former Secretary of the Navy James D. Forrestal jumped out of a high window at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Of course, some people say Forrestal had a little help when he "jumped.")
"The horizontal windows on this floor slide up and down rather than swinging out. They are kept locked with special keys. No one could explain yesterday how the window became unlocked. (my emphasis--J.T.) Myers said the window was not broken."
"The man had been injured from a four-car auto accident Friday (March 10, 2000) in Plain Township, but it was not reported that he was disoriented."
"Stark County Sheriff Timothy Swanson said witnesses reported that he was doing between 60 and 70 miles per hour on Cleveland Avenue near the North Canton city limits with his headlights off."
(Editor's Comment: Makes you wonder what he was running from, doesn't it?)
"He struck several orange construction barrels before hitting another car head-on. Two other cars were involved in the accident, which occurred at 8:42 p.m."
"No one was seriously injured. Swanson said there were no signs of drug or alcohol use."
According to Juergens, the patient "was never married and had no children but lived with a dog named Toto. He had a high-pressure job as an accountant for several oil firms in Houston and Venezuela until about two years ago, Juergens said. Since then, he had delivered pizzas in Cambridge," Ohio.
"'Everyone I speak with is trying to say je jumped, and I can't see him doing that. He just wasn't that kind of person,' Juergens said, 'He had some mental problems. He had some breakdown, but he never hurt himself or anyone else. He was more concerned with getting home to get his dog fed.'" (See the Akron, Ohio Beacon-Journal for March 14, 2000, "Fall kills hospital patient in Canton" by John Higgins and Andale Gross. Many thanks to Kenneth Young of Cincinnati UFO Research for forwarding the newspaper article.)
SMALL DELTA-SHAPED UFO SEEN IN ROCHESTER, N.Y.On Wednesday, March 15, 2000, around 6:30 p.m., M.J.C. decided to go for a hike in the woods near his apartment complex. He lives about a half-mile from Expressway 590 in the south side of Rochester, N.Y. (population 231,700), just north of the town landfill belonging to the neighboring community of Brighton, N.Y. (population 34,500).
"That evening I started hiking through the woods on a trail which starts at the back of my apartment complex and skirts north along the edge of the Brighton landfill. The trail eventually works its way down to a very shallow stream at the bottom of a ravine," Mike reported.
"Eventually I decided to leave the trail and head right down to the stream itself. I proceeded to tiptoe downstream on some of the rocks and then climbed over downed trees before deciding the path was getting a bit too soggy and obstructed for my liking. Instead of hiking back on the trail I'd taken, I decided to take a 'shortcut' back to the landfill."
Following a very steep climb out of the ravine, he "walked through the woods headed in the direction of the road which runs through the landfill proper. However, after the climb, I was all out of breath and had to take a standing rest behind a pile of rocks."
"Glancing up ahead, some movement caught my eye. Something dark up in the air. First I thought it might be a kite, then a balloon, then a bird. Finally, as it drew closer, the only possibility that I hadn't eliminated was a radio-controlled model of some sort. But then again, what kind of radio-controlled plane is absolutely silent?"
"The object was totally black in color and flat on the underside. The closest thing that I could say the craft resembled was the Stealth fighter plane, but it was quite scaled down in size. Although it's difficult to estimate size against a background of clouds, the object was eventually close enough to me where I'm confident in saying it wasn't more than six feet (1.8 meters) long, and my best guess is that it was only four feet (1.3 meters) long."
"The object looked very much like a black arrowhead in shape, complete with an arrowhead's notch toward the rear. But it also presented a multi-faceted design on top, similar to the Stealth's anti-radar deflective design. However, the ends of the object appeared to have a clean edge but I noticed they were partially ragged, as in the difference between a standard pyramid and the stepped look of a South American (Mayan, Toltec or Aztec--J.T.) pyramid. Although the effect was mere detail, I thought it was worth mentioning."
"As the object glided directly past me, I could begin to see what clearly looked to be windows arrayed in a hexagon-shaped dome on top. Now picture a Stealth cockpit positioned directly in the middle of the craft with these same types of windows being on all sides."
"The object was traveling at a constant speed and altitude, absolutely level. The degree of steadiness it showed combined with the fact that it was moving over a long distance without making a sound made it seem utterly unnatural to me. It also flew at a very low altitude, perhaps a mere 30 to 50 feet above the highest treetops. I'd estimate the speed to be around 10 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour). It traveled at the same speed throughout the entire sighting which lasted maybe 45 seconds."
"I watched it glide past me and then over the ravine. After another 15 seconds, I could no longer see it beyond the treeline, but it was headed directly toward the 590 Expressway which is located approximately a half-mile (0.8 kilometers) away."
Rochester is on Interstate Highway I-90 approximately 359 miles (574 kilometers) northwest of New York City. (Email Interview)
(Editor's Comment: This is not an aircraft as we understand the term. At such a low airspeed, any plane would stall and drop out of the sky. The UFO obviously was using some other means of "lift" than its wings.)
FOUR DISCS VIDEOTAPED IN SMITHVILLE, INDIANAOn Sunday, March 12, 2000, at 8:30 p.m., Indiana ufologist John Tosti "spotted two illuminated objects outside his home near Smithville, Indiana (population 90), a small town 65 miles (104 kilometers) south of Indianapolis.
Tosti reported that "the objects were hovering just slightly above a nearby tree line. He was in the process of videotaping them when two more appeared from out of nowhere, also with no accompanying sound."
"Less than a quarter-mile distant," Tosti "could make out the outlines of the second pair, which he described as 'huge disks.' He commented that they had what looked like 'headlights' coming out of them."
"At this point, John turned his attention and his video camera toward the new arrivals," reported fellow ufologist Lynn Taylor, publisher of the UFO newsletter, The Sentinel Files.
"He was still taping when a small yellowish object 'shot out' of one of the disks, straight toward him."
"That kind of scared me," Tosti reportedly said.
"Then, as suddenly as the huge disks appeared, they 'blacked out' and were gone. When he looked around for the first two objects, they were nowhere to be found." (See The Sentinel Files for march 18, 2000. Many thanks to editor Lynn Taylor for letting UFO Roundup quote from the newsletter.)
MYSTERY METEOR CAUSES BIG BLAZE IN ARKANSAS"A mysterious fire scorched forty acres early Friday morning (March 10, 2000) before emergency workers controlled it, central Arkansas officials said."
"The Pulaski County Emergency Management Dept. responded to the fire just before midnight a few miles south of England (population 3,351) when a call alerted officials to a probable plane crash, Emergency Management Director Kathy Botsford said."
"No evidence of a plane crash was found."
"The fire burned parts of Pulaski, Lonoke and Jefferson Counties. Most of the damage was centered on land in Jefferson County, which is in charge of the investigation, according to Lt. Eugene Butler of the county's sheriff's office."
"Only one house sits near the 150-foot-wide, mile-long area that burned, but no damage was reported to the building."
"A pipeline explosion was also suggested as the cause of the fire, but Botsford said the contents of the pipes running through the area are non- flammable and the company that owns the pipeline said no leaks had been detected."
"Several people in the area reported seeing shooting stars between 9 and 10 p.m., but Botsford was skeptical of the meteorite theory."
"'I just doubt this possibility at this point,' Botsford said, 'We're just not really sure what started the fire.'"
"Butler said he had reports of a 'mushroom-type ball of fire' in the area before the fire, but he couldn't say how it started."
"'Right now we're just trying to find the origin of the fire,' Butler said."
"Pulaski County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Rehrauer said he saw something in the sky while driving in Little Rock--25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of England--around 8 p.m."
"''I was driving down the freeway, and it caught my eye,' Rehrauer said, ''I said to my wife, 'That was a bright shooting star.''" (See the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette for March 11, 2000, "Strange blaze near England puzzles police." Many thanks to Errol Bruce- Knapp for forwarding the newspaper story.)
ANOTHER UFO REPORTED IN NEW SOUTH WALESOn January 30, 2000, at about 4 a.m., an adult male "was at his factory in" Brookvale, New South Wales, Australia, and saw orange-sphere UFOs "from his window. He got in his car and drove to Beacon Hill for a better vantage point. At the time, they were doing strange manoeuvres as if surveying certain areas west of Sydney. He watched them for around an hour until he couldn't see them any more." (Many thanks to Tricia Down Under for this report.)
TWO CROP CIRCLES APPEAR IN EASTERN SPAIN"Two large crop circles of unknown origin have appeared in a wheat field near Els Omellons," near Las Garrigues in Spain's Barcelona Province.
"Their symmetry and size has caused them to be compared to UFO landing circles. The circles are 36 and 26 meters (118 and 85 feet) in diameter.."
However, the Spanish newspaper El Periodico suggested that it was a hoax, pointing out that "Authorities and local residents believe it is all hooliganism. The photo shows the local alcalde (mayor) pointing at the circles." (See the newspaper El Periodico for March 11, 2000, "A false UFO frightens Las Garrigues." Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales, autor de los libros Chupacabras and Other Mysteries y Forbiden Mexico para esta historia.)
READER FEEDBACK:The recent story on youthful Fatima seer Jacinta Marto drew some commentary. (See UFO Roundup, Volume 5, Number 10.)
Joaquim Fernandes of the University of Fernando Pessoa in Porto, Portugal writes, "The article about Jacinta is accurate." He adds that a good book on Fatima is available over the Internet. It's entitled As Aparicoes de Fatima o Fenomeno OVNI? You can ask about the book at this email address--estampa@mail. telepac.pt
Debra S. writes, "I didn't know the Fatima children were jailed. Jacinta, Lucia and Francisco should have been singing this... "Johnnie Cochrane, you are a friend of mine/ You come to free us when we get into a bind/ You're the best./You're my friend./Mi amigo!"
Very funny, Deb. You know, if O.J. Simpson could sing, he could move to Branson and turn that into his first hit platinum CD.
1966: STRANGE ENCOUNTER IN NEWPORT, OREGONIf there's an award for the weirdest-looking aliens ever to appear on Earth, the Newport Three are a cinch to win.
Newport, Oregon (population 9,000) is a scenic port city on Oregon's Pacific Ocean coastline, which has been a summer resort community for well over a century.
In 1874, Newport was the scene of one of the strangest disappearance cases on record. Muriel Trevenard, a 16-year-old girl, vanished from the third floor of the old Yaquina Bay lighthouse, and she was never seen again. (For details, see UFO Roundup, Volume 5, Number 11.)
By 1966, however, there was nobody left alive who remembered the strange case of Muriel Trevenard. The case had been relegated to local folklore and pretty nearly forgotten.
But then, in April 1966, strange phenomena began again in Newport.
On April 5, 1966, there was a miniature UFO flap here in the USA. Saucers were sighted in Alto, Tennessee and Lycoming, New York, with both cases ultimately being reported as "unknowns" in Project Blue Book.
That evening, in Newport, 16-year-old Kathy Reeves and another teenaged girl were walking home to Kathy's house on Pioneer Mountain when the girls had "a funny feeling" that they were being followed.
Coming to a bend in the road, Kathy and her friend looked back and "saw what appeared to be a flashlight with a cover over the end."
"'I thought it was somebody playing a trick, so I threw a rock at the light. A lot of big ones went on all around it, and we ran home.'"
What they saw next, however, brought both girls to a screeching halt. Three weird shapes were moving across a pasture, heading for the multi-colored lights further downslope. Kathy blinked in disbelief. Aliens!
Indeed, these were the strangest-looking aliens ever seen in the fifty years since Roswell. Afterward, Kathy described them as "three little tree stumps" that "walked across the pasture." The entities had neither heads nor arms, and their legs resembled the taproots of a tree trunk. She added that the trio seemed to be wearing multicolored clothing, "orange, blue, white, yellow and watermelon-colored."
Screaming, the girls ran upslope to the house at top speed.
In the days that followed, there were several "poltergeist" experiences in the Reeves's home.
According to author Jim Brandon, "The Reeves family were harassed to the point of moving out of their home on Pioneer Mountain. Before that, however, a number of people studied the goings-on."
"Max W. Taylor, a chemist for the Georgia-Pacific Corporation, camped out on the Reeves front lawn and was rewarded by seeing what he described as 'two bluish lights' perched on the roof one night."
"Deputy Sheriff Thomas W. Price saw a flying object. 'I don't know what it was, but it was orange and it was bigger than any star. I know it wasn't a meteor or a satellite because it was maneuvering There was a noise like a giant spinning top. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.'"
"After the Reeveses left, the new owner, Delbert Mapes, said the freak show seemed to have left with them."
Of course, no one was able to explain why the picturesque fishing town of Newport, Oregon became the locale of not one but two paranormal cases ninety years apart. Or why both cases involved sixteen-year-old girls.
File under Mysteries of the Pacific Northwest. (See the book Weird America by Jim Brandon, E.P. Dutton, New York, N.Y., 1978, pages 189 and 190. Also Project Blue Book, edited by Brad Steiger, Ballantine Books, New York, N.Y., 1976, page 369. Also the Spokane, Wash. Spokesman- Review for October 18, 1966, page 1.)
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2000 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.