The Disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito

Today’s post is a guest article written by Amanda Barber. 

Growing up, my absolute favorite show was the original Unsolved Mysteries. The spooky theme song always gave me the creeps, and Robert Stack’s voice was pure eerie perfection. The ghosts and monsters profiled on the show were scary enough, but it was usually the true crime cases that caught my attention the most. Some of these segments were occasionally updated and solved over the course of the show’s run, and a few have even been solved in the past decade or so.

Sadly, there are still many profiled cases that have remained unsolved mysteries. One of the saddest that I’ve always remembered is the disappearance of Anthonette Cayedito, a 9-year-old girl who vanished from her own home back in 1986. Anthonette lived with her mother Penny and her two sisters in an apartment in one of the poorest parts of Gallup, New Mexico. On the night of April 6, 1986, Penny left the girls with a babysitter and went drinking at a local bar. She came back home around midnight, and let the girls stay up playing until 3 AM.

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Picture of Anthonette Cayedito.

That night, Anthonette slept with her mother in her bed. But when Penny later woke up at 7 AM, she found that Anthonette was missing. At first, Penny thought Anthonette had gotten up early to look for a missing neighbor dog. None of her neighbors had seen Anthonette, however, and a search around the neighborhood turned up nothing.

The authorities didn’t have much luck either, and the case would stay cold for more than a year until the Gallup police department received a short phone call from a girl who said that she was Anthonette. The girl claimed to be in Albuquerque, but before she could explain anything, somebody in the background yelled, “Who said you could use the phone?” Suddenly, there was a scream, and then the call ended. While the call was too short to trace, Penny did get to hear a recording of it. She confirmed that it was Anthonette’s voice.

In 1990, another development occurred when a waitress in Carson City, Nevada reported seeing a girl who looked like Anthonette in the diner where she worked. The girl, who looked about 14-years-old, was eating with a man and woman who looked dirty and unkempt. The girl repeatedly dropped her fork onto the floor during her meal. Whenever the waitress would pick it back up, the girl would squeeze the waitress’s hand. After the trio left, the waitress noticed that the girl had left behind a note she had written on a napkin. “Please help me,” it read, “Call the police.”

That same year, Anthonette’s younger sister, Wendy, told investigators that Anthonette had been abducted. The night of her disappearance, a man knocked on the family’s front door and said that he was their Uncle Joe. Since Penny was sleeping, Anthonette decided to answer it. Two men, neither of whom Wendy recognized, grabbed Anthonette and carried her to a brown van as she kicked and screamed. Wendy did not mention this when the investigation began, because she was afraid that it would upset her mother.

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An age progression done in 2012 of what Anthonette Cayedito might look like at the age of 36.

The Peyotes did have an Uncle Joe, but the authorities believed he had nothing to do with Anthonette’s disappearance. That didn’t rule the possibility that she was abducted by somebody she knew though. Interestingly, Penny failed a lie detector test about her daughter’s disappearance, leading one detective at the Gallup Police Department to suspect that she knew who took Anthonette. There are also rumors, although unconfirmed, that Penny was somehow able to buy a new sports car a week after Anthonette went missing. Where Penny got this money has never been explained.

In April 1999, as Penny laid on her deathbed, investigators wanted to get one last interview from her. She died before they could get the chance. Anthonette’s case languished with no reliable leads for the next seven years, until it was ultimately closed in June 2006.

Personally, I don’t think the few leads the police had were very trustworthy to begin with. The phone call part of the story is very strange. Why would Anthonette, a 10-year-old kid, call up the police all the way in Gallup instead of dialing 911? Wendy’s account is also fishy. Say that Penny really was involved in the disappearance. Could she and the kidnappers have plotted the phone call and Wendy’s account to mislead the investigation?

Then there’s the matter of the Carson City girl. Perhaps Anthonette had been sold off to this couple, but the police were not convinced that the girl the waitress saw was truly Anthonette. She might have been a different girl, or the waitress had made the story up entirely. Looking these leads over, they are very weak. I can’t help but wonder if Penny knew more than she was willing to tell the police. Given that she passed away almost two decades ago, we can only hope that somebody will step forward soon and provide the crucial breakthrough the police need.

Amanda Barber is a true crime buff and Robert Stack enthusiast who dreams of writing a book about the many mysteries of her home state of Minnesota. If you would like to contribute a guest article like Amanda’s, please send a pitch to bizarreandgrotesque@gmail.com. 

 

The Boy in the Box

(Note: I will now be updating Bizarre and Grotesque every Monday and Friday. Articles will be posted at 12 AM, Eastern Time.)

BoyintheBox

The Boy in the Box, also known as America’s Unknown Child, was a young boy who was found dead inside a cardboard box in a rural part of Philadelphia in February 1957.

On February 25, 1957, a college student walking through a field in the countryside of Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood found a cardboard packing box on a pile of garbage. When the student looked inside the box, he discovered the body of a small boy covered in a blanket. The boy was naked, and there were bruises all over his body. According to the boy’s autopsy, he was killed from being hit in the head. It was hard to say what his age was, but he seemed to be between the ages of 4 and 6. Although fairly clean, the boy only weighed 30 pounds and had a very crude haircut.

The authorities hoped “The Boy in the Box” would be a quick case to solve. Aside from the boy’s blanket and box, they also had a hat that was found close-by. The box was eventually traced to a J.C. Penny’s 15 miles away. It was used to store a bassinet, and the store had  received and sold a dozen units. Thanks to media publicity, eight of the customers who bought the bassinets contacted the police. The other four never came forward though, and the J.C. Penny’s that sold the bassinets was unable to provide any receipts or records that could help identify them.

Tracing back the hat also came to a dead-end. The owner of the store where it was made said the buyer was a single man who paid with cash and looked to be around 26 between 30-years-old. This man was never identified, and nobody else in the area recognized the hat. The Boy in the Box’s blanket also proved to be unrecognizable. It was cheap and made from flannel, and it seemed to be the only copy of its kind. The three big clues investigators had ultimately came to nothing.

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The cardboard box in which the boy was found.

Over 400,000 posters depicting the boy’s face were distributed across the United States. No relatives, friends, or neighbors the boy might have had ever came forward. His fingerprints turned up nothing, and his appearance did not match with the descriptions of any known missing children.

Nobody could say how long the boy had been dead. There was actually an earlier man who found the body before the college student did, but he did not contact the police or remember the date. On the 24th, the day before the Boy in the Box was found the second time, a driver passing through the area reported seeing a boy and woman standing aside the road with a car. The witness thought the woman’s car might have broke down, but she sent him away with a wave of her hand. The kid the driver saw might very well have been the Boy in the Box before he was killed.

Some have wondered whether the boy was living under the radar, unnoticed by society at large. Perhaps his family was very poor, or maybe he was an orphan living in an abusive home. Remington Bristow, one of the case’s original investigators, believed that the boy’s death was connected to a local foster home. He suggested that the boy belonged to the foster father’s stepdaughter, but a DNA test in the 1990s later disproved this theory.

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The grave of the Boy in the Box.

Another theory emerged in 2002, when a mentally-ill woman identified only as “M” claimed that her parents killed the Boy in the Box. The boy’s real name was “Jonathan,” and M’s parents had bought him from his birth family. Jonathan was subjected to horrific sexual and physical abuse for the next two years. One day, after throwing up in the bathroom, Jonathan had his head slammed against the floor by M’s mother. He died from the attack, and M and her mother then hid the body in the box where Jonathan was found.

After pulling over and getting out of their car, M and her mother were stopped by a passing motorist. What happened next is somewhat consistent to the account of the old witness who reported seeing a woman and boy near the spot where the Boy in the Box’s body was found. According to M, the man thought they were having car trouble, but her mother ignored him. She waited for the man to leave, and then they took Jonathan out of the car and hid his body in the cardboard box.

M’s account was quite detailed, but authorities had trouble believing it due to her mental illness. Neighbors who had known M’s family also disputed her claims. In more recent years, authors Jim Hoffman and Louis Romano believe they have traced the Boy in the Box to a family from Memphis, Tennessee. As of March 2016, they are looking to do a DNA test to confirm their findings.

 

 

The Disappearance of David Guerrero Guevara, A Child Artist

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David Guerrero Guevara was a 13-year-old child painter who disappeared after leaving his house in Malaga, Spain in April 1987.

Although only 13-years-old, David Guerrero Guevara was already a particularly skilled painter. He lived in Malaga, Spain with his parents and two brothers. David was a shy and introverted boy; he didn’t like going outside, and only ever went to school and his art academy.  According to his mother Antonia, David had no friends, didn’t like going to places alone, and always rode the bus with his brother to the academy.

On April 3, 1987, David took part in a religious art exhibition at the prestigious La Maison art gallery. David’s painting, a portrait of Jesus entitled “Christ of the Good Death,” attracted a good amount of publicity because of his young age. On April 6, David was scheduled to meet a local radio host for an interview at La Maison after he got out of school. David was very nervous about the interview, and according to a classmate, complained about having stomach pain and a headache. 

At 6:00 PM, David came home from school, changed his clothes, and left for his interview a half-hour later. David’s father José originally planned to drive him to the gallery, but something came up at his job and David was forced to take the bus by himself instead. After the interview was over, David would go to his art academy and then get picked up by his dad. He left home that evening carrying his bus card and a bag of art supplies.

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David and his painting, “Christ of the Good Death.”

Three hours later, at 9 PM, José arrived at the art academy to take David home. David wasn’t at the academy, however, and José discovered at La Maison that his son never showed up for the interview. When José found that David wasn’t at home either, he drove to the police station and reported his son missing.

The police found David’s disappearance baffling. The bus station was only 10-15 minutes away from his house, yet none of the bus drivers in the area picked him up. Queen Sofia, the wife of the then-current Spanish king, was also in Malaga that day for a special visit, so there were tons of people on the street during the time. Yet nobody reported seeing David at the bus station, and the authorities were skeptical that a stranger could have forced the boy into a car unnoticed.

So where did the “Boy Artist,” as the media nicknamed him, go? The police wondered if he might have run away from home, but David’s family was very skeptical of the idea. After all, David was very close to his family, and he had little connections outside of it. Still, investigators pursed the runaway theory, speculating that David might have left for Portugal to become a bohemian artist. Eventually, a pair of Spanish policemen who searched in Lisbon found no trace of David there. Although there were some sightings of David in the country, including by a pair of Spanish teachers, the police believed the eyewitnesses were mistaken.

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One of the last pictures David drew before his disappearance. The police believed it bore a resemblance to a Swiss suspect.

In 1988, more than a year after David’s disappearance, a Malaga hotel maid approached the authorities and claimed to have found a strange clue in one of the hotel rooms she cleaned. Somebody had written David’s full name on a napkin. When the police reviewed the room’s guests, they found that a 70-year-old Swiss citizen had been the man who rented it during the time of David’s disappearance. This man has never been named in the media, but he was wealthy and interested in photography. He had stayed in several different local hotels between March and April 1987, and he also owned an apartment in a near-by beach town.

By the time the authorities began to investigate this man, he was already dead. In 1990, the man’s widow gave the Spanish police permission to search the deceased’s photography studio. They found plenty of pictures taken in Malaga, but none of them contained David. Some have doubted whether this Swiss man had anything to do with David’s disappearance, yet one of the last drawings David had done was of an old man who bore a strong resemblance to the suspect. Over the years, David Guerrero Guevara has been spotted everywhere from Ireland to Morocco. His case is still open, and authorities are keeping a DNA sample from his family in case they can ever match it to any unidentified bodies that are found.

Check out my book “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries: True Stories of Ghosts, Monsters, and UFOs from South of the Border” for more interesting mysteries of the Spanish-speaking world.  You can buy the book on Kindle here. 

 

The Disappearance of Rivalino Mafra da Silva: Alien Abduction or Foul Play?

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Depiction of Rivalino Mafra da Silva’s abduction on an Italian magazine.

Rivalino Mafra da Silva was a Brazilian diamond prospector who lived in Diamantino, a town in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Rivalino’s wife had died in 1961, and he raised his three sons Raimundo (12-years-old), Fatimo (6-years-old), and Dirceu (2-years-old) by himself in a shack. On August 19, 1962, the family was woken up during the middle of the night by a shadow in their shared bedroom. According to Raimundo, the shadow was “half the size of a man and not shaped like a human being.” It quietly moved through the room, looked over the Mafras, and then left their house. 

After the shadow left, the Mafras heard voices and footsteps coming from outside. One of the voices said, “This seems to be Rivalino,” and then Rivalino jumped out of bed and went into the living-room. He asked the voices who they were, but they refused to identify themselves. They told Rivalino that they were going to kill him. Eventually, the voices stopped and seemed to have left, but the Mafras couldn’t sleep after this incident. They were so scared that they prayed all night.

In the morning, while fetching his dad’s horse, Raimundo saw two ball-like objects hovering in the air near the family shack. One of the objects was entirely black in color, the other was black and white. Both objects had antennae and tail-like appendages. They also made humming noises, and flashes of light or fire came out from their backs.

Raimundo shouted for his father, and when Rivalino came outside, the two objects combined into one ball and released a yellow smoke. The smoke covered Rivalino and filled the air with a terrible odor. When the smoke cleared a minute later, Rivalino and the ball-like object were gone. Raimundo looked all over for his father, but couldn’t find him. He ran to the local police station and reported what happened. When the police searched the Mafras’ shack, they found drops of human blood, although it couldn’t be determined whether it belonged to Rivalino.

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Drawing by Raimundo of the objects he saw.

Naturally, the authorities didn’t buy Raimundo’s incredible story. They suspected that he killed his father, or perhaps was covering up for the murderer. Joao Antunes de Oliveira, a psychiatrist, thought that Raimundo was perfectly sane. He seemed to truly believe that he saw a ball-like object abduct his father. The police didn’t buy it though. In a cruel trick, they covered a (still living) volunteer with a sheet and told Raimundo that it was Rivalino’s dead body. Raimundo still refused to take back his account. In tears, he insisted that the story was true and that the ball must have returned his father.

While some believed the boy, other residents sided with the police. Elagmano Marques da Costa, a businessman in the area, thought Mafra ran off and abandoned his sons. One popular rumor suggested that he was murdered. Perhaps Raimundo saw the shadows and voices of the murderers, but hallucinated the rest of the incident due to shock. While he might have been deemed sane, Raimundo wasn’t in the best of health. He was badly malnourished, illiterate, and couldn’t even read a clock. Interestingly, Raimundo related the same story over and over. His account is said to have never changed, perhaps confirming the psychiatrists’ observation that he believed what he saw. (Or, if you will, the veracity of Raimundo’s testimony.)

Five days after his father’s disappearance, Raimundo gave an interview to the press. The next day, an article about the story appeared in the newspaper Diario de Minas. A Rio de Janiero-based paper, Tribuna da Imprensa, covered the case on August 29. In a September article for The A.P.R.O Bulletin entitled “Man Kidnapped by Globes,” Olavo T. Fontes translated Raimundo’s press interview, the first report of the case in English-speaking media. Many other articles and books, as listed here, have since covered Rivalino Mafra da Silva’s disappearance, but with distortions and inaccuracies.

One common piece of apocrypha, missing from the earliest sources, concerns alien dwarves.  Slightly before Rivalino’s disappearance, two of his co-workers are said to have seen a pair of three foot-tall beings while walking past his house. The dwarves were digging a hole, and when spotted, ran into the bushes. A red UFO then emerged from the hiding spot and took off into the sky. Others claim that it was Rivalino himself who saw the dwarves.

Many English sources also neglect the fact that Rivalino’s body might possibly have been found. In October 1963, A Estrela Polar reported that a group of hunters found bones near Rivalino’s house in “a place of difficult access.” Due to the belt that was found with the remains, along with the location, the body was identified as Rivalino’s. Of course, some have questioned whether the bones really were Rivalino’s, but this was enough to (partly) satisfy the foul play theory. To my knowledge, however, nobody could come up with the names of the murderers.  Whatever exactly happened to the Mafra boys after their father’s disappearance is also obscure; Raimundo is said to have died in 2001, and the whereabouts of Fatimo and Dirceu are unknown.

 

 

 

 

The Strange Death of Wilma Montesi

(No, I haven’t become the victim of an unsolved murder. I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had much time to write any new posts. If you’re getting very desperate (and impatient) for your Bizarre and Grotesque fix, you can always check out my two latest books: “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries” and “20 Unsolved Mysteries of Japan.” In case you prefer freer things, however,  here’s my sole post for June.)

Montesi

Wilma Montesi was a 20-year-old Italian woman who was found dead on a beach near Rome under mysterious circumstances.

On April 11, 1953, a laborer having breakfast on Italy’s Torvaianica Beach found the body of a young woman lying lifeless on the shore. The body was identified as that of Wilma Montesi, a 20-year-old Roman woman who was last seen on April 9. Wilma’s clothes were soaked. She was also missing her shoes, garter belt, and stockings. Theories ranged from Wilma accidentally drowning to taking her own life.

The evening Wilma disappeared, her mother and sister Wanda had gone to see a movie. Wilma was invited to come along, but said she would probably go for a walk instead. Despite leaving behind a precious piece of jewelry that she always wore, Wilma never returned home that night. Witnesses claimed to see her riding a train from Rome to Ostia, while a man who sold postcards reported talking to a woman who looked like Wilma near a beach in Ostia. Wilma was engaged to be married soon, and the salesman said the woman bought a postcard for her boyfriend.

As the authorities pieced things together, it seemed that Wilma’s death was an accident. Wilma sometimes suffered from a pain in her heels, which she would try to ease by dipping her feet in water. While in the water, Wilma must have fallen unconscious and then drowned. Her body was carried by the currents to the beach in Torvaiancia, where she was eventually found by the laborer. The contents of her stomach showed nothing unusual in her body, and there were no signs indicating she had been the victim of violence either.

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A picture of Wilma Montesi’s body. She was found lying in this position.

The police were satisfied with the accident theory, but the press insisted there was something more to the story. An article in the paper Roma, published in the May 4th edition, theorized that Wilma was murdered and the true cause of her death was being covered up. The next day, another newspaper article claimed that a man had turned Wilma’s missing clothes into the police. This unidentified man was eventually revealed to the public as Piero Piccioni, a jazz musician and son of Attilio Piccioni, the foreign minister and a big shot in the country’s Christian Democrats party.

Needless to say, Piero Piccioni was outraged by the accusation. He sued Marco Sforza, the journalist who leaked to the public that Piccioni was the unidentified man. Sforza agreed to take back the accusation, and the whole scandal eventually died down and was forgotten over the summer.

This was not, however, the end of the story. On October 6, 1953, a reporter named Silvano Muto revived interest in the case when he published an article that alleged Wilma Montesi had lived a secret double life. According to an actress named Andriana Concetta Bisaccia, Wilma took part in a wild drug-filled orgy with members of the Roman elite. When Wilma overdosed on some drugs, the party-goers dumped her body onto the beach in Torvaianica. The authorities came up with the accident theory to protect the orgy participants, one of whom was said to be Piero Piccioni.

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Piero Piccioni, a man accused of being involved in Wilma Montesi’s death.

Like Marco Sforza before him, Muto was sued and eventually retracted his accusations. His source, the actress who attended the orgy with Wilma, denied everything in the article. Another actress, however, soon came forward and confirmed what Bisaccia said. Maria Augusta Moneta Caglio Bessier d’Istria reported that Wilma was an old mistress of Ugo Montagna, the man suing Sforza and the owner of the place where the orgy was alleged to have taken place. Maria wrote up a memorandum that confirmed the findings in Muto’s article, and this document was then given to an Italian official who suspended the trial against Muto.

On March 26, 1954, the investigation of Wilma’s death was re-opened. The Christian Democrats claimed the scandal was nothing but a conspiracy orchestrated by their political enemies, but the ensuing controversy eventually led to Attilio Piccioni’s resignation from his post. Piero Piccioni and Ugo Montagna were then arrested, and a Roman superintendent of the police was also taken into custody for his involvement in the cover-up. Piccioni went to trial for manslaughter and drug use, while Montagna was accused of helping him get rid of Wilma’s body.

While the press might have been calling for Piero Piccioni’s blood, the Montesis thought the man was innocent. They maintained that their daughter was a good middle-class girl, the last person in the world to be involved with drugs and casual sex. There was a side to Wilma, however, that her family didn’t want known to the public. She liked to smoke cigarettes and stay out late, behavior considered shocking for a young woman of the time. She also frequently fought with her mother, sometimes violently. As the case went on, the theory of Wilma dying from a drug overdose at an aristocratic orgy was not as far-fetched as it first seemed.

On May 28, 1957, Piero Piccioni and Ugo Montagna were deemed innocent of their charges and acquitted. Montagna denied having ever known Wilma Montesi, while Alida Valli, a popular movie star, provided Piccioni with an alibi during the time of Wilma’s death. As far as the authorities were concerned, the accidental drowning theory was still correct. Yet what about the testimony of Bisaccia and Bessier d’Istria? Was there truly a cover-up that extended all the way to a leader of the Christian Democrats? Was Wilma Montesi really as clean as her family claimed she was? Perhaps the circumstances surrounding the young woman’s death will never properly be explained.

 

Did CIA Agents Kill Hollywood Screenwriter Gary DeVore?

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Picture of Gary DeVore and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the early hours of June 28, 1997, Gary DeVore, a Hollywood screenwriter best-remembered for penning the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Raw Deal,” disappeared while driving home from his friend’s house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the time of his disappearance, DeVore was working on a remake of the 1949 movie “The Big Steal,” a film noir about the hunt for a thief who deliberately disappeared in Mexico. DeVore wasn’t aiming for a modernized update, but a complete overhaul involving the American invasion of Panama in 1989.

Officially, the American government’s justifications for the invasion was to protect American citizens, defend Panama’s democratic system from dictator Manuel Noriega,and crackdown on the country’s drug trafficking. The invasion lasted little more than a month, and Noriega was ultimately deposed and then convicted for drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the U.S.

While conducting research for his script, however, DeVore became convinced that there were more ulterior reasons for the invasion. According to one researcher, as reported by The Daily Mail, “… the film may have implied the invasion was nothing more than a diversion that would allow the US into Panama to steal back incriminating photos of senior US officials that Noriega could have used as blackmail.”

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Mugshot of Panamanian General Manuel Noriega.

The embarrassing pictures the government was so anxious to retrieve were allegedly taken during wild booze and drug-filled sex parties organized by Noriega. These parties were said to have gone on for years, and were attended by CIA agents and Congress representatives. Noriega’s purpose in organizing the parties was to secretly film American officials and create sex tapes that could be used to blackmail them. (Note: This rumor about Noriega’s secret sex tapes first surfaced in the short-lived “Sunday Correspondent,” in an article that was published two months before the U.S. invaded Panama.)

The night he disappeared, DeVore last talked to his wife on the phone around 1:15 AM,  as he was driving to their home in Santa Barbara, California. Wendy tried calling her husband three times earlier, but his phone only rang and went unanswered. When DeVore called Wendy back 15 minutes later, he acted strangely and told his wife not to wait for him to come home. Despite being three or so hours away, near the town of Barstow, DeVore never made it home. The authorities searched all over his route, yet the screenwriter never materialized.

Worried by his behavior on the phone, Wendy was afraid that DeVore had been abducted. She strongly felt that somebody else was in the car when she talked to him at 1:15. DeVore’s publicist, on the other hand, thought that he left for Panama with the help of a CIA friend. Others suspected that DeVore committed suicide due to financial problems and dissatisfaction with his career. Over the next year, Wendy would organize many more searches and even put out a $100,000 reward to locate her husband, but it was eventually an amateur detective named Douglas Crawford who would find DeVore’s remains.

Crawford had nothing to do with Wendy DeVore or the investigation, but he believed Gary DeVore probably fell asleep at the wheel, drove off the road, and drowned in the California Aqueduct. Amazingly, Crawford’s theory was right, and DeVore’s Ford Explorer turned up submerged in the canal. His decomposed body was found in the driver’s seat, secured with the seat belt. The laptop DeVore had carried the night he drove off the road was never recovered. It contained the latest draft of “The Big Steal,” which he had worked on while in New Mexico. His gun, which he kept in his car, was also missing. DeVore’s autopsy came back inconclusive, but the authorities were convinced that Crawford’s accident theory was correct. Other people, like DeVore’s widow, suspected foul play or CIA involvement.

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DeVore’s car being recovered from the California Aqueduct.

In recent years, thanks to the release of a 2014 documentary entitled “The Writer with No Hands,” public interest in DeVore’s bizarre death has resurfaced. The movie’s title is a reference to the claim that DeVore was missing his hands when he was found, a detail not mentioned in any of the newspaper articles I read from the time when DeVore’s body was discovered. According to The Daily Mail article I quoted earlier, the coroner who looked over DeVore concluded that the hands he was found with weren’t actually his. In fact, they were estimated to be over 200 years old!

With this weird little tidbit in mind, conspiracy theorists have argued that DeVore was murdered by the CIA because his new movie was going to leak a bunch of classified information about the Panama invasion. Letting Hollywood shoot the movie, so the story goes, would have been a threat to national security. Before his death, DeVore was allegedly very close with some members of the CIA, and regularly received phone calls from them. He even allegedly traveled to Panama with CIA agents.

This is all very juicy stuff, but none of these last few details have ever been covered or verified by a reputable mainstream source. The CIA does, in fact, have some connections with Hollywood.  Since 1996, the agency’s “entertainment industry liaison” officers have worked to help and influence the movie industry. This influence might be limited to fact-checking or encouraging movie-makers to portray the CIA in a positive light, although some believe the agency’s scope goes far beyond just these activities. Interestingly, DeVore’s CIA friend, Chase Brandon, was an entertainment industry liaison officer.

As it stands, Gary DeVore’s death remains solved, and his CIA relationship flimsy. Currently, the police files that deal with his death are classified and unavailable even to Wendy DeVore. Perhaps, should they ever be released, the many rumors surrounding DeVore’s death will end up confirmed or debunked. For the time being, anybody interested in pursuing the conspiracy angle should check out “The Writer with No Hands” or its accompanying book.

 

 

 

 

Ochate: Aliens, Epidemics, and a Possible Hoaxer

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The ruins of Ochate.

According to legend, the little Spanish village of Ochate was struck by three different epidemics in a period of only ten years. The village suffered a deadly outbreak of smallpox in 1860, and the population was further devastated after being hit by typhus in 1864. A final attack of cholera in 1870 encouraged the last few survivors to leave Ochate for good. Amazingly, none of the other villages in the area were touched by the epidemics. Only the people of Ochate were affected.

Ochate, a Basque word meaning “secret door,” has sat in ruins ever since. A variety of different paranormal activity is said to haunt the place, from ghostly voices that shout for visitors to leave and “close the door” to mysterious lights and passing UFOs. As infamous as the place is today, it was relatively obscure until the magazine “Unknown World” published a picture of a UFO taken above the village in 1981. The photographer, a bank employee named Prudencio Muguruza,  later wrote a popular article about Ochate and its legends three months later in the same magazine.

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Prudencio Muguruza’s picture on the cover of “Unknown World.” (The article about the story translates to “UFO in Treviño.”)

Nobody’s quite sure about the meaning of Ochate’s name, but some paranormal enthusiasts believe the village is a “door” to another dimension.  In 1868, four years after the typhus epidemic, a local priest named Antonio Villegas vanished without a trace. About a century later, in the early 1970s, a farmer passing through the area also inexplicably disappeared. In August 1978, a man named Angel Resines saw a white light emerge from Ochate and break into three other lights. As he hid in his shed, Resines watched the lights fly into some mountains and disappear.

In 1987, a researcher pursuing the dimension gateway theory committed suicide while conducting a group investigation in Ochate. Why the researcher decided to do it here isn’t particularly clear, but he apparently killed himself in his car by carbon monoxide poisoning. The man’s ghost is now said to haunt the town. Later that year, another investigator named Mikel Colmenero claimed to have seen two human-like beings dressed in black suits and standing at least ten feet tall. Colmenero watched the creatures pass by in his car, so terribly frightened that he couldn’t bring himself to move.

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Another picture of some ruins in Ochate.

Other paranormal researchers who have investigated Ochate have run into nothing out of the ordinary. Some believe there’s nothing supernatural about the town at all. There aren’t any historical records, for example, that can verify the mysterious epidemics that destroyed Ochate in the 19th century. One skeptic, Enrique Echazarra, traced an 80-year-old man who lived in the town before the Spanish Civil War. Echazarra said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC that the man “was very surprised at what was said about his town. He said that there had never been any witches, ghosts, or UFOs.”

It seems that Ochate was only abandoned during the first three or so decades of the 20th century. By the early 1930s, the population had fallen to only four inhabitants. Prudencio Muguruza, the man who popularized Ochate, has been accused of making stories up and faking his UFO picture. In 2014, Muguruza published a book about Ochate in which he claimed that aliens became stranded in the village in the 13th century. Some of the aliens died and were buried in an Ochate cemetery, while the survivors were eventually saved by a UFO that rescued them 34 years later. Alternatively, Muguruza also reported an even stranger second theory, in which the aliens fought the Templars.

Luis Alfonso Gámez, a journalist and blogger, has accused Muguruza of making a living off exploiting believers’ naivety. After popularizing his UFO picture, Muguruza sold the negative and quit his job. He opened a bookstore, made media appearances as a ufologist, and later dabbled in parapsychology. Of course, other people have reported seeing strange things in Ochate, and they haven’t made a living off it. Perhaps these witnesses really do believe they encountered ghosts, lights, and UFOs. Personally, I’d say they misunderstood natural phenomena and tried reapplying local legends to make sense of what they saw. (Muguruza’s picture, for the record, is believed to be a cloud.)

Check out my book “Mexico’s Unsolved Mysteries: True Stories of Ghosts, Monsters, and UFOs from South of the Border” for more interesting mysteries of the Spanish-speaking world.  You can buy the book on Kindle here.