The Alien Cyclops of Sagrada Familia

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Comic book depiction of the Sagrada Familia Cyclops, an alien encountered by three boys in Brazil in August 1963.

On August 28, 1963, 7-year-old José Marcos Gomes Vidal went to play with his friends Fernando and Ronaldo Gualberto at their home in Sagrada Familia, a poor neighborhood in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Around 7 PM, after eating dinner, the boys went out to the backyard to wash a coffee strainer. While Fernando stood a small distance behind him, José dipped his head and arms into a barrel to collect some water. (I believe Ronaldo was hanging around the side of the house, away from the other two boys.)  Suddenly, Fernando noticed a glow coming from the top of an avocado tree. When he looked up, he saw a UFO hovering above the tree’s branches.

The craft, which was spherical and had a pair of antennas on top, was completely transparent. It held four human-like passengers sitting inside, one of whom sat in front of a machine that appeared to be a control panel. The passengers were about six feet tall and dressed in spacesuits. They all four had only one eye. Three of them were thin and bald, while the other looked like an overweight woman with blonde hair.

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As Fernando gazed at the sight in awe, the UFO shot out two rays of yellow light. One of the cyclopes then appeared between the lights, slowly floating down onto the ground. Once his boots touched the earth, the creature began to walk toward José, who was completely unaware of what was happening since he was still collecting water. Worried that the cyclops was going to abduct his friend, Fernandos panicked and tackled José. José fell to the ground, and Fernando got back up and faced the cyclops. Now all three boys were aware of their visitor.

Instead of moving any farther, the cyclops moved his head and made hand signals. Its mouth moved and spoke a few sounds that was nothing like the boys ever heard before. The creature then turned around and stared back at the UFO. Fernando, spotting a brick on the ground, picked it up and aimed it at the cyclops. The cyclops suddenly faced the boys again and shot Fernando’s hand with a yellow light from a triangular crest on his chest. Fernando dropped the brick, and all three of the boys became calm and frozen.

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A newspaper photo of Fernando using a stick to show how tall the cyclops was.

The cyclops spent the next few minutes talking to the boys in his language. The boys didn’t understand anything that the cyclops said, but he sounded like he was serious. After pointing one of his fingers at the moon, the cyclops began to walk back toward the UFO. (One source places Fernando’s attempt to hit the creature with a brick at this later point.)

As the cyclops walked away, José asked if he would ever come back. He shook his head affirmatively, plucked a plant from the ground, and then waved his hand at the UFO. The UFO shot out two rays of yellow light again,  and the cyclops slowly floated back up into the vehicle. As the boys continued to watch, the UFO flew eastward and disappeared out of their sight.

After the UFO was gone, a wave of fear settled over the three boys. José ran into the Gualbertos’ house and hid under a bed. Fernando and Ronaldo were also badly spooked, and told their mother María José about what happened. She sent a neighbor girl to fetch her husband, Alcides, from the bar. When Alcides returned home to check the backyard, he found large footprints, like those of a boot, near the water barrel. José and his friends reportedly never saw the cyclopes again. While the case was at one point investigated by a Brazilian ufologist, it has remained mostly unknown to the wider world.

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The Betty Andreasson Abduction

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In January 1967, Betty Andreasson was abducted by a group of aliens who told her that worshipped Jesus Christ.

Until January 25, 1967, Betty Andreasson was a pretty ordinary housewife living in South Ashburnham, Massachusetts. That night, around 6:30 PM, Betty was working in her kitchen when her house’s power went out for a brief second. As Betty rushed to her front room to check on her seven children, a red light suddenly flashed through the kitchen window and caught her father’s attention. When Betty’s father went up to the window to check out the source of the light, he saw a group of small gray aliens apparently hopping toward the house.

Once they reached Betty’s home, the aliens floated through the kitchen door and put everybody except Betty into a state of suspended animation. To show Betty that her family was all right, the aliens snapped her 11-year-old daughter Becky back into animation. Becky told her mother not to worry, and then the aliens froze her again. While communicating with Betty by telepathy, the aliens took her outside to a silver spacecraft. This smaller vehicle took off and entered a mothership.

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A drawing of the Andreasson aliens from one of the five books Raymond Fowler wrote about the case.

Over the course of four hours, Betty was subjected to some medical experiments and a surgery which removed a tracking-device that had been put in her nose in an earlier encounter that happened in 1950.  During her abduction, the aliens told Betty that they worshipped Jesus Christ. They claimed that the Second Coming would happen soon, and then they took Betty to a room where she talked to a tall being she would later call “The One”. After meeting The One, Betty was taken home and had her memory wiped clean. Her family was unfrozen, and aside from Becky, would forget everything they saw that night.

It wasn’t until years later, in the 1970s, that Betty would remember what happened to her. In 1975, Betty wrote a letter about her experience to J. Allen Hynek, a well-known astronomer and UFO investigator. Hynek had little interest in Betty’s incredible story, but a hypnotic session was eventually organized by a group of investigators in 1977. After more than a dozen sessions and some other tests, Betty and Becky were able to unravel what happened to their family that night in 1967. Betty also recovered memories about some incidents in 1944, 1949, and 1950, and the hypnotist, Raymond Fowler, soon came to believe that he was once abducted by aliens too.

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In 1979, Fowler turned the exhaustive notes taken of Betty’s experiences into a book called The Andreasson Affair. By that time, Betty was living in Florida with two of her daughters after a divorce from her husband. After her case became publicized, she met a man named Bob Luca, who also claimed to have some abduction experiences. (It seems like everybody Betty comes into contact with realizes they once had an abduction experience.) Betty and Bob were soon married, and their subsequent experiences have provided for four more books by Raymond Fowler. They are both still alive and active in the UFO community.

Due to the hundreds of pages of research that went into investigating Betty Andreasson’s experiences, her story has long been regarded by enthusiasts as one of the more credible abduction cases. There are plenty of troubling details and problems with her case, however, and I don’t just mean the part about the aliens practicing a 2,000-year-old religion whose holy book doesn’t even mention life on other planets.

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A sketch of the spaceship Andreasson went on-board.

As pointed out by Dr. Aaron Sakulich, of The Iron Skeptic, Betty’s description of her abductors is strange and inconsistent. Over the years, Betty went from describing the aliens’ eyes as white with pupils to being entirely black like the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The uniforms the aliens wore also don’t make much sense. According to Betty, they wore heavy boots, but what would have been the point since the aliens apparently floated everywhere? Furthermore, hypnosis sessions and “recovered” memories are notoriously unreliable and should not be taken as serious proof that an abduction actually happened.

In February 2007, Betty and Bob Luca’s son Robert Jr. announced that the Andreasson Affair was a hoax. In a 2,000 word email available on UFO UpDates, Robert Jr. claimed that his father was a compulsive liar who had drinking problems, while his mother needed “serious psychological help” and had “serious issues.” According to Robert Jr., Betty had been experiencing emotional shock because two of her sons had earlier died in a car accident. After meeting her second husband, Betty  would write about every dream she had as though it were an abduction, and Bob encouraged her and even manipulated investigators into believing the story.

At the end of his email, Robert Luca Jr. had this to say about his parents: “These two people have used the ufo society for years and only to gain book sales, money and own self satisfation of feeling as if they are in the public. They give people out there with real and true stories a big black eye!”

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The Andreasson Affair, the first of five books about the Betty Andreasson case written by Raymond Fowler, is currently the only book still in print.

I believe Robert Jr. had much more to say on his website, Luca Land, but this site is no longer available. Naturally, his accusations came as a great shock, and Betty’s defenders slammed him as a liar incapable of using spellcheck. (As you can see in the quote above, he wasn’t particularly strong on his grammar and spelling.) The official Andreasson Affair website has an open letter from Bob Luca rebuking his son’s claims. According to the elder Luca, his son was estranged from the family and struggled with drugs and alcohol. He also announced that his son was now deceased, although he didn’t specify the causes.

Personally, I have no idea whether Robert Luca Jr.’s claims were legitimate. But his comment about Betty’s emotional state is interesting and deserves some attention. From an interview on the UFO Case Book, Betty had this to say about how her experience and the publicity affected her family:

“Yes, many things changed in my family. My father passed on, my ex husband disappeared, my two sons died in an auto accident, my mother came to live with us, I moved to Florida with her and my two youngest daughters. I was told not to speak to any reporters. I had to sell my home, the children had to attend other schools. My whole life, and my family had changed and went through some very difficult times.”

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The Albino Ghost of Montebello Castle

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Azzurrina is the nickname of an albino ghost girl who’s said to haunt Italy’s Montebello Castle.

“Azzurrina”, an Italian word meaning “little blue”, is the nickname of a young girl who’s said to haunt the Castle of Montebello in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. According to legend, Azzurrina was born Guendalina Malatesta, the daughter of a 14th century nobleman. Unlike the rest of her dark-haired family, Guendalina was an albino who had white hair and pale skin. Since albinos were widely feared and hated during the time, Guendalina’s mother tried dyeing her daughter’s hair black. The herbs she used didn’t work very well, however, and instead gave Guendalina’s hair a bluish tint, hence her nickname Azzurrina.

Because of her condition, Azzurrina’s parents were very protective of her. They kept her in the castle at all times, where she was guarded by two men, Domenico and Ruggero. As the story goes, there was a big storm on June 21, 1375. That night, Azzurrina was playing with a rag ball in a room in the castle. While Domenico and Ruggero were standing off somewhere else, they suddenly heard Azzurrina let out a terrible scream. The two guards then rushed to her room, but found no trace of the girl or the ball. Although they searched all over the castle and its grounds, nobody ever found Azzurrina’s body. It was as though she had vanished into thin air.

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The area in Montebello Castle where Azzurrina disappeared.

 

One variant of the story says that Azzurrina had accidentally thrown her ball down into a open cellar where ice was stored. Another version claims that some invisible force grabbed the ball out of her hands and rolled it down into the cellar by itself. Regardless of what exactly happened, Azzurrina’s body and ball were never found. Her father, who was away in a battle during the time, had Domenico and Ruggero executed after he found out what happened. On the fifth anniversary of her disappearance, Azzurrina returned to the castle as a ghost. She has since re-appeared every five years.

Azzurrina’s bizarre story was passed down as an oral legend for more than 250 years before somebody decided to write it down. In 1620, it was recorded by a parish priest in a book about local legends and folklore. No copy of this book has survived to modern times, and some believe that the book might not exist at all. There is, in fact, no evidence that the story ever happened. Unless that priest’s book ever turns up, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to doubt that Azzurrina’s story originated as an authentic medieval legend either. Some have traced the appearance of the story only as far back as the 20th century.

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A picture of Montebello Castle.

Still, whatever its lack of authenticity, psychics and TV producers know a good ghost story when they hear one. On the anniversary of Azzurrina’s disappearance in 1990 and 1995, television crews allegedly captured the voice of a crying little girl  on their recording equipment. In 2000, the child’s voice was heard again, this time crying and possibly calling for her mamma. A 2005 recording captured a single voice saying the name “Alosio”, and a group of voices chanting an old Hebrew word for the devil, “belial”. Another investigation in 2010 apparently captured nothing.

I’m not sure whether anybody tried recording Azzurrina on June 21, 2015, but Rimini Today posted a pretty interesting article about the case the day before the anniversary that year. According to Leo Farinelli, a man who spent 20 years researching the story and contacting Azzurrina through psychics, Guendalina was actually born in 1375 to Uguccione Della Faggiola and Costanza Malatesta. She was not actually albino, but blonde-haired and Nordic-looking. This made Uguccione suspect that the girl wasn’t his. Although Costanza insisted that she never cheated on her husband, there was a blonde-haired French guard in the castle who resembled Azzurrina. At the age of 8, Azzurrina disappeared from the castle in December 1383.

If Farinelli’s research is correct, perhaps the story got twisted and spiced up a bit over the hundreds of years it was passed down. The albino element, which Farinelli claimed was added by the priest who allegedly wrote the story down in 1620, might have covered up the real cause of Azzurrina’s disappearance: murder. Some have suggested that the palace guard was Azzurrina’s real father, and Uguccione arranged for her to “disappear” to save himself embarrassment. For those curious enough to investigate the story themselves, Montebello Castle is open to visitors for a slight fee nearly all-year round.