The Terrassa Double Suicide

Terrassa

José Félix Rodríguez Montero and Juan Turu Vallés

I’d like to think chasing UFOs is generally a harmless hobby. If any of the stories at Bizarre and Grotesque are to be believed (and they shouldn’t be), then an obsession with aliens usually leads to extraterrestrial lovers, intergalactic vacations, and maybe, just maybe, a chance to hang out with a Venusian dog. Unfortunately, every now and then, some enthusiasts’ interest in UFOs becomes a dangerous influence. Case in point: José Félix Rodríguez Montero and Juan Turu Vallés, two Spanish men who bonded over their love of UFOs and committed suicide in 1972.

Rodríguez was a 47-year-old father and textile worker who had turned his back on traditional religion. He practiced meditation and yoga, and personally knew two of the wackiest figures of ’70s Spain: Clemente Dominguez y Gomez, a Catholic visionary who claimed to be the legitimate pope, and Father Enrique Lopez Guerrero, a “UFO priest” who promoted the long-running UMMO hoax. Among UFO circles, Rodríguez’s nickname was “The Venusian,” and he told others that he had astral projections and telepathic conversations with aliens.

Turu, the younger of the pair by 26 years, was an accountant for the same company Rodríguez worked for. Some places on the web say that Turu was a member of CEI, a UFO research group in Barcelona that the paranoid Franco regime kept a close eye on, but this doesn’t appear to be true. Regardless, Turu was an equally passionate believer, and liked to investigate UFOs in his spare time.

Despite the age gap, Turu and Rodríguez quickly became friends. They had met through an advertisement Turu placed in a magazine in May 1972, looking for other people interested in UFOs. Not even a month later, on the morning of June 20, Rodríguez’s and Turu’s bodies were found decapitated along a railway near the Spanish city of Terrassa. The bodies were three meters (nearly ten feet) apart and had been torn apart by a train. Authorities ruled out foul play, and concluded that the two men committed suicide. In a coat pocket, the police found a simple note that laid out the dead men’s motivation: “The extraterrestrials call us; we belong to infinity.” It was signed “WKTS 88.”

A few days later, the ufologist Màrius Lleget received letters written by Rodríguez and Turu before they committed suicide. One of the letters was meant for the United Nations, but another was addressed to Lleget himself. In this farewell note of sorts, Rodríguez and Turu declared that they had made contact with aliens, and the aliens understood “that we are strangers on this planet.” The folks from outer space counted the two outsiders as friends, and called for them to come to Jupiter, where the closest alien base was located.

Of course, the UFO community in Spain was as disturbed as it was embarrassed. The mysterious deaths of José Félix Rodríguez Montero and Juan Turu Vallés caused a scandal, surrounded by a countless number of questions and rumors. What the heck, for example, did “WKTRS 88” and “WKTS 88” mean? Furthermore, were any of the men’s UFO-watching buddies aware of the plan? Theories have popped up casting doubt on the police investigation of the case, speculating that Rodríguez and Turu had help with their plan, or even that their suicides were part of a Heaven’s Gate-like cult.

In an article for the Spanish-language site El Ojo Critico, the researchers Josep Guijarro and Manuel Carballal suggest that a third-party was involved with Rodríguez and Turu. They believe Turu might have had second doubts, or was involuntarily killed. They point out that Turu was young and engaged, and that the police investigated the case hastily because Rodríguez and Turu were just seen as crazy. Perhaps, however, he legitimately believed that killing himself would send him to Jupiter? That’s the interpretation film director Oscar Aibar went with anyway, when he dramatized Rodríguez’s and Turu’s story as Platillos Volantes (Flying Saucers). I haven’t seen the movie, but Aibar gives the audience a happy ending: Rodríguez and Turu, after killing themselves, happily find themselves on an alien planet.

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The Farmer Who Traveled 800,000,000 Miles

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Buck Nelson: Farmer, contactee, and UFO convention organizer.

In the early days of contactees and UFOs, the Missouri farmer Buck Nelson was a breath of fresh air. While other contactees figured talking eloquently and lying about their academic credentials would make their stories believable, the plain-speaking Nelson admitted his education didn’t go any further than the sixth grade. He presented himself as a humble, hard-working guy, and though Nelson’s stories were every bit as ridiculous as his contemporaries, they have an amusing, folksy kind of charm to them.

Fortunately, Nelson was kind (and brave) enough to share his encounters of giant space dogs and Venusian English teachers in a booklet he published in 1956, the bluntly titled “My Trip to Mars, the Moon, and Venus.” For a journey that covered, as an opening page calculates it, an astonishing 800,000,000 miles, the booklet is short and to the point. As far as I know, it’s the only full-length piece of work Nelson ever wrote, and for that, we’ll have to assume it’s the definitive account of his tale.

Before his epic space odyssey, Nelson claimed to have had four earlier contacts with aliens. The first happened on July 30, 1954, when Nelson noticed three UFOs flying outside his home. He took a few pictures and waved a flashlight at the saucers, thinking they would come down and land. I have no idea whether waving a flashlight is offensive in Venusian culture, but the UFOs responded to Nelson’s request by shooting him with a ray of light and knocking him onto the ground. The attack had paralyzed him for a moment, but oddly enough, healed some long-suffering back pain and improved Nelson’s eyesight.

The subsequent encounters were much less violent. The occupants of the UFOs talked to Nelson during the second encounter, and they finally showed themselves on the third. On March 5, 1955, the colorful crew visited Nelson at his home, consisting of an earthling, two Venusians, and a giant space dog. The earthling was a young man named Bucky. Bucky was born in Colorado, but his parents sent him to be brought up on Venus, where he lived and taught English. (Fun fact: Nelson later learned that Bucky was a distant cousin.)

The Venusian guests were both older men. The older of the pair never mentioned his name, but the other said that his name was the distinctly Venusian Bob Solomon, and that he was 200-years-old. Frankly, none of these people are as interesting as the dog though, a 385-pound giant named Bo. On her hind legs, Bo stood even taller than Buck Nelson, and she could shake hands (eh, paws) just like a human.

Over the space of an hour, the friendly crew marveled over Nelson’s ordinary home, and invited him to come along for a trip to outer space sometime. On April 24, Nelson’s friends picked him and his dog Teddy up for the promised trip. Before entering their UFO, Nelson was given the Venusians’ “Twelve Laws of God,” a set of rules that pretty much just updated the Ten Commandments. Unlike the Ten Commandments though, Nelson tells us that the people of outer space actually listen to these rules, and hence are able to live without such destructive influences as war, disease, jails, and- truly the Devil’s liquid- tea.

BuckNelson2

After writing the Twelve Laws down for all mankind, Nelson was allowed to enter the spaceship. His hosts let him fiddle around with the controls, laughing at him when he accidentally flew the ship upside down. First the crew visited Mars, then the moon, and then Venus. Nelson was introduced to various leaders, and sampled the local cuisine on each stop. Generally, the inhabitants of Mars, the moon, and Venus were like earthlings. They ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, and like Buck Nelson, wore overalls. They lived for a long time, using natural medicine and hypnotism to treat pain.

 

Of the three destinations, Nelson spent the longest amount of time on Venus. He noted that Venusian cars lacked wheels, but could float three to five feet off the ground. Because the cars could float, Venus had no roads. Because there were no roads or even government buildings, the Venusians paid very little in taxes. They worked only an hour a day, and spent much of their time visiting and socializing with others. For entertainment, the Venusians had “Book Machines,” computer-like devices that could read books and play music.

When Nelson was dropped back off on Earth, he found that he was gone for three days. Nelson promised his extraterrestrial friends that he would tell everybody about the trip. He traveled to Detroit to talk at a “saucer club,” and was allegedly interviewed by astronomers and scientists in Chicago. (Nelson claims these scientists were positive, based on his descriptions, that he had visited the Moon.) Interested in his story, men from the Armed Forces investigated Nelson as well, looking over his house and buying the pair of overalls he wore on his space odyssey. (Again, we have only Nelson’s word to confirm this.)

On December 25, 1955, Bucky showed up at Nelson’s house to deliver a message. It seems Nelson recorded Bucky’s voice, but I can’t find any trace of a recording. In the booklet, however, Nelson writes Bucky’s message down verbatim. To sum it up, Bucky lovingly warned mankind to give up atomic weapons, otherwise America would destroy itself fighting a war on its soil. The rest of that Christmas was pretty cheerful; Nelson hosted some other guests, and one of these men tried selling Bucky insurance.

Traveling across the country, talking on and on about Bucky and Bo, and his 800,000,000 mile journey, Nelson earned a bit of a following among people interested in aliens and flying saucers. He was a guest on radio and TV shows, and spoke in churches as well. Since the aliens apparently recognized how to create a brand, they told Nelson that it was best he always wore overalls in his public appearances. “I think it is something which will fit in with their future plans for me,” Nelson speculates in his booklet.

For a while, Buck Nelson had a good thing going on. Between 1954 and 1966, Nelson held UFO conventions on his farm, featuring, according to one 1961 poster, music, telescopes, fried chicken, and “speakers who have contacted our space brothers.” Nelson also sold copies of his booklet, along with pieces of dog hair he took off Bo. Ultimately, however, Buck Nelson and his overalls ended up playing no great cosmic significance. The last few years of his UFO convention saw disappointing turn-outs, and Nelson is believed to have spent the rest of his life in California, staying with relatives until his death in 1982.

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The Girl Who Ate Fairy Food

Fairies

Drawing of Ann Jefferies and her fairies, from Robert Hunt’s “Popular Romances of the West of England.”

In 1696, the English printer Moses Pitt wrote a peculiar letter to Edward Fowler, Bishop of Gloucester, detailing the old case of a woman named Ann Jefferies. Some five decades earlier, when Moses was a boy, Ann worked as a servant girl for the Pitt family. At the age of 19, Ann allegedly came into contact with fairies and developed healing powers. While she had her supporters, Ann’s claims caused a scandal, and ultimately led to trouble with the law.

According to Moses, the story began on a day in 1645, when Ann sat knitting in the Pitts’ garden in the little village of St. Teath. As Ann sat there, minding her own business, six little fairies dressed in green suddenly flew over the garden hedge. I’d imagine most people would be delighted to spot fairies, but Ann was so frightened by the sight that she fell into convulsions.

These convulsive fits lasted for months. While the Pitt family nursed her back to health, Ann kept the fairy sighting a secret. She was so weak that she couldn’t stand on her feet, and the Pitts had to be careful not to upset her, because the slightest annoyance would send Ann into another fit.

By harvest-time, Ann had recovered a little strength. One afternoon, she was alone in the house with Mrs.Pitt. Mrs. Pitt had an errand to run, but didn’t want to leave Ann unattended, in case she might accidentally set the house on fire. (How or why Ann might have accomplished such a feat in her illness isn’t explained in Moses’ letter.) For the safety of all, Mrs. Pitt moved Ann into the garden, where she waited for Mrs. Pitt to come back.

While coming home from her errand, Mrs.Pitt accidentally slipped and hurt her leg. The pain was very bad, so a neighbor on horseback had to take her home. Once Mrs. Pitt was back, a servant was called to fetch a horse and ride eight miles away to get a doctor. Just then, Ann came in and insisted on seeing Mrs. Pitt’s leg.

Cautious that refusing would send the girl into a fit, Mrs. Pitt showed Ann the injured limb. With her eyes on the leg, Ann rested it on her lap and stroked it with her hand. Amazingly, Mrs. Pitt’s pain began to go away. The mere touch of Ann’s hand, in fact, worked so well that Mrs. Pitt called the doctor off.

After demonstrating these new healing powers, Ann confessed the cause of her fits: the fairies. Ever since that day in the garden, Ann was constantly attended by fairies who always showed themselves in even numbers. Since Ann was forced out of the house against her will, six of the fairies decided to teach Mrs. Pitt a lesson, deliberately causing her to trip.( Evidently, Mrs. Pitt was too satisfied with Ann’s new powers to be angry that her servant’s fairies had conspired to break her leg.)

The fame of Ann and her magic touch spread across Cornwall, and soon all sorts of sick people came to her to be healed, some of them coming from as far away as London. Ann never asked for money for these services. It was said that she could also predict who was coming to visit her, before the actual guest arrived.

At the same time, Ann stopped eating human food. For six months, Ann persisted on fairy food, gifted to her by her friends. Moses Pitt had the good fortune to try this food. While visiting Ann in her room, Moses was given a piece of fairy bread. In his letter, he remarked that “I think it was the most delicious Bread that ever I did eat either before or since.”

Naturally, all this hullabaloo about healing and fairy food attracted the attention of the authorities. Some magistrates and ministers visited Ann at the Pitts’ house and questioned her about her little friends. The ministers were convinced that the fairies were evil spirits sent by the Devil. They advised Ann to ignore them and have nothing to do with them.

Later that night, Ann was sitting with the Pitts at a fire when she said the fairies began to call her. The family pled with her not to go, but on the third calling, Ann retired into her room. When she came back out, she held a Bible in her hand. The fairies, Ann said, recommended that the magistrates and ministers read the following Bible passage: “Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God. Because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

Even though the good fairy folk were clearly virtuous Christians, quoting scripture wasn’t enough for the powers that be. One of the cruelest magistrates of the day, Jan Tregeagle, got wind of Ann’s stories. Tregeagle was a notoriously vicious man; some claimed he sold his soul to the devil, and after his death, his spirit was said to haunt Cornwall.

Tregeagle issued a warrant for Ann’s arrest, and she was jailed eight miles away in Bodmin. During her imprisonment, Tregeagle starved Ann. Mrs. Pitt and Moses were called in to testify, and Moses was questioned to make sure that he didn’t bring Ann any food. Eventually, Ann was moved to Tregeagle’s house and then let go after a time. She was forbidden, however, to live with the Pitts.

From here, Ann went to live with Mr. Pitt’s sister, a widow named Francis Tom. Ann apparently demonstrated healing powers here too. Later, she went to live with her brother, and then she married a man named William Warden. The historical record isn’t very clear about her fate, but Ann was still alive when Moses wrote his letter in 1696. By that time, it seems the elderly Ann had come to regret the whole affair. When Pitt’s brother-in-law reached out to her in 1693, Ann refused to talk about the fairies. She said that even if her own father were alive, she wouldn’t say a word about them to him.

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