As a skeptic, I consider the contactees of the 1950s and ‘60s obvious hoaxers, but I’ll grant that they were at least sincere. Their antics normally consisted of selling books and spreading the peaceful messages of Space Brothers, nothing particularly illegal. The American salesman Reinhold O. Schmidt had a different act. While he preached the usual claptrap about harmony and love, Schmidt stole a bunch of money from elderly female fans. Using his contactee stories as part of his scheme, Schmidt purloined some $30,000 before he was caught and imprisoned.
According to his writings, Schmidt’s experiences began on November 5, 1957. On a misty day in Kearney, Nebraska, while traveling for his salesman job, Schmidt noticed a flash of light shining ahead of his car. When he drove farther, intending to find the source, Schmidt’s car suddenly stopped working. Right as he got out to check what the problem was, Schmidt noticed a silver, balloon-like UFO resting on landing gear nearby. In classic contactee fashion, Schmidt approached the ship and was quickly hit and paralyzed by a beam of light. Two men- one of whom Schmidt later nicknamed “Mr. X”- came out of the UFO and invited Schmidt to come inside.
Two other men and women sat in the ship, attending to its control panel and a bunch of tubes that were red, blue, green, and orange. Schmidt described this crew as very similar-looking to earthlings, all of them having dark hair and tanned skin. Oddly, the crew spoke in High German, which Schmidt very conveniently studied in high school. Whenever the men and women spoke English, it was also with a thick German accent. At the time, this led Schmidt to believe that they were probably German scientists.
Our noble salesman was allowed to stay in the UFO for a half-hour. Once he got back to his car, Schmidt shook and struggled to understand what he just experienced. He wasn’t quite sure whether to go public with his encounter, but decided it was his duty as an American citizen to report it. From Schmidt’s telling, the first thing he did was drive to a minister’s house. The minister wasn’t home, so he figured he’d head to the local police station instead. The deputy sheriff listened to Schmidt’s story and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt: he and Schmidt headed to the UFO’s landing spot, where they found the ship’s imprints and a dark green oil.
After this first check-up, Schmidt visited the spot again, this time with the chief of police, a reporter, and the city attorney. These three men, according to Schmidt, also agreed that his story must have been legitimate. Later that day, they dropped Schmidt off at his hotel, where he watched a news broadcast that called the UFO in Schmidt’s story a spaceship . The broadcast caused a sensation; the rest of the night, Schmidt talked to reporters and officials at the police station, and made a few more visits to the UFO’s landing spot.
In the middle of the barrage of media attention, according to Schmidt, the Kearney authorities told him that he had to change his story. They pressured him to admit that it was a lie, but Schmidt stuck to his guns. In his own account, Schmidt tries to portray himself as innocent, but the cops weren’t so easily fooled. A background check revealed that Schmidt had earlier served prison time for embezzlement, and a search of the trunk of his car revealed a can of the “mysterious” oil that was found at the alleged landing spot. Rather than letting Schmidt go, the cops detained him and held him in the local jail.
Based on his story, the authorities suspected that Schmidt was crazy. He failed a mental health evaluation, and was consequently put into a mental hospital for treatment. From Schmidt’s telling of the tale, the Kearney authorities tried very hard to smear him as a nutcase. They told Schmidt’s brothers over the phone that he was mentally ill, suicidal, and, most heinously, a marijuana smoker. For two weeks, Schmidt was stuck in this hospital, until his boss flew to Kearney and testified that he was a perfectly sane person.
Free at last, Schmidt continued to have contact with Mr. X, being treated to rides in his spaceship. He got to know Mr. X and the UFO crew much better during this time, learning that they were not sinister Nazi space colonists, but friendly Saturnians. On August 14, Mr. X picked Schmidt up and took him on a trip to the Arctic Circle. The crew also traveled to the Great Pyramid of Giza, which Mr. X claimed was built by levitating the stones into place.
Interestingly, a decade before Erich von Däniken emerged with his infamous shtick, Schmidt tied the pyramids to ancient aliens as well. Together with Mr. X, Schmidt entered a secret door in the Great Pyramid and stumbled on a room containing a spaceship. When Schmidt inspected the room, he found a huge wooden cross, a pair of sandals, a white robe, a crown of thorns- And yes, if you haven’t guessed it already, Jesus Christ was the original owner of this ship. After his resurrection, Jesus rode the ship to the planet Venus. Mr. X was the (space)man who drove it back, and he hid it in the pyramid for the time when mankind would finally be ready to learn this jaw-dropping secret.
Across these excursions, Schmidt reportedly flew over the sites of cancer-curing crystals that were begging to be excavated. As he built his following up in the contactee scene, Schmidt told elderly female fans that he could mine these magical crystals, but needed to finish raising funds first. Unfortunately, these women took the bait, and Schmidt collected over $30,000 before he was busted. Once he was caught in 1961, Schmidt was convicted of grand theft, and given a jail sentence of one to ten years. Sources are scanty on how long Schmidt spent in jail, but it appears that he survived his imprisonment and died in 1974.
As for the cancer-curing crystals- the Saturnians have told me their location, but I’m afraid I’ll need at least a million dollars before I can divulge this information.