The Life and Crimes of Reinhold O. Schmidt

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Contactee Reinhold O. Schmidt (far left) on the set of a movie he made about his alleged experiences.

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.

 

 

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The Terrassa Double Suicide

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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.

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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 Alien Who Needed a New Head

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A magazine photo of Mr.F, the baffled protagonist of today’s story.

During the 1970s, Japan was swept by a boom of new interest in the occult. Spoon-bending, Nostradamus, New Age religions, and kokkuri– the Japanese equivalent of ouija boards- were taken up by a number of Japanese. This golden age of hokum also produced some of the country’s most infamous UFO encounters, such as the Kofu Incident, in which a pair of second graders ran into a fanged-midget, and the Nikoro Incident, which involved an even shorter variety of extraterrestrial octopuses. Last week, while browsing an excellent Japanese blog, I had the pleasure of stumbling on a much more obscure case: the story of a 31-year-old truck driver known only as Mr. F.

On September 3, 1974, Mr. F had to deliver a load of furniture bound for Takamatsu, a city in Kagawa Prefecture. He had to reach Uno Port in Tamano, Okayama Prefecture by 7 AM, where the goods would be shipped south to Takamatsu. In the early morning, while driving on the National Route 30 highway, Mr. F got tired and stopped for a bit to eat some udon noodles.

After getting back on the road, Mr. F noticed a body of silvery-white light in the sky. The light, of course, was a flying saucer, and it noiselessly landed some 10 meters (32 feet) away. What happened next was a bit hazy, but after falling unconscious, Mr. F woke up to find a strange woman sitting in his passenger seat.

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The Boy Who Was Zapped By a UFO

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Drawing of a UFO that supposedly attacked a boy in Spain in October 1977.

It was the night of October 1, 1977. 7-year-old Martin Rodríguez was playing a game of hide-and-seek with some amigos in Tordesillas, Spain. When the time came for Martin and Fernando Caravelos to hide, the two boys ran to a large abandoned corral. Vagrants were known to sometimes sleep in the corral, so Martin grabbed a rock outside and threw it over the wall to be sure nobody was there.

Instead of hearing a stream of obscenities, the boys heard a clang from what sounded like a metallic object. The sound sparked their curiosity; aside from an old tilling machine, there was nothing else kept inside the corral. Going ahead of Fernando, Martin walked into the corral and noticed a metal, pear-shaped object sitting in the back of a corner.

The object was about 2.8 meters (9 feet) high and 1.95 meters (6.4 feet) wide. It had three circular windows, an elevator-like door in the middle, and three legs. The UFO made a low humming noise and flashed a variety of different colors. After a few seconds of sitting there, the object rose from the ground and suddenly shot a beam of light at Martin’s abdomen.

Fernando quickly grabbed Martin and tried to pull him away. No matter how hard he pulled, however, Martin stood in place like a statue. While Fernando took off screaming for help, Martin felt extreme pain in the spot where the light was shining. He began to feel dizzy, and as he lost his balance and fell backward, the UFO folded its legs into itself and flew away.

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Androids Amok in Argentina

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In 1963, Eugenio Douglas was allegedly attacked by a UFO and chased by robot-like aliens in Argentina.

On October 12, 1963, in the middle of a terrible storm around 3 AM, Mateo Manocchio and his wife, children, and sister were driving home from a visit to the countryside in Monte Maiz, Argentina. Mateo’s brother, Ricardo, was following the family in a separate car. (Sounds like the opening scene of a horror movie, I know.)

While passing along a cemetery road, the Manocchios noticed a strong beam of white light shining behind them. The family figured it came from a̶ ̶g̶h̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ Ricardo’s headlights, but the light suddenly went out by the time they reached the entrance of Monte Maiz. Mateo, worried, turned the car around to look for his brother.

After backtracking, the Manocchios found Uncle Ricardo perfectly fine. He’d fallen behind, was all. But where did the white light come from? The family wasn’t sure. Ricardo, in fact, had no idea what they were talking about. He hadn’t seen any strange light. The Manocchios shrugged their shoulders and continued on.

Coming into town, however, things only got weirder. Monte Maiz had lost its power and the lights were out. Confused citizens found a hysterical, blanket-wrapped man, running around in the rain, waving a revolver and firing shots. The gunman begged for help, so some presumably terrified bystanders redirected him to the police. 

The man’s name was Eugenio Douglas. He was a 48-year-old truck driver from the city of Venado Tuerto, and he had a perfectly good explanation for why he was publicly shooting and waving his gun like a maniac: He’d been chased by robots and a UFO. 

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Bipedal Octopus Dwarves from Beyond the Stars

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Drawings by Yoshihiro Fujiwara of the aliens he saw in 1974.

Part of the fun in reading UFO stories, at least for me, is the descriptions of the aliens themselves. Outside of the usual grays and reptilians, I’ve heard stories of aliens who resemble robots, praying mantises, elves, demons, and perhaps freakiest of all, Scandinavians. When there are pictures of the weirder ones available, I save them to a folder on my computer. Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of adding a new species to my collection: bipedal octopus dwarves.

The fine creatures you see above come to us from The Nikoro Incident, a series of encounters that took place in Japan in April 1974. According to an article from a contemporary ufology magazine, Yoshihiro Fujiwara was a 28-year-old man who lived in Kitami, a city in Hokkaido. On April 6, 1974, at 3 AM, Fujiwara’s sleep was disturbed by a sound in his genkan, the traditional entryway in a Japanese home.

When Fujiwara went to investigate the sound, he found that his visitor was a three foot tall alien. Though he tried to make a run for it, Fujiwara was suddenly whisked off his feet and levitated to an orange-colored UFO hovering over a field outside.

Once he got to the UFO, Fujiwara was able to jump off and run to a neighbor’s house for help. Nothing out of the ordinary happened again until the evening, when Fujiwara developed psychic abilities. He now had the awe-inspiring power of bending spoons, and he could also talk to the aliens he saw earlier by telepathy. After two days, and what had to have been a countless number of mind-texts, the aliens told Fujiwara that they wanted to meet again.

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