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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