INVESTIGATION OF PREVIOUS NEW MEXICO CASES
When I assumed the role of project director, one of my first goals was to find out as much as possible about the mutilations that had previously been reported in New Mexico. From the New Mexico Press Clipping Bureau and other sources, I obtained copies of the major newspaper and magazine articles that had been written about these cases. After reading this and other material, it soon became apparent there was considerable disagreement not only on the nature and causes of the mutilations, but also on the number of incidents that had occurred in New Mexico.
According to information furnished to the district attorney's office, by 1979 Rio Arriba County, alone, had experienced more than 60 mutilations. A month earlier, however, the Albuquerque Journal claimed that 60 was the total number of cases that had been reported in New Mexico (Thompson 1979b). At Senator Schmitt's conference the following April (1979), one law officer claimed that during the past three years, ninety head of cattle and six horses had been mutilated in the state.
Which figures were correct? This I didn't know, but I wanted to find out. For in order to assess the scope of the mutilation problem in New Mexico, I decided it was necessary:
(1) To determine as accurately as possible the number of reported incidents, and
(2) To evaluate each case to determine if predator/scavenger damage could definitely be eliminated as a probable cause of the mutilation.
To accomplish these objectives, I contacted the New Mexico Livestock Board, the New Mexico State Police, and the sheriff of every county, requesting information on the cases they find investigated. As a result of this extensive research, I eventually obtained information on a total of 90 mutilations that had been reported in New Mexico up through May 1979. This figure includes not only cattle but also six horses and one buffalo calf. Only 26 incidents, however, had occurred in Rio Arriba County and an additional 3 in Santa Fe County, which is also in the First Judicial District (see Table One).
Of these 90 suspected mutilations, I obtained reports of 58 incidents from the New Mexico Livestock Board. The New Mexico State Police provided me with information of 15 cases. I also received reports of three incidents which had been investigated, jointly by the two agencies. Information on 14 additional cases was retrieved primarily from newspaper and magazine articles.
REPORTED MUTILATIONS IN NEW MEXICO
(1975- May 1979)
Year Rio Arriba County Total Number
1975 1 19
1976 4 21
1977 1 5
1978 15 30
1979 (Jan-May) 5 15
My next objective was to determine if the evidence cited in each report definitely excluded scavenger/predator damage as a probable cause of the mutilation. Such an approach was adopted for the following three reasons:
First, it is a well-known fact that wild animals and birds do feed on the carcasses of dead livestock. Under the right conditions, predators (animals who kill for food) and scavengers (animals who feed on carcasses already dead) can devour certain areas of the body in a relatively short period of time. The animals which commonly feed on livestock are coyotes, foxes, badgers, bobcats, golden eagles, ravens, vultures, and magpies, according to Donald S. Balser, chief of Predator Management Research for the United States Department of Interior (Balser 1979).
Many of these species are found in New Mexico. Homer Pickens, former director of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, remembers investigating the deaths of livestock who had been killed by bears and lions. John Hubbard (1979), also of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, states that birds of prey are found in New Mexico year round. Some species, such as the raven, crow, and magpie, live in New Mexico all year. others, such as the turkey vulture and bald eagle, are seasonal birds. Vultures, for example, arrive in the spring and leave in the early fall, while the bald eagles arrive in the fall and leave in early spring. According to Hubbard, last year these eagles fed mostly on the carrion of elk and cattle that had died
during the winter.
Second, the parts of the carcass that are allegedly removed in a "classic mutilation" are the same ones customarily consumed by predators and scavengers. Most birds of prey have the ability to core the anus and to remove the eyes and tongue (Hubbard 1979; Dennis 1979). In addition, eagles and ravens also possess the strength and agility to punch through a carcass and remove the inner organs. However, as noted ornithologist Dr. Kenneth Sager points out, the ease with which this is done depends in part on the size of that carcass.
"The larger the animal, the more difficult it is for
the scavenger to gain access to the food supply
below the tough surface. [Thus they attack the]
softer points of entry, namely the eyes, anal
openings, and soft underbelly areas, especially
the udders of female bovines." (Sager 1979).
Similar observations were also made by the following veterinarians whose advice I sought during the course of the project:
"The tendency is for the softer parts of the
carcass to be removed, e.g. eyes, anus, mammary
glands, tongue..." -- Dr. William J. Quinn (1979),
Chief Diagnostic Laboratory Bureau, State of
"One would expect the loss of an eye, tongue, lips,
anus, and rectum from the predation of scavengers
and carnivorous [animals]" -- Dr. L. D. Kintner
(1979), College of Veterinary Medicine, University
of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.
"Predatory animals usually attack carcasses left
laying any length of time and will almost always
chew or incise with their teeth the most available
portion of the body. These parts are the tail, anus
because it is not covered by hair, vulva for the
and penis, ears, and lips because they are
prominent and accessible" -- Dr. Vaughn A.
Seaton (1979), Head of the College of, Veterinary
Medicine, Iowa State University of Science and
Technology, Ames, Iowa.
Third, a number of experienced veterinarians advised me to conduct the investigation in this manner. As Dr. Quinn (1979) points out in a recent letter:
"A ... logical assumption would be that the
evidence is the work of wild animals and that
it must first be proven that it isn't before a
mutilation [human-induced] can be claimed."
Perhaps the following example will help clarify my own reasoning on the subject. Imagine yourself as a law officer who has just been summoned by a local citizen to investigate a theft that allegedly occurred at his house. When you arrive, the man explains he had prepared a steak for dinner and had just put it on the table when he had to leave the room to answer the telephone. When he returned, the steak was missing. The only other occupant of the house was the family dog, which was last seen sitting by the table licking its chops.
Suppose the complainant then told you he suspected the missing steak had something to do with UFOs, because while he was talking on the telephone he observed a flash of light outside. As an experienced law officer how would you evaluate the complainant's rationale? Would you investigate this crime by first trying to prove that a UFO was involved? Wouldn't it be much more logical to suspect the dog first, before going further afield? For the steak, substitute "mutilated cow"; for the dog,
"all the meat-eating scavengers in the great outdoors." Again, wouldn't it be more logical and sensible to suspect the scavengers first -- entertaining other explanations only after careful scrutiny of the evidence had eliminated this one?
In short, this is the approach I have adopted in investigating reported mutilations in New Mexico. What kind of proof is needed to establish a verdict of non-scavenger causation? Since the parts removed in a classic mutilation are the same ones. eaten by predators and scavengers, the major criterion for differentiating the two types of mutilations would be the procedures used to make the incisions. In a classic mutilation, as Perkins (1979: 22) points out, "the surgery is too precise to have been done by another animal." The literature implies that even an untrained observer can readily differentiate such incisions from the jagged, uneven cuts made by wild birds and animals.
Is this true? To answer this question, I consulted a number of veterinarians. Their answer was unanimous: Wild birds and animals can make neat-looking incisions. The following statement made by Dr. Kintner (1979) is typical of the replies I received:
"Surprising as it may seem to the uninitiated,
many of the scavengers make [as] clean [a] cut
as might be done by a surgeon with a sharp knife."
A even more graphic description of the skill possessed by such animals is offered by Dr. Michael Aleksiuk (1975) in an article entitled "Manitoba's Fantastic Snake Pits". After watching a
crow kill and partially eat a snake, Aleksiuk makes the following observation:
"I picked up the snake. The skin had been
broken only in the area of the liver, and that
organ had been neatly excised. Nothing else
had been touched. How the crow performed
the surgery with such precision is a mystery."
Of course, some cuts made by predators and scavengers are noticeably jagged and rough when they are made. However, in time even these incisions may give the appearance of knife cuts as Dr. Vaughn A. Seaton (1979) explains in the following statement:
"Stretching of the tissues caused by post mortem
gas production and autolysis can make the edges
of a bite wound or the incision of teeth appear to
be the result of sharp cuts, especially in soft
tissues not covered by hair."
If a smooth, even appearance is not a sufficient basis for distinguishing between animal and knife cuts, how can such incision be differentiated? Microscopic analysis of the tissues involved is the only sure method. Dr. Harry Anthony (1979) of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, explains that under the microscope, incisions made by predators and scavengers have a "consistent lesion of tearing, tooth marks into the hair line, and a lack of cut hair at the site of the separation."
A similar observation was made by Dr. A. E. McChesney, coordinator of the Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical. Sciences at Colorado State University. According to Dr. A. E. McChesney, to be termed a knife cut, the
following criteria must be met:
"[The] cut must include cut hair that runs
perpendicular to the knife line. It must also
show cuts into deeper tissue and may have
a] saw-type effect from repeated thrusts.
With the anus there must be knife signs
deeper in the perineum and the rectum must
be clean cut with no shreds."
What about some of the other characteristics of the classic mutilation, such as the absence of blood at the scene. Wouldn't that constitute evidence that the animal had been mutilated by agents other than wild animals or birds? Not necessarily, for as veterinarians have told me, when the heart stops beating, the blood, like any other liquid, settles by gravity to the lower portions of the carcass and into the body cavities. It then coagulates and to the untrained observer would give the appearance of having disappeared (Hibbs 1979). In most cases, any visible blood would be readily consumed by predators and scavengers. As Dr. Kintner (1979) points out:
"It is the rule rather than the exception for
these animals to do a neat job and not leave
either blood or mess at the site of the carcass."
In short, to prove human causation,(see footnote p. 6) in a suspected mutilation, it is necessary to show that the missing parts of the animal were removed with a knife or other sharp instrument. To determine if such an instrument was used, it must be demonstrated that the hair follicles in the skin have been cut perpendicular to the plain. Such a demonstration would normally necessitate a microscopic analysis of the lesions in question.
If such an analysis has not been performed, then human causation cannot be proved. However, there is another criterion, which, if met, would at least be suggestive of human causation -- the discovery of mutilations on the protected side of the animal. The parts removed by wild birds and animals are almost always those on the exposed side of a recumbent animal, for predators and scavengers generally lack the strength and ability to move a carcass, particularly one the size of a cow.
If, as some investigators claim, the animal was mutilated in one area and air-dropped to the place where it was subsequently found, then one would expect to find a sizable number of cases in which the mutilations occurred on the protected or down side of the animal. In fact, Neil Bockman, an amateur investigator recently asked the Dulce officer in a taped interview why these animals never land on the mutilated side. The officer replied: "Yeah, I've followed that, you know. It's a crazy thing, you know. You start looking into it and you can go crazy over it."
In summary, if neither of these two criteria are met, then predator/scavenger damage must be assumed. Such an assumption is even more likely in those cases in which bird tracks, animal prints, feathers, fur, animal defecation, or bird droppings are found near the carcass.
The police officer who recently claimed that 96
animals had been mutilated in New Mexico was remarkably accurate in terms of the number of incidents that had been reported when this project began. However, after carefully examining the evidence cited in available reports, I have discovered that none of these cases could be confirmed as classic mutilations.
In fact, of the incidents investigated between 1975 and May 1979, I have found only two cases in which the animal in question was actually mutilated with a knife. Both incidents were investigated by the New Mexico Livestock Board. The first one, however, is not included in my list of 90 cases, since no official report was filed. Instead, information about this case was obtained in an interview with Pat Archuleta, supervisor of the livestock board, who told me that about four years ago he was summoned to a reported mutilation near Galisteo.
On-the-scene investigation revealed that a burro had been mutilated by a sharp instrument. Recognizing the animal as one he had seen several days before at a ranch south of Santa Fe, he questioned the owner about the incident. The owner told Archuleta that the animal had died and that he had taken the, body and dumped it off the highway near Galisteo. When asked about the knife cuts, the rancher admitted that he had made them himself so that it would be easier for scavengers to "finish off" the animal.
The second case involved a report of a mutilated cow in the Anton Chico area. Further investigation by the livestock inspector revealed that the cow had been killed by lightning and
had subsequently been cut with a knife by a person who had been feuding with the owner.
These two mutilations, though obviously done with sharp instruments, are a far cry from the "classic mutilation" described in the literature. The other cases fit this description even less. In fact, in three incidents, the investigator determined that no mutilation had occurred. In the two cases which were documented, the animal was found dead, but none of its organs were missing.
In addition to the cases cited above 66 other incidents can be resolved, at least, tentatively, on the basis of the evidence provided in the reports (see Table 2). The 21 remaining cases, however, do not contain the details needed to determine either the cause of death or the mutilation.
In most of the "resolvable" cases, the evidence suggests death by natural causes and/or damage by scavengers. In fact, 14 alleged mutilations were immediately resolved by the investigating officers as scavenger-induced. Twenty-three cases (an additional nineteen incidents) cited evidence of bird tracks, animal tracks, or animal hair at the scene. In a "classic mutilation," as you may recall, animals and birds are supposed to avoid the carcass.
Although less conclusive, the following characteristics are much more reminiscent of the less precise, piecemeal activities of scavengers than the meticulous skill and organization attributed to the "phantom surgeons of the plains;"
(1) The partial removal of an organ such as the tongue or penis;
(2) The removal of only the exposed eye and/or ear;
(3) The subsequent removal of the tongue, ear, or other organ after the carcass has been initially examined. A total of 20 cases (an additional 10) share at least one of these traits.
Cause of death was determined in 26 cases, 15 of which also bore evidence of scavenger activity. Contrary to the lore surrounding the classic mutilation, there was nothing mysterious about these deaths -- nothing to suggest a high dose of radiation or exsanguination by highly trained surgeons. Most of these animals died from diseases such as blackleg. In a letter dated April 22, 1977, Dr. Donald F. Petersen points out that LASL has examined approximately 15 suspected mutilations with the following results:
"We have made the observation that in most
instances, gas-forming bacilli have been
culture from tissues, and both the autopsy
findings and the bacteriology are consistent
with the conclusion that the animals died
In addition to death from disease, several cattle were fatally injured and at least two cows died while giving birth.
In 11 suspected mutilations, the animal had been reported dead for more than two days. In eight of these cases, the reports contain no evidence as to cause of death or scavenger activity. Rather, the nature of the mutilation is usually
described, followed by the observation that the carcass was badly decomposed. Such a description, though not constituting evidence of scavenger activity, does argue strongly against labeling the mutilation a "classic."
In the first place, classic mutilations are generally supposed to decay very slowly. Secondly, the process of decay, especially if advanced, will distort any cuts originally made in the animal. To use the expression "surgical precision" when describing missing organs on a badly decomposed animal is a distinct contradiction in terms. Many veterinarians question the validity of results obtained from necropsies performed 24 hours after an animal's death. One wonders how much more questionable the opinions of a layman would be, especially if the animal in question has been dead for five days as in the case just cited.
In summary, of the 90 mutilations reported in New Mexico between February 1975 and May 1979, 69 (77%) can be explained, at least partly, on the basis of available evidence. Eighteen cases were resolved immediately by the investigators. An additional 28 "mutilations" were associated with scavenger activity. In 19 cases, the evidence cited was not detailed enough to infer scavenger damage. However, the information provided was sufficient to definitely rule out the verdict, . classic mutilation," for either the cause of death was known and attributed to natural causes or routine injury, or the carcass was too decomposed for tests. In short, the term
classic mutilation" and all that it infers cannot be applied, with any justification, to the 69 cases just discussed. To do so would require a wild imagination coupled with an ability to totally disregard the facts. In the remaining 21 cases, the evidence presented was not sufficient to determine the cause of death or to assess the nature of the mutilation.
Evaluation of Specific Cases
Considering the seemingly bizarre factors surrounding some of the New Mexico cases as described in Chapter Two, you may perhaps question some of the statements I have just made. It may even seem to you that I am deliberately ignoring some rather spectacular pieces of evidence -- such as the discovery of animals with broken bones and clamp marks.
"Doesn't this indicate these animals have been airlifted?" you may ask. "And, hasn't it been proved that the victims are deliberately chosen? And what about the discovery of drugs in the mutilated bull? Wouldn't this accumulated mass of evidence rule out the predator/scavenger theory?"
These are reasonable, logical questions -- the kind of questions and doubts that give rise to much of the controversy that surrounds the entire subject. But logical questions call for logical answers -- answers which will become very apparent in this section, as I examine in greater detail the evidence supporting the most publicized theory in New Mexico, that a highly sophisticated organization is behind these "classic" mutilations. This theory has been expounded through articles in the Albuquerque Journal, the Rio Grande Sun, and even in official reports -- proclaiming "experimentation" to be the probable reason for this bizarre activity.
Much of the evidence to support this theory stems from incidents investigated in the Dulce area, although other cases reported elsewhere in the state, particularly the alleged
mutilation of four race horses at Malaga and the mutilated bull in Torrance County, are offered as further proof.
To evaluate these incidents, I have read not only the newspaper accounts summarized in Chapter Two, but also the official reports on each case., Much to my surprise, I found the material contained in some of these reports to be as sensational as the news stories covering the same events.
Since the major New Mexico incidents have already been summarized in Chapter Two, I will now examine in greater detail the evidence used to support the foregoing theory. This includes the discovery of unusual tracks, broken legs, clamp marks, radiation at the scene, UFO sightings, drugs in some animals, and the deliberate selection of the healthiest and best livestock. The more vocal investigators and reporters also agree that some kind of testing is involved -- but what kind is open to controversy. This section will also examine other theories advocated to explain mutilations. It will conclude with a discussion of perhaps the most controversial question of all -- who is behind these incidents.
The evidence cited in both official and unofficial reports, especially those from Dulce, suggests highly evolved aircraft are involved in these mutilations. One clue cited as proof is the discovery of "tripod-like" marks at the scene. The discovery of these marks was given considerable recognition by Ray Nelson in an article in UFO Report. Basing his statements largely on these New Mexico incidents, Nelson (1978; 24) makes
the following observation:
"Investigators find no footprints or vehicle
marks around the carcasses. However, strange
circular tracks are sometimes found in the
vicinity of the mutilated animals, baffling
imprints that are perfectly circular and evenly
depressed, and others that are shaped like
suction cups. Sometimes, larger pod marks are
seen, laid out in triangular fashion as if a
tripod-like object had landed near the animal."
These strange tripod marks were first reported in Dulce in a "classic mutilation" case investigated June 13, 1976. A series of round tripod marks, each four inches in diameter, were found in the hard ground leading to the carcass. According to the police report, when the owner returned to the scene the next day, he then found a fresh set of tripod indentations over the tire tracks made by his car the previous day, again leading to the mutilated cow. The report then makes the rather astonishing statement that "the tripod marks had returned and removed the left ear" (Police Report 1976).
The year 1978 produced a rash of reported mutilations in the Dulce area, several of which were also characterized by the discovery of tripod marks at the scene. On April 24, an 11-month-old bull was reported mutilated -- the police report indicating "prints were found 100 feet north of the slain animal." The officer writing this report also indicates that the object making these tracks must have been extremely heavy, for the ground was so dry and hard that the tire tracks from the police car were barely visible. He then theorizes as to what caused these marks, stating, "These four inch round footprints
led to the animal and back 100 feet where they apparently returned to a hovering aircraft" (Police Report 1978a).
On May 11, another cow was found mutilated in the Dulce area, and again the report contains an account of tripod marks, but this time much further away from the carcass:
"600 yards away from the cow were the 4 inch
circular indentations similar to the ones found
[April 24]" (Police Report 1978b).
As far as I can determine, the only case of reported tripod marks outside the Dulce area occurred on April 11 when a five-year-old mutilated cow was discovered in Torrance County. The New Mexican (1979) states that "tracks of a tripod were found about 25 feet away from where the carcass of a 5-year-old cow was killed." Both the tracks and the animal were located inside a corral. Another account of the incident appeared in the Torrance County Citizen (1979). Although this case was investigated by the county sheriff, it is interesting to note that he was assisted by the same law officer who had investigated the Dulce "tripod mark" cases. Desiring more details, I contacted both the police and sheriff's offices. However, as of February 1980, no official reports of this incident could be located.
Now then, what about these strange tripod marks -- do they constitute proof, as some suggest, that highly evolved aircraft are involved in these mutilations? To assess the significance of these tracks, it is first necessary to evaluate the descriptions and evidence in the official reports that have been
filed. It is perhaps worthy of note that all four "tripod mark" cases were investigated by the same law enforcement officer. It may also be well to consider that a fairly sizable amount of time elapsed between the date the incident was investigated and the subsequent filing of each official report.
The first case, though investigated June 13, 1976, was not officially reported until December 15. The second one was investigated April 24, 1978, but not filed until July 31. The third incident was investigated May 11, 1978, but not reported until July 11. Regarding the fourth case, I was unable to locate an official report.
As an FBI agent, I was required to dictate the result of an interview that could be used as testimony, within five days of that interview. The rationale for this requirement -- which was established to comply with the Jenks Decision of the Supreme Court -- was to insure sufficient recall. In regard to these Dulce incidents, one wonders how reliable the officer's memory would be several months after the investigation.
In view of the tremendous significance which the officer has attached to these marks, his delay in filing the reports is curious. It would seem that if he had really thought the marks had been made by a strange flying aircraft, he would have reported the discovery immediately as one of the discoveries of the century. One would also think he would have summoned a team of experts to further investigate and hopefully corroborate this discovery or at the least take impressions of
these tracks. I have no information that this occurred.
In all fairness, the officer did have two tests conducted, but neither were conclusive. In the 1976 incidents, a yellow oily substance was found in two places under some small marks. A soil sample containing this substance was submitted to, the State Police Laboratory for analysis. The resulting report indicated the lab's inability to detect the substance as it had disappeared. Wondering if this indicated that they had lost the sample, I then contacted the lab for further details. A spokesman there explained that an analysis of the sample revealed nothing other than the grass. If anything else had been there., it had since vanished.
In addition, the officer also summoned a "retired scientist" to the scene to make radiation tests. His findings revealed that the radiation level around the tripod marks was twice that of a normal reading. While this finding seems suggestive, it is scientifically invalid since there is no indication how the tests were conducted and whether or not a background reading was taken -- which would have been necessary to determine whether the tripod readings were higher than normal.
I did not see these tracks, but what I have observed on a number of occasions is that due to a combination of certain weather and soil conditions prevalent here in the southwest, the preserved hoof marks from a cow and horses can quickly erode to a circular-like depression of approximately the size mentioned.
Other evidence cited to support the belief that some type of aircraft is involved in livestock mutilations is the alleged discovery of animals with clamp marks and broken bones. Again, most of these incidents were reported in the Dulce area. The first case was investigated April 24, 1978, and involved the mutilated bull just discussed. The police report states that "the bull sustained visible bruises around the brisket area, seeming to indicate that a strap was used to lift and lower the animal to and from the aircraft." The report then adds that "investigation showed that this 11-month-old bull was dropped by some type of aircraft" (Police Report 1978a). However, no evidence was cited to support that statement.
Subsequent cases were even more spectacular. For example, on May 11, 1978, the police report (1978b) covering another mutilated cow indicates that the "left front and left rear leg(s) were pulled out of their sockets apparently from the weight of the cow which indicates it was lifted and dropped to the ground." The report goes on to make the astonishing statement that "this is the first in a series of mutilations in which the cowls legs are broken. Previously the animals had been lifted from the brisket with a strap." When I first read this statement, I wondered on what basis the officer was able to predict that other mutilated animals would later be discovered with broken legs. Then I realized that this incident was not officially reported until two months later. By this time other cases had indeed occurred.
A similar case, this time involving two cows, was investigated May 28 by the same officer. The report states that the "left front leg and left rear leg [were] broken, which indicates that [the] animals were lifted by their extremities." This case is of added interest since it was publicized by Ray Nelson in UFO Report. According to his article, "[The investigator] remembers that several branches had been broken off in the tree tops above the carcass, as if the animal had been brought down through the trees and dropped to the ground. Flies buzzing around the broken tree branches suggested that blood from the carcass had been splattered on the treetops" (Nelson 1978: 26-27).
This brings to mind a statement later made by the same officer at Senator Schmitt's conference April 20, 1979. At the afternoon session, this officer claimed that he had seen one mutilation case in which a 600-pound cow was found in the branches of a tree -- indicating to him it must have been dropped there by some type of aircraft. A similar version was later attributed to the same officer in an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune (Coates 1980). Last February I questioned the officer about this incident. He admitted to me that the animal was not actually in the tree but was found at its base.
This change of location is of major significance in -that it not only totally undermines the theory the animal was dropped from the air, but also immediately suggests the cow was probably killed by lightning, which is one of the most common
causes of livestock deaths. In addition, this admission seriously undermines the credibility of all the officer's previous statements.
On June 14, 1978, the same officer investigated a reported mutilation of a cow whose left front leg and left rear leg were broken. According to the official report, there were a]-so marks visible on the lower rear left leg indicating that some type of clamp or vise had been fastened there. The report then concludes with the rather astonishing statement -- considering the scant evidence on which it is based -- that "the animal was taken elsewhere and mutilated and then returned and dropped. This animal had five-inch horns. One horn was broken off into the ground" (Police Report 1978d).
In addition to these Dulce cases, in 1979 area newspapers published accounts of two suspected mutilations, both of which involved a cow whose neck was allegedly fractured. The first incident occurred in Taos on January 12; the other in Torrance County on March 26. In the second case, which the officer from Dulce also helped investigate, the claim was made that the cow had been air-dropped.
The question arises as to how the officer determined the bones were broken, since there is no indication that these animals were examined by trained veterinarians. Although the official reports fail to state how such a determination was made, this information is provided in an article entitled, "The Phantom Cattle Surgeons of the Plains". David Perkins (1979),
the author, describes an on-the-scene investigation which he and several others, including this same officer, conducted in Dulce. Perkins points out that the officer maneuvered the left front and hind legs to show that they were broken and then kicked the backbone to show that it was also broken in several places. I suggest that this is hardly a scientific way to verify broken bones.
In a recent interview with one of the officer's associates, I was told by that associate that this officer, although a hardworking, dedicated policeman, has become too emotionally involved in cattle mutilations and "sees things that are not there." When I asked him for an example, he mentioned an incident in Taos which both he and the officer had investigated together. The officer, he said, claimed the animal had broken bones when it did not.
But what about the clamp marks? The police officer, claims such marks are a conclusive piece of evidence to support his theory. He is quoted by David Perkins (1979: 20) as saying: "Wait till you see those clamp marks!" "This is definite proof that they are being done from the air!"
I maintain that without further evidence it is totally unwarranted to attribute bruise marks and similar damage to mysterious airlifting activity. Rather, it is natural for a decomposing body to develop what appear to be incriminating bruise marks, most of which could readily be explained by a trained individual.
I recall a seminar I recently attended at the Southwestern Law Enforcement Institute, which was held at the University of Texas in Dallas. One of the speakers was a forensic pathologist for the state of Texas, who showed slides of a person who had died of natural causes. The body was perfectly preserved when it was found. The body was subsequently photographed at timed intervals. The pathologist noted that several hours after body changes began to occur, a very noticeable ring appeared around the neck of the corpus. The pathologist pointed out that had an untrained investigator -- or a doctor not trained in forensic pathology -- arrived on the scene, he might easily have made a diagnosis of ''death by strangulation," and could even have labeled it a homicide.
The presentation continued with a slide taken several hours later, showing a tremendous discoloration over the entire body. The pathologist observed that if the same investigators had arrived on the scene, they might this time attribute the death to homicide by beating, since the discoloration strong resembled bruise marks.
Strange tracks, alleged clamp marks, and broken bones are not the only evidence cited by those who claim the use of aircraft in carrying out these mutilations. Many such incidents, especially those occurring in the Dulce area, are accompanied by reported sightings of UFOs and strange orange lights. The newspaper accounts of these events, as summarized in Chapter Two, are certainly full of such incidents. But what about the official
reports? Upon examining these records, I found that a number of them do mention UFO sightings, as though this would explain the tripod tracks, clamp marks and broken bones.
In the mutilated bull incident (April 24, 1978), the official report (1978a) describes a UFO sighting the night the animal was supposedly killed and mutilated. According to the report, a friend of the owner's brother claimed he heard a low flying aircraft at approximately 3 a.m., in the vicinity of where the mutilated bull was found. While the report doesn't speculate as to the nature of this aircraft, an article in the Albuquerque Journal (Thompson 1978a) describes it as "a large orange light in the darkness, along a ridge directly south of the meadow" where the bull was found.
One of the most dramatic UFO sightings in recent years occurred on July 3, 1978, in the Taos area. Following this sighting flakes of an unknown substance were removed from the roof of a truck, over which the UFO reportedly hovered. A few days later, as noted previously, a secret experiment using an ultraviolet light was conducted in Dulce to test a theory that target cows were being selectively marked for mutilation ahead of time.
During the experiment itself, a UFO was sighted,
according to Howard and Lovola Burgess (1979: 30).
"Near midnight, the Apache Indian tribal
police chief came up and asked, 'Did you see
the orange light moving around in the sky a
while ago? It was the kind that always shows
up when there's a mutilation. Maybe they're
watching you tonight.'"
Interestingly, at Senator Schmitt's conference held later that April, the chief testified emphatically that he had never seen these lights and personally didn't believe in UFOs (Schmitt 1979: 85-86).
Numerous media articles have claimed that the unidentified flakes from Taos have been compared with the "marking" material removed from the cows in the Dulce experiment, and that the properties contained in both are identical.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that "the powder was found to be largely potassium and magnesium, but investigators have been unable to say how it got on the animals or exactly where it came from" (Thompson 1978b). The Rio Grande Sun claimed that "three elements, two rare earth elements, one a transitional metal, have been discovered among those that comprise the material recently reported deposited upon a pickup truck by an unidentified flying object" (Olson 1979a).
Is there a possibility these two substances could have been deposited by some strange and mysterious aircraft? To answer this question, I contacted the "retired scientist" who had the two substances analyzed. on January 15, 1980, I asked him about the alleged UFO flakes that had been recovered from the roof of the pickup truck in Taos. The individual said that lie still had some of the sample flakes and would be glad to send them to me. I then requested that he send me only a portion of these flakes, so that if and when I could identify them, he could then use the ones still in his possession to verify this
I received the flakes from him on January 22, 1980, and subsequently sent them to the FBI laboratory in Washington, D.C., requesting that the substance be identified, if possible. The specimen was identified as a "white enamel paint typical of an acrylic latex/emulsion-type exterior house paint"!
In a letter dated April 9, 1980, I informed him of the results of the FBI examination, and suggested that he might wish to confirm these findings with any scientific laboratory of his choice. On June 12, 1980 he advised me that he has not done so.
It is interesting to note that regardless of whether a UFO was seen in Taos -- and even if the substance had remained a mystery -- no cattle mutilation was reported in Taos or Dulce during this period. It is also interesting how easy it is for some to take a set of facts, involving two different areas of the state, in which a reportedly similar substance is found, and to use these facts to establish a link between UFO and cattle mutilations, even though no mutilations are reported. In another UFO incident described in Chapter Two, in which an unidentified aircraft was reportedly surprised while spotlighting a herd of cattle near Lumberton, a link is also made between UFOs and mutilations, although none were reported at that time.
In summary, the most spectacular UFO sightings in New Mexico, judging from media coverage, have occurred at times when no mutilations were reported. Although both the media and
official reports have described the less spectacular sightings of "orange lights" around the time a mutilation supposedly occurred, it is an assumption -- nothing more -- that these lights are proof of some kind of flying craft. In fact, one recent rash of UFO sightings in the Dulce area coincided with a spectacular display of northern lights witnessed elsewhere in the state.
Ever since people have looked up to the sky, they have seen lights, reflections, and moving bodies that glow. The only thing that has differed throughout the ages, is the interpretation of these sightings. It is logical that in our highly technological age, such sightings would be described as aircraft, just as it is equally logical that in earlier more primitive societies, similar phenomena were described as gods.
An interesting study of this phenomenon was published by Tommy Roy Blann. In an article entitled "UFOs over New Mexico", Blann (1976) discusses the role of the news media in contributing to the UFO phenomenon. As Blann (.1976: 23) points out:
"It generally starts out with one report
stimulating other reports in a specific
geographical location; this in turn is picked
up by the news wires before any actual
investigations by qualified investigators are
made, and is then distributed to other areas."
In his article, Blann discusses a recent wave of UFO sightings in Clovis, showing the role played by the media in the development of this phenomenon. Strange lights and a large burned area were interpreted by area residents as a UFO landing site.
Blann (1976: 25) emphasizes how these reports continued to escalate.
"The story got bigger and better. Right before
our eyes, the relatively few reports of nocturnal
light activity had now grown into a full-scale
investigation of 'giant motherships' and landings
of 'scoutcraft' with friendly occupants on board."
When Blann arrived to investigate the Clovis sightings, two police officers reported seeing several objects west of town, which they said were similar to those which had been previously reported. Blann (1976: 51) then investigated these sightings which "turned out to be nothing more than the atmospheric aberration of the light from the stars and planets." He also discovered that the "UFO landing site" was simply the result of a grass fire, apparently triggered by fireworks, as a fireworks casing was found in the middle of the burned area.
And so it is that a down-to-earth investigation seeking basic facts invariably uncovers a simple, practical answer to explain what initially appears to be a "strange happening" -- the kind so quickly latched onto by those trying to justify a link between UFO activity and mutilations.
As another dramatic example of this type of reasoning consider the case of the "glowing tombstone" in a small family cemetery in Dulce -- a family that had lost several cattle to alleged mutilations. This incident was written up in a recent article entitled "Close Encounter at the Old Corral" (Burgess and Burgess 1979). The article, which describes the cowhide
experiment conducted at Dulce (July 1978), mentions a side incident which the authors providentially suggest "is perhaps unrelated." However, they state that nonetheless "it should not be ignored." This tombstone, according to them, is "seen to glow momentarily several times late at night." The article then suggests some possible explanations: Is it some "airborne beam exciting natural florescence found in many stones or" -- and here is the clincher -- "has the stone been splashed for use as a navigational marker?" one wonders how effective an object as low as a tombstone would be in guiding aircraft, but then again, when one transcends the realm of facts, anything is possible.
However, we can quickly dismiss all further speculation regarding this incident since a recent investigation by several law enforcement officers revealed that the glow was simply a reflection from a nearby light. Two officials later told me, in separate accounts, that when they walked between the stone and the light source, the third officer reported the marker no longer glowed.
As for the sightings of strange helicopters, these reports, like those of other UFOs, are almost always vague and unsubstantiated by facts. Moreover, it should be noted that once people are alerted to a possible connection between helicopters and livestock mutilations, then such sightings -- which previously would have caused no concern -- begin to assume a new, if not sinister significance.
Evidence such as that just cited has been used by
both official and amateur investigators as tentative proof of the ingenuity and sophistication of those responsible for the mutilation of livestock. In fact, even some of the official police reports make such claims.
In a report dated June 13, 1976, the investigating officer discusses the theories that have been advanced to explain mutilations. After mentioning Satan worshippers and predators, he makes the following statement: "Both have been ruled out due to [the] expertise and preciseness and the cost involved to conduct such a sophisticated and secretive operation" (Police Report 1976).
Again, in a report dated April 24, 1978, he makes the following comment: "One has to admit that whoever is responsible for the mutilations is very well organized with boundless technology and financing and secrecy" (Police Report 1978a).
Following an incident investigated June 14, 1978, a similar statement is made:
"It is the theory of this writer that whoever
is responsible for these mutilations is operating
out of a well-equipped undercover truck van
which is heavily guarded. This van supposedly
carries the aircraft which operates within a
40-mile radius" (Police Report 1978d).
Since these are official reports, one would expect some incriminating evidence -to be cited to support these statements. None is offered, other than making the usual generalizations about tripod marks, clamp marks, and broken bones.
Other evidence used to emphasize the alleged
sophistication of this organization centers around the techniques used to kill and mutilate the animals -- techniques described in the media by such terms as "exsanguination" and "laser beam precision" (Olson 1979a; Rio Grande Sun 1979).
The news media, however, is not the only source of statements proclaiming the surgical preciseness of the mutilations. A number of police reports from Dulce also make such assertions. The earliest of these reports is more conservative in this respect, stating that the "left ear, tongue, udder, and rectum had been removed with what appears to be a sharp instrument" (Police Report 1976). The second Dulce incident (April 24, 1978) goes a step further: "The rectum and sex organs had been removed with a sharp and precision instrument" (Police Report 1978a).
The term "precisely removed" is also used to describe the manner in which the organs of three other alleged mutilation victims were excised -- two cows on May 28, 1978, and another cow on June 14, 1978 (Police Report 1978c, 1978d). In both incidents, as mentioned previously, it is stated that the animals were too decomposed to perform any tests -" which in itself tends to lessen the accuracy of reported observations. Also, nowhere in these reports did the officer state how he determined that the incisions were made with a sharp instrument.
Other evidence cited by those who believe that mutilations are engineered by skilled individuals is the presence of drugs in the carcasses of some mutilated livestock. The
detection of two drugs in a mutilated bull in Torrance County, for example, received considerable coverage in local newspapers. As mentioned in Chapter Two, the two drugs were identified as chlorpromazine, a tranquilizer, and citric acid, an anticoagulant among other things. One officer interviewed by the press theorized that the chlorpromazine was probably used to tranquilize the animal; while the citric acid was administered to keep its blood from clotting so that it could be removed more easily.
The only official report I was able to obtain of this incident was prepared by Inspector A. J. Gibbs of the New Mexico Livestock Board. According to his report, the animal in question was not a bull but a black steer, which weighed 220 pounds. It was found dead and "mutilated" on January 29, 1979 (,New Mexico Livestock Board 1979).
Although the media had classified this incident as a legitimate or "classic" mutilation, Gibbs' report states that there were cuts and scratches over most of the animal's body, including its neck and between the hind legs. The stomach had been ripped open, and there were jagged edges on the head where the ear had been removed. Gibbs later informed me that this animal had been culled from the rest of the herd prior to sale because it was sickly.
The report also states that three sets of dog tracks were found leading from the carcass back to Duran. In addition, small patches of black hair were noted near the animal, and the cuts and scratches were said to resemble teeth marks. It is
difficult to understand how anyone who has read Gibbs' report could possibly classify this case of obvious predator-scavenger damage as a "classic mutilation."
In an interview with Gibbs, the inspector told me he recalls that the owner, a large sheep and cattle rancher, had been having go much trouble with dogs that he had personally warned their owners that he would kill any dogs found on his property. Gibbs also mentioned that some of the rancher's animals had had their ears chewed off while still alive. An article in the New Mexican (1979) adds further spice to this "bull" story with the following comment: "Skid marks [were found] near the bull's carcass, indicating it might have been dropped from the air." The livestock inspector, however, told me that he believed ringworm had caused some of the damage to the hide. He said he recalls discussing the ringworm situation with the owner.
Since there was no mention of drugs in the foregoing report, I decided to investigate the case further, which by this time had received national publicity. In an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune January 27, 1980, the reporter refers to this incident with the following statement:
"The investigating officer said that tests of
blood samples from one of his cases showed
large amounts of a powerful tranquilizer and
a drug that prevents blood from clotting"
On April 8, 1980, I contacted Dale Spall of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, who had performed the original blood
tests. He told me that he had found only a trace of chlorpromazine in the blood. When asked to define a trace, Spall said that the amount found was not significant enough to have affected the animal. He also said that the drug may have been present in the blood for quite some time. Spall further stated that he had found a high level of napthalene in the blood, which indicated the animal had been on a hormone feed. Dr. Spall noted that although he had originally thought the amount of citric acid in the steer exceeded normal levels, he has since determined, through additional tests, that the amount of citric acid was normal. This drug, he pointed out, occurs naturally in all animals.
Arlene Gallagher of Smith, Kline, and French Drug Manufacturers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, informed me on April 9, 1980, that chlorpromazine is produced by their drug house under the name of Thorazine. However, she stated that this drug can now be made by anyone, inasmuch as their 17-year patent ran out quite some time ago. Gallagher further indicated that the drug had been used in the past to tranquilize animals; also, that it metabolizes very slowly and thus can remain in the body for quite some time. When I asked her how long, she said it could be weeks or longer, depending on the size of the animal and how quickly it metabolized the drug.
On April 18, 1980, Dr. Dan Upson, professor of pharmacology at Kansas State University, informed me that chlorpromazine is used as a tranquilizer in large animals,
particularly when weaning. Although normally injected into the animal, it could be added to alfalfa or administered as an oral tablet. Dr. Upson further stated that when some animals are ill, they get "goofy" or act strangely. In such cases, a tranquilizer is sometimes administered to aid in handling the animal. He also mentioned that chlorpromazine is very easy to obtain and is accessible to ranchers.
On April 1, 1980, I contacted the owner of the steer and asked him if he had any idea how these drugs could have gotten into his animal. He replied that this could possibly have happened through its feed. He did not elaborate on this statement, but did state that the bull had not been wormed, nor had it been treated by a veterinarian.
Inspector Gibbs, however, in an interview the following day, said that to the best of his recollection, the animal had been on medicated feed. I then asked Inspector Gibbs why the owner of the animal would not have mentioned this. Gibbs replied that the owner was a personal friend of his and that at the time this incident occurred, the owner had become very upset with the way the investigating officers had sensationalized the incident through the media. He told Inspector Gibbs that he was sorry he had ever reported it.
An article in the Albuquerque Journal states that this incident is the first time New Mexico authorities have found a drug in a mutilated animal (Thompson 1979b). However, according to a police report (1976) dated June 13, 1976, the investigating
officer claims that in one of the mutilated cows found in New Mexico [he does not say which incident] a high dosage of atropine insecticide was discovered in the blood system. This substance, according to the report, is used as a tranquilizer.
The American Heritage Dictionary (1976) defines atropine as an extremely poisonous alkaloid obtained from belladonna and related plants. Belladonna is also known as deadly nightshade, which is described in the Merck Veterinary Manual as adversely affecting all animals who ingest it (Siegmund 1973: 982). The manual goes on to say that it may cause weakness, trembling, dyspnea, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, or even death. This plant grows along fences, in waste areas, and in grain and hay fields.
Once again, the facts rule out the more exotic interpretation -- such as the sinister use of drugs by a highly skilled organization in the execution of these mutilations. To the contrary, all evidence to date confirms that the drugs found in animals are a result of either (1) medication administered by a veterinarian and/or a rancher, (2) substances acquired through the animals' feed, (3) substances found in plants growing in the field, (4) dangerous chemicals used in the ranching operation.
If these mutilations are being perpetrated by some highly skilled group, as some investigators claim, the next question is "Why?" One answer frequently disclosed in the press is that these individuals are conducting some type of experiment.
One piece of evidence cited to support this view is the seemingly deliberate selection of certain livestock as the victims -- often described as the biggest and healthiest in the herd. In numerous articles about cattle mutilations, one finds statements such as the following:
"For some reason, the animals killed and
mutilated tend to be the best livestock in a
rancher's herd." or, "The animal when last
observed was in perfect health."
It should be noted, however, that certain diseases also tend to claim lives of the best and healthiest animals. As the Merck Veterinary Manual points out in a section dealing with clostridial infections:
"Commonly, the animals that contract
blackleg are of the best breeds in excellent
health, gaining weight and usually the best
animals in their group" (Siegmund 1973: 334).
One incident cited as an example of the deliberate selection of prime animals is the reported mutilation on January 22, 1979, of four prize race horses south of Malaga (cited by Olson 1979a). Each was said to have been valued at $10,000. Information obtained from the New Mexico Livestock Board revealed, first of all, that although four horses were found dead, only three of them were "mutilated." In these three horses, the upper eyelid as well as the upper tips of the ears had been excised. In one animal, the genital area had been removed.
It is important to note that the investigating officer concluded there was nothing mysterious about this damage, which he attributed to coyotes. The files of the New Mexico
Livestock Board (1979) contains a memorandum prepared by Dr. R. L. Pyles, state veterinarian, dated January 25, 1979. In this memorandum Dr. Pyles describes the damage inflicted on the carcasses and states that in the opinion of Dr. M. D. Reynolds, coyotes were responsible.
A necropsy of two of the animals was conducted by Dr. M. D. Reynolds. His memorandum of January 27, 1979, sets forth his findings as follows:
"It is my opinion, after examination of the
area, gross examination of the cadavers,
pathologist's report, interviewing of the owner
of the horses and the owner of the ranch, that
the horses died as a result of acute toxic
hepatitis, possibly caused by ingestion of
plants high in selenium, and/or exposure to
feed containing ammonia products in level
detrimental to the health of the horses."
Coupled with the belief that only the best and healthiest livestock are chosen, is the theory that these animals are deliberately marked ahead of time, so they can be readily selected when their time is up. In an official police report (1978a) dated April 24, 1978, the investigating officer states: "It is the writer's opinion that these animals have been marked for some time before they are mutilated."
To test this theory, the officer, together with a "retired scientist," conducted the cowhide experiment previously described. According to an official report (1978d) the test involved 72 cattle belonging to Manuel Gomez. These animals were checked at night under an ultraviolet light. A florescent substance was subsequently discovered on the forepart of the
body of two four-year-old Herefords, and three two-month-old heifers. The report then makes the following statements: "The area where the mutilations occur is carefully analyzed weeks in advance. These animals have been marked years in advance." The latter is an interesting observation and an impossible task in view of the fact that three of the so-called marked animals were only two months old.
As noted previously, samples from the affected hide were sent to a laboratory for analysis, together with control samples. The results of the test were announced that December. While the lab did not attempt to identify the substance, the report indicated that the "florescent material sample contained a much higher level of potassium than the control sample."
To evaluate these tests, I contacted the same chemist who had discovered the traces of chloropromazine in the steer and sent him a copy of the lab report. Although he was unable to make a conclusive statement as to what these results indicated, he did make the following observation:
"In humans, element variations are well
known as indicators of diet, with the average
values varying by as much as a factor of 10 for
large numbers of people tested."
Another scientist whom I contacted stated, -- after viewing the tables listing the chemical composition and the affected" sample, -- that there was nothing unusual about these samples, for all the trace amounts were as expected. He also said that an analysis of the affected sample, by any established
forensic toxicological laboratory would probably show the values to be within normal limits.
In summary, the test was not very revealing. Not only was the substance on the hides not identified by the laboratory, but also none of the supposedly marked animals were ever mutilated, as far as I could determine.
If livestock mutilations represent some type of experimentation, as many believe, the next question is "what is being tested." A number of answers have been suggested. Even some of the official reports offer solutions.
In a police report (1976) dated June 13, 1976, the investigating officer makes the following observations:
"Investigation has revealed that on all cattle
mutilations which have occurred in New Mexico
and surrounding states, the object of the
mutilations has been the lymph node system."
The officer goes on to state that he has narrowed the explanation down to theories involving "the experimental use of Vitamin B 12 and the testing of the lymph node system." He also claims in the report that he is currently studying the procedures involved in germ warfare testing.
A similar theory is offered in an article by Burgess and Burgess (1979: 28):
"In these animals the same parts of the
lymphatic and digestive tract are removed
from each animal in a very precise and
bloodless operation. The operation is generally
performed in the air and the dead animal
What evidence is used to support this theory? According to some investigators, the fact that the lips, tongue, and rectal area are often missing in mutilated animals indicates that mutilations may be related to "a scientific study of the lymphatic system and production of bacteria" (Valerio 1979: 30-31). However, as I have noted previously, these are the same parts that are commonly eaten by predators and scavengers.
Another piece of evidence frequently cited to support this and other theories of biological experimentation is the alleged association between mutilated animals and high levels of radiation. This association has been prompted largely on the basis of the following three observations:
(1) The alleged discovery of high levels of radiation at the scene of a mutilation. According to one official report, a "retired scientist" conducted radiation tests at the scene of a livestock mutilation in Dulce and claimed that the radiation levels around the tripod marks and in the immediate tracks was twice as high as normal (Police Report 1976). I have already commented on the validity of this test. What makes this case interesting, however, is the remark made by the officer who investigated the incident. In the report he states: "it is the opinion of this writer that radiation findings are deliberately being left at the scene to confuse investigators." one can only speculate as to his reason for making such a statement, as he fails to provide any justification for it in his report.
Also cited as evidence of radiation at the scene is
the observation made in both official reports and newspapers that some people who have visited mutilation sites have subsequently complained of nausea and headaches (Police Report 1978a). I do not doubt this in the least, but without further evidence, it is totally unwarranted to attribute this to "radiation poisoning." In fact, unless you are used to working with dead animals, it would be more unusual if you didn't feel nauseated in the presence of a rotting carcass.
(2) The discovery of certain abnormalities in the carcasses of mutilated animals. In a series of police reports from Dulce, the investigating officer states that the animal's blood is pink -- a fact that he claims indicates possible exposure to high doses of radiation.
"A possible explanation for the pinkish
blood is a control-type of radiation used to
kill the animal, according to radiation experts"
(Police Report 1978a).
Similar observations are made in subsequent reports (Police Report 1978b, 1978c, 1978d). Again, these observations are not supported by any concrete evidence. Without scientific analysis of blood samples, such observations are meaningless.
The results of tests performed on the organs of mutilated animals, particularly the liver, are also used to support the "biological experimentation" theory. Such tests are briefly described in an article in Taos Magazine (Valerio 1979: 31). Valerio states that the livers of mutilated animals disintegrate very rapidly -- a fact which a "scientist
attributes to a high level of radiation."
Probably the most publicized of these tests is the one performed on the liver of a mutilated bull found in Dulce on April 24, 1978. The liver, described elsewhere as white and mushy (Olson 1978), was removed and sent to several private laboratories for analysis. According to the police report (1978a), this liver was checked against a control sample -- "a healthy food market liver." The report states that the bull's liver was found to contain no copper instead it had four times the amount of phosphorous, zinc, and petroleum as the control sample. The Rio Grande Sun (Olson 1978d) later claimed that the chemical components of the bull's liver were the same as those found in both the Taos UFO and Dulce cowhide samples. This, according to the article suggests a possible link between mutilations and UFOs.
The results of these tests were also discussed in a series about cattle mutilations which appeared on a program aired August 23, 1979 on Channel 4, Albuquerque. In this program, the "retired scientist" made the following statement:
"The interesting thing that we found, and once
again we don't know what it means, but on the
control sample of good liver, we found it had
copper which is a normal thing found in living
tissues; but in the mutilated animal, there is
absolutely no copper in the tissue, and the
liver gives the impression that it may have
had a very (heavy) dose of microwave
In a letter to me dated September 28, 1979, this same individual explained his position more explicitly:
"Some reports seem to indicate that copper in
trace amounts is [present] in the cell structure
in tissue and in blood. From such reports, it
appears that one function of the copper is to
help bind iron in the system. Some research also
indicates that high levels of certain radiation do
not remove copper, but do appear to release it.
It is no longer bound. This could perhaps mean
that in a structure such as the liver, which is
essentially made up of blood vessels and
capillaries, the released copper might be
flushed out by the blood to settle in other areas."
He goes on to explain why the blood in mutilated animals may be pink in color:
"If the copper is released from the blood,
perhaps at least some of the iron would also
be released and settle into cavities and pockets,
which might explain the watery, slightly pink
blood found remaining in the liver of such
animals. This condition reminded me of
conditions I had seen years before while doing
development work with high frequency
To evaluate this theory, I contacted several experts, including Dr. G. S. Smith, professor of animal nutrition at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. When asked to comment on it, Dr. Smith replied, it "sounds preposterous to me." He goes on to make the following observation:
"In fact, most of the statements in [the
scientist's] letter of September 28, 1979, add
up to one overriding conclusion; [He] is (as he
stated) not a biologist. He obviously doesn't
know a whole lot about the metabolism of
trace elements in animals. I don't know what
it is that he has expertise in; but I'm skeptical
about his speculations on mobilization of copper
from cattle livers. The whole tone of his letter
suggests to me "long on theory and short on
I also contacted Dr. Dale Spall, a chemist at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. In a letter dated March 21, 1980,
he criticizes the procedures used in the experiment in which the bull's liver was compared with one from a super market.
"My personal opinion of the results would be
that the whole exercise was not done well
enough nor completely enough to make any
valid comparison. True comparison can only
come from other cattle in the same herd. They
need be of the same age, sex, and feeding
history as the test cow."
Spall also points out that "if a tissue sample is collected from a slaughter house or market, it must be carefully dried before analysis or the analytical results will be nearly useless.
I also contacted another scientist knowledgeable in this field and showed him the three tables listing the element levels found in the cow hair and cow liver samples. He stated that the liver is exactly what one would expect considering postmortem changes. This individual also pointed out that the data furnished to him did not reveal a lack of copper in the liver; to the contrary, the table indicated, if anything, an amount slightly higher than average.
In regard to the mushy appearance of the liver from the mutilated bull, Dr. Clair Hibbs of the Animal Diagnostic Service at New Mexico State University makes the following observation. According to him, certain clostridial infections, particularly blackleg, can do considerable damage to an animal's internal organs, particularly the liver. It's not unusual for the liver of such an animal to assume a "mushy" appearance.
The rapid disintegration of the liver of so-called mutilated animals can also be readily explained. According to
J. Howard Sherrod, a veterinarian at Valverde Animal Clinic in Corrales, internal organs, particularly the liver, usually decompose quite rapidly, especially at high elevations. He further points out that when an animal dies, the internal organs usually maintain their high temperature -- a fact that aids in the rapid deterioration of organs such as the liver and the spleen.
(3) The alleged discovery of mutilated livestock in areas characterized by nuclear activity. At Senator Schmitt's 1979 conference several speakers discussed the possible implications of such an association. In addition, several newspaper articles have indicated that mutilated carcasses are often found near sources of environmental problems, including areas where nuclear weapons and military operations are located.
The Rio Grande Sun, for example, has published several articles suggesting such a connection. In an article that appeared February 1, 1979, Olson (1979a) cites the case of the four prize race horses, which according to her, were found dead and mutilated near Carlsbad, "the proposed site of the nation's first official nuclear waste dumping ground." This statement is interesting in view of the fact that officials had determined the horses had died of acute hepatitis, their carcasses subsequently being damaged by coyotes. Even if this fact were not known, it seems a bit premature to link mutilations with a facility that hasn't even been established.
Olson's major argument however, is the alleged association between the Dulce mutilations and Operation Gas
Buggy, the site of an underground nuclear explosion designed to stimulate the production of natural gas. In a article published May 3, 1979, Olson (1979c) states that the experiment was conducted as a part of Operation Plowshare, a plan designed under the now defunct Atomic Energy Commission to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Olson points out that the plan failed because the resulting gas was deemed too radioactive to sell to consumers.
In an interview with Olson on June 26, 1979, she referred me to Dr. Thomas Buhl of the New Mexico State Radiation Protection Center, Environmental Improvement Division. Dr. Buhl, she claimed, was very knowledgeable about the relationship between Operation Gas Buggy and cattle mutilations. Shortly afterwards, I contacted Dr. Buhl, who confirmed Olson's statement about his familiarity with Operation Gas Buggy. However, he stated that from both a scientific and technical point of view, it was difficult for him to see how Operation Gas Buggy could even be remotely involved with cattle mutilations. Buhl said Operation Gas Buggy was a "pretty clean event" in that the radiation was extremely minute, well contained, and released only on a planned basis.
Buhl also stated that he could see no advantage to be gained by any scientific study involving the mutilation of animals. According to him, the government's involvement in this entire project had been on the "up-and-up;" consequently, he could not give any credence to the government conspiracy theory.
When asked about Olson's remarks, Dr. Buhl said he remembered speaking to her about six months ago, and to the best of his knowledge, had related substantially the same information to her as he had to me.
I also contacted officials at El Paso Natural Gas and requested them to furnish me with a summary of Operation Gas Buggy, which they did (see appendix). It should also be noted that of the 90 mutilations that have been reported in New Mexico through May 1979, only 7 occurred in Dulce. In addition, it should also be noted that Dulce is not located within the site of project Gas Buggy. Rather, this site is approximately 25 miles southeast of Dulce -- an hour's ride over dirt roads.
In addition to these theories of biological experimentation, another explanation for livestock mutilation is that cattle are being mutilated to determine whether there is oil or uranium deposits beneath the ground. The rationale behind this theory is that these deposits may leave certain traces in the grass eaten by the cow, which will subsequently turn up in the animal. This theory was discussed by an individual, presumably a scientist, on a television program narrated by Loren Nancarrow, which appeared August 23, 1979, on Channel 4. During the program, the alleged scientist made the following observations;
"If uranium is in the soil because of some
deposit lower down, plants could take the
uranium up, accumulate it in the tissues and
thereby cattle feeding on the plant could
accumulate uranium again in their bodies.
"I think, historically, when plants have been
used to indicate rare metals or heavy metals,
simply looked at the plants themselves. I am
not aware of research which has looked at
animals, although animals can accumulate some
elements to higher levels than plants can, so
it's theoretically possible."
Nancarrow then made the following observation;
"Incidentally, we've learned that investigators
are taking this theory quite seriously and that
they have some good leads in that direction."
As to whom these investigators are and what their good leads consist of -- Nancarrow leaves us guessing.
To evaluate this explanation, I contacted experts from several different fields. Although their replies differed depending on their particular area of expertise, they all agreed that the theory was "ridiculous" to quote the term used by one engineer.
For example, on October 3, 1979, I contacted Dr. Franklin M. Orr, senior engineer at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, and asked him to comment on the oil exploration part of the theory. Dr. Orr pointed out that deposits of oil and gas in New Mexico are from 3,000 to 5,000 feet below the surface, and would not in any way be reflected in the plant life. Dr. Orr also stated that there were many more sophisticated methods, including seismic and geologic techniques, which could be employed to determine the location of deposits. Dr. Orr further noted that if the theory had any validity at all, the plants contaminated by oil would have a bad taste and thus would not be eaten by livestock.
In a letter dated November 2, 1979, Mr. G. R. Griswold, president of Chapman, Wood and Griswold, Inc., Mining Engineers and Geologists, Albuquerque, New Mexico, made the following comments:
"I have studied your letter of October 19 and
have discussed the theory with several
colleagues. The consenus is that trace elements
of minerals are present in all living organisms,
but the pinpointing of the source of these
elements as to a specific area would be most
difficult, if not impossible. A great deal of
scientific data has been developed in the field
of trace mineral elements in plants, trees,
animals and humans.
"It is my opinion that responsible corporations
and individuals would not resort to mutilation
of animals when searching for hydrocarbons,
uranium, or other mineral deposits, as it would
be very inefficient compared to geochemistry,
geophysics and applied geology. An animal
would graze over thousands of acres in its
lifespan and pinpointing the source area of
trace minerals found in animal tissue would
be next to impossible."
Mr. Griswold, who has a M.S. degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Utah, has been a registered professional engineer and land surveyor in New Mexico since 1938.
The following letter was received from Ms. Helen L. Cannon, who is employed by the Geological Survey, United States Department of Interior in Denver, Colorado:
"I have received your inquiry regarding the
possibility that the cattle mutilations in New
Mexico might be related to prospecting for oil.
In my opinion, there would be no reason to
analyze parts of cows in a search for oil or
metals when samples of soil or grass that the
cows eat would be far easier and quicker to
collect. Furthermore, hydrocarbons have not
been found to accumulate in grass nor would
they accumulate in organs of the cow. Metals
may accumulate in vegetation rooted in
mineralized ground and plant analysis has
been used as a means of prospecting."
Dr. G. S. Smith, in a letter dated October 30., 1979, sums it up with the following observation:
"I can't find much about the theory that
cattle mutilations' are a means of geochemical
sampling to lend it any credibility."
If livestock are being mutilated for experimental purposes, as many people believe, the next logical question is "'who are performing these tests?" Some of the more vocal investigators claim that the government is behind both these incidents. The strongest supporting argument for this theory is that "anything this big and this sophisticated has to be done by the government." It is never explained why the government would not purchase its own animals or why after lifting them and carrying them off to the place of surgery, the government would risk further detection by returning them to the area of discovery.
Surprisingly, such a theory is advocated by several New Mexico officials, whose opinions have been broadcast through the media. On August 20, 1979, as part of the same series on cattle mutilations mentioned previously, Loren Nancarrow showed a news clip of an elected law enforcement official, who said he believed that the military might be involved in cattle mutilations. Since all interviews on that program had been reduced to a 15-second news clip, I thought that supporting data for this statement may have been furnished in the part of the clip not shown to the public. With this in mind, I sent a letter to the law official requesting that he supply me with the data he used to support his statement. This letter has gone unanswered.
The government conspiracy theory is also implied by certain statements made by the police officer from Dulce. In an article appearing in the Boulder Monthly, this officer accuses Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory of deliberately withholding the results of tests conducted on samples he had submitted from mutilated livestock. He also voices his suspicions of the conclusions reached by LASL that the samples he had submitted from a mutilated bull found April 24, 1978, may have been contaminated.
"We were really careful. We wore gloves and
kept it clean. They put that in the newspaper,
too, that we contaminated them and froze
them. They made us look like fools. It just
makes me madder than hell" (Perkins 1979: 43).
He is also quoted as saying "You know what? I don't think they even tested those samples."
To investigate these claims, I contacted LASL. The officer's suspicions, I soon learned, were totally unwarranted. The laboratory had indeed submitted the results to the investigator. These results, however, were inconclusive. The report states that clostridium, a type of virus responsible for such diseases as blackleg and red water, was found in the heart chambers of the animal. However, this substance, I learned, can invade the tissues as the result of postmortem contamination of the carcass. Such a statement need not imply contamination by persons submitting the samples, for clostridium can invade a carcass 24 hours after an animal dies.
In short, the analyses performed by LASL, like those conducted by any qualified lab, don't always yield conclusive
results. Nevertheless, they may provide the basis for an informal opinion. The scientist who performed the test on the bull said he thought that the animal had probably died of blackleg. However, since the lab results were hot completely positive, the results stated in the official report were "inconclusive."
Elsewhere, this same investigating officer has made statements to the effect that this laboratory may be part of the conspiracy behind livestock mutilations. That LASL officials would be upset by such statements is understandable, especially in view of the many hours of time and expertise they have generously donated in analyzing specimens from suspected mutilation cases. LASL has been performing this service since 1975, in response to a request by the governor of New Mexico. The initial agreement was that all results be submitted to the New Mexico Livestock Board -- an agreement still honored today. However, upon request, LASL will submit its findings to other agencies.
This same officer has also suggested a possible link between livestock mutilations and the CIA. The incident which allegedly provided him with the necessary evidence was a UFO sighting made in northern New Mexico in April 1979 (see Chapter Two for specific details). This sighting, as you may recall, involved an unidentified aircraft which was allegedly surprised while spotlighting a herd of cattle near Lumberton. According to the newspapers, immediate investigation was instituted by local. officials, who subsequently learned that the Air Traffic
Control Center in Longmont, Colorado, had spotted an aircraft flying south at an altitude of 5,1800 feet, at a speed of approximately 300 miles per hour. The traffic controllers lost the radar blip approximately 20 miles north of Albuquerque.
It is not clear whether flight records were checked or if additional information was provided by air traffic control, but the official investigating this incident later learned that a plane had arrived in Albuquerque from Durango, Colorado, during the time in question. This aircraft was identified as a company-owned plane belonging to a New Mexico based mining company. It was then learned that one of the owners of this company is a world famous balloonist. Further investigation revealed that the balloon used by this individual was apparently designed and built in South Dakota by a person who may have also designed a balloon for the CIA. Although no cattle mutilations were reported on the night this incident took place, a rumor was circulated that a connection between the-CIA and cattle mutilations had been established.
To interpret this incident, I subsequently interviewed the pilot of the aircraft, who said that he had indeed flown from Durango to Albuquerque in a company-owned Beach Bonanza the night in question. However, he said that he flew at an altitude of 11,500 feet and that the closest he got to Lumberton was about 35 miles away. The pilot told me that he recalled the flight because he had also been interviewed by a police official, to whom he had supplied the same information just furnished to me.
Although the Rio Grande Sun (1980) has recently printed a denial by the officer who had circulated this rumor, his statement leaves some room for doubt. An associate of this officer informed me that he (the associate was the one to first establish a possible connection between the balloon designed and the CIA. He said he subsequently passed this information on to the officer, impressing on him the need for confidentiality. Despite this fact, the associate said the officer immediately reported this information to several other people, including a reporter.
In short, the government conspiracy theory, though one of the most highly publicized theories in New Mexico has not one shred of evidence to support it. The major problem, as I see it, would be the ability of an organization as large and complicated as the government -- with its complex system of checks and balances -- to keep such a project secret. For judging from descriptions in the media, this conspiracy would have to involve personnel from numerous governmental agencies, including the CIA, the military, and animal diagnostic laboratories across the country. The ability of people from so many different agencies to maintain, for over five years, the secrecy required to conduct their grisly experiments would be a phenomenon rivaling that of livestock mutilations themselves.
Equally unsupported by any evidence is the theory that livestock mutilations are performed by some type of exotic cult like the one suggested in The Mute Strategy, a novel about
mutilations in New Mexico .(DeWitt 1979). This theory, though providing the basis for an entertaining story, has received little publicity in recent years. The theory of extraterrestrial involvement is somewhat more popular, but again has no evidence to support it.
In addition to these explanations, there are also a few individuals who claim that livestock are deliberately being mutilated by the ranchers, themselves, in order to defraud their insurance companies. To investigate this theory, I contacted a number of agents employed by a major insurance company in New Mexico. They were unable to locate any records indicating that claims had been paid on mutilated cattle.
During the course of my investigation, I soon learned that many of the people who stress the bizarre nature of livestock mutilations, periodically resort to the following clichÈ when all else fails: "I've been a rancher all my life and I've never seen a predator remove organs with such precision." Many people are under the impression that a rancher would certainly know the difference between a "mutilation" and a carcass damaged by scavengers. This, I learned, was simply not true -- a fact dramatically illustrated in the incidents I investigated myself.
In each case, the rancher summoned me to the scene, believing that there was something peculiar about the damage done to the carcass of their animal that required further investigation. In each case, as I demonstrate in the following chapter, the damage was clearly done by predators or scavengers.
Moreover, when brought to their attention, several ranchers agreed with me that the cuts on the carcass were actually quite jagged and rough. When asked why they requested an investigation, they usually replied that they had read about livestock mutilations in the paper and wanted to make sure that this wasn't one of them. I would also like to point out that merely spending of time on a ranch or farm does not make one an expert in animal husbandry or forensic pathology. Such expertise requires extensive training at the college level.
Summary and Conclusions
In my evaluation of the 90 previous New Mexico cases, I found nothing in the official reports to indicate that the animal was mutilated by any agents other than predators and scavengers. Available evidence strongly suggests that those animals died from natural causes or common injuries and were subsequently ravished by scavengers.
As I have shown, there is simply no concrete evidence to support the theory that mutilations are being conducted as experiments by highly skilled individuals using precision instruments. The facts cited to support this belief are at best questionable, and in many cases involve incredible flights of fantasy, as in the three tests whose findings supposedly established a link between mutilations, UFOs and high levels of radiation.
In the following chapter, I present the results of the
investigations conducted in New Mexico during the course of Operation Animal Mutilation. The evidence presented in each case provides further support for the conclusion that the vast majority of livestock mutilations are caused by nothing more mysterious than nature's own ecologists hard at work.