Cash-Landrum UFO Case: Mini Bios of the Witnesses & Key Players
This is intended as an aid to identifying the chief participants in the Cash-Landrum case, with a special effort to include people that might have been called as witnesses in the courtroom.
This preliminary list groups the players in broad categories. Photos are not always contemporary to the events; some cannot be located, so place holders or illustrations are used instead.
Betty J. Cash (Feb. 10, 1929 - Dec. 29, 1998)
Betty J. Collins from Jefferson (near Birmingham), Alabama
Mother of two (known) children Mickey Joyce and Toby Howard.
Married James F. Cash 10/4/1958, divorced 9/12/1980, received sole ownership of truck stop restaurant and attached grocery store.
Betty had heart surgery in 1977, recovered but was treated for heart pains in 1979 and continued to take medication. Betty received her new Cutlass Supreme as a Christmas present in 1979.
Jesse L. Collins, brother BC stayed with him after leaving hospital
Pauline Collins, mother, carried BC to Alabama to care for her.
Toby Howard, son. First to examine BC’s symptoms,
Mickey Joyce Foster, daughter. Could not recognize mother in hospital.
Vickie Landrum (Sept. 19, 1923 - Sept. 12, 2007)
Vicie Marzelia Holifield originally from Laurel, Mississippi.
Husband: Ernest Wilson Landrum Sr., children, Ernest Jr., Gloria Jean, David, Paul, and Jayne.
Employed as a clerk, school meals assistant and waitress, also did work for neighbor Martha Thompson.
Colby Lee Landrum (Jan. 29, 1974 - )
From Dayton, Texas, son of Paul A. Landrum and ex-wife Peggy Sue.
After their divorce in 7/29/1976, Vickie became Colby’s his legal custodian.
At the time of the encounter, he was a month shy of his 7th birthday.
Grade school student at time of incident, active in sports.
There is much uncertainty concerning the number and quality of the secondary witnesses.
Nellie Zedick (possibly Zitick), son John and his wife Toni were reported in the WWN as witnessing a UFO. By April 1981, they refused to talk about it, effectively retracting the report. Not included in VISIT/MUFON case reporting.
Jerry McDonald first witness to respond, reported seeing a large triangle shaped craft over Dayton earlier in the evening of the Huffman encounter.
L.L. Walker (off duty Dayton policeman), and his wife Marie claimed seeing a group of military helicopters in the Huffman area several hours after the incident.
Several others responded, most of whom only claimed to see helicopters, some unsure of the date. Several of these witnesses wished to remain anonymous. Some of them do not appear in later case reports.
Link to witness map with names and approximate locations.
Medical Treatment and AnalysisParkway General Hospital in Houston, Texas was where Betty Cash was treated after the incident.
Dr. V. B. Shenoy, Betty’s cardiologist whom she regularly visited for care. He was called in to see her her hospitalization, and he was the first one to hear about the UFO story.
Dr. Steve Chandler, Liberty, TX optometrist, treated Vickie Landrum at his office. She and Colby received no other professional medical care after the incident.
Dr. Peter Rank, Chief of Radiology at the Methodist Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. MUFON medical consultant. Offered opinions on the case based on photographs and medical records. He did not examine the witnesses. Rank also participated in the DAIG investigation.
Richard C. Niemtzow, MD, Radiologist, Ex-VISIT member, medical consultant to APRO and MUFON. Participated in the DAIG investigation by offering opinions on the medical claims (and also MUFON article with his analysis). He did not examine the witnesses.
Bryan A. McClelland, MD, became Betty Cash’s doctor in Alabama around 1983. He practices family and geriatric medicine, but is often misrepresented in the media as an original caregiver and radiologist.
The UFO Investigation
APRO, the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization based in Tucson, Arizona was started in 1952 by Jim and Coral Lorenzen. Once the most prominent UFO organization, they suffered a serious blow when members withdrew to form the rival organization, MUFON. APRO was the first group to be contacted about the case. APRO dissolved in 1988.
William S. English, APRO member (banished) First UFO investigator to contact the witnesses, shortly thereafter, he sold the story to tabloid, The Weekly World News.
William L. Moore, APRO chief investigator. Known for his Roswell work and his 1989 MUFON speech claiming to have worked as a double agent in a US government sponsored disinformation operation. Moore promoted C-L UFO as a US government secret experiment gone wrong.
The Weekly World News was the first to break the story, based on a tip from Bill English. Dick Donovan wrote the story based in part on taped statements made by the witnesses.
Cathy Gordon was the first mainstream newspaper reporter to cover the story for the Courier in Conroe, TX. She had the first detailed interviews with the witnesses, perhaps presenting the earliest, purest account of the story. She also covered developments in the case throughout the legal struggle.
MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network was founded in by an APRO splinter group in 1969, dedicated to “the scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity through investigations, research and education.”
John Schuessler, aerospace engineer, founding member and deputy director of MUFON, and also leader of a small independent UFO research group, VISIT.
Alan Holt M.S. Physical Science (astrophysics) joined in the initial interviews of Vickie and Colby Landrum and the first trip to the event location. He went on to write an analysis of Extraterrestrial space ship propulsion, which included his theory on the Cash-Landrum UFO.
Allan Hendry investigated case in April 1981, contracted by FUFOR (the Fund for UFO Research) to search for the origin of the military helicopters. He also conducted probing interviews of the adult witnesses by phone.
Dr. Ronald Leo Sprinkle Professor specializing in using hypnotic regression to investigate alien abduction cases. MUFON & APRO consultant. (Hypnotized Vickie Landrum for That’s Incredible! & National Enquirer)
Bergstrom Air Force Base, near Austin Texas. At the suggestion of Senator Lloyd Bentsen, the witnesses traveled to meet with Air Force officers, gave a detailed interview about the incident and were given damage claims forms. The transcript from this interview is a valuable case record.
The Texas Department of Health and their Radiation Control Bureau investigated the possibility of trace radiation at the encounter scene. The investigation was led by Charles R. (Russ) Meyer. The results were negative, and their offer to examine the medical records were denied.
DAIG Investigation. (Department of the Army Inspector General) In 1982, after it was determined that the Air Force did not own for the helicopters in the incident, it became an Army investigation, led by Lt. Colonel George C. Sarran. His report stated that there was no evidence of military helicopters being involved.
The Legal Case
Peter Gersten, the flamboyant “UFO Lawyer” accepted the case pro-bono, primary duty was preparing the legal documents. Most court filings or appearances were handled by Houston attorneys
Bill Shead and Rhonda S. Ross, Co-counsels in Civil Action No. H-84-3488
Frank A. Conforti, Assistant United States Attorney, for the Defendant (United States Government) in the civil suit.
This takes us through 1985, which effectively ended the legal struggle. No further witnesses or evidence after that date have been shown to be solid. As John Schuessler said in 1986,
"The case is closed! Unless……."