Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Original Cash-Landrum Case File, 3/4/81: Transcript & Analysis



The Cash-Landrum UFO incident, December 29, 1980. That’s the name and date for the events near Huffman, Texas reported by Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and her young grandson Colby Landrum. The case is amongst the most famous of UFO events, chiefly due to the man who primarily investigated it, John F. Schuessler.
John Schuessler, Betty Cash, Vickie & Colby Landrum
from a scene in The UFO Experience. 
He was a contractor for NASA, working on the Space Shuttle program, and having a reputable scientist investigating the case gave its credibility a boost. However his involvement in the case stemmed not from his profession, but from his hobby. Schuessler was the deputy director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and a member of several other UFO organizations, including leading his own, Project VISIT (for Vehicle Internal Systems Investigative Team). VISIT sought to examine the propulsion engineering of “Unidentified Space Vehicles,” with “a secondary interest in the physiology of the beings which occupy these vehicles.” The initial report filed by Schuessler on March 4, 1981 laid the foundation for the investigation of the Cash-Landrum UFO case.

Below is the table of contents for the original report, a link to the PDF of it, and a transcript of it.
After that, my analysis of the report and the interviews within.
 

Cash-Landrum Original Case File: Table of Contents

Original Case Report (35 pages) by John F. Schuessler unless otherwise noted.

1 - 2 MUFON form: “UFO Sighting Questionnaire- General Cases (Form 1)” with location, sketches of UFO and event data. Name of Investigator, “John F. Schuessler,” “Witness: Vicky Landrum.” Dated March 3, 1981 (“4-3-81”). 2 pages.

3 - 13 Cash/Landrum Case “On-Site Investigation Report, Date: 28 Feb 1981,” Interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 11 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

14 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Vicky Landrum”
(Basic information on location of sighting and witness data.)

15 MUFON “UFO Sighting Questionnaire - Computer Input (Form 2)” “Betty Cash.”

16 -23  Report of meeting and interview with Betty Cash dated 22 Feb. 1981. Handwritten, 8 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

24 - 27 Alan Holt, report of (2/28/81) interview with Vickie and Colby Landrum. Handwritten, 4 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)

28 Al Holt memo: “Conversation with Bill English,” undated. (English of APRO was the first investigator to speak to Vickie Landrum.) Handwritten, 1 page. (On VISIT letterhead.)

29 - 30 Al Holt: “Helicopter Investigation,” 3/10/81. Handwritten, 2 pages. (On VISIT letterhead.)

31 - 33  21 Feb. 1981, 1 pm: “Betty Cash called collect from Dayton, TX” (Phone interview: first witness contact.) Typed, 3 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)

34 - 35 1st MUFON Cash-Landrum case contact: 20 February 1981,  by phone from reporter Cathy Gordon. “Caller: Kathy Gordon, Conroe Daily Courier...” Typed, 2 pages. (Page one on VISIT letterhead.)





Link to file (PDF)

Schuessler’s case photos are not contained in this file, but we know he took pictures during the witness interviews: shots of Betty Cash’s hair loss, of Vickie and Colby Landrum, and also the roadway described in the report. Some of these photos were published for cover of the April 1981 MUFON Journal.

Link to transcript (handy mostly for being searchable by text).
http://www.blueblurrylines.com/p/original-cash-landrum-case-report-dated.html

The report is almost exclusively from Schuessler’s point of view and based on his understanding of what the witnesses said. There are some errors, but it is difficult to tell if it came from the witnesses’ mistakes or from him misunderstanding what he was told. 

The case file was not arranged by date, but for a forensic examination of the testimony and investigation, we’ll look at the interviews in chronological order. The focus in this examination is not on the familiar details of the case, but rather the deviations from it. In order to examine details in the report, it was compared with other contemporary witness interviews as documented in the three following sources:

1) Bergstrom Air Force Base interview of Betty Cash, Vickie and Colby Landrum, August 17, 1981, Transcribed in two parts at the CUFON site: 
Part 2: http://www.cufon.org/cufon/cashlani2.htm

2) Hendry, Allan, 1981, “A Preliminary Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry for the Fund for UFO Research” (PDF) 

3) Schuessler, John F., 1998, The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, LaPorte, Texas: Author. 

FM 1485
It’s worth noting that there’s a history of the Cash-Landrum case before the MUFON investigation.

Twelve Times before MUFON

By the time John Schuessler became involved, eight weeks had passed since the incident. Based on the witnesses’ account, they must have told their story at least a dozen times before Schuessler heard it from them.

BC told Wilma Emert (& 2 kids) Betty’s son, Toby the night of the incident, 12/29/80.
VL told her husband Earnest 4 days later, supposedly when BC went to the hospital.
VL told Dr. Wilson, who did not want to get involved with in a UFO injury case. 
CL, VL & BC told Dr. Shenoy, then other doctors attending at Parkway Hospital.
VL told Dayton police chief, Tommy Waring (Vickie’s neighbor)
VL told Bob Gribble of NUFORC, making her first UFO report, Feb. 2.
VL told wild Bill English of APRO who contacted the tabloid news.
BC & VL recorded a tape for Bill English, forwarded to Weekly World News.
BC’s Parkway Hospital written statement. Feb. 7, 1981
BC, VL & CL told Weekly World News reporter and contract photographer.
VL made calls to news and law enforcement and a 2nd call to NUFORC on Feb. 17.
VL & BC told Cathy Gordon reporter for The Conroe Courier Texas newspaper. 

Finally, John Schuessler heard Betty’s story second-hand from Cathy Gordon.



A Chronological Examination of the First UFO Report

Cathy Gordon (Phone Call) 
February 20, 1981 (Report pages 34 - 35)

John Schuessler first heard about Betty Cash first from local newspaper reporter Cathy Gordon who had written a story for the Conroe, Texas Courier. (Although in his correspondence with Coral Lorenzen of APRO and his book, he claims Dr. Howard Sussman had given him UFO injury story without disclosing Betty’s name - to avoid a violation of medical ethics). The chief reason John Schuessler became involved in the case was due to location. He worked at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center near Houston, Texas. Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum lived in Dayton, about 30 miles from Houston. 

There is no mention of what is later termed the witnesses’ “secrecy oath,” just a sparse summary of the UFO story as reported in Gordon’s story. The information came in bits, out of sequence, and Schuessler would later learn that at the end of January 1981, once the UFO story had been revealed to Betty’s doctors, Vickie Landrum reported the story to her neighbor, Dayton Police Chief Tommy Waring. It took Waring two or three days to locate the number for the the National UFO Reporting Center  (NUFORC) in Seattle, Washington. Vickie reported the sighting on Feb. 2 to Robert Gribble, who passed the information on to APRO. All Schuessler knew at the time came from Cathy Gordon who told him:
“APRO’s Bill English had assigned the investigation to Dick Donavon of the Weekly World News when first notified of it.”  



Betty Cash (Phone Call) 
February 21, 1981 (Report pages 31 - 33)

Betty Cash placed a collect call to John Schuessler the next day, February 21, 1981.
(Cathy Gordon had suggested Betty call NASA, who in turn gave her JS’s number.)

This call by Betty Cash initiated Schuessler’s investigation. In the conversation, she recounted the story of the UFO encounter, her health problems and emphasized the expense of her hospital stay and treatment, “She said it has cost her about $10,000...”
Schuessler wrote, “Betty has been out of work since the incident... She had been operating a truck stop restaurant and grocery store. She worked the night shift... she has had to close her business.” 

This early claim is worth examining. Betty worked the night shift, and had other employees including a cook and Vickie Landrum, so why did she close her business?
In some accounts, it’s said that Betty had already closed the truck stop and was in the process of moving it to reopen in a new location. However, when Betty was given an interview on 8/17/81 at Bergstrom Air Force Base, she said something else entirely. She was asked if she worked at the time of the incident, and she said, “No, no I wasn't... (that’s) the reason we was just out tooling around.” Betty told the officers that she’d received the business in the divorce from her husband, James Cash, and had only operated it a few months before she “Closed it up... couldn't make no money.” (Betty also mentioned that she had Medicare, but did not say what portion of her expenses were covered by it.)

Another very interesting item is about Betty’s automobile. Schuessler’s report states: 
“When the group met the UFO they stopped the car - it did not fail on its own.” Later, he gives the the first claim of the UFO producing EMF effects: “Her car now runs very rough - the engine misses. It was given a tune up just 4 months ago.”

Regarding the car stopping and the later claims of the engine dying.
Allan Hendry interview FUFOR 4/2/1981 talking about the motor stalling
BC: “It just quit on its own...”

Hendry made Schuessler aware of the discrepancy. In the undated interview quoted in The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, pg 61, Betty was asked, “when did you realize the engine was not running?” She replied, “When I got back in the car and as soon as that thing lifted up, I was going to start the car up. I put on the gas and everything and it wouldn't move.” 

Betty elaborated further in her Bergstrom AFB interview 8/17/1981:
"I had not killed the motor on the car, I had put it park. The radio was
playing on low, but the car completely went dead. I mean, it was like somebody
had turned a switch off on it."

This discrepancy was not addressed in Schuessler's reports, but he deftly sidestepped the issue in his 1982 magazine article on the case:

“It is not clear whether Betty turned the car engine off, or whether it just died."
The Unexplained (UK) Orbis Publishing Limited, Vol 9, Issue 107

The description of the UFO incident itself in the report is fairly sparse, but seemingly consistent with later retellings. Betty described the sights, sounds, and sensations associated with the experience, but makes no mention of Vickie’s handprints left in the dashboard of the car.

An interesting statement that vanishes from later accounts:
“She went back just last week to the sighting location but could not detect anything significant. Several trees were dead, but the reason was not obvious.”

This is at odds with Schuessler’s later accounts in his book that she’d first revisited the scene with him to identify the location, and another claim that she hadn’t been back there until a recreation for a television show. Betty’s statement should serve to discredit one of the conspiracy theories about the case, that the road was torn up and repaved immediately  following the incident. The road, FM 1485, was in bad shape before the incident. It was repaved, but not so mysteriously and much later, in 1982.

JS reports Betty saying of Vickie  Landrum: 
Now she has lost sight in one eye and a little of her hair is falling out...”

The part about Vickie’s vision was exaggerated, and similar claims had been made elsewhere, with Omni magazine stating that she was blind in one eye. It was untrue, but Vickie did complain about her eyes and had been prescribed eyeglasses. Betty’s comment about the hair loss was more realistic, but wasn’t a medical diagnosis. Except for her optometrist, Vickie was not examined or treated by a physician.

In the interview (as summarized by Schuessler) Betty did not describe Chinooks, just standard helicopters:“She said they could see each helicopter and she counted 23. Each had little lights and a big rotor on top and a small one on the rear. She thought they were military but didn't actually see military markings.” 

As Schuessler homogenized the varying accounts of the witnesses’ story into a single narrative, some of the early details like this were rewritten, and in time the witnesses used his version instead of their own. However, they were not always consistent. In the Bergstrom interview, for some reason Betty changed her story. When asked if the helicopters had markings, she said:
 “Yes, they sure did.” Asked to describe them, she said, “They had ‘United States Air Force’.”

The first hint of the “secrecy pact” comes in Betty Cash’s discussion of her cardiologist, Dr. Shenoy: “She didn't tell him about the object when she went in for the first time. He just thought she had a burn of some kind, perhaps chemical. On a later visit, Vicky told him of the cause.”

Schuessler was interested in learning more, and arranged to meet with Betty in person the next day at her brother’s apartment in Houston for an interview.



Betty Cash (Meeting) 
22 February 1981 (Report pages 16 - 23)

Betty told Schuessler the story again, with some further details emerging. She mentioned the trio searching for a bingo game, then describing the sighting, Betty says she was the first to see the UFO as a bright light in the sky, but in some later versions, it is Colby who spots it first.

Betty describes the UFO’s fiery discharge: “ Flames periodically shot downward from a point on the bottom of the glowing mass.” The description is lacking on precise details, like the proximity of the UFO to the witnesses: “ They stopped the car in the road a short distance from the bright thing.”

As to the UFO itself, “ Because the light was so bright Betty couldn't see details of the object.”
She was better able to describe the associated sounds and sights, the beeping noise and,  Flames showered downward. Each time it happened they could hear a swoosh – swoosh like a flame thrower. The whole area had a great sound – a roar.”

The UFO was described as lighting up the whole sky:
Betty thinks air controllers at Houston Intercontinental Airport must have seen the bright thing – also all the helicopters.” At the Bergstrom AFB interview she insisted that the brilliance had been witnessed, but didn’t say by just who: “it was seen as far as fifty miles away from where we were.”)

Betty describes the trip home and onset of symptoms.

Schuessler reports that Betty said “the day after the incident” Vickie reported the incident to “Mr. Ward, a Dayton Policeman.” 
Vickie gave the same name of Ward later (conference 3/15/81), but she had it wrong. It was actually Dayton Police Chief Tommy Waring, and it’s odd that both Vickie and Betty would mistake the of one of the most prominent public figures in their small town. The other big error was in stating that the UFO was reported the next day, but we can’t tell if that was Betty’s mistake or from Schuessler misunderstanding her. It’s documented that Vickie told Chief Waring about the incident at the end of January, a full month after the incident, a day or so after Dr. Shenoy was first told about the UFO.

 Betty gave general information about her hospital stay, care and tests, her prescriptions, and her mother’s address in Alabama where she’d be moving. Schuessler noted her appearance and took photographs. “Betty is constantly tired, has a continuous headache, and cannot work. Her hair still remains patchy, but appears it will grow back.” There was no mention of Schuessler examining the car or having Betty act out the sighting in these notes (as stated in his book). All that’s mentioned is that: Betty's car is a 1980 Cutlass Supreme lic. no. VAS-217 (Texas)”

The report ends with an odd fact, another that was dropped from later accounts. Upon her release, Betty’s cardiologist, Dr. Shenoy urged her to see the UFO movie, Hangar 18. “All she got out of the movie was the government conspiracy aspect.”

After the interview with Betty, Schuessler called Vickie Landrum and set up an appointment to meet her at her residence the next week.

It’s worth noting here that shortly after this interview with Schuessler, Betty Cash permanently moved back to Alabama. Despite her health problems she frequently returned to Texas for during the early 1980s, and other than on those occasions, follow up interviews were conducted by telephone. Vickie Landrum continued to live in Dayton, and as a result he developed a closer relationship with her. Consequently, Schuessler relied more heavily on Vickie's version of the events.



Vickie and Colby Landrum (Meeting & site visit) 
Feb. 28, 1981 (Report pages 3 - 13)

John Schuessler and fellow MUFON and Project VISIT member Alan Holt met Vickie and Colby Landrum, then traveled with them to the FM 1485 in search of the sighting location.

The report records Vickie’s description of the restaurant stop in New Caney, however, there’s no mention of them searching for a bingo game.

Schuessler’s description of the sighting area has a passing reference to the interview of a potential witness:
“ The site of the incident is near the lake, so there are businesses, trailers, cabins, etc. periodically throughout the area, however it is sparsely settled. Near the incident site is an occupied trailer home, but the lady living there said they were in bed by 8 PM, about an hour before the sighting.”

That non-witness testimony is perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of evidence in the case. The couple were not disturbed by the UFO lighting up the whole sky or the noise from it and the roar of the overflight of twenty or more military helicopters.  

“As the object hung above the road Vicky could hear a roar ‘like a hurricane.’ Then when the flames would belch out the noise would be a woosh.” 

The report contains a drawing of Vickie’s fingernails labeled:
“Vicky's fingernails, left hand only are damaged. That hand was on top of the car...
Each nail has an indentation, line-like, across from side to side – now partially grown out.”  Supposedly, these were photographed, later fell off and were sent off for analysis, but none of that evidence is contained in the files or subsequent case literature. The fingernails were once considered by Dr. Peter Rank to be the strongest evidence to show that Vickie had been exposed to ionizing radiation, but nothing came of it.

There was some disharmony over the number of helicopters and when they first arrived: 
“Vicky and Betty only saw object during the close encounter – no helicopters. As it rose and flew away there were more than 20 helicopters, although Vicky admitted that they moved around a lot and a few might have gotten more than once. Even so, she is positive that there were 10–12 or more – no doubt about it.” 

“Colby says he saw helicopters all during the event, even when the object was low over the road. He is quite sure of that.”

Vickie described the helicopters, among them Chinooks (CH-47s):
“Vicky says there were two kinds of helicopters involved – maybe more. One kind was large and smooth running with a very large rotor on top. Another had two rotors on top, but one was above the other slightly.” (Illustration: Sketch of overlapping rotors.)

Vickie’s description of the sighting indicates that the flock of helicopters must have flown over the entire town of Huffman:
“They could still hear the roar of helicopters at 4 (the stop sign on the far edge of Huffman, by FM 1960).

There’s mention of another fiery UFO in the area:
Vicky truly feels that this was not anything unnatural. She believes the U.S. government was transporting and escorting something dangerous through the area. (Her son mentioned a similar incident near the lake about 6 months earlier where a fiery object landed and burned 300 ft of grass).”

The report does not definitely state they found the exact sighting location:
“The location of the close encounter was on Huffman New Caney road near the Inland road intersection. We parked along the road and walked as a group to the spot where Vicky believed they stopped their car on 29 Dec 80.”

There’s no mention of any landmarks at the scene like a UFO burn to the road, a claim that would later surface in 1982 as part of the legend of road being repaved to destroy evidence.

Schuessler drew a map based on the spot she chose, measuring the driving distance from it to the edge of Huffman at FM 1960, where they last counted the helicopters at the stop sign. The total distance was over seven miles.


Alan Holt: Notes on Vickie & Colby Landrum 
Feb. 28, 1981 (Report pages 24 - 27)

Alan Holt filed a separate set of handwritten notes about the interview, but he recorded many of the some points, but also some that Schuessler had missed or omitted. 

Holt also noted that Vickie: 
“Had the impression that the ‘helicopters were transporting something’."
This phrase is very interesting, as it mirrors something said to Betty by Dr. Shenoy.
From Allan Hendry’s report: “Oddly, he told Betty a story about the government working on ‘something’ in North or South Carolina that is being transported across the U.S.”

There’s an interesting bit of trivia regarding the aftermath:
“Colby had a dream about a little spaceman, ‘man inside it, little bitty, 2 ft. tall’”

Holt also noted the claim of an earlier UFO and provides further details:
“Near Sire Lake 6 months ago a UFO sighting occurred- grass was burned off.”

Holt briefly described the visit to the sighting locations. Again, there’s no mention of a UFO burn to the road:
Visited 3 sites where object was sighted.
– nothing observed as far as evidence. 
– road well traveled in daytime.”

A later addition to Holt’s report was a memo describing his undated “Conversation with Bill English” of APRO who claimed to have located the story of 3 other witnesses to the UFO in a Liberty newspaper. However the name of the paper English gave did not exist, and the story was not located. 

There’s also the notation, “Vickie Landrum's doctor refused to treat her.”
That makes little sense in context, but in Allan Hendry’s report, Vickie told him that while searching for a doctor to help Betty, “She told a Dr. Wilson about the UFO and claims the doctor didn’t want to deal with her... presumably, she feels because of the UFO aspect.” That’s interesting, because if true, has Vickie violating the “secrecy pact” within days of agreeing to it.


Lt. Col. Sarran's note of Schuessler's remarks.
Holt’s other addendum was “Helicopter Investigation,” dated 3/10/81.
He called military bases within range, but none had flights of copters during the date of the sighting. The most interesting comment came from Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. They did have Chinooks, but less than 20, and were not flying during the holiday period between Christmas and New Year’s. The representative told him about the only time they’d have that many helicopter flying, which was during scheduled massive field exercises. Holt jotted down:
“Robert Gray Field – exercise in the local area where 100 helicopters come in from the field all at one time ‘for effect’.”
This quote would later surface, famously twisted into evidence the military had admitted, then denied a helicopter operation the night of the incident. In 1982, John Schuessler told Lt. Col. Sarran about the “100 helicopters” during a phone conversation briefing him for the DAIG investigation into the incident. Sarran’s documents of the investigation later surfaced in a FOIA response, and among his notes from the Schuessler conversation were the words, 
“- 100 helicopters- Robert Grey airfield, came in, for effect.” 
It was the smoking gun that never was. (More details on this red herring at:


The case file shows that the basic story of the UFO encounter remained fairly consistent over the years. The stop by the fishing bridge and the sighting during the drive through Huffman may have been de-emphasized from later versions, possibly to avoid questions about why people in these more populated areas didn't report the light or sounds from the UFO and helicopters. It was only the claims about the hospital stay and injuries that seemed to be exaggerated over time. That, and associated other rumors like the road being hauled away and repaved in the dark of night. What always stayed the same was the story of what they saw over the road that night.

The Rest is History

After the initial report, Schuessler continued investigating the case and took on a role as an advocate for the witnesses, and also helped them publicize their story in the news media, appearing with them on television shows like Good Morning America and That’s Incredible! Schuessler also used their media appearances to appeal to the public to come forward with information about the case, and several new witnesses to the UFO or the helicopters were recruited in this way. The National Enquirer helped fund the first hypnosis session of Vickie Landrum, from which new details were produced that Schuessler considered genuine, like the odor of “lighter fluid” imagined to be helicopter fuel, and “little blue lights,” which became attached to the UFO description.



Most of the other leads produced in the case came from the news media reporters covering the story, or in military sources during the Pentagon-directed DAIG investigation. Some of the most significant developments came from the witnesses themselves, by taking the initiative to write their Senators and to travel to Bergstrom Air Force base to pursue answers and resolution. That led to the legal effort, and although it failed, the resulting publicity presented the chance that it would prompt someone to come forward with tangible evidence. 


Schuessler continued to report on the case, but none of the information that surfaced in the years that followed matched the substance of what was contained in the original 1981 report of the sighting by Betty Cash, Colby and Vickie Landrum.


For more documents on the Cash-Landrum UFO case, see
http://www.blueblurrylines.com/2013/07/resource-guide-for-cash-landrum-ufo-case.html