Showing posts with label Project VISIT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Project VISIT. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Who's Who in the Cash-Landrum UFO Case

 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.

Primary Witnesses

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.

Betty’s family most involved in the case:
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.

Secondary Witnesses

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.

MUFON arranged for media announcements pleading for additional witnesses to come forward to help the victims. Several people responded, though some had UFO stories of other times and places. The key respondents in the case literature:

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 Analysis

Parkway 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

National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) was a national UFO hotline run by Robert Gribble. He took the initial report from Vickie Landrum and passed it along to UFO groups to investigate.

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.

Richard C. Doty former AFOSI officer. Bill Moore associate and source. Had previously sent hoaxed material to APRO, the “Weitzel” letter. Background of the Moore-Doty "disinformation" activities.

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.

Project VISIT (Vehicle Internal Systems Investigative Team) was a group of select individuals, primarily Aerospace professionals contracting for NASA. Other members participated in the original VISIT investigation, chiefly, Dave Kissinger, Don Tucker and Bill Eatwell.

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)

That’s Incredible! filmed a recreation of the incident and interviews with the witnesses in July 1981. In November, they broadcast a studio appearance of Vickie telling the story under hypnotic regression. The publicity from this broadcast led to the DAIG investigation. 

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.

Judge Ross Sterling dismissed the case Aug. 21, 1986 without it going to trial. Two key factors: lack of evidence, and statements by the US military stating they did not operate a vehicle resembling the UFO, figured largely in his decision.

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…."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cash-Landrum: John Schuessler's First Presentation, CUFOS, Sept. 1981

John F. Schuessler's First Lecture on the Cash-Landrum UFO Case:
Medical Injuries Resulting from a UFO Encounter

An important case, document, John Schuessler's first lecture on the Cash-Landrum case is now available in a PDF, but first some background information.

Worth Waiting For

John F. Schuessler

Finding the MUFON Journal, June 1981 issue answered a question I'd long wondered about: 
Why did John Schuessler skip the summer MUFON conference and wait to present his Cash-Landrum lecture to another UFO group?

“John F. Schuessler, MUFON Deputy Director for Administration and President of VISIT, will be speaking at the CUFOS UFO Conference on September 25, 26, and 27 in a Chicago area hotel. John will relate the investigation into the serious medical effects incurred in the Cash/Landrum close encounter case of December 29, 1980, on the highway between New Caney and Dayton; Texas. His appearance at the CUFOS Conference is a reciprocating arrangement between MUFON and CUFOS, since Dr. J. Allen Hynek will be the keynote speaker at M.I.T. on July 25 at the MUFON UFO Symposium.”

The CUFOS Symposium Lecture

The presentation serves as as an excellent introduction to the case, it tells the story of the case, and discusses the early months of the investigation. The lecture was accompanied by a slide presentation, images of the witnesses that are still in circulation today. The narrative of the encounter is followed by speculation about the injuries and their source.

"The observable medical effects are many and varied. The pronounced problems are summarized in table 1. At first look, it would seem that no one type of exposure could cause such radical results. However, the Mutual UFO Network radiology consultant reviewed the medical records and the observable effects and concluded: “We have some strong evidence that these patients have suffered damage secondary To ionizing radiation. It is also possible that there was an infrared ultra-violet component as well.” This means that the symptoms listed in table 1 could have been caused by ionizing radiation plus ultraviolet and infrared radiation. 
Other mechanisms mechanisms could explain some of the effects. An acid atmosphere caused by a hot exhaust interacting with a polluted atmosphere could cause a variety of skin conditions; however, the weather on December 29 does not favor the solution. Local inflammatory changes and severe febrile reactions could cause some of the problems, but they too could occur in association with radio-dermatitis secondary to ionizing radiation.  Finally, some of the conditions could because by emotional distress. 
There are no existing tests that will identify the specific type of radiation that was inflicted upon these witnesses. 
The lecture gives information on how slowly secondary witnesses were located. Later it was claimed that there were about a dozen, but by Sept. 1981: 
“Project VISIT investigators... located one credible witness to the helicopter activity near Crosby They also located other people that saw the UFO for as long as one-and-a-half hours before it burned Betty, Vicky, and Colby. In addition a policeman and sheriff’s deputy also vowed they too had seen the helicopters” 
(Note: The Crosby witness later refused to give a statement to the Army investigator. The two law officers seems to be a confused reference to Dayton policeman L.L. Walker whom Schuessler would not meet until May 25, 1982.)

The first mention of Gray Field and 100 helicopters:
"One significant helicopter operation took place at Gray Air Force Base near Killeen, Texas, where more than 100 helicopters came in from the field “for effect.”

It is interesting to see the case in its early form. Some things mentioned are later dropped from case coverage, other things that should have been mentioned are not. 
The lecture makes no mention of:
  • Bill English and APRO, who first reached the witnesses
  • Vickie’s alleged left hand burn 
  • Helicopter emblems or insignias reported by Betty Cash
  • Texas Department of Health investigation of radiation
  • Television filming with witnesses for "That's Incredible!"
  • Hypnosis sessions of Vickie Landrum by Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle
  • Lighter fluid smell reported under hypnosis by Vickie

Also, there is no mention of one of the most dramatic elements of the case, the burned road that was secretly removed and repaved. Other things are glossed over, such as determining the precise location of the sighting. all that is said is:
“Measurements taken during the post-sighting investigation showed their location to be about 130 feet from the strange craft.”

The Schuessler presentation was later printed in The Spectrum of UFO ResearchChicago: J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, 1988, Mimi Hynek, ed., now online at the CUFOS site.

But before that, John Schuessler sold it as an article to UFO Report magazine. The Winter 1981 
UFO Report  is an exact reprint of Schuessler's CUFOS material except for the addition of a closing paragraph promising to update magazine readers of further developments. Their title, however was a bit more lurid than Schuessler's original. Their cover stated:
Close Encounter Terror
Texas Family Suffers Near-Fatal Radiation Burns From 'Dazzling Saucer'

Inside the magazine they used the title: The Texas UFO Trauma

UFO Report, Winter 1981

Whatever you think about the case and its investigation, this is an important UFO historical document, one that all should read.

Link to UFO Report, Winter 1981 article in PDF, 5 pages, with photographs:
Medical Injuries Resulting from a UFO Encounter/The Texas UFO Trauma by John Schuessler

The PDF should be easier to read, but here's a look at the pages:


For collectors, the report was also later reprinted in the 1983 UFO Report Annual:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Project VISIT Takes a Case

"Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet." - Seneca

In 1976 John F. Schuessler founded the UFO study group, Project VISIT:
"Project VISIT (Vehicle Internal Systems Investigative Team) is a non profit corporation consisting of professional members, doctors, aerospace engineers and scientists as well as supporting members, such as secretaries, artists and news personnel. Houston area members of Project VISIT include, John F. Schuessler, Aerospace Engineer; Dave Kissinger, Chemical Engineer; Alan C. Holt, Astro Physicist; Granvil A. Pennington, Theoretical Physicist; Dr. Richard Niemtzow, M.D. , Radiation Oncology; Richard B. Caudell, Computer Systems Analyst; Gerald Johnson, Electrical Engineer; Don R. Tucker, Graphic Communication.  
Within the field of UFO study, the national organization has focused its efforts on the scientific and engineering study of the internal systems of Unidentified Space Vehicles (USV) and of the physiology of the beings which occupy these vehicles."

The group seems to have been founded on the principle that UFOs were structured craft of extraterrestrial origin, and they sought to apply their collective expertise to understanding the vehicles, their occupants, and also any physical effects produced by encountering them.

Project VISIT hosted the 1980 MUFON Symposium, where Dr. Niemtzow* gave a presentation based on the article below.
MUFON Journal May 1980 (pdf of full issue)

Project VISIT was primed to investigate an encounter of an extraterrestrial craft causing radiation injuries on witnesses, and all they needed was a fresh case to examine. On December 29, 1980, one occurred virtually in their back yard, less than 20 miles from Houston. Unfortunately, they didn't know about it.

Two months later, a reporter gave one of the witnesses a phone number. That phone call began the Cash-Landrum investigation by John Schuessler and Project VISIT.

Alan C. Holt of VISIT with Vickie Landrum

For more background, see "Project VISIT - An Approach To Determine What Are They?" by  L. David Kissinger and John F. Schuessler in  MUFON Journal July 1980

. . . 

* In the months between the MUFON Symposium and the beginning of the case, VISIT's resident Radiologist, Dr. Niemtzow moved away from the area and joined the Air Force as a physician. VISIT members felt he could not be trusted due to his association with the Air Force. They denied him access to case records and he was unable to participate in their investigation.

P.S. After taking the Cash-Landrum case, VISIT decided that it would be better if they were easier for witnesses to locate. They started circulating cards with their contact information.