Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Cash-Landrum Controversy: Witness or Investigator Culpability

A Belated Rush to Judgment 

Robert Sheaffer picked up on my story of the severe problems with John Schuessler's Cash-Landrum narrative due to the release of the files of the Texas Health department:
Between a Beer Joint and Some Kind of Highway Warning Sign: the "Classic" Cash-Landrum Case Unravels

Robert gives the matter some nice coverage, but unfortunately, he and many of the commenters posting there are losing focus. This information reflects on the integrity of the investigation, not the witnesses. The issue of whether the witnesses were genuine is important, but almost all we know about them comes from a single source, one that now seems questionable.

I keep struggling for an analogy- it's like a sketch artist at a murder trial coming back with pictures of unicorns. We weren't there, and his drawings aren't much help in sorting out the facts.


Accusations of Self-inflicted Injuries

Some folks are now ready to just dismiss the entire case as hoax and throw the witnesses under the bus. One poster was particularly nasty. Knowledgable, but full of condescending derision, kind of like a skeptical Jerome Clark. Here's one of his gems:
Each and every aspect of this fairy tale spells hoax. It's almost a grab bag of hackneyed "UFO" narrative tropes: a remote location at night; the "UFO" is blocking the road; it remotely kills the car ignition; it emits intense light and heat; the witness(es) suffer burns, suggested to be caused by radiation in this case; and promised by Vickie but not appearing is the benevolent Jesus—who would have communicated his scientific and humanitarian concerns much like the Pleiadians; the craft appears to be in trouble or pilot is making repairs; and (as with Maury Island Hoax) other associated aircraft are aiding the distressed.
And even though Betty claimed she had no interest in "UFOs," this PSH skeptic knows that very few are immune to prevailing cultural delusions. Betty and Vickie carried all the current "UFO" myth baggage as every other American bombarded by the images and themes of nuclear radiation, aerospace and black operations, and government conspiracies—if only through cultural osmosis. No one concocts a narrative so utterly saturated with "UFO" tropes without hearing more than just a few "UFO" stories. Betty's hoax is so obvious because its plot is contrary to the way that humans actually behave and in its details—idiotic lies—that expose it.
Betty was a good-ol' East Texas 50 year-old glorified night-shift waitress looking for attention and money, and stupid enough to make up a wild "UFO" story and paint herself with Clorox or pool acid and drink it as well in order to sell her hoax.
Compare with Maury Island; Hill Abduction; Falcon Lake; and dozens of others.
So full of errors and character assassination, it's beyond repair, but I'll comment on a few points.

 True, the individual elements of the sighting are familiar as I've noted here before, you can almost pull and assemble them from scenes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The witnesses however never made any ET connection to their claims. They assumed it was connected to a military project.

Vickie's comments to Colby about Jesus coming out of the light was born out her belief that they were witnessing the second coming. It had nothing to do with an ET Savior, just the frightening light, flames and strangeness of the event. If you want to find something suspect in her behavior, in some accounts she says that she merely said that to Colby to reassure him.

A kinder, gentler skeptic?
I believe Dr. Gary Posner was the first to suggest the possibility that the witnesses injuries were self-inflicted, but he was a lot more civil doing so. I think the scenario is unlikely. Phil Klass had a more plausible explanation for the creation of a hoax: Betty Cash's problems were real, she was faced with massive medical bills that she could not afford and the hoax was crafted to somehow solve the financial crisis. Klass did not account for the alleged injures to Vickie and Colby, but those were less severe and largely undocumented. They may have been exaggerated to support Betty's story. If we are going to level accusations of self-inflicted injuries it is more plausible that the other two witnesses engaged in it to help sell the story.  Still, making accusations like these without any evidence is unscientific and ungentlemanly.

Witness Credibility 

As I told Robert Sheaffer,
This document can only prove that the investigator was unreliable. The credibility of the witnesses is a separate issue.
The Cash-Landrum witnesses
I can provide a fairly lengthy list of reasonable people who felt that the witnesses were credible. Also, their behavior afterwards is not consistent with UFO hoaxers. The phonies usually place themselves at the center stage of a story, not as bystanders. Most hoaxers continue to seek the spotlight and often have multiple adventures or at least recover new memories to embellish their grand adventure. While the witnesses did participate in several television programs discussing their case, they did not engage in the UFO conference circuit like- well almost everyone else.

Robert has always doubted the case and is ready to Klassify the whole incident as a hoax. As yet, I am unwilling to level that accusation at the witnesses. The inconsistencies in their statements are no greater than this found in conventional eyewitness cases. Later, some faulty associations and emotional hyperbole did creep in (such as the mystery road repaving) but on the whole their story holds up as consistent over the years without further embellishments. I hold out for the possibility there was some kind of genuine experience at the root of the story.

The investigation of the story is another matter, to me. Whether the investigation and the reporting of the events was accurate and honest is in a way the most important issue.

I'm willing to give the witnesses the benefit of a doubt.

As always, comments are welcome.

C. 2013 Curtis L. Collins

Friday, November 15, 2013

John B. Alexander on the DAIG Investigation of the Cash-Landrum UFO Incident

Due to the publicity from television coverage of the Cash-Landrum story (on That’s Incredible!), Oregon Representative Ron Wyden launched an inquiry as to whether U.S. helicopters were involved in the incident. Initially the investigation was conducted by Captain Virginia (Ginny) Lampley of the Air Force. Within a short time, it was clear that the helicopters described in the incident were not Air Force, but matched Army equipment. The Army was given the investigation and the Department of the Army's Inspector General’s office assigned the task to Lt. Col. George C. Sarran. 

CH-47 Army Helicopter

In his investigation, Sarran checked with all bases within range operating helicopters. The incident was said to involve 23 helicopters, but Sarran accounted for emotional exaggeration and was looking for far fewer.

His specific mission was to find if military helicopters were involved, He was not sanctioned to investigate the UFO incident itself, but he felt he must give it some consideration in order to understand what happened and find the source of the helicopters.

Sarran's notes: Telecon with Schuessler
Sarran's notes are not dated, but they show he contacted a number of individuals to consult on the case
Dr. Peter Rank (Radiologist, medical consultant to MUFON, FUFOR).
Dr. Richard C. Niemtzow (Radiation Oncologist, kicked out of VISIT when he joined the Air Force, as they felt he could not be trusted. MUFON medical consultant).
John F. Schuessler (codename Snowbird).

Not mentioned in his notes are two other individuals with a UFO interest who are said to have been consulted,
Lt. Col. John B. Alexander, US Army
Captain Paul Tyler, M.D. USN.

Sarran flew to Houston and spoke with Schuessler and the following people:
Pilot (Culberson)
Vickie Landrum
Betty Cash (by telephone)
L.L. Walker and his wife Marie (helicopter witnesses.
Another alleged helicopter witness refused to be interviewed, a petrochemical executive from Crosby.
Sarran also visited the local military facilities, but found no trace of their involvement in the incident.

Sarran reported negative involvement of U.S. helicopters, but reported that the witnesses were credible. Parts of four lines were redacted when the report was released via a FOIA request.

Sarran's DAIG UFO/Helicopter Report

This was the only (known) official investigation into the incident.

Download PDF: Lt. Col. George C. Sarran’s DAIG report and some related memos

John B. Alexander was Involved

John Alexander's bio from Military Review, Dec. 1980
In his book, UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities , John B. Alexander discussed the Cash-Landrum case and his involvement in the DAIG investigation by Lt. Col. Sarran. Summarized fairly well in this excerpt from a 2010 interview with Jim Schabel that appeared in the Fortean Times' site: Paranormal Soldier: John Alexander: From Special Services to spoon-benders and UFOs

JS: I understand that, in addition to all the unusual things you did while at INSCOM, you looked in on a famous UFO incident – the Cash Landrum case .

JA: What happened with Cash Landrum is that the Air Force got sued. The witnesses said that they had seen helicopters with the UFO. But their description matched CH-47 helicopt­ers, which are Army. So the case got thrown to the Army, and it ended up at the Army IG where I had worked. A lieutenant colonel at IG by the name of George Sarran got the case. Previously, I had worked with George on other, regular investigations. And he basically called and said, “Help! What is this?”

There were three of us that really got involved. A Navy captain, Paul Tyler, who was an MD, and a guy by the name of Richard Niemtzow, an Air Force MD.

And George just had us come in, look at the material and talk to the witnesses. He had done a really thorough job. But all we came up with was, WTF? We had no idea what this was. And what eventually happened was that the lawsuit was dismissed, because there didn’t appear to be a causal relationship between the US government and the incident. Which is probably true, though the case really was a major mystery. 

John B. Alexander

Further Questions and Answers

I emailed Dr. John B. Alexander about a few things related to the case and his participation.
(The below is stitched together from three different emails. Thanks to Dr. Alexander for allowing me to reproduce it)

Q: Looking back at the report and memos, I see that only the radiologists Dr.s Rank and Niemtzow were named, (you) and Captain Tyler were not mentioned. 
JA: To begin with I'm reaching back over 30 years so I'm sure some details have slipped but I wrote about what I did remember in UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities.  I do remember the meeting with George that included MDs Niemtzow and Tyler.  I know there were only four of us including George and I don't recall Rank at all.  I would categorize the meeting as informal and part of Sarran's efforts to try and come to grips with a situation that did not make sense.  
As a side issue, yesterday I got an email from (Billy) Cox that stated this was Sarran's first investigation and therefore he might have been inexperienced.  That is total nonsense.  While I had left DAIG for INSCOM, I had worked with George on other investigations long before this one. It also stated that security clearances were a problem.  They were not.

Q: Do you remember (or have an educated guess as to) what was said in the four redacted lines in the Sarran DAIG report?
JA: I could only guess at what he wrote.  Remember I was only informally asked about the information, not integrally involved in the details or privy to them.  I do remember being impressed with the amount of work that George had done.  Most of the IGs I knew would have farted this off rather quickly.  He didn't, probably because of the impending lawsuit. It was surprising to me that he had even investigate helicopters from other services as well as what the oil industry might have put together.  That was well beyond what he would be required to do in his charter, but does speak to the thoroughness of his investigation. 

 Best guess is that it mentions a person, possibly a civilian, that was not known to others at the time the report was released.  I do note his following statement about the witnesses being "cooperative and helpful."  Note it is unusual that the report was released at all.  At that time all IG reports were exempt from FOIA.

Q: What about? The precursors to the Night Stalkers, Special Forces Task Force 158 (later 160) and their secret training for a second rescue attempt of the American hostages in Iran?
JA: As for TF 160, they were known to us, and George specifically checked them out.  They were eliminated quite quickly. Besides, any such preparation would not have been conducted close to a major metropolitan area.  If your supposition was true about a second rescue, that would have been done at the infamous Area 51 where the conditions area about the same as in Iran.
Gratuitous pic of spooky helicopter

Would like to hear what you come up with as well.  As far as I know, we had nothing that would produce the kind of radiation illness that followed.  My view was that given speed of onset and severity of symptoms, they should have been at LD 100 (at least the two women) from any radiation source that we had.
Q: (After sending Dr. Alexander declassified DoD documents about TF 158/160 1980 exercises) Could the incident have been a military exercise accidentally exposing the witnesses to a chemical agent?  
JA: While I was on the periphery of this, I do remember George saying he had checked with TF 160 and eliminated them.  You have obviously done a lot of research and I'd love to see more of the material from TF 160 if you have it.  The closest area mentioned is Lubbock, and that is a hell of a long way from Houston and no indication they were there in late December.  Maybe other documents are more precise.  In addition, while hooks were specifically indicated, there were other types of helicopters spotted.  According to what you provided, the birds were split up for training purposes and only the Little Birds mentioned as being anywhere close (if you consider MS close to Houston), and for a two week period at that.

I don't understand the part about Schuessler providing the medical records.  I thought they came from direct sources as a result of the official investigation (not the IG one).  I'm still in contact with Paul and another doctor (not previously mentioned) who I believe both saw the medical records.

As for the other hypothesis (TF-160 & chemicals etc)  that seems even more complex and unlikely that the original UFO one.  Would love to see any supporting data. Or tell me where it is located.
Appreciate your interest.  I too would like to find an answer to this case.  As stated in my book, I am 100 percent sure it happened. However, it defies explanation and the simple "experimental aircraft gone bad" does not fit for all the reasons I listed.

. . .

(Note: I was unable to find any further material of substance on the TF 160 scenario.)

See this related post:

How George Sarran’s notes were twisted into a cover-up conspiracy theory.

Cash-Landrum UFO Case: The Legend of the Scorched Road

The Evolution of a Legend

The first road description in the Cash-Landrum case:

“Measurements taken during the post-sighting investigation showed their location to be about 130 feet from the strange craft.” CUFOS Symposium, Sept. 1981Schuessler, John F. 1988. Medical Injuries Resulting from a UFO Encounter. Mimi Hynek, ed. The Spectrum of UFO Research
A more thorough description: 
“Following the in-home interviews, Vickie took Holt and Schuessler to the scene of the sighting. It was at this time that she did the first timed walk-through of the event. Fairly accurate notes on the location of the incident, UFO and helicopters were taken. The route was retraced and  statements about the activity were recorded. A step-by-step account of the helicopter encounter was made, noting where they were first seen, where they were reengaged, counted, and last seen. 

The scene was revisited a number of times with Vickie, Vickie and Colby, and with all three victims. Other investigators were involved also. Some were with newspapers, others with television productions. John Schuessler participated in most of these excursions. Each time data was recorded and photographs taken.” 
Schuessler, John F., MUFON UFO Journal September 1983, pg. 4.
A Bad Stretch of Road: FM 1485

First printed claim of a burned road:

“As it neared the ground a huge cone of flames belched downward searing the macadam surface of the road.” Schuessler, John F. 1986, "Cash-Landrum UFO Case File: The Issue of Government Responsibility," MUFON 1986 UFO Symposium.

In the newspaper:

Another quirk was the unexplained repair of a melted spot in the road where the incident occurred, Schuessler said." I have photographs of a 15- to 25-foot area where even the center stripe was wiggly," he said. A year later, he said, the spot had been resurfaced. Schuessler said county officials denied any knowledge of the repair. "Twice Burned, Not Shy: Stung By Radiation, Ridicule, Trio Stick To UFO Story," Houston Chronicle September 15, 1991, by Cindy Horswell.

As Seen on TV:

John Schuessler on Unsolved Mysteries, February 6, 1991.
“They were able to tell us exactly where along the road that they stopped, because there were certain markers that identified the spot. They were able to point out exactly what they saw-- the object coming down out of the sky, over the road, and hovering there. They were able to point out a spot on the road that indicated that it had been heated to an extreme level of heating. It was burned, and it was very clear to the naked eye. Several weeks after we went to the spot and saw this burned area, someone came along, dug up the road and hauled it away and replaced it with new asphalt. Some of the witnesses that watched this happen said that people brought in unmarked trucks, dug up the road, put the material on the trucks, covered it with a tarpaulin, and drove away.” 
Dramatization of Schuessler's story by Unsolved Mysteries

No Marks on the Road

Allan Hendry's FUFOR report from April 1981 summarized Schuessler's original report and included information with independent interviews with the primary witnesses. Hendry wrote:

Flames intermittently “whooshed” down towards the road; later examination showed no marks on the pavement.


Television again, 2009:

Colby Landrum: My grandmother told me this is the section from about here about 135 feet in back, and they stripped the pavement from about this point to 135 foot back towards in on the road.”

 Where did this information come from?

“Well, I had heard from different sources. Somebody had told me it was black, unmarked trucks that come in here and actually stripped it. It should throw a red flag up to somebody.”
UFO Hunters, "Alien Fallout" episode aired January 14, 2009.

The road replacement episode sounds like a local legend that somehow crept into case records because the primary case witnesses believed the story and repeated them. The claims of the scorched road seem to appear only after the road was repaved.

I'm working on fully documenting the road story, but here's a rough timeline: 
12/29/1980 UFO Incident on a worn 2-lane country road
2/28/1981 General area of the road examined, photographed. No UFO damage to road in report.
7/11/1981 Recreation of the scene on original road for That's Incredible!
6/16/1982 Recreation of the scene on original road for The UFO Experience.
7/2/1982 MUFON Symposium: road repair 1st mentioned, with claim UFO scorched pavement
12/5/1983 Billy Cox, (Florida) Today visited the scene, “One lane wears a new coat of asphalt.”

APRO Bulletin Sept. 1982, with Schuessler notes. He first hears of repaving

Yes, the road was repaired, but not immediately, and due to ordinary maintenance. It seems to have happened about a year and a half later after the UFO incident, during a period of expansion and construction, when convenience stores and apartments started being built in the area.

The disclosure by Schuessler to the Texas Department of Health (during an investigation at the request of Vickie Landrum) that the witnesses could not identify the sighting location is very difficult to reconcile with his later claims. The legend of the road replacement comes so much later than the events, it would seem to have no legitimate bearing on the case.

More about the road from someone who should know:

Alan Holt participated in Schuessler's first visit to the scene, and is the only other VISIT member who wrote anything about the case. 

Holt lectured at the Second CUFOS Conference held September 25-27, 1981, on "UFO Maneuvers and Radiation." (Later printed in The Spectrum of UFO Research, 1988.) A portion described the Cash-Landrum case:
Vickie and Colby Landrum, Betty Cash traveling isolated road near Dayton, Tex, December 29, 1980 Diamond-shaped UFO emitting a plasma-like flame from the bottom blocked the road. Object rose (flame emission stopped) and was surrounded by 15 double  and single rotor helicopters which “escorted” the object as it moved toward the southwest. UFO and helicopters were observed two more times by the witnesses. UFO and helicopters were noted by additional witnesses
Maneuvers Observed
Hovering with emissions of plasma pulse moving up and down (propulsive-like effects), beeping sounds
Descended and ascended at a slow rate

Radiation Effects
Very intense white light covering or lighting up large area (while hovering)
Intensity substantially decreased while moving
Rose-colored, flame-like plumes emitted from bottom of diamond
Car door handles heated beyond touch temperature
Car’s interior atmosphere heated
Car dash heated sufficiently to leave permanent marks with pressure
Observers suffered effects similar to nuclear/microwave radiation
The above is from the same conference where Schuessler first presented the case. Alan Holt's description of  the UFO's physical behaviors and effects make no mention of burns to the scene. 

C. 2013, Curtis L. Collins

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Betty Cash’s Medical Records

My posting of information on the Cash-Landrum case files of the Texas Department of Health exposed some fundamental problems in the case. Unfortunately, much of the conversation is focussed on old controversy about the case, chiefly the secrecy surrounding the medical files. 

I’d hoped to gather more information and present a thorough analysis, but given the renewed interest, have released the files below,  to share with other researchers. The medical files themselves are unavailable, but we have the next best thing,  analysis by a radiologist of Betty Cash's hospital records.

There are two key treasures in the following files:

The report of Allan Hendry of CUFOS. He was hired to seek the source of the helicopters, but in doing so, interviewed the witnesses and made a few discoveries of his own.
“Uninformed about the UFO, Dr. Shenoy called in specialists who couldn’t explain the swelling, burns or hair loss. All tests performed (white blood cell counts, eye examination, skin tests, a biopsy, etc.) showed nothing.”

Betty Cash’s Medical Records Summary provided by Radiologist Dr. Peter Rank.
This may be the closest we get to seeing the records themselves. A few surprises, including that a hospital examination of Betty Cash was approved for funding by the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR), but never took place.

Cash-Landrum Case Files (Opens PDF in new window)

 Table of Contents

1 VISIT memo: R. Niemetzow called J. Schuessler 7/5/1981 (1 page)

2 VISIT memo: Bill Shead & John Schuessler met with Betty Cash & Vickie Landrum 8/23/1981 (1 page) 

3-7 Peter Rank, M.D. letter to John Schuessler  ("complete summary report" of medical data) 4/29/1981 (5 pages)

8-18 A Preliminary Report on the Cash/Landrum New Caney CEII Case by Allan Hendry for the Fund for UFO Research undated (but contemporary to Rank letter) (11 pages w/cover)

19-20 National Enquirer clipping "UFO Terrorizes and Burns Three in Car" 8/11/1981 (2 pages) 

21-31 VISIT Investigator's Notes Summary: Investigation by U.S. Army Inspector General 5/9/1982 (11 pages w/ cover)

32-35 VISIT Investigator's Notes Summary: Interview with John Plaster, Huffman Helicopter witness  9/25/1982 (4 pages w/ cover)

C. 2013, Curtis L. Collins

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Cash-Landrum Incident: The Suppressed Case Files

C. 2013 by Curtis L. Collins

     The physical evidence in the Cash-Landrum UFO incident is much of what makes it such a compelling and enduring case. Another key factor is the reputation and expertise of the case’s chief investigator John F. Schuessler who had the difficult jobs of seeking evidence, promoting the case and protecting the witnesses. The medical records have been long protected by Schuessler, citing the privacy of the witnesses as reason for withholding them. What is less widely known, is that there was other case evidence that Schuessler chose not to share. Part of that evidence, a previously unknown government UFO file will be made publicly available here for the first time.

Complaint C-12, Cash-Landrum file from the Texas Dept. of Health

     In the summer of 1981, Schuessler was busy preparing a presentation on the case for the September Center for UFO Studies symposium. Meanwhile, Vickie Landrum and Betty Cash were working on the case themselves. In late July 1981, it seemed their efforts were beginning to show results. Senator Lloyd Bentsen replied by letter to Betty, advising her to contact Bergstrom Air Force Base to file a report and claim for damages, stating that “...they will be most willing to assist you in any way possible.” Betty took a flight to Texas, and together with Vickie and Colby, made the long drive to Austin to visit the base. On August 17, 1981 they finally came face to face with Government officers. Their hopes and expectations were high, perhaps unrealistically so, due to the effusive tone of the letter. Base officials merely questioned them about the events, then explained that the Air Force no longer investigated UFO cases. The witnesses were told there was nothing the Air Force could do beyond providing them with damage claim forms. They were profoundly disappointed, and it proved to be just one event in a long series of false hopes.

Some news clippings set the stage for the report:
Before leaving Austin that day, the three paid an unscheduled visit to their state representative - Larry Browder, D-Coldspring. Browder was out, but an aide was alarmed enough to take notes. She promised to do what she could. Trace Effects: The Cash-Landrum Incident by Billy Cox Florida Today 12/6/83

Corpus Christi Caller, Sept. 16, 1981
At the request of state Rep. Larry Browder, D-Coldspring, the Texas Department of Health’s Bureau of Radiation Control is investigating the Dayton incident.
“We came into this thing fairly late in the game,” said Russ Meyer, manager of the state’s public health department in Houston.
On Sept 16, he drove the stretch of road where the sighting is supposed to have occurred. His radiation detection equipment did not find any traces of remnant radiation in the area. He also took soil samples, but their testing of them is not complete yet.
“If there had been radioactive contamination in large amounts, some would still be left there,” he said. However, he said certain types of radiation - such as ultraviolet light, infrared light and low-energy X-rays - might not leave any residual traces.
Meyer has recommended that the trio’s medical records be reviewed by the state health  department’s medical advisory board. Specialists he said, could differentiate between radiation and symptoms that could be attributed to such things as chemical toxins. 
-The Houston Chronicle, TX, Sept 25, 1981 State, private agencies probing claims of UFO encounter by Cindy Horswell
Reporter Billy Cox later questioned Meyer about the investigation: 
Department chief Russ Meyer, spent a whole day - Sept 16- scouring a 10-mile stretch of open highway between Huffman and New Caney. “Our major purpose was to verify the presence of radioactive trace effects, but we found no evidence of that. The only conclusion we could draw was that there was no residual radioactive material in the area at the time. If those people suffered radiation contamination in that area, it must have had a short half-life.”-Trace Effects: The Cash-Landrum Incident by Billy Cox Florida Today  12/6/83
Meyer apparently felt the witnesses were credible:
“I have no doubt those women saw something,” he said. “But as to whether they were zapped with radiation, I don’t know. They could have been exposed without there being any residual trace long the road.”-The Courier Conroe TX, Oct. 30, 1983 6A UFO victims plan to file $20 million suit by Cathy Gordon
     The events springing from August 17, 1981 trip to Austin and the information that came from it were apparently not pleasing to John Schuessler, who downplayed their significance and  concealed the information and reports produced. Schuessler said of the the Bergstrom interview “It revealed revealed nothing new” (MUFON Journal Oct. 1982), but examination of it reveals some witness statements that contradict Schuessler’s version of the story. Instead he claims that the meeting was a failure, another act of US Government refusing to help the victims. In reality, the advice and damage claims forms obtained at that meeting led to the filing of legal case, and the publicity given to the witnesses allowed their story to be heard by the public.

     The other witness meeting with Government representatives on August. 17 led to an investigation by the Texas Department of Health’s Bureau of Radiation Control. The TDH report revealed that there was no residual radiation found along the road, but they were not dismissing the case. They made an important offer: they were interested in continuing the investigation, starting with their doctors examining the medical records. There is no documentation of it in the TDH files, but Schuessler refused or ignored the State’s offer to help the witnesses.

Internal TDH memo repeating report desire of examining witnesses' medical files. Denied.

     There is another piece of information in the TDH report that was incidental in their investigation, but has immense significance to the UFO case history. Charles Russ Meyer began his TDH investigation by contacting Vickie Landrum on September 2, 1981. She gave him a brief description of events and suggested he contact John F. Schuessler, for further details. Meyer and two TDH associates met with Schuessler September 10th. Schuessler provided them with a detailed account of the events and the medical treatment given to Betty Cash. Meyer needed to start his investigation with examining the scene for traces of radioactivity. he asked Schuessler about the location. From the report:

“I then asked Mr. Schuessler if he had pin-pointed the location of the siting. Mr. Schuessler stated that due to the late hour and the ladies’ emotional state they could only state that they believed they saw the object on the straight portion of FR 1485 between a beer joint and some kind of highway warning sign.”

     The discrepancy between what Schuessler reported to the TDH team and what Schuessler said about the location in his UFO reports is troubling. When discussing the case, Schuessler told how the witnesses were able to return to the precise location, and that the scene contained some identifiable, distinct features:
It is interesting to note, that although neither Vickie or Betty had been back to the site since the incident, they both were able to take us to nearly the exact same location. The separate site visits verify the location of the incident for us.”  -The Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, page 54
“They were able to point out a spot on the road that indicated that it had been heated to an extreme level of heating. It was burned, and it was very clear to the naked eye.”-Unsolved Mysteries (NBC) February 6, 1991
“We had a very large flying machine that that came over the road that actually left marks on the road, so you know where it was exactly.”   -Sightings (Sci-Fi Channel TV Series): “Physical Effects” July 31, 1992
     Betty Cash was interviewed by telephone by UFO researcher Chris Lambright on July 12, 1985 while the legal case was still brewing. Lambright asked her about the sighting location, and she replied, “I have only been back on that road twice. And I have no desire to ever go back on it again.”

     Betty moved to Alabama shortly after her initial meeting with Schuessler and she was not available for field investigations. There were two filmed on-site recreations of the event that Betty Cash participated in, one for “That’s Incredible!” in July 1981, and another for “The UFO Experience” in 1983. Schuessler participated in these productions, so it is possible that his later claims of her identifying the location stem from these media events. It was Vickie Landrum and her grandson Colby that accompanied Schuessler on the attempt to find the sighting location.  Photos were taken at the general area, later to be said to be the precise location.

Schuessler photograph showing alleged UFO sighting location.

     The Meyer report documenting that Schuessler and the witnesses not knowing the precise sighting location does answer some troubling questions. Now we can understand why there are no photographs of a scorched road or trees, and why soil/pavement samples were never presented as evidence. The claim that the sighting location was found and investigated was the foundation of his case. If this claim was false or inaccurate, the entire case is tainted. It raises other questions about how evidence was presented and just how much of it can be verified.

 The Texas Department of Health (TDH) Bureau of Radiation Control file can be viewed in full as a PDF at the link below.

 Texas Department of Health file: Complaint C-12
Table of Contents
(Note: Files not in order, presented as scanned by the TDH. 
Pages 1-8 are inferior duplications. Better copies presented later in the file.)

1-3 Russ Meyer report 9/17/1981 (inferior copy- see better one on page 17)

4-8 Newspaper clipping 9/29/1985 Austin American Statesman ‘U.S. test gone wild’ brings suit by John Kelso (Note better copy on page 33)

9-10 TDH Memo: “contact with News Media” 9/12/1985

11-15 Soil sample reports (Note: some apparently included in error from unrelated cases.) 

16 “Complaint C-12” file cover? photo of FM-1485

17-19 Russ Meyer report 9/17/1981: “Citizen request about possible exposure to radiation”

20 Memo 10/1/1981 “access to the medical records” “DMC” - David M, Cochran

21 Memo 10/9/1981 from George R. Anderson M.D. seeking medical records

22-23 Report from David K. Lacker “Legislative Contact, Bureau of Radiation Control”

24 Notes from Randy Cosson, aide to Rep. Browder on meeting Vickie Landrum

25-32 Newspaper clippings The Conroe Courier 2/22/1981, 2/23/1981

33-36 Newspaper clipping 9/29/1985 Austin American Statesman 

UPDATE: Schuessler's Memo of the TDH Meeting

    In the appendix of John F. Schuessler's The Cash Landrum UFO Incident, he reproduces a VISIT  memo documenting his meeting with TDH officials. This doesn't answer the questions about the location controversy, but it may provides some insight into why the State's offer of medical help was refused.

Subject/Purpose Cash/Landrum Case 9/10/81J. Schuessler met with Russ Meyer, G. Freeland, M. Vredenburg of the Radiation Control Branch of the Texas Dept. of Health per V. Landrum request
Discussions/Comments (Info. Obtained, Conclusions)1. State Representative Browder requested the above noted group to look into the case , as the result of Betty Cash & Vickie Landrum visiting his office in August.  Russ Meyer is a Regional Inspector and acted as spokesman for the group. 
2. I gave them any an overview of the incident and the injuries. They were quite interested, but said they couldn't prove whether or not radiation had been present. This type of case is not their normal job. They would like to have a doctor tell them whether or not his opinion is radiation this case. They would report that opinion back to the representative in Austin. It would then be up to him to pursue the source, type, responsibility, etc.    They could send a report to the state Medical Advisory board or but it only meets once a year. They felt they would live, since they are now alive. 
Action Required  They will look at Betty's hospital records if she wants to give permission. They suggested going to Dr. Vince Collins,  Rosewood Hospital, for his opinion on the case.

(Dr. Vincent Collins was a prominent radiologist in Houston.)  

C. 2013 Curtis L. Collins

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.