When you hear about an extraordinary event, it’s worth focusing on one thing first — did the event actually happen? Ensuring that something truly occurred is pretty much step one when it comes to fact-checking, well, anything.
Sometimes, there might be hard evidence, but if you’ve watched a lot of cop shows, you know that a lot of cases involve eyewitnesses. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously flimsy, so checking into a witness’ credibility is a good first step. Is the person known for being dishonest, or a frequent user of illicit substances? If so, the witness might have a credibility issue.
But what happens when the eyewitnesses involved are people trained to be observant, such as police officers, soldiers, and other authorities? What if those officials actually document what they witnessed? It may not be hard proof, but sometimes official documentation can make an unbelievable event just a little more interesting.
Gary, Ind., police have firsthand accounts from Zak Bagans' Demon House
In 2014, reports emerged from Gary, Ind., about the Ammons family, who claimed to be experiencing supernatural events in their home. Latoya Ammons, along with her mother and three children, reported that for several years they had been dealing with unexplained things, from footsteps in the basement to shadowy figures pacing their living room. The reported events were so intense that ghost hunter Zak Bagans purchased the house after the Ammons left and made a documentary film, Demon House, about the case and his own alleged experiences in the house.
At one point during the hauntings, the family saw their physician and described what was going on. He assumed they were delusional, and someone from his office tipped off the police, who showed up to do a wellness check on the Ammons. This actually made things even weirder, as Gary Police Capt. Charles Austin visited the house and was quickly convinced the family was telling the truth. Not only that, but a social worker from the Indiana Department of Child Services wrote in her own report that she saw one of the Ammons children walk backwards up a wall, according to The Independent.
After Bagans finished his documentary about the haunting, he had the house demolished, so it can no longer be physically examined. But having two firsthand accounts from authorities who investigated the events is obviously a pretty unusual state of affairs.
The Navy captured video of flying objects they can't explain
It’s a classic X-Files plot: The government has evidence of UFOs, but they cover it up for nefarious reasons. Heck, the United States government did keep secret records of UFOs for decades in programs such as Project Blue Book. But 2020 was a wild year, so the U.S. Navy decided to publicly put out three videos of literal unidentified flying objects that they had been sitting on since earlier in the 2010s.
And in a twist not even Fox Mulder could predict, these declassified videos were released thanks to pressure from unexpected sources — a UFO organization founded by former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge and a Freedom of Information request filed by, of all things, a car blog called The Drive, according to CNN.
The videos appear to show several small objects moving rapidly through the air on thermal cameras, along with reactions from pilots who witnessed the events. While it’s not clear just what the videos show, it is possible that they’re some sort of drone aircraft of a terrestrial nature, as the objects were estimated to be “approximately the size of a suitcase.” Even if they were drones, it’s not clear who they belonged to and who was piloting them. Perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation, or perhaps they’re tiny aliens flying suitcase-sized spacecraft, which honestly sounds pretty dang adorable.
A New Mexico police officer encountered a UFO
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to assume that police deal with at least a few wacky callers claiming aliens came and stole their lawnmower on occasion. Once again, credibility is a big issue. If a guy who hangs out at the bar all night reports seeing something unusual, maybe taking him at his word isn’t the best idea.
But on April 24, 1964, the witness who told police about a UFO in Socorro, N. M., was a police officer himself. Officer Lonnie Zamora was on duty when he spotted something strange in the sky at around 5:45 p.m. in the evening. What he saw, according to Visit Socorro, was an “egg-shaped” craft with a blue-colored flame making a loud roar landing nearby.
Zamora went to the spot where the craft appeared to land and radioed in for assistance, then approached the object. As he got closer, Zamora noticed that it had some sort of landing gear and a strange red symbol on its side. Zamora didn’t recognize it but was able to draw it from memory later. Then, the blue flame and roar came back and the craft launched into the air again, burning the ground when it took off. Not only did Zamora claim to see the craft firsthand, but other eyewitnesses also came forward with similar accounts.
A mysterious voice led cops to a baby in danger
Typically, if you hear a voice saying something but no one’s around, it’s safe to assume you’re just hearing stuff. But what if multiple people hear it too? This is what happened in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 10, 2015. After police officers found a car overturned in icy waters, they didn’t suspect anyone inside had survived, according to ABC News. After all, by their estimates, the car had been there about 13 hours, and it looked to have been in a pretty bad accident.
But the three officers and two firefighters who went to check the car heard something chilling — an adult, female voice saying, “Help me.” Assuming that someone in the car was still alive, the men righted the vehicle quickly and set to extracting the survivor. What they found was not what they expected however.
The driver, Jennifer Groesbeck, looked to have been dead for quite a while, probably since the impact. The only other passenger was her 18-month-old daughter in the car’s back seat. She had survived the accident and hung upside-down over freezing water for 13 hours. The rescuers removed the child from the car, and she was sent to a hospital, where she recovered. Despite multiple officials and onlookers on a nearby bridge hearing a woman’s voice, they were unable to determine where it came from.
Spontaneous human combustion is real (sort of)
Of all the ways to leave this world, burning has got to be one of the worst. While thousands of people tragically die every year to fire, there are a handful of cases throughout history where people burned to death, and no one really sure how it happened.
This is often referred to as spontaneous human combustion (SHC), according to HowStuffWorks. These are cases where a person burned in a fire with no definitive outside source. In some instances, the fires have been so hot that not even bones were left, and yet the surroundings of the deceased person showed little to no fire damage. SHC has yet to be proven to exist beyond a doubt, but there are definitely official reports of people who burned to death in unusual ways, such as Dr. J. Irving Bentley, who, in 1966, was found burned to death with minimal damage to his home. His leg and foot survived the blaze that killed him.
Naturally, there are theories that don’t involve people mysteriously bursting into flames. The wick effect, whereby a human’s clothes burn from an ordinary source like a forgotten cigarette and the body’s fat acts like candle wax, is a popular explanation. But even this idea continues to be investigated. While SHC is “real” in the sense that there are actual cases out there that remain unexplained, it’s not known how spontaneous the combustion actually is.
West Point Academy is full of ghost stories
The U.S. Military Academy, better known as West Point, has trained soldiers for over two centuries and is even a national landmark. The school trains would-be military officers and is full of cadets and the staff who work there. These are people trained to be observant and aware of what’s going on around them. So it’s kinda bananas that West Point Academy is very frequently reported to be haunted.
The school had one particularly famous ghost back in the 1970s that attracted worldwide attention — an apparition of what appeared to be a 19th century cavalry soldier. Sightings of the spirit rippled through the cadets after an on-campus talk by Ed and Lorraine Warren, most famous for their fictionalized selves in The Conjuring movies. According to the New York Times, instructors at the academy ended up needing to close off the room where the sightings occurred, because the ghost was distracting the cadets from their studies.
This is far from the only spirit roaming the halls of the academy, though. As noted on the U.S. Army’s own website, there are numerous other stories of paranormal encounters that cadets and instructors have come across, such as The Lady, said to be the spirit of a sickly woman whose husband carried on an affair with the woman’s mother. Supposedly, The Lady even has some poltergeist-type tendencies, like throwing things around or flipping them over.
A police officer was the first outsider to encounter the Enfield Poltergeist
Speaking of Ed and Lorraine Warren, you might be familiar with their investigation into the Enfield Poltergeist in London, England, if you’ve seen The Conjuring 2. But while the movie is highly sensationalized to make it more enjoyable, the filmmakers still left out one of the most interesting encounters with the supposed entity.
The Warrens weren’t the first people that witness Peggy Hodgson called. According to the BBC, the family’s neighbor, Vic Nottingham, came over on Aug. 31, 1977, after Hodgson saw a dressing table move in her daughters’ room. While Nottingham didn’t see anything, he heard knocking all over the house and offered to call the police.
A police constable named Carolyn Heeps arrived at the scene and spoke to Hodgson in her kitchen. While there, the constable attested that she saw something quite eerie — a chair that lifted a half-inch off the ground, then slid across the kitchen “three-and-a-half to four feet before it came to rest.” Unfortunately, constables aren’t equipped to deal with hauntings, so the police weren’t able to offer much help, leading to the family going to the media instead. And the rest is history. For months after that, several journalists and paranormal researchers also claimed to witness supernatural events in the home, but it seems there are no other publicly reported visits from the police or government.
A psychic CIA secretary found a missing plane
Say you lost your keys. You’ve looked everywhere for them but had no luck. Then, your friend says, “I can sense the keys, and they’re in a cold place.” You open your fridge and there they are, right next to the butter. This is a simplified example of the alleged phenomenon of remote viewing. Basically, it’s the ability to see or otherwise gather information about a subject that is not possible for one to actually observe.
While this could be helpful for everyday life, should it be proven to exist, the military has long been interested in remote viewing for strategic purposes. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the government had sunk a lot of time and money into studying potential applications for psychic espionage. It seems that this only particularly paid off once, though, in 1976.
An administrative assistant working for the CIA by the name of Rosemary Smith volunteered to use her self-proclaimed psychic powers to locate a downed plane in Africa. The agency gave Smith a shot, and she drew maps and provided details about the plane’s crash, according to Annie Jacobsen, author of Phenomenon. Amazingly, the maps turned out to be at least somewhat helpful, as the plane was recovered shortly after. Supposedly, this is the one time in military history that a psychic provided actionable information. Whether it was real psychic powers or pure luck, it seems all of the other research ended in nothing.
A military psychic may have uncovered a top secret sub design
While Rosemary Smith may have provided the only actionable information in the government’s various programs to utilize psychic powers for spying, there is at least one other documented event that, while not actionable, does sound a bit eerie. In 1979, Warrant Officer Joseph McMoneagle was working for the government as a potential psychic spy. It’s alleged that McMoneagle, when given five possible targets, could identify the correct one 50% of the time. That may not sound too remarkable, but by chance alone he should have only been able to guess it about 20% of the time. While that’s impressive if true, it wasn’t terribly useful for the government.
However, during one session in the height of the Cold War, McMoneagle was asked to remotely view an unidentified building in Russia. McMoneagle claimed he could see inside where the Soviets were working on a new, twin-hulled sub, according to Newsweek. He also described the sub as having fins like a shark.
Four months later, the CIA was able to confirm via satellite imagery that the Soviets were indeed working on a twin-hulled sub, according to the Washington Post. While the United States referred to this new vessel as the “Typhoon,” the really interesting part is that the Russians themselves called it by another name — Akula, the Russian word for shark.
The teetotaler war hero whose UFO sighting was documented by police
While a 61-year-old man reporting an unknown craft close to midnight in some quiet woods between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, might sound questionable, police took notice on Nov. 9, 1979, because of who the man was — Robert Taylor, a forestry worker who never touched alcohol and had been a respected war hero, according to the BBC.
According to Taylor, while working around 10:30 p.m. at night in Dechmont Woods, he spotted a dome-shaped craft, about 30 feet tall, in a clearing. This might be strange enough, but the craft then ejected two spiked balls that chased him down. Taylor passed out before they reached him, but when he awoke 20 minutes later, the clearing was empty. However, the ground was pock-marked with holes where the balls had rolled toward him, and his pants were badly ripped.
Taylor was so shaken, he crashed his van into a ditch and walked back home, where his wife contacted police. Taylor described what happened to him and they investigated, finding the holes he spoke of and indentations in the ground where the craft would have been sitting — all of which seemed to indicate that an object weighing several tons had been there. While they could find no cause for the marks, police did note that they were localized to that clearing, starting and ending there. As for Taylor’s pants, forensics found that they had been ripped by something hooking into them and moving upward.
The multi-state UFO witnessed by police and government officials
The evening of Aug. 17, 1978, in Evansville, Ind., began strangely. Police had already received not one, but two bizarre reports of a person in a gorilla suit jumping in front of cars. While this was clearly a very poorly thought-out prank, dispatchers were already going to be skeptical of any unusual calls coming through for the rest of the night.
At first, it was easy to dismiss the calls that came in related to UFOs. One, a college student, described a triangle of red lights in the sky moving in an odd pattern. Then police received a report of the same from a fellow police officer in nearby Chandler, Ind., according to the Evansville Courier & Press.
Finally, they connected the sightings to similar ones that had occurred the previous night in Southern Illinois. A state trooper, sheriff’s deputy, and two local police, along with a town marshal and county jailer, all witnessed a UFO firsthand, which they said hovered in the sky for seven hours. Nights later, the same lights were seen in a suburb of Kansas City. It’s unclear just what the object(s) were, and even a UFO believer, J. Allen Hynek, posited the lights were just stars. But multiple sightings by authority figures in separate localities is pretty wild.
The Boxing Day UFO spotted on a military base
Rendlesham Forest, found in Southeastern England, is quiet and fairly isolated, which is exactly why England’s Royal Air Force (RAF) established two bases in the area — RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters. During the Cold War, however, these bases were used by their allies in the United States Air Force (USAF), and on Dec. 26, 1980, the U.S. forces stationed there encountered something very odd.
At around midnight, an unidentified object was spotted on radar and confirmed visually as well. The object seemed to head into the forest, so a USAF security patrol went to investigate. These men later claimed that they encountered a brightly-lit triangular craft. When they got to close, however, the craft shot up into the air, and the investigatory patrol was knocked unconscious.
Another group sent out to find the initial crew confirmed markings on the ground that seemed to indicate something had landed there, according to HowStuffWorks. The following night, sightings of strange lights began to trickle in. Deputy base commander Lt. Col. Charles Halt decided to investigate firsthand this time, leading a party of fellow airmen into the forest. According to Halt’s story, they encountered high radiation counts and multiple floating lights, one of which flew directly at the group, emitting various colors. While the military supposedly has photos and video of the events of that night, they’ve never been released.
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