Mysterious Horse Deaths Raise Theories About UFOsJanuary 4, 2006
RUSH, Colorado - Cattle rancher Clyde Chess never learned who - or what - killed his heifer 11 years ago, removing its lips, tongue, ears, heart and reproductive organs with laserlike precision.
But he has a theory.
"I suspect, and I know it sounds farfetched, it was government testing," he said. "They're the only ones that have that kind of technology."
This is eastern El Paso County, where stories of mysterious black aircraft, unexplained lights in the sky and bizarre cattle experimentation aren't considered too farfetched. Many remember a string of cattle mutilations in the 1970s.
It's been a long time since Colorado ranchers sat on their porches at night with shotguns, scanning the sky, but there's a new mystery on the eastern plains involving the deaths of six horses and a burro in Calhan.
The case has caught the attention of UFO investigators. The truth, they say, is out there.
"Is this a mystery? It's a huge mystery," said Linda Moulton Howe of Albuquerque, N.M., author of "An Alien Harvest," a book about cattle mutilations. "What it all means I don't know. But do I think humans did that? Absolutely not."
The facts are sparse:
On Oct. 11, six horses and a burro -- all healthy -- were found dead in a field near Calhan.
Dr. John Heikkila, the veterinarian who examined the animals, ruled out a winter storm, disease, toxic plants and lightning. Officials remain puzzled by the quarter-inch puncture holes in the animals' hides, originally thought to be gunshot wounds, but no bullets were found.
Toxicology tests for common poisons were negative, and expensive testing for "unusual possibilities" was not done because of cost, Heikkila wrote in his Nov. 20 autopsy report.
He concluded that an unusual toxin, delivered through a dart or pellet, caused the deaths.
The horses' owner, Bonny Blasingame, also thinks the animals were poisoned. She doesn't know who would do it, but others have an idea.
"I've talked to several of my friends who think that it's aliens," Blasingame said, noting that she didn't laugh.
Fears were heightened when 16 more horses were found dead near Calhan on Oct. 22. But investigators determined lightning caused those deaths.
Howe, who has written several books and produced television documentaries on strange phenomena, wrote about the Colorado deaths on her Web site. She has seen similar puncture holes in dead livestock elsewhere.
"Unusual animal deaths have long been associated with odd, silent black helicopters that have dissolved into misty clouds and unidentified lights and beams in the sky and pastures," she wrote.
Leslie Varnicle, state director of the Mutual UFO Network, has also looked into the deaths. She said a teenager spotted a strange aircraft in the Calhan area Oct. 21.
"You had the animal deaths and, in the same time and area, an observation of this V-shaped craft," Varnicle said. "In the back of my mind, I think there is a connection."
Eastern El Paso County is fertile ground for such theories.
In the 1970s and ྌs, the area was among many parts of the West that experienced a string of cattle mutilations. Typically, soft tissue such as the lips, rectum and sexual organs were removed, with little blood or signs of a struggle evident.
There was an FBI investigation, and in 1979 scientists, law enforcement officials from several states, UFO investigators and a U.S. senator gathered for a summit. Interest waned in the mid-1980s.
But mysterious livestock deaths never stopped here. According to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, there have been 26 unusual or unexplained livestock deaths since 1989. No arrests have been made.
Some cases have been truly bizarre. In January 1996, Truckton-area rancher James Richard White found one of his cows dead, with an entire eye socket surgically removed.
According to a sheriff's report, White told a deputy he had seen black helicopters in the area before, hovering a couple hundred feet above the ground, not making a sound. And on the night his cow was killed, his television flickered.
"I really couldn't tell you exactly what it was. I know what I saw and what I reported," said White, who still owns a ranch.
In 1994, Simla rancher Ted Hasenbalg found one of his bulls mutilated, the third to die mysteriously since the 1970s.
"I've got to think it's UFOs. That's the only thing logical," Hasenbalg said. "I think anything's possible, because we don't know if we're the only life in the universe."
The presence of two Air Force bases and NORAD has fueled the speculation.
"We jokingly say, 'Yeah, they moved Area 51 over to Peterson (Air Force Base),"' said Varnicle of the Mutual UFO Network.
She continues to ask questions about the recent Calhan deaths.
"I would love to catch someone doing it, whether it's the military, E.T. or Joe Joker," she said.
Sheriff's Office investigators have heard plenty of theories, among them top-secret military lasers and ice bullets. They believe the answer is more mundane, probably some sort of toxin that didn't show up in the tests.
"We believe there's a logical explanation. We just haven't found it yet," sheriff's spokesman Lt. Clif Northam said. The investigation remains open.
Jim Brewer, president of the El Paso County Farm Bureau, dismisses talk of UFOs and secret experiments. He thinks the animal deaths were weather-related.
"It was a bad thing, but it wasn't somebody out trying to kill livestock," Brewer said.
For Blasingame, the horses' owner, the case is more than a story worthy of "The X-Files." She loved the horses that were killed.
One horse survived the incident, a 6-month-old filly named Santanna, whose mother was among those killed. The horse remains skittish, jumping at the slightest sound.
"I'd give anything if she could talk," Blasingame said. "She'd have a story to tell."