Stephenville UFO incidents explored in detail

Steve Hammons
According to a May 19 Associated Press article by Angela K. Brown, an investigation of the Stephenville and Erath County, Texas, UFO sightings has concluded that "most of the 300 reported sightings ... earlier this year were probably planets, cloud formations or stars."

The investigation the AP article referred to was that of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

Kenneth Cherry, MUFON'S Texas director, told the AP that although his investigators concluded that many witnesses saw planets and cloud formations, other reports by very credible observers were more difficult to explain.

"Hard-core" evidence included nearly identical descriptions by three area peace officers.

Cherry said, "The bottom line is: We really do believe something did occur down there. That doesn't mean we know what it was, who it belongs to or where it came from."

Now that MUFON has issued a report, it may be appropriate to review some of the key timelines and events of the Stephenville and Erath County sightings.


In January 2008, residents in the towns of Stephenville, Dublin and other areas of Erath County reported seeing unusual lights and/or what seemed to be solid objects in the skies there.

The local newspaper, the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, carried articles about these citizen reports written by reporter Angelia Joiner.

In a Jan. 14 article, the AP's Brown wrote the first story on the incident for the national and international news media.

According to the AP article, "several dozen" local residents observed "a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast."

These witnesses included "a pilot, county constable and business owners," the AP reported.

When I covered the initial AP report in a Jan. 15 article, the sightings seemed like another of several, including the 2006 Chicago O'Hare airport incident and others.

What was particularly interesting was the account of one local citizen: "Local resident Ricky Sorrells said he spotted a flat, metallic object hovering approximately 300 feet above a pasture near his home. Sorrells said he used the telescopic sight on his rifle to view the object."

By Jan. 17, the story of the Stephenville UFOs had spread around the country and the world. CNN and other major media had picked up the AP report and, surprisingly to some people, covered the case with objectivity and intelligence.

Soon, researchers and news media were heading for Erath County. Maybe even some government spooks were looking around too.

In a Jan. 17 article on these developments, I included additional background on the UFO phenomena, as I understood it, because many Texans and others were apparently curious about any background on the subject.

In the article, I also touched on the idea of "acclimation" of the public about the UFO situation.


As CNN's Larry King, the NBC Today show's Matt Lauer and other media continued to cover the Stephenville sightings, it seemed that some deeper background and context would be helpful.

So, in a Jan. 22 article I took a look at other emerging phenomena and the way things like social psychology, religion and human consciousness might be part of a larger picture.

I touched on the issue of "remote viewing," ESP techniques developed by U.S. military and intelligence communities, because this is another unusual and somewhat unexplained situation too, like UFOs. In addition, the topic of remote viewing helps get to the heart of research about human consciousness and what it is connected to.

By late January, as the Air Force changed its story about F-16s being in the air over Stephenville the night of some of the sightings, the public was getting more curious about the case. More witness accounts and rumors were surfacing. Many people thought the Air Force reversal about military aircraft activity in the area was interesting.

My Jan. 25 article provided some updates and reminded readers that public information officers and public affairs officers are sometimes put in difficult positions.

Related to this, issues of distribution of "intelligence" have both secret and open aspects. I touched on "open source intelligence" or OSINT. Human intelligence (HUMINT) was obviously another kind of intel playing a big part in the Stephenville incidents.

As Texans and people around the U.S. and the world pondered the Stephenville case, more natural questions emerged: What if we are being "visited?" If so, who are they? And how long have they been visiting and what are they doing?

Of course, many people interested in this field have wondered about and researched these questions. So, in my Jan. 26 report I tried to give a reasonable overview of what some of the views and theories were.

From the basics such as the so-called "Roswell incident" to reports of different kinds of ETs, the article kicked around concepts and rumors to get people thinking "outside the box" a bit.


Then things got a big scary back in Erath County. One of the main witnesses who had appeared on TV news shows, Ricky Sorrells, reported he had been threatened on the phone by a person identifying himself as an Air Force colonel. Then, a menacing stranger appeared at his rural home in the middle of the night.

Sorrells' story was covered in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune newspaper by reporter Angelia Joiner, who had been swamped with calls and e-mails over past weeks from local residents, researchers and other news media representatives.

The details of Sorrells' 2:30 a.m. encounter with an intruder was frightening to many and injected a more serious factor into the UFO sightings.

My Feb. 7 piece detailed this troubling incident and pointed out that, according to some researchers, witnesses to UFO sightings have frequently been subjects of interest for apparent government operatives or others, both in the U.S. and other countries.

Then another strange development took place in Stephenville. The reporter, who had been covering the reports from residents from the beginning, Angelia Joiner, suddenly left the Empire-Tribune in an apparent falling-out with newspaper managers.

Joiner had apparently done an admirable job in covering the story and fielding inquiries and tips. Her solid reporting had caught the attention of the national media and the tone of her articles seemed to contribute to the serious and professional news coverage that followed.

Local residents who stepped forward were treated with respect by Joiner and others in the media.

Shortly after Joiner's article on the apparent threats to Sorrells, which appeared to be a law enforcement and public safety story as much as a UFO topic, Joiner left the paper.

As a former community newspaper reporter myself, this development seemed particularly interesting and I took a look at it in a Feb. 9 report.

The fact that the roles of the news media and the dissemination of information about the UFO situation are such important and apparently complex elements made Joiner's separation from the Empire-Tribune all the more interesting.

The issue of censorship and the manipulation of the news media have long been and are now very crucial topics of public discussion about everything from unusual phenomena to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


Although it turned out that Joiner's decision to leave the newspaper was somewhat of a mutual decision or sorts, many interested people wanted to contact the owners of the Empire-Tribune, apparently a Texas-based media company.

However, as people looked deeper into this matter, it turned out that the paper, and dozens of other community papers in Texas and around the U.S. had been purchased by a huge foreign financial conglomerate in Australia called Macquarie.

Macquarie also had a road construction division that was pushing a huge toll-road project in Texas – a project that many Texans apparently opposed.

This, of course, was an element of the possible manipulation of the press not by shadowy government intelligence agents covering up UFOs, but by a foreign company with business interests and a reputation of very friendly relations with government officials, including high-paying positions with the company.

This was a slight detour from the main UFO subject, but one that was interesting to Texans and others interested in the integrity of the U.S. news media and the journalism profession.

In my Feb. 13 article I covered this angle as well as other even more shocking news emerging from sources in Stephenville: A UFO had been caught on police car videotape.

Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan, who had been an original witness to unusual lights in the area and had been interviewed by media representatives, revealed that local peace officers had caught the UFO on a "dash cam" mounted on patrol cars.

It was also made clear that several local law enforcement officers had witnessed highly unusual lights and/or solid objects and had compared notes and drawn sketches. These officers were reluctant to come forward publicly, Gaitan said.

As an elected official, Gaitan indicated he did not have concerns about being fired for treating the situation honestly and as openly as possible, though other officers did have these concerns.

Around this time frame, things started breaking fairly fast on this story. In a second Feb. 13 piece I reported on more details of accounts by local public safety officers about what was on the police video.

Gaitan himself watched the video and provided a detailed description to researcher and Emmy Award-winning journalist Linda Moulton Howe.

The fact that the police dash cam had a zoom feature allowed officers to see a more detailed view of a very unusual object.

It also became clear that local officers were in a delicate position of knowing more than was reaching the public and they were coordinating among themselves about how to handle these surprising developments.

They didn't learn how to handle a situation like this in law enforcement training.

But, for those who have looked into how public safety personnel handle UFO matters, there is the well-known 1992 firefighter training manual A FIRE OFFICER'S GUIDE TO DISASTER CONTROL published by Fire Engineering Books & Videos.

Authors and experienced firefighting experts William M. Kramer and Charles W. Bahme cover many aspects of this important public safety profession. Along with conventional firefighter training, there is an interesting chapter titled "Disaster Control and UFOs."

I included that chapter verbatim in my article. This was intended to provide information and support for peace officers, firefighters and citizens about research, planning and procedures.


By Feb. 24, one officer involved was identified as Erath County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Jim Clifton. Reporter Angelia Joiner, now writing for the new Web site StephenvilleLights.com, provided continuing coverage from sources in the Stephenville area, including the law enforcement community.

Clifton and Constable Lee Roy Gaitan were responding to an alarm at a local restaurant on Feb. 2 when they saw something unusual in the sky, Joiner had reported. The object was picked up and taped by a patrol car dash cam.

In my Feb. 24 report, I provided an overview and details of this encounter as reported by Gaitan, Joiner and researcher Howe.

The account of the two officers observing the object was fascinating.

Then, on Feb. 28, Joiner reported on StephenvilleLights.com that a third respected officer had come forward.

In a March 1 article, based on Joiner's reporting, I wrote, "Mike Zimmerman saw something in the sky that he cannot explain. Zimmerman, 62, is a veteran officer of 25 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety. He served on the protective detail for five Texas governors over a period of 19 years, including former governor George W. Bush."

Joiner's relationships and mutual respect and trust with local people had once again led to amazing information.

On Jan. 31, Zimmerman saw something from the window of his home that was not quite like other witnesses, but was very out of the ordinary.

He showed Joiner a sketch and notes he had made. In her article, Joiner wrote that "the two white lights were shooting out beams of white light in a pulsating strobe light effect. The reddish orange light closer to the horizon did not have beams shooting from it."

Joiner also quoted Zimmerman as saying, "At first I thought it might be three helicopters with really bright search lights until I noticed the beams of white lights shooting out to the side of the bright lights."

By late March, local officers who had witnessed something created a sketch and it was released to the public via StephenvilleLights.com.

In a March 25 article I included descriptions by officers Joiner's quotes of the officers of an incident that occurred Jan. 8, 2008, between 7:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. The officer´s name was not released.

The diagram of the object described it as being somewhat flat and octagon-shaped with raised portions on the top and bottom. Views from the side, top and bottom are illustrated in the diagram.

The object was described by witnessing officers as 400 feet long and 35 feet from bottom to top. Officers reported that it was a dull green in color, with lights in various configurations.

The verbatim narrative of the officer, referencing the diagram, as reported by Joiner, is below:

"This is what I and several other officers saw. I did not see the back, only the frontal view."

"The two large lights were bright like landing lights, but solid light blue in color similar to LED. The wing tip lights remained steady. The top and bottom tower lights strobed sporadically."

"It had three towers on the bottom and two on top. It was bigger than a B1 Bomber."

"It lumbered around town then headed off towards Mineral Wells."

"It did not leave fast like some are saying. It left slowly. I saw it make a turn. It turned slightly at a 30 degree angle and stayed there for a moment with no movement. It then went to 90 degrees, added a large light in the middle, and moved off at 27 mph and accelerating."


When it seemed like the Stephenville UFO incidents could not get any more interesting, something even more surprising was revealed.

The officer who said the object was traveling "at 27 mph" apparently either had a good eye for measuring speed or some other information.

Sure enough, Joiner once again broke the story in a March 30 article on StephenvilleLights.com that the officer had tracked the object with his police radar gun and measured the speed precisely as the UFO departed.

This development was too good for me to not write a piece about it so I made it the focal point of a March 31 article.

Joiner did not identify this officer and referred to him as "Officer X" in her reports.

"I want people to know that the citizens are telling the truth," Officer X told Joiner.

"They're not lying," he said. "They are telling the truth. There was something there. I think it's stealthy. It has a stealth capability. I think it can change colors with the sky. It was as dark as the sky until it lit up."

He also confirmed that several other local officers also witnessed the craft.

When he first observed the craft, it was hovering in a horizontal position. It was approximately 100 to 500 feet off the ground, based on reports of other officers.

Officer X told Joiner, "My estimate is the object was about a half mile away at the most. At first, I thought it was a big aircraft, but then I realized it was hovering. I then thought, 'An aircraft that size doesn't hover.'"

Joiner quoted him as stating that, "It started out horizontal, went up to the left at 30 to 40 degrees, and stopped for about five seconds. Then it went slowly vertical. It took about another five seconds to do this; then it slowly moved away to the northwest. It was one big craft."

The object eventually slowly moved away from him, still at a low altitude. Then he could no longer observe it as it went behind trees. He was also called to respond to an unrelated official police situation.


Just last week, the government of the United Kingdom released previously classified files on UFO sightings and investigations.

The chief astronomer at the Vatican Observatory said in published reports that extraterrestrial visitors are possible and tried to integrate this possibility or probability with Christian beliefs.

CNN's Larry King and NBC's Dateline shows both recently covered the ongoing topic of UFOs and the idea of extraterrestrial and/or extra-dimensional visitation.

We are sure to hear more about this topic in the coming days.

Whether we like it or not, we are becoming used to sightings, reports and theories about what these objects in the sky and close encounters might mean. We are becoming acclimated to these incidents and to a possible unusual situation.

The Stephenville incidents helped put the issue in the media spotlight and the brave and down-to-Earth people of Erath County helped all of us deal with these reports in a straightforward and responsible way.

There are sure to be more such incidents in the future and hopefully we will handle them with intelligence, safety, compassion, strength common sense and open minds.

NOTE TO READERS: Those who enjoyed this article may also want to read the piece "UFO acclimation now underway?" For more information and resources about these and other topics, please visit the Joint Recon Study Group and have a look around.

1 comment:

SoD said...

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Then of course, there are those earthen aliens such as illegal aliens traveling abroad from other earthen countries ….

Celestials have been secretly apart of this planet’s activities since early surface evolution … And now because of failing power Facilities of their unorthodox advanced technology, many things hidden will at first gradually come into view as they struggle uselessly to reestablish their cloaking abilities … and many things once elevated in secrecy by their unorthodox power facility, Will fall from place … the effects of this spill-over has been referred to as the opening of seven seals ….

A ‘once celestial’ people will walk as surface dwellers …..

I am just an Old Soul passing through, given something important to say …

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