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“UFO Magazine” in early 2003 spoke to well-known abductees Linda Cortile and Betty Luca, abductee/researcher Raymond Fowler, and abduction researcher Dr. David Jacobs in an effort to update their case histories and catch up with their current research and experiences.
While all those interviewed seemed to agree that the field has lately reached a plateau of sorts, they still managed to offer some fresh insights into a mystery in which the much-sought-after answers continue to dangle tantalizingly just out of reach.
Abductee “Linda Cortile,’ the pseudonym for the New York housewife whose story is told in Budd Hopkins’ 1996 blockbuster, “Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions,” was already being touted as “The Case of the Century” many months before the book’s actual release date.
That claim to fame was based on the fact that, in November of 1989, not only did Cortile experience the familiar abduction from her bedroom in the middle of the night, she was also seen to be floating outside her high-rise apartment window (with three grays hovering around her as they guided her to a waiting ship) by several credible witnesses-including a prominent political figure and his two security guards.
Hopkins withholds the true names of the above witnesses as well, but the two guards have since become familiarly known to those who follow the case as “Richard” and “Dan,” and the politician has been given the moniker “The Third Man.” The complicated series of events that followed Cortile’s abduction that cold November night cannot be fully recounted here, and the case remains open enough that Hopkins still lectures and writes about new events that have happened since “Witnessed” was first published. Suffice it to say that the cloak of invisibility that typically surrounds an abduction was suspended in Cortile’s case, and a sort of “theatrical” display of the event was staged by the aliens for the sake of the Third Man and those who were with him that night.
Cortile says she still has not fully adjusted to her life as an abductee.
“It turned everything upside down,” she said. “Everything that I was taught to believe in and prepare for-who’s prepared for abductions? Parents don’t raise their children to beware of such things. So it was hard to adjust to. Not that I’m adjusted now, but I’m basically more used to the idea.”
Cortile said she no longer explores her experiences under hypnosis and that except for a numbing sensation that began in her toes one evening, she hasn’t had any abduction-related experiences for eight years.
“I still have an interest [in the subject of abduction], definitely,” she said. “And I do keep in touch with Budd Hopkins. Oh, by the way, Richard of ‘Richard and Dan,’ he calls me twice a year. On my birthday and on Christmas.”
Meanwhile, Cortile did have some new witnesses to talk about that Hopkins had alerted her to. A reporter for “The New York Post” and a newspaper truck driver both happened to be on a nearby bridge when the November 1989 abduction event was seen.
At the time, the editorial offices of “The New York Post” were in Cortile’s neighborhood. The reporter in question emerged from a nearby bar, a “little tipsy,” according to Cortile.
“He’s a famous journalist,” Cortile said, “and he couldn’t drive home. So he asked one of the drivers if he could give him a lift with the ‘New York Post’ newspaper truck to Penn Station, because he lives out on Long Island.”
The two men soon encountered a huge snarl of traffic on South Street, which was unusual for three in the morning. What was even more unusual was the fact that the traffic jam was caused by a long string of more than a dozen stalled limousines. The limos were later determined to have just come from a closed-door session of the United Nations that night, en-route to a military base at the Governor’s Island ferry terminal on South Street.
“I’m sure that, eventually, when their cars started up, that’s where they went,” Cortile said. “But before then, they were all stalled on South Street. So the newspaper truck couldn’t get through and the journalist had to find another way to Penn Station.”
The reporter later affirmed that he saw the stalled limousines and the lights from Linda’s abduction experience, but attributed the latter at least partially to his inebriated condition. The truck driver’s memory is a little clearer.
“He remembers seeing this object hovering over one of the buildings,” Cortile continued. “And then his headlights just flickered out and his truck stalled, along with the other cars up on the bridge with him. He said he saw this light. He thought at first it was a floodlight that seemed to be searching for something on the façade of the building. He really didn’t know what it was. But then he saw the object and four human figures come up from behind the building to the craft. It was very strange.”
The truck driver saw a television documentary some time later that dealt with the events of that night, after which he contacted Hopkins and told his story.
“Just when I was about getting over it,” Cortile said, “then these witnesses come forward. And every time another witness comes forward with confirmation, it really makes me feel so spooky. There are almost thirty witnesses now. Crazy. That’s absolutely nuts.”
Cortile explained that she has no recollection, either consciously or through regressive hypnosis, of seeing the many witnesses herself.
“See, for me, it’s strange,” she said, “because I wasn’t there. I didn’t see them, see the craft, or see me and these creatures. So I think for the rest of my life I’ll always have my doubts simply because I didn’t see it with my own eyes. I mean, I know it happened. It’s just that I can’t get over the fact that there were all these witnesses simply because I didn’t see them see me.”
Betty Andreasson Luca is the focal point of several books documenting her abduction experiences that began with “The Andreasson Affair” in 1979. Working with UFO researcher Raymond Fowler, she related, under hypnosis, many marvelous experiences involving both the gray aliens and journeys to otherworldly locales that have pleasantly upbeat spiritual overtones, in marked contrast to the usual frightening stories of medical examinations and hybrid babies yanked from the arms of their human mothers. The aliens even assure her during one experience that “Jesus Christ is coming soon.”
When asked what was going on with her currently, Luca replied, “There’s a few things still happening. But [the experiences haven’t] really changed me that much, I don’t think. I still feel the same way. I believe them to be angels and that they have to do with the coming of Christ. I think that’s it.”
Some of the recent events Luca alludes to include poltergeist activity in the home she shares with her husband Bob.
“A couple of pictures would fall off the wall,” she said. “Or Bob and I would be sitting at the table and all of a sudden the whole wall would light up with real, real bright light.”
There is also the story of a recently discovered medical anomaly.
“I went to the ophthamologist to have my eyes checked for glasses,” Luca began, “and when he was there he said that I had two tiny lesions that are ‘solar burns.’ He asked if I ever looked at the sun during an eclipse, and I never have done that. He said, ‘Well, in the 60s, a lot of the hippies used to walk around just staring at the sun.’ Did I do that? And I said, ‘No.’
“The only thing I can figure out,” Luca continued, “is that once, during an experience, everything was extremely bright, and then it turned like a red color, and then like a negative. I looked around and everything looked like it was a photographic negative. I heard a loud bang and everything. Then afterwards, when I asked what it was, [the aliens] said it was a ‘transversal shock.’ But I really can’t recall that well.”
As for the current state of the abduction phenomenon, Luca said she has not kept as current as she would have liked to.
“Right now,” she said, “we haven’t been very much involved in the UFO community. Bob occasionally looks on the computer and sees that there are a lot of sightings going on all over the place. But we haven’t been that involved. But I’m still alive and kicking, so the end has not come yet, right? We may be in the End Times, but it has not arrived as yet.”
Raymond Fowler has been researching the UFO phenomenon for most of his life. He not only worked with abductee Betty Andreasson Luca, authoring a series of five books on her encounters, but was also the investigator who documented “The Allagash Abductions,” an important case involving multiple witnesses, as well as several other books on the UFO phenomenon in general.
Fowler learned that he was himself an abductee when he was researching the third book in his “Andreasson” series, “The Watchers.” It is from the dual perspective of abductee and researcher that Fowler now approaches the subject.
“I think I started out,” Fowler said, “prior to ‘The Andreasson Affar,’ not recognizing what was happening to me. That would include the UFO abduction phenomenon since I was a child and a variety of psychic experiences, basically because I was a very narrow-minded fundamentalist Christian and I had a very narrow worldview. And looking back and looking at where I am now, I’ve expanded my theology considerably. I find myself investigating and even teaching subjects which back then I would have thought were heretical to my faith. I teach courses on Near-Death-Experiences and angels, and I’m into studying quantum physics through a correspondence course. I’m reading books like ‘The Holographic Universe.’”
After Fowler learned of his own abduction history, which had previously been buried under the usual alien-induced “amnesia,” a decade of strange experiences began for him.
“Between probably 1979 or 1980,” he said, “through 1990, it was just a decade where all kinds of things were happening to me. Electrical sensitivity, computers going on by themselves, apparitions. In a few cases, even seeing myself doing things that I was going to be doing in the future. These things were so far beyond what I thought reality was all about that it just prodded me into investigating all kinds of phenomena. So, yeah, I’ve really had quite a change in my life. I’m not the same person I was really, and I think some of the people who are very close to me realize that.”
Fowler also spoke from experience when it came to evaluating his career as a researcher. What was the most important thing he had learned from years of working in the field?
“To not become wed to any particular theory,” he answered, “regarding the UFO phenomenon. At one time, I was really wed to a nuts-and-bolts hypothesis, feeling that anybody who didn’t believe that UFOs were physical extraterrestrial craft from outer space and were even hinting that they might be something else-you know, you just ignored these people and said they were psychotics, these people who had these psychic experiences and put forth a spiritual, or for want of a better term, ‘paraphysical’ explanation for UFOs. I think there are a lot of things about UFOs that people, researchers, will just home in on just one aspect of it and become wed to that and not look at the other things that are happening within the UFO phenomenon, the other types of experiences that people are having.
“So I think it taught me to be more broadminded, and to realize there’s a lot more to the phenomenon and that it probably is part of a ‘meta-phenomenon.’ That UFOs, Near-Death-Experiences, OBEs, psychokinesis, all of these things are all part and parcel of one big phenomenon, including religious experiences, perhaps.”
Still, according to Fowler, very little is really known for certain about alien abduction.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten very far,” he said, “in really understanding what’s going on. You can talk to a dozen different abductees, and there will be some similarities between their experiences, but there will be other things that they report that don’t correspond to what other people report. It’s a very, very mixed up thing.
“And I think it’s sort of come to a standstill. I don’t know how much more you can do to try to fathom what really is behind it. I’ve come up with my own theories, in my books, but they aren’t any better than anybody else’s. I have strong feelings about what I think is happening, but I could be completely wrong.”
Fowler describes his professional life these days as “semi-retired,” eschewing television and symposium appearances, and he continues his long established avoidance of the “politics” that form a large part of the UFO community. He has left his position as the Director of Investigations for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) but says he remains very interested in current happenings in the field and enjoys “looking over the shoulders” of other researchers and pondering the latest information. He has also written his memoirs, to be published sometime in the near future and entitled, “UFO Testament: Anatomy of an Abductee.”
David Jacobs, Ph.D., is the author of two books on UFOs and alien abduction, “Secret Life” and “The Threat,” both of which are considered to be important works that approach the subject from a pragmatic, disciplined, scholarly point of view and without the hysteria and jumbled conclusions of other lesser works in the field.
Jacobs began conducting his own abduction research twenty years ago and says that one of the more important things he has learned in that time involves the strengths and weaknesses of hypnosis as an investigative tool.
“And the strengths and weaknesses of abductee testimony,” he said. “Not making the fatal error of believing everything one hears, whether we’re exploring conscious memories or in hypnotic recall. This is extremely important as many abduction researchers often fail to put critical analysis toward the testimony they hear. If you take it at face value, it’s a fatal error. Like a computer fatal error. Everything crashes.
“You have to look for inconsistencies,” he went on. “You have to look for contradictions. You have to look for illogicalities. You have to be very careful in your questioning. You must believe what you are hearing and disbelieve what you are hearing both at the same time. And this of course has been a lesson of UFO research. It’s a very difficult path to tread. A lot of people can’t do it, but some can do it.”
Abduction research continues to have its rewards as well, however, like actually being able to help abductees deal with their experiences.
“This has been the one great satisfaction,” Jacobs said, “that I’ve had in this research. The ability to help abductees get their lives together, move on beyond the phenomenon, and lead a normal life. That’s sort of what I work for. That’s been the happiest aspect of the phenomenon, and the most constantly rewarding.”
But the darker aspects of UFO research still haunt Jacobs.
“I used to be filled with enthusiasm,” he said, “when I studied UFOs. The sort of intellectual challenge of trying to figure out who they were, what they wanted, all that sort of thing, without any knowledge whatsoever, has now been replaced, because of the abduction phenomenon, with a view of the inside, with an understanding of motivations, goals and purposes. And I’ve learned to be very, very uneasy about this phenomenon. I’ve learned this is something that I never imagined it would turn out to be. I’m not very happy with it and I’m frightened of it in some respects.
“I’ve seen the toll it takes on a personal level,” Jacobs continued, “and I’m very fearful of the toll it’s going to take on a public level eventually. So I’m of two minds about this whole phenomenon, from researching it to understanding it. Everything is sort of split down the middle in a way.”
Jacobs joked that he has been “threatening” to write a book about the methodology behind abduction research, grappling with such questions as “How do you do hypnosis?” and “What do you do with testimony?” and “How do you treat abductees?”
“A whole series of methodology and protocol,” he explained, “for studying this phenomenon that I hope will move towards-it won’t of course do it-but move towards standardizing methodology so that everybody is essentially on the same page, within reason. I don’t know if anybody will ever publish a book like that, but that’s what I’m working on.”
And what is Jacobs’ opinion on the current state of abduction research in general?
“I think that the current state of abduction research is pretty static,” he answered. “We just don’t have a whole lot of new people coming into abduction research and doing it. It’s so unbelievably difficult to do. It takes so much time. And there’s so much ridicule attached to it, even from other UFO researchers, that it’s very difficult to attract people to the subject. There are a few other new people interested in it, but by and large it’s extremely tough to get people involved with this subject because the rewards are so little and the problems are so immense.
“Most people have lives and they have careers,” he went on. “Getting involved with abduction research can be ruinous to one’s career. I’m a tenured professor, so I can do it. Budd Hopkins is an artist and basically self-employed in a sense, so he can do it. John Mack is a tenured professor, so he can do it. See what I mean? We’re in very special situations.”
As far as reinvigorating the study of abduction, Jacobs sees a ray of hope on the horizon.
“I think that this is a phenomenon,” he said, “that simply is not going to go away. Right now, we’re in a lull, but I think that in December it’s going to pick up quite a bit with Steven Spielberg’s production ‘Taken.’ There will certainly be quite a lot of publicity and maybe some more interest in the subject. So we’ll have to wait and see. I don’t know whether ‘Taken’ is going to have a lot of value or not, but it’s certainly going to have media value.
“It will be ten two-hour shows on abduction in a row,” Jacobs continued. “It’s never been done before. Each night with a different director, following three families of abductees through the years. It’s a fictional treatment. I saw some promos for it recently. I’m still up in the air as to whether this will be a quality series. But with Spielberg, it’s got a good shot at being a quality series because he usually does good stuff. However, let’s wait and see what happens because we’ve been excited and enthused about things, over and over again, that haven’t panned out to our benefit. Let’s keep our fingers, toes, and all the other parts of our bodies crossed.”
By Sean Casteel & “UFO Magazine”