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The Schirmer Abduction 40 Years Later

Fate May 2008

Starting in the mid-1960s, UFO re-search found a new category of sighting. The first indication came from South America where a Brazilian farmer (who later became an attorney) told a tale of abduction at the hands of alien creatures. Antonio Villas- Boas claimed that he had been forced into sex on board a flying saucer; some suspected that it might have been some kind of interplanetary breeding experiment, though one that was fairly crude. A few years later, in 1961, Barney and Betty Hill, a couple living in New Hamp- shire, reported that their car had been paced by some kind of alien craft. Later, first through dreams and then through hypnotic regression, both Hills recalled an abduction experience. Betty Hill would later say, based on the physical examination she was given by the aliens, that she thought there were lots of little Betty Hills running around out there. She was suggesting that her abduction had been some kind of in- terplanetary breeding experiment, though more sophisticated than the one performed on Villas-Boas. UFO researchers looked for additional abduction cases, but in the 1960s there weren’t many of them around. Around this same time, the Air Force decided to hire a university to make an im- partial study of UFOs to determine if there was a reason for the Air Force to continue to investigate them. The so-called Condon Committee, at the University of Colorado, began their work in the 1967.

Schirmer’s Close Encounter On December 3, 1967, a police officer in the tiny community of Ashland, Ne- braska, reported that he had seen a UFO close to the ground, hovering no more than six or eight feet above the highway. When he turned on his high beams for a better look, the saucer-shaped object brightened, tilted upward, and then with a siren-like noise, lifted and vanished. Sgt. Herb Schirmer opened his car door to watch as the craft rose, spouting a flame- colored material from under it. He would later say that he saw a row of seven portholes, oval shaped and about two feet across. There was a catwalk below the port- holes, and the surface of the object was pol- ished aluminum that glowed brightly in reflected light.

The first part of the Condon Committee investigation of the sighting took place on December 11 and 12, 1967; that date becomes important later. In the summary of the report, the Condon Com- mittee investigator wrote, “Mr. Schirmer felt perhaps he had not been conscious during a period of approximately 20 minutes [emphasis added] while he was observing the UFO. He had a feeling of paralysis at the time, and felt funny, weak, sick, and nervous when he returned to the po- lice station.” Ashland police chief Bill Wlaschin said that he checked the area the next morning but found nothing of great importance there. He did find a single piece of metal- lic material that he did not recognize. It looked to be a chip of aluminum paint. In the published version of the Condon Committee, called the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (1969), the ma- terial was described as iron and silicon. Since there was no real connection between the sighting and the material, no further analysis was done. Committee investigators searched the site where Schirmer, after hypnosis, would say the UFO had actually landed. They tested for radioactivity but found nothing.

A polygraph for Schirmer was arranged using an experienced official agency that Chief Wlaschin refused to identify. According to the chief, the test showed no indications that Schirmer was deceptive. John Ahrens of the Condon Committee returned to Ashland on December 19 to conduct a psychological test on Schirmer.

On February 13, 1968, after the time discrepancy between Schirmer’s log and the time he returned from the UFO sight- ing became a concern, another interview was held. Some suggest that one of the sci- entists with the Condon Committee, probably Dr. Leo Sprinkle, suggested the missing time might be significant. Who noticed it first is not all that important, unless it was Schirmer who called attention to it first. Then we have him planting the seeds that would lead to his claimed abduction.

Hypnosis Sessions After further investigation, which in- cluded hypnotic regression, Sprinkle, worried about a perceived bias on his part, wrote: “The writer [Sprinkle] believes that there is sufficient empirical evidence to support the views that the following phenom- ena exist: hypnotic processes or varying levels of awareness; extra sensory perception and psychokenetic [sic] processes (ESP or psi processes); and spacecraft (‘flying saucers’) from extra terrestrial sources which are controlled by intelligent beings who seem to be conducting an intensive survey of the earth. “Because these views are different from those of many persons in contemporary society, the writer [Sprinkle] offers his im- pressions with the recognition that other observers may have obtained different, and even conflicting, impressions of the in- terview with Sgt. Schirmer.”

Under the hypnotic regression with Sprinkle, and later regressions coordinated by Warren Smith, an Iowa writer whose work dealt with the paranormal, the un- usual, and the extraterrestrial, Schirmer told a story that was fairly consistent, though he added detail under the persuasion of hypnosis and the close questioning of the investigators. His log entries backed up the story he told, to a degree. Early in the morning of December 3, Schirmer began to suspect something was wrong. He told the original investigators that a bull in a corral at the edge of town was acting strangely and he was afraid that it might break out. At 2:30 a.m., according to what he wrote in his log, he was near the intersection of Highways 63 and 6 when he saw an object hovering over the road. He didn’t believe, at that time, that it landed and only gave a description of it in the air. It eventually climbed out and disap- peared. Schirmer then drove back to the police station to report in.

That was really all he had to say about the sighting. Later he would tell investi- gators that the craft hadn’t been hovering above the highway but was sitting in a field near it. Sprinkle wrote, “He [Schirmer] stated that a bright light had shone from the object upon the car and that he saw a ‘white blurred object’ which came to- ward the car. He said he felt he was in communication with someone in the object, and that he also felt the communication was in effect during the interview [while Sprinkle had him in a hypnotic state, Schirmer thought he was mentally in con- tact with the aliens].” Schirmer then told Sprinkle it would be wrong to say anything else about the sighting until they were in the proper place at the proper time. Schirmer resisted at- tempts by Sprinkle to learn the proper time and place, so Sprinkle ended the session. After the session ended, Schirmer said that he thought the “white, blurred object” was something alive. He mentioned again that he believed he had been in direct men- tal communication with someone on the craft. Schirmer believed that the craft used electrical or magnetic force which controlled gravity and allowed the occupants to travel through space, and that they were taking electricity from nearby power lines. He said that the beings on the ship were based on Venus or Saturn but were from another galaxy and that they were friendly. They were here to keep the people of Earth from destroying the planet. Schirmer agreed to take a number of psychological tests. The results tended toward the negative. His IQ was on the low side for conceptual thinking, but on the high side for dealing with concrete intel- lectual tasks such as puzzle solving.

The problem for the investigators was that “His performance on the word asso- ciation test causes one to doubt his honesty in the UFO sighting, or at least seems to indicate that he himself disbelieves the credibility of the sighting.” It could be that Schirmer was lying, but it could also be that he found the experience to be unbelievable. Given what he would later say, that he found the experi- ence unbelievable isn’t much of a stretch. The scientists also noted that “He is also preoccupied with seeing UFO objects.” But they also noted that he was given the tests after reporting a UFO and that might ac- count for his obsession at the time.

Abducted by Creatures Warren Smith, a sometimes writer living in Clinton, Iowa, wrote in Gods, Demons and UFOs that Schirmer contacted him. Schirmer, dissatisfied with the results of the Condon Committee investigation, wanted to push for answers. Smith and paranormal expert and writer Brad Steiger met with Schirmer on several occasions. Under hypnosis con- ducted by Loring G. Williams, Schirmer added a great deal of detail. He said that the object was metallic and shaped like a football. It had flashing lights underneath it. He thought he heard a whooshing sound. Finally he saw legs coming from the bottom and it settled to the ground. Schirmer originally hinted to the Condon Committee members that he had been prevented from using his pistol or his radio. Now he clarified, indicating that there was something in his mind that prevented him from acting. Beings of some kind came from the craft and one of them stood in front of Schirmer’s car holding something. A green- ish gas came out, surrounding the car. The creature pulled something out of a holster The alien being as drawn by Schirmer and there was a bright flash. Schirmer became paralyzed and passed out. Schirmer was then walked to the craft. A hatch opened on the underside and a ladder came out. Schirmer noticed that the interior of the craft and the ladder were cold. He spent about 15 minutes on the craft and was “briefed” by the leader.

The creatures were about four and a half to five feet tall, and wore close-fitting uniforms with both boots and gloves. Their suits came up around their heads much like the hood on a skin diver’s outfit. On the left side was a small headphone with a small antenna sticking up from it. There was a winged serpent on the chest. Their skin was a gray-white. Their heads were thin and longer than a human head, the mouth was a slit and the eyes had an Asian slant but did not blink. The leader told Schirmer many things. He said they had bases in the United States trolled through suggestion and hypnosis.” During that first hypnotic regression, Schirmer refused to provide much information. Investigators used yes-and-no questions to get more information, and I have a copy of those questions. They hint at something more substantial, but offer little to suggest that Schirmer had en- tered the craft. Instead, he seemed to be- lieve that he had been in “communication” telepathically with one of the aliens.

Psychological Problems Sprinkle wrote about a break in the questioning:“Sgt. Schirmer described some of his reactions to the sighting: he said that he drank two cups of hot, steaming coffee ‘like it was water,’ he claimed that he often experienced a ‘ringing,’ ‘numbness,’ ‘buzzing’ in his ears before going to sleep (around 1:30 a.m. or 2:00 a.m.): he believed he had experienced precognitive dreams... he said he felt concern and ‘hurt’ since the UFO sighting; he described disturbances in his sleep, including incidents in which he awoke and found that he was ‘choking’ his wife and ‘handcuffing’ his wife’s ankle and wrist; he said that his wife sometimes woke up during the night and placed his gun elsewhere so that it was not in his boots beside his bed where he had been keeping it.” Sprinkle suggested that Schirmer was of “average or above average intelligence... He presented himself as a conscientious policeman who has a sixth sense or intuition about crime detection; he also seemed to gain satisfaction from the occasional need for violence in his work, although he spoke favorably about the use of MACE.”

This assessment is quite troubling. It suggests a young man who has a number of possible psychological problems which could manifest themselves in the UFO report. Couple that with concerns about Schirmer’s credibility, indicated by his performance on the word asso- ciation test, and the evidence for a UFO landing is not quite as persuasive. On this issue, which can be reduced to whichever set of scientists you want to believe, the Schirmer case fails. Sprinkle reported on psy- chological troubles but not in the same, bold language used by others. The only real investigation was that reported by Warren Smith. Smith,contacted by Schirmer, arranged more hypnosis and the details of the abduction came out. The problem here is that Schirmer had been exposed to the other abduction cases in the meantime. He had been led there by Sprin- kle and the Condon Committee. The bigger problem is that Warren Smith simply isn’t reliable. He made things up to pad a story. This is no speculation, but fact. He told me this himself, and he has said the same thing to other researchers and writers. Every statement attributed to him must be carefully reviewed.

The Imprisoned Contactee Is there evidence for Smith’s invention of details on this case? Certainly: remem- berthelandingtraceshefoundthatescaped the attention of others who searched the area first. He never offered any evidence. Smith placed his own liberal inter- pretation on the transcript of Schirmer’s hypnosis sessions. When asked, “Did you attempt to draw your gun?” Schirmer, ac- cording to Smith, answered, “I am prevented.” But the technique actually used by Sprinkle was a little more subtle. The question was phrased, “Did I take the gun out ?” Schirmer indicated “No.” He was then asked, “Was I prevented from taking the gun out?” and Schirmer said, “Yes.” Smith alleged that the Condon Committee had information that was not re- leased to the public. Schirmer complained about a rash or welt on his neck that ap- peared shortly after his sighting. Accord- ing to Smith, Schirmer told him: “One of those guys with the Condon Committee later told me that a welt at that spot is a sign of people who had a memory loss after they meet up with a UFO. It means that some- thing more than a regular sighting occurred.” Smith continues: “Another member of Condon’s staff informed Schirmer that a contactee was being held at an undesig- nated government facility. ‘He said this was a Federal Hospital or something like that.’” This is stunning information. It implies that not only were committee members hiding information about UFOs, they had a great deal of inside knowledge. They knew that UFO witnesses were being held illegally by the government. Yet,in all the time since the committee ended its work, these allegations have never resurfaced. Smith assigns this information to Schirmer and reports it in quotes. But he provides no evidence to back it up, nothing that would make it possible to check the veracity of the information.

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