January 12, 1997
As readers of Alien West know, the San Luis Valley (in south-central Colorado and north-central New Mexico) is widely considered to be one of America’s most intriguing and mysterious geographic regions and an undeniable UFO hot spot.
As an investigative reporter, I have devoted much time over the past five years in an attempt to ascertain the truth behind the many perplexing reports logged by area residents over the past 40 years. I have collected much of this material in a book, “The Mysterious Valley” (St. Martin’s Press 1996). One of the more intriguing stories I’ve covered has been discovery of an enigmatic glass skull in Moffat, Colo.
Moffat rancher Donna Koch found the enigmatic 6.5-inch-high skull in February 1995 while riding the fence-line of her newly acquired ranch. The “alien-looking” artifact immediately captured the imaginations of true believers and excited word of the “find” has literally circulated around the world. Channelers, psychics and believers have had a New Age field day. A “full-moon gathering” at the White Eagle Village in Crestone attracted the curious from as far away as Arizona and Minnesota. Articles have appeared in international publications.
Contrary to popular belief, the skull was not crafted by aliens, Lemurians or Central American healers. The skull was the created by Blake Street Glass Co. artist Brad Chavez, a Denver glass-worker. The skull is just one of around 100 skulls Chadez has crafted over the past several years. “I’m really sorry it went so far, I had no idea all this was going on down there,” the 31-year-old Chadez told me. “My parents own the ranch next door, and we left it there on the northeast corner of the property as a cornerstone.” Chadez found out about the skull’s vaulted reputation after family members read a Nov. 10, 1996 Rocky Mountain News article and called him. Chadez immediately called the Crestone Eagle to clear up the mystery. “I started making the skulls to sell in New Mexico at the Day of the Dead festival,” Chadez said. “They are carved out of hot glass and I even make all of my own sculpting tools. My parents bought the ranch 16 years ago, and they’re planning on building a house on the property. We put it there a while ago and I had no idea someone would find it.” Interestingly, there are pointed unanswered questions concerning Koch’s prior knowledge of Chadez’s artistic pursuits.
Chadez seemed surprised at the reaction people have had to his creation. “It was just one of my seconds … that’s why we put that particular one there. I make full-sized ones that are larger.” If that was one of Chadez’s seconds, his other creations must be exquisite. Chadez has been selling his skull art works at the Manos Gallery in Denver for several years. “I stopped making them awhile ago,” he said.
The birth of a power-object
As with most “mysteries” and “glass-skulls” there are no easy answers. The little “ant-person skull” has had quite an effect on people. The reported strange phenomena that seemed to surround the skull have no obvious explanations. Exploding tires, sickened babies, bashed-in heads, broken video cameras and various other “unexplained” phenomena have been associated with the skull and may give us some insight into the true nature of “perceived” power-objects. Perhaps if enough people think something is magical, and focus their intent on it, then maybe a mundane object can actually become magical.
The discovery of the skull, and the subsequent wide-flung notoriety it has received, may be a lesson for all who have a real need to believe in a so-called “mysterious” object. One investigator who sat with the skull for “eight days” claimed to have channeled an amazing amount of information that she attributed to the skull. Stories of Lemurian scouts and settlers and other skulls waiting to be found here were communicated to eager believers. As the one who first publicized the skull’s existence, I feel a responsibility to bring the so-called “truth” to everyone’s attention. But one has to wonder.
Since the skull generated such overwhelming interest, verging on veneration, in many who have seen it, maybe Chadez would be well advised to start crafting them again. Koch, it’s rumored, may have passed on a $200,000 offer to sell “her” little “ant-person” skull. Chadez’s work may be seen at Manos Gallery in Denver.
South-central Colorado/north-central New Mexico weirdness continues
Our blissful southern Colorado summer of ’96 with no Unusual Animal Death (UAD) reports may have been interrupted with an unconfirmed report from the Trinidad, Colo. area in July. However, northern New Mexico investigators have been quite busy. Six unusual cattle deaths have been reported in north-central New Mexico since August. Three of the New Mexico reports were from Arroyo Hondo, two from Aztec and a single case from Penasco. UFO sightings were also reported around the time of the third Arroyo Hondo case and the two Aztec cases. No apparent reports of helicopters were associated with these cases. A series of three Taos News articles written by reporter Phaedra Greenwood and a Spirit Magazine article by investigator David Perkins covered the New Mexico cases in full.
Late summer/fall roundup
Over 30 UFO-type reports were logged by this investigator during the late summer and fall. Two of these reports feature rather large objects moving at fantastically slow speeds, and one object witnessed by five people, early morning, Aug. 1, near La Veta Pass, was reportedly over a mile in length. Predictably, several miss-identified celestial objects were reported as “UFOs” and include sightings of Venus, a meteor, and the star Arcturus setting.
The Paramount TV show “Sightings” traveled to the area the first week of October to produce a segment on the latest New Mexico cattle deaths and UFO sightings that have been reported in the region. The new paranormal news program “Strange Universe” also traveled to the area to cover the Jaramillo unusual animal death/landing-trace case. Segments covering the December 1992 Conejos County Bigfoot track footage and videotaped night footage from the same month have been produced and aired.
Southern Colorado cattle may have escaped unscathed the entire summer of 1996, but the onset of fall produced an unusual cattle death report filed with this investigator by U.P.S. driver Dave Jaramillo. On Sept. 23, Jaramillo told me that he and his family had been up at the family’s property west of Antonito, Colo., near Osier Park, on Sunday, Sept. 22, when they discovered, and videotaped, an (as-yet) unidentified slain cow. The animal’s tongue, rear-end, udder and one ear appeared to have been removed, and Jaramillo observed that “the cuts were real clean with no tears or jagged edges.” He added, “When a cow dies around here, the scavengers always tear it up in a couple of days; they haven’t touched this one.” In his estimation, the incisions were not mundane, and he figured the animal had been killed Friday or Saturday night. (Incidentally, this is the same area where Jaramillo videotaped a large nocturnal UFO-type lighting array the night of Dec. 25, 1994.)
The family conducted an immediate and thorough search of the remote pasture and found no tracks, footprints or blood. They were amazed, however, to find three, 3-foot circles whirled flat in the grass, approximately 100 feet from the carcass. The circles were arrayed in a triangular pattern approximately 12-feet apart, and additional triangular patterns of three, 4-inch circles were found around each 3-foot circle. Videotape of the impressions did not appear (to this investigator) to have been caused by any great weight. They were not pressed into the soil and the grass appeared to be whirled flat.
This type of potential physical evidence is very rare. Besides the carcasses themselves, a vast majority of unusual animal death cases feature no additional clues whatsoever. Only a handful of cases on record feature these circular markings.
Can you hum me a few bars?
On Oct. 1 at 10:50 p.m. a woman living way out in the Baca Grants, adjacent to Crestone Colo., awoke to an “electrical-sounding hum … coming from the mountains.” She went outside to investigate and listened for almost 20 minutes to the crackling sound echoing around her. She noticed that the sound seemed to ebb and flow around the area. She described the sound as being at a “low volume.” However, she could hear/feel it distinctly. She was interested if this sound was “like the Taos Hum.” I assured her I didn’t know. I have my suspicions, however.
Troglodytes at work?
While in St. Louis on Sept. 21 to speak at the “Show Me” MUFON conference, I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Richard Sauder whose book, “Underground Bases and Tunnels,” contains information suggesting some kind of underground faculty near the Colorado/New Mexico border. I have been hearing “rumors” of such a facility for years. If the supposed base is on the border, why have we been getting underground “hum” reports for 30 years 100 miles north of the border?
Not-so-cheap fireworks arrive
As many readers of The Mysterious Valley will remember, this investigator is very puzzled by the weird plasma-like aerial phenomenon constantly reported here in the San Luis Valley. These puzzling “orbs” come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Mostly they are reported as being basketball-sized; however, October found folks reporting larger versions of the regularly seen types. On Oct. 7 at 11:15 p.m., musician Diane Skye was returning from Salida, Colo. on Colo. 17, when she witnessed a “giant shooting star,” north of Villa Grove. She observed the object which she described as being 10X the size of, and traveling slower than, a conventional meteor. The sighting only lasted about two seconds; however, she was able to perceive that the object, traveling east-to-west, “came down this side of the La Garita mountains.” She was emphatic about this. She mentioned that she wouldn’t have even reported the sighting had it not been for its descent “into” the valley.
On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Bertha Gotterup, Judy DeBon and a visiting friend were outside and observed a spherical light that appeared “larger than any (visible) planet.” The object hovered in the western sky and appeared to be “shooting off a blue halo.” They observed no radical movement and the duration of the event was less than three minutes before the object seemed to just fade away. Judy and her mom have seen some pretty spectacular objects, including four daylight sightings, since 1993. Judy isn’t sure she agrees with mom’s perception of the “sighting.” She admitted, ” … whatever that light was, it wasn’t normal …”
A real busy day
On Thursday, Oct. 10, around noon, Del Norte, Colo. Rio Grande County Undersheriff Brian Norton looked up and saw an object headed south to north that at first, looked like the space shuttle coming in. He then realized that the object “looked like a white cigar.” It had no tail, wings, left no vapor trail and was silent. Norton ran inside to get his spotting scope which confirmed his first observation. His wife saw the object but declined to venture a description.
That evening, between 10:30-11 p.m., a group of students attending the Crestone Healing Arts Center were outside and observed a rapidly “zig-zagging” light, high up in the sky, headed west to east, and thereafter a group of “many blinking lights” on the western horizon. Witnesses could not tell how many lights were in the group but guessed 10-12. The duration was around 10 minutes.
Later that evening at midnight, east of Gardiner, Colo., David Perkins observed a “huge white (single-prop) helicopter” heading to the northwest over the Huerfano/Wet Mountain Valley. The craft had a “definite helicopter sound.”
For part II of this story, click here.
About the author
Christopher O’Brien attended college in NYC from 1975-1980 where he was a mass communication major specializing in audio/video and film production. In 1989 he moved to the San Luis Valley, in south-central Colorado where he was hired as a consultant and production coordinator for KHVT TV, an independent San Luis Valley communications company.
In 1992, he began a private investigation of unusual documented events in the San Luis Valley which resulted in his book for St. Martin’s Press, The Mysterious Valley (September 1996). His investigation into the documented history of UFOs, unusual animal deaths, Native American legends, cryptozoology, secret military activity and the folklore in the world’s largest alpine valley has already captured world-wide interest.
Since 1993, he has written articles for Fate, UFO Universe, Leading Edge, Cyberwest, the Crestone Eagle and Phenomena. His investigation and research have been featured in the Denver Post, Pueblo Chieftain, New Mexican, Rocky Mountain News, Albuquerque Journal, Deseret News and Spirit Magazine. He’s appeared on hundreds of regional and national radio stations.
O’Brien has also helped develop, field-produce, supply footage and appeared in four segments of the syndicated Paramount television program Sightings, and appeared on Inside Edition, UFOAZ, KRDO News, KKTV Mid-Day. He was featured in the TBS documentary “UFO: The Investigators” (air date: Jan. 19, 1997). He is producing and directing segments of the nationally syndicated paranormal-news television program “Strange Universe,” and is a guest lecturer at Adams State College.
O’Brien is a fine-furniture maker and builds alternative homes out of straw bales and other renewable materials. He makes his home in Crestone, Colo., where he is writing his next book, “Saucer Full of Secrets: Inside the Mysterious Valley.”