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UFO Case Report:

'Tomato Man' Photographs of Alien Body and the Laredo, Texas Crash

Date: July 7, 1948
Location: 38 Miles South of Laredo (Texas), Mexico

In 1978, a former Naval photographer released a series of photographs of the charred remains of a head and torso, which he claimed were extraterrestrial. He said that the photos were taken in 1948, when he was flown to Mexico, south of Laredo, Texas, to document the crash of 90-foot diameter "flying saucer" and its dead pilot.

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: 
Special Features/Characteristics: Alien Photograph, Humanoid/Occupant, Military, Crash/Retrieval

More Articles on this Case

Man Says He Has Proof Aliens Have Visited U.S.

Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH) / Associated Press, Apr. 29, 1980

Charles Wilhelm, who has devoted most of his free time during the last 20 years to studying UFOs, said that he has proof aliens have visited earth. Wilhelm released two previously unpublished pictures that he said show the remains of an alien spaceman who crashed In Mexico, about 30 miles south of Laredo, Texas, In July, 1948. R

The Laredo UFO Body

W. Steinman, 'UFO Crash at Aztec'

Much has been written about the strange body found in the Laredo UFO crash remains. He has been derisively called "Tomatoe Man" by the usual detractors in such cases. The fact is, this body was reportedly photographed in the remains of an Unidentified Flying Object that came down in a crash collision with the ground at a point near the Sabinas River and about 30 miles southwest of Laredo, Texas, but across the border in the Mexican State of Nuevo Leon, on 7 July 1948. R

Full Report / Article

Source: Ron Schaffner, of the former Ohio UFO Investigators League (OUFOIL)
[go to original source]

TOMATO MAN REVISITED: The Alleged Alien Body Photographs
by Ron Schaffner


Generally, the history of UFO reportage is not a good one. All too often, researchers are far too eager to latch onto a good story, to attach themselves to a "major" case, that important details are not assessed and evidentiary credibility is not addressed. Perhaps the best example of this is Frank Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers. Intrigued by the story of a crashed saucer, Scully neglected to check his sources, a mistake that came back to haunt him. J.P. Cahn of the San Francisco Chronicle did check into Scully's sources and found them to be con men. Scully was the victim of a hoax.

Consequently, crashed UFO stories are recycled down to succeeding generations of Ufologists. Many of these alleged tales are nothing more than "spin-offs" of previous accounts. When one considers the amount of disinformation spread over the years, it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction.

Stories, such as Roswell and Aztec have graced the world with accounts of aliens and conspiracies within the United States government. It is not this writer's intent to prove nor disprove these particular stories. Rather, it is to show the reader that with a little imagination a hoax can be perpetrated using information from well publicized cases and.

The following report is well known within the circle of senior Ufologists. Therefore, it is recommended to the freshman Ufologist who may desire to seek the truth in a sometimes not-so-truthful subject.


The following information was relayed to the former Ohio UFO Investigators League (OUFOIL) by Willard McIntyre who was involved with a group calling itself the Mutual Anomaly Research Center and Evaluation Network (MARCEN). At that time, this author was the Investigations Director for OUFOIL. This information exchange occurred during the years of 1979 and 1981.

Mr. McIntyre claimed to have corresponded with a gentleman in Tennessee in December, 1978. This unnamed source sent him an 8X10 glossy print of the charred remains of a head and torso, which he claimed were extraterrestrial. McIntyre wrote back saying that he thought the photo represented a light aircraft crash and its burned pilot.

In early January, 1979, this alleged source wrote back and explained in detail a story of a clandestine operation executed on July 7, 1948, to document the crash of a UFO and its dead occupant . By November of 1979, the original negative was mailed to McIntyre. Another negative was shipped the following May showing a burned body lying in vegetation on a hillside.

The source was concerned for possible prosecution of the government, so it was agreed that he would receive full confidentiality. Allegedly, McIntyre checked out his credentials and everything appeared in order.

McIntyre advised us that he sent the original negatives to Eastman Kodak for analysis:

"The conclusion of Eastman Kodak, which we initially felt was of dubious value because of the methodology used, pointed to a negative processed at least thirty years previously. Micro densitometer traces of the negative showed us that no deliberated hoaxing had been done, at least photographically, in the production of the negative."

Negatives were also mailed to William Spaulding of Ground Saucer Watch (GSW). This organization speculate that the pictures represented the remains of a dead monkey used in the V-2 rocket experiments of the 1940s and ‘50s. (1)


The source said that as a young Naval photographer in 1948, he was flown to Mexico to document the crash of 90-foot diameter "flying saucer" and its dead pilot. The photographer claimed he was assigned to White Sands, New Mexico. Prior to the incident, he visited atomic test sites and photographed the after affects of the blasts.

Meanwhile, on July 7 at approximately 1322 hours, the Distant Early Warning [DEW] line early warning radar was tracking an object moving at speeds in excess of 2,000 mph when it flew over Washington state heading southeast. Upon hearing about the bogey's flight path, two fighter pilots out of Dias Air Base in Texas path cruised into position over Albuquerque to identify or intercept the object.

As the two F-94's approached the UFO, it made a 90 degree angle turn towards eastern Texas without apparently decreasing in speed. At 1410 hours, other pilots in pursuit said the object was slowing down and was wobbling in flight. By 1429 hours, the object disappeared from all radar screens. Using triangulation from all the radar installations, it was determined that the object must have went down in Mexico approximately 30 miles south of Laredo, Texas.

After notifying the Mexican authorities, Army and Air Force units were rushed to the crash site, arriving at 1830 hours. The commander phoned Washington and was told that a photographic team would be airlifted to the site. McIntyre's source claimed to be one of those photographers. They were told that they would be going to a top secret airplane crash.

The team was picked up by an Army L-19 Bird Dog at 2130 hours. The source explained that it was quite uncomfortable with five team members and their equipment in such a small plane. They arrived at the designated site at 0215 hours. The plane circled the area and observed a disc shaped craft still smoldering on a heavily vegetated hill.

There was one body found within the craft. The photographers managed to get a series of pictures even though there was intense heat. When the object cooled down, the body was removed to a hill side and another series of pictures were taken.

The body was said to be 4 feet 6 inches long with a head extremely large compared to the rest of the torso. The eyes were gone and there were no visible ears, nose or lips with just a slit without were teeth and a tongue would be. The arms appeared much longer than a human and the hands had four claw-like appendages.

The source went on to explain that the craft appeared as unusual, but the debris looked as if it was "earthly" in origin. There was an absence of any wiring, rubber, glass, plastic, wood, or paper. The structures were bound by normal looking bolts, but could not be unscrewed with conventional tools. Eventually, they were chiseled off. The metal was very hard. Diamond drills and saws were used for disassembly. Another metal was discovered which seemed to be a lighter grade and cutting torches were used.

Army doctors arrived on July 8 and preformed an examination of the body. They could not find any reproductive organs. They compared the gray skin to the texture of a human female breast. The bone structure was more complicated than a human and no muscle fiber was discovered within the torso.

We are also told that a metallurgist was brought in to determine the alloy of the object. He believed this alloy had a honey combed crystalline structure unlike anything know in "earthy" technology. He thought that it could be silicon based.

The entire hill side and valley below were littered with foil fragment; very much like cigarette packages, only harder. The material could not be bent. All the fragments were confiscated by the military.

At 1300 hours, the following day, a C-47 arrived and the body was shipped to an origin unknown to the source. The remaining wreckage was loaded on US and Mexican trucks which headed in the direction of Laredo, Texas. The source explained that he was not told the destination.

The source returned to White Sands and began work on the photographic evidence with a team of other experts. Allegedly, they were constantly watched by Marine security. The mysterious Commander returned to Washington never to be seen again.

A few years later, the source removed 40 negatives from the file and made duplicates and placed the originals back.


In 1981, McIntyre and Dennis Pilichis (The UFO Information Network ; UFOIN) wrote a booklet entitled: "Alien Body Photos: An Updated Report". Although OUFOIL's name was represented, we had no contribution what so ever to its production. Some of our members believed the photos to be authentic, However the majority, like myself had more questions and became skeptical of the entire story. After all, we could only take McIntyre's story at face value. When we questioned him about certain aspects of the story, he stalled and would not forward us any documentation that he claimed to have. It was at this point where we decided to begin our own independent investigation into the matter.

We attacked this problem by using the correct investigative methodology: Eliminating all possible prosaic explanations first.

We asked ourselves, "Was McIntyre correct when he stated that he originally believed the photos were of a crashed plane and its pilot?" We began with this premise.

Our first procedure was to verify that Kodak actually did the photo analysis that Mr. McIntrye claimed. A letter was sent to Eastman Kodak along with a copy of the prints. We asked for documentation regarding the quality of the print, time frames and the person's name and title who supposedly did the analysis.

We were not surprised when the response came back that Kodak was not aware of any photo work done on the pictures enclosed. Furthermore, their representative said that Kodak would not preform any type of testing that we desired for authenticity. (2)

The second step in our investigations led us to the Burns Institute ( Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, Cincinnati, Ohio) This hospital is world known for its work with burned patients. We interviewed the Chief of Staff and allowed him to study the photographs. It was his expert opinion that the photos represented an incinerated body of a human. The swelling of the head would be caused by extreme heat flash. (3)

It became apparent to us that these photographs did not depict an extraterrestrial. We decided to probe a little deeper into the story. After all, if the pictures were a deception, then the scenario surrounding them would also have suspicions.

Consider the following:

White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico informed us that after a search for information, they had no knowledge of any air disaster on the dates forwarded. In addition, they said that they did not investigate such incidents and there are no photographic teams assigned to the base.(4)

We conducted a mailing to all newspapers in the region to find out if they had any records of an air disaster within a three month time span. All that replied said they had no records of any such event occurring.

The source said that the object was tracked by the DEW radar system. The Distant Early Warning (DEW) is a series of radar installations to provide a warning of enemy attack by air. The project began its planning stages in 1946. Construction did not begin until 1955 and it finally became operational in 1957. If the alleged source was in the military as described, the he would have known that this was erroneous. Is it is possible that the person behind this hoaxed failed to research the DEW Line radar systems?(5)

We are told that two F-94 fighter pilots were scrambled out of Dias Air Base to intercept the object. This is quite an achievement considering that the F-94 didn't fly until 1949 as prototypes. The Air Force didn't fly them until 1950. (6)

Furthermore, there wasn't an operational Dias Air Base in 1948. That location would have been Abilene Army Airfield and it was deactivated in 1945. When reactivated in 1956, the base was called Dyess AFB; not Dias. (7)

The source stated that his team was picked up by a U.S. Army L-19 "Bird Dog" and flown to the site. He described his trip as being uncomfortable with five people and equipment being cramped into this small plane. Unfortunately, the story does not match up to historical fact.

This plane was developed for the U.S. Army as a light reconnaissance aircraft. The first contract for these planes were in 1950. Production was completed on October 7, 1954 and these planes are still in use. They cannot accommodate more than two individuals and there is no room for cargo space. (8)

With regard to the absence of wire and the metals, consider the following points:

1. Upon closer examination of photo #1, what appears to be two conductor cable, probably "earthly" in origin, can be seen..

2. Near the right shoulder we find the frames of some type of eyeglasses. It was our opinion that this was the remains of flight glasses used by pilots.

3. Close scrutiny of the structural remains look man-made. You can see a six-sided hex nut, tubular piping, angle iron and many welded areas. The welds conform to all standard procedures indicative of that time.

Photograph #2 was cropped to reserve web space. The original picture we have on file shows what appears to be three individuals standing behind the body. The legs of the person you are seeing is definitely military since his fatigues are bloused above his field boots. The others seem to be wearing raincoats. If one of these persons is an Officer, he is wearing low quarters and a class "A" uniform (Greens). According to the Air Force, the class "A" uniform with the black stripe down the side of the pants did not come into use until 1957. This uniform is only worn during the winter months. (9)

We have no way to prove nor disprove the allegations made about the physical make up of the "aliens" and their craft. However, it should be noted that the basic scenario is very similar to other crashed saucer stories. The so-called field examinations of the craft and body bear similarities to Roswell, Aztec, and countless other retrieval stories. For instance, this is not the first time that Ufology was told of "honeycombed" material. The large head is also consistent with the stories we all have heard up to present time.

The flight path of the craft is probably the largest gaff in the entire scenario. If one takes all the information given and does some simple calculations, the object should have crashed in Oklahoma or Kansas. In order to reach Mexico, our ‘spaceship' would have had to make another 90 degree turn and fly south by southwest. Mr. McIntyre told other researchers that he knew the flight path was off. Why wasn't this mentioned in the previous investigations? (10)


You have been presented with an extraordinary claim. In order to quantify such statements, there needs to be undisputable proof that such an event took place. This applies to both the true believer and debunker. It is far better to be cautious with such claims before any endorsement. Simply put, it's a correct procedure to fully investigate a report to its logical conclusion before writing any report.

The above case comes down to just two possibilities. Either the claim is valid as an extraordinary event, or it is a hoax. The simpler explanation clearly favors this to be a hoax.

One could argue that ET uses some of the same hardware as "Earthlings." Maybe you are thinking, "Why go through all this trouble with a hoax?" or, perhaps, "The source was confused on some of the finer details." I could also interject that maybe there is a clandestine movement within the United States to cover-up this episode. Perhaps this is disinformation, a ruse to hide facts regarding another covert operation. As I previously stated, I cannot prove nor disprove these statements.

What we will say is that the above incident could not have happened with the information given. Our investigations indicate this to my satisfaction. This was a photograph of a light aircraft crash and its dead pilot. Whether it was military or not is still an issue open for debate.

This report is meant to be more of an educational tool for researchers. In the future, you may be presented with a similar account. As an objective investigator, you should pursue every avenue at your disposal, much like we did. Bear in mind, that not all the crash saucer stories have this many errors. It may take time to weed out all the evidence, pro or con. After all, the first step to defining Ufology as a worthy study is to collect all the trash and dump it from the database.


Note: Robert Easley is credited with coining the term "Tomato Man".


1. GSW stated in their report that they felt the photographs represented a misinterpretation of a laboratory monkey from a V-2 rocket test failure. Their hypothesis does have merit for other UFO crashes, but we felt it was not applicable to the instant case. OUFOIL Investigative Report; 1982; Charles Wilhelm, Editor.

2. Letter from Eastman Kodak to Ron Schaffner dated January 26, 1981.

3. Letter from Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children to Earl Jones dated April 6, 1981

4. Letters from White Sands to Charles Wilhelm dated February 2 and 17, 1981

5. History of the DEW Line 1946-1964; K4112 AFSHRC/HD, Maxwell AFB.

6. Letter and information packet sent to Charles Wilhelm from Lockheed Corporation dated April 6, 1981.

7. USAF Historical Division, Maxwell AFB, AL. 36112

8. Department of the Army; The Center of Military History and Cessna Aircraft Corporation.

9. USAF Historical Division, Maxwell AFB

10. Letter from Willard McIntyre to Lee Graham dated June 3, 1981

Case ID: 378 edit: 378

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