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Investigators seek clues in UFO sightings

South Bend Tribune (Indiana) - 4/17/2004

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Roger Sugden, assistant director of Mutual UFO Network Indiana, and MUFON state section director Stewart Hill, went to Carpenter's rural home Friday to look into reports by at least seven people in three counties of sightings of something they can't explain.

Area residents describe what they saw on night of April 8.

Tribune Staff Writer

ROCHESTER -- Bev Carpenter's hands painted pictures in the warm blue sky, the sound of birds punctuated by her testimony of the only thing investigators found missing: The UFO she saw the night of April 8.

Roger Sugden, assistant director of Mutual UFO Network Indiana, and MUFON state section director Stewart Hill, went to Carpenter's rural home Friday to look into reports by at least seven people in three counties of sightings of something they can't explain.

MUFON, headquartered in Littleton, Colo., is an international scientific organization of people who are seriously interested in studying and researching unidentified flying objects and was founded in 1969.

Sugden and Hill went to Carpenter's property for a physical look for two reasons:

"The type of structure that was reported was rare" Sugden, who lives in Fort Wayne, said. All of the witnesses have described a disc-shaped object with lights.

"And to have multiple witnesses (also is rare)" Hill added.

The pair conducted interviews with Carpenter and Robbie Crull, among others. Crull lives only about a half-mile from Carpenter, on County Road 400 North. When Carpenter went on a Rochester radio station last week to talk about her experience April 8, several callers said they had seen the object in the air, as well.

The incident happened around 10 p.m. on April 8. Carpenter saw it to the south of her home about 400 yards away. Crull said it looked as if it were "in my yard" and a third witness in Miami County, Gene Winters, told The Tribune earlier this week that whatever it was hovered only 35 to 50 feet above the pond in his back yard located mid-way between Mexico and Denver.

A couple of other Fulton County residents and two additional Marshall County witnesses also were to be interviewed by Sugden and Hill Friday afternoon.

Sugden, who served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, and who currently owns an aerial photography business in Fort Wayne, was enthusiastic about the investigation, but far from excitable. Hill, a retired Bayer Corp. employee who lives in Elkhart, was calm as the pair looked for any possible explanation of what the object could be.

Standing outside her home, Carpenter extended her arm and pointed off to the south to show the investigators where she and her 13-year-old granddaughter first saw two sets of three lights about 400 yards from the house as they came home around 10 p.m. April 8.

Sugden's eyes followed Carpenter's finger as it traced a path in the clear blue sky.

"I tell you, Roger, it was humongous" Carpenter said.

Sugden assured her he has with him many pieces of equipment with which to take many types of measurements.

Crull, a former employee with the Fulton County Sheriff's Department and also a former private investigator, said she and her son "didn't have time to be scared" when they saw what they think was the same object Carpenter saw in the night sky.

Now, though, the experience has the retiree from Crull's Christian Academy wondering if whatever it was is still out there.

"It makes me think there are probably other things out there besides just us" Crull said.

"Hers (Carpenter's sighting) was a lot further away from the house than ours was" Crull said.

The walk from Carpenter's immediate yard downhill southward, where investigators checked out fallen limbs and other growth, was filled with buttercups, spring beauties, wild violets and other signs that nature had been left untouched.

The group then reached the dip where Carpenter had, on Easter while looking for mushrooms, observed a circle of fallen tree limbs. Sugden took magnetic, electric, radio and microwave readings in the area.

"Nothing's spiking up" he told the crowd. He also noted that there were "no burnt tree tops"

Both Sugden and Hill photographed the area.

Sugden and Hill tramped around the underbrush a bit longer, and WSBT-TV news reporter Ray Roth focused his camera on Sugden, asking him pertinent questions about his activities.

Suddenly, the audio on Roth's camera went haywire, producing a "buzzing" not only in Roth's ear but as background to the interview. The camera had worked just fine up at the house.

"This is kind of crazy" Roth said, fiddling with the buttons, checking to see if something he had done had made the equipment behave in a peculiar manner.

Sugden produced an inexpensive tape recorder with a never-before-used tape, turned it on, spoke several sentences, and stopped the tape. He then replayed it. Sure enough, that same buzz could be heard in the background.

When the group began walking back toward the house, Roth again checked his camera. The audio was again clear.

Sugden tried the same experiment with the tape recorder. It, too, was clear.

Sugden said he'd return to the dip where the tree limbs lay in a circle and take some additional readings.

Hill said whatever findings the pair collects from their full day of investigation will be posted on the organization's Web site at www.mufon.com.

Carpenter's initial report of the sighting was posted on the Web site of the National UFO Reporting Center, headquartered in Seattle, at www.nuforc.org/webreports/034/S34815.html.

"I'm really curious whether they (the investigators) believe us, or think we're just kooks" Crull said. "But I'm glad they're willing to walk around and check out what we're telling them we saw"

She's had some second thoughts about UFOs since the experience, too.

"If we (the witnesses) had all seen it in the same place, that would have been one thing" Crull continued, still mulling it over in her head. "But there's a half-mile difference between Bev's place and mine, and then there's the people in Miami and Marshall counties, too. It's really weird"

"I keep going back to the fact that when the lights (on the UFO) went out, it was still there" Crull said. "Maybe it's still there ... Maybe they are there more often than we realize"

Staff writer Anita Munson:


(574) 936-2920

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