A Critique of Budd Hopkins’ Case of the UFO Abduction of Linda Napolitano
Budd Hopkins has made a number of public presentations of a purported UFO abduction case with multiple witnesses. The primary abductee is Linda Napolitano, who lives in an apartment building on the lower east side of Manhattan (New York City). She claims to have been abducted by extraterrestrial aliens from her 12th floor apartment in November 1989. It is claimed that three witnesses in a car two blocks away observed Linda and alien beings float out of a window and ascend into a craft. One alleged witness was United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar. It is also claimed that a woman on the Brooklyn Bridge observed the abduction. Linda has reported nose bleeds, and one X-ray displays an implant in her nose.
To date, Hopkins has provided no full, detailed written report, but he did publish a couple five page articles in the September and December 1992 issues of the Mufon UFO Journal and made a presentation at the 1992 MUFON symposium. We have made use of that information as well as records from other presentations, and we have interviewed the abductee. A number of serious questions arose from our examination. The case has many exotic aspects, and we have identified a science fiction novel that may have served as the basis for elements of the story.
Several prominent leaders in ufology have become involved, and their behavior and statements have been quite curious. Some have aggressively attempted to suppress evidence of a purported attempted murder. The implications for the understanding of ufology are discussed.
Budd Hopkins is the person most responsible for drawing attention to the problem of the extraterrestrial (ET) abduction experience. His efforts have been instrumental in stimulating both media attention and scientific research devoted to the problem. He has written two popular books (Missing Time, 1981, and Intruders, 1987), established the Intruders Foundation, and has made innumerable appearances at conferences and in the media.
Although Hopkins is neither a trained therapist, an academic, nor a scientist, he has involved such people in his work. John E. Mack, M.D., a Pulitzer Prize winner and former head of the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School, has praised Hopkins’ work and acknowledged his indebtedness to him (Mack, 1992a, 1992b). Hopkins has collaborated with university professors in co-authoring an article in the book Unusual Personal Experiences (1992), which was sent to 100,000 mental health professionals. He has testified as an expert witness at a hearing regarding the medical competence of a physician who claims to have been abducted (McKenna, 1992). Because of such strong endorsements and impressive affiliations, and because of his untiring work on behalf of abductees, Hopkins has become the single most visible figure in the UFO abduction field. His contributions, positive or negative, will be quickly noticed by those inside and outside ufology.
Last year, Hopkins made a number of public presentations about a spectacular UFO abduction case occurring in November 1989 and having multiple witnesses. The primary abductee was Linda Napolitano, a woman living on the 12th floor of a high-rise apartment building in lower Manhattan (New York City) [Hopkins has previously used the pseudonym “Linda Cortile” in this case]. It is claimed that three witnesses in a car two blocks away observed Linda and three ET aliens emerge from a window and ascend into a craft. Further it is claimed that a woman who was driving across the Brooklyn Bridge also saw the event.
The case has generated enormous interest and drawn international attention. It has been discussed in the Wall Street Journal (Jefferson, 1992), Omni (Baskin, 1992), Paris Match (De Brosses, 1992), the New York Times (Sontag, 1992), and Hopkins and Napolitano have appeared on the television show Inside Edition. The Mufon UFO Journal labeled it “The Abduction Case of the Century” (Stacy, 1992, p. 9). Even the technical magazine ADVANCE for Radiologic Science Professionals carried a discussion of Linda’s nasal implant (Hatfield, 1992). We should expect continuing coverage of the affair not only in the UFO press but also in the major media.
In a short article previewing his 1992 MUFON symposium presentation, he wrote: “I will be presenting what I believe to be the most important case for establishing the objective reality of UFO abductions that I have yet encountered” (Hopkins, 1992, p. 20). During his lecture at the symposium he stated: “This is probably the most important case I’ve ever run into in my life” (tape recorded, July 1992). In his abstract for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Abduction Study Conference held in June 1992 he wrote: “The importance of this case is virtually immeasurable, as it powerfully supports both the objective reality of UFO abductions and the accuracy of regressive hypnosis as employed with this abductee.” Because of Hopkins’ renown, and because of his evaluation, this case warrants our careful scrutiny.
The authors’ involvement
The first two authors had learned of the case before Hopkins had spoken publicly of it, and they decided to monitor its progress. They regularly briefed the third author as their investigation progressed. As the affair became publicized, all three became concerned about the long term effect it might have on abduction research.
For several years Richard Butler attended Hopkins’ informal meetings organized for abductees and abduction researchers. Butler became familiar with the case during those meetings, and he invited Stefula to a gathering in early October 1991. At the meeting, Hopkins outlined the case, and afterward, Stefula had a chance to chat with Linda about her experiences. Butler and Stefula gave Linda their telephone numbers. She was advised that if she needed any assistance she could contact them. Stefula told her that he had numerous contacts in federal and state law enforcement agencies that could be of aid to her. The same information was provided to Hopkins.
On January 28, 1992, Linda requested a meeting with Richard Butler, and on February 1, 1992, Linda, Stefula and Butler met in New York City, and Linda provided additional details about her experiences (described below). During that meeting, she asked them not to inform Hopkins of their discussions. At the 1992 MUFON convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico in July, both Hopkins and Linda appeared on the podium and presented the case. Stefula attended the convention and heard the talk, and disturbing questions arose. Some of the statements directly contradicted what Linda had earlier told Stefula and Butler. We contacted Hopkins in an attempt to resolve these matters, but he declined to meet with us, saying that he didn’t want to discuss the case until his book manuscript was submitted. Despite his initial reluctance, eventually a meeting was arranged on October 3, 1992 at Hopkins’ home, and a few more details then emerged.
Summary of case
In order to compile this summary of alleged events, we have relied upon Hopkins’ and Linda’s talks from the podium of the 1992 MUFON symposium, on our interviews with Linda, on Hopkins’ talk at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire UFO conference, September 13, 1992, and Hopkins’ two five-page articles in the September and December issues of the Mufon UFO Journal.
In April 1989 Hopkins received a letter from Linda Napolitano, a resident of New York City. Linda wrote that she had begun reading his book Intruders and had remembered that 13 years earlier she had detected a bump next to her nose. It was examined by a physician who insisted that she had undergone nasal surgery. Linda claimed that she never had such surgery, and she even checked with her mother, who confirmed that impression.
Hopkins took an interest in the case because there was a potential for medical evidence and because Linda lived relatively close to Hopkins, which facilitated their meeting. Linda visited Hopkins and discussed her past experiences with him. She recalled some pertinent earlier events in her life but believed that she was no longer directly involved with any abduction phenomena. Linda then began attending meetings of Hopkins’ support group for abductees.
On November 30, 1989, Linda called Hopkins and reported that she had been abducted during the early morning hours of that day, and she provided some details. A few days later, she underwent regressive hypnosis, and Linda remembered floating out of her apartment window, 12 stories above the ground. She recalled ascending in a bluish-white beam of light into a craft which was hovering over the building.
Richard and Dan
Over a year later (February 1991), Hopkins received a letter signed with the first names, Richard and Dan. (We have no hard evidence that “Richard” and “Dan” actually exist. In order to avoid overburdening the reader, we will typically omit the word “alleged” when mentioning them.) The letter claimed that the two were police officers who were under cover in a car beneath the elevated FDR Drive between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. in late November 1989. Above a high-rise apartment building, they observed a large, bright reddish-orange object with green lights around its side. They wrote that they saw a woman and several strange figures float out a window and up into the object. Richard and Dan said that they had come across Hopkins’ name and decided to write to him. They went on to say that they were extremely concerned about her well being, wanted to locate the woman, talk to her, and be assured that she was alive and safe. The two also mentioned that they could identify the building and window from which she emerged.
After receiving the letter, Hopkins promptly called Linda and told her that she might expect a visit from two policemen. A few days later, Linda telephoned Hopkins to tell him that she had been visited by Richard and Dan. When they had knocked on her door, introducing themselves as police officers, she was not too surprized because she reports that police frequently canvass her apartment complex looking for witnesses to crimes. Even with Hopkins’ prior call, she did not expect Richard and Dan to actually appear. After they arrived and entered her home, there was an emotional greeting, and they expressed relief that she was alive. However, Richard and Dan were disinclined to meet with or talk to Hopkins, despite the fact that they had written him earlier and despite Linda’s entreaties to do so. Richard asked Linda if it was acceptable for them to write out an account of their experience and then read it into a tape recorder. She agreed, and a couple weeks later Hopkins received a tape recording from Richard describing their experience.
Some time thereafter, Hopkins received a letter from Dan giving a bit more information. The letter reported that Richard had taken a leave of absence because the close encounter had been so emotionally traumatic. Dan also mentioned that Richard secretly watched Linda. (This information is from Hopkins’ oral presentation at the 1992 MUFON symposium in Albuquerque. At the Portsmouth, New Hampshire conference, Hopkins said that he had received a letter from Richard saying that Dan was forced to take of leave of absence. It is not clear if Hopkins misspoke at some point, or whether both individuals took leaves of absence.)
Hopkins received another letter from Dan which said that he and Richard were not really police officers but actually security officers who had been driving a very important person (VIP) to a helicopter pad in lower Manhattan when the sighting occurred. The letter claimed that their car stalled, and Richard had pushed it, parking it beneath the FDR Drive. According to Dan, the VIP had also witnessed the abduction event and had become hysterical.
Linda claimed that in April of 1991 she encountered Richard on the street near her apartment. She was asked to get into a car that Dan was driving, but she refused. Richard picked her up and, with some struggle, forced her into the vehicle. Linda reported that she was driven around for 3 1/2 hours, interrogated about the aliens, and asked whether she worked for the government. She also said that she was forced to remove her shoes so they could examine her feet to determine whether she was an ET alien (they later claimed that aliens lack toes). Linda did remember another car being involved with the kidnapping, and under hypnotic regression she recalled the license plate number of that car, as well as part of the number of the car in which she rode. Hopkins reports that the numbers have been traced to particular “agencies” (he gave no further details).
At the MUFON symposium, Linda was asked if she had reported the kidnapping to the police. She said that she had not and went on to say that the kidnapping was legal because it had to do with national security.
In conversations with Butler in early 1992, Linda had expressed concerns about her personal safety. A meeting was arranged with Stefula because of his background in law enforcement. During the afternoon and early evening of February 1, the three met in New York City, and Linda described further details of the kidnappings.
She reported that on the morning of October 15, 1991, Dan accosted her on the street and pulled her into a red Jaguar sports car. Linda happened to be carrying a tape recorder and was able to surreptitiously record a few minutes of Dan’s questioning, but he soon discovered and confiscated it. Dan drove to a beach house on the shore of Long Island. There he demanded that Linda remove her clothes and put on a white nightgown, similar to the one she wore the night of the abduction. He said he wanted to have sex with her. She refused but then agreed to put on the nightgown over her clothes. Once she did, Dan dropped to his knees and started to talk incoherently about her being the “Lady of the Sands.” She fled the beach house, but Dan caught her on the beach and bent her arm behind her. He placed two fingers on the back of her neck, leading Linda to believe that it was a gun. He then forced her into the water and pushed her head under twice. He continued to rave incoherently, and as her head was being pushed under for the third time, she believed that she would not come up again. Then, a “force” hit Dan and knocked him back onto the beach. She started to run but heard a sound like a gun being cocked. She looked back and saw Dan taking a picture of her (Linda mentioned that pictures from the beach were eventually sent to Hopkins). She continued running, but Richard appeared beside her, seemingly out of nowhere. He stopped her and convinced her to return to the beach house and told her that he would control Dan by giving him a Mickey Finn. She agreed. Once inside, Richard put Dan in the shower to wash off the mud and sand from the beach. This gave Linda a chance to search the premises; she recovered her casette tape and discovered stationery bearing a Central Intelligence Agency letterhead.
In a brief conversation on October 3, 1992, Hopkins told Hansen that Linda came to him shortly after she arrived back in Manhattan after the kidnapping. She was disheveled, had sand in her hair, and was traumatized by the experience.
Further Contacts with Richard and Dan
During the February 1 meeting with Butler and Stefula, Linda reported that she had met Richard outside a Manhattan bank on November 21, 1991. He told her of Dan’s deteriorating mental condition. During the Christmas season, Linda received a card and a three page letter from Dan (dated 12/14/91). The letter bore a United Nations stamp and postmark (the UN building in New York has a post office which anyone can use). Dan wrote that he was in a mental institution and was kept sedated. He expressed a strong romantic interest in Linda. Some of his remarks suggested that he wanted to kidnap her, take her out of the country, and marry her; Linda seemed alarmed by this (she gave a copy of the letter to Stefula and Butler).
Linda also asserted that on December 15 and December 16, 1991, one of the men had tried to make contact with her near the shopping area of the South Street Seaport. He was driving a large black sedan with Saudi Arabian United Nations license plates. During the first incident, to avoid him, Linda reported that she went into a shop. The second day a similar thing happened, and she stood next to some businessmen until he left the area.
The Third Man
At the February 1 meeting, Linda mentioned that Hopkins had received a letter from “the third man” (the VIP), and she was able to repeat entire sentences from this letter, seemingly verbatim. It discussed ecological danger to the planet, and Linda indicated that aliens were involved in ending the Cold War. The letter ended with a warning to Hopkins to stop searching for “the third man” because it could potentially do harm to world peace.
Linda also related a few more details of her November 1989 abduction. She said that the men in the car had felt a strong vibration at the time of the sighting. Linda also claimed that in subsequent hypnotic regressions she recalled being on a beach with Dan, Richard, and the third man, and she thought somehow she was being used by the aliens to control the men. She communicated with the men telepathically and said that she felt that she had known Richard prior to the November 1989 abduction, and she suggested that they possibly had been abducted together previously. We also learned that the third man was actually Javier Perez de Cuellar, at that time Secretary General of the United Nations. Linda claimed that the various vehicles used in her kidnappings had been traced to several countries’ missions at the UN.
At the Portsmouth, New Hampshire conference, Hopkins spoke of the third man saying: “I am trying to do what I can to shame this person to come forward.”
Witness on the Brooklyn Bridge
In the summer of 1991, a year and a half after the UFO abduction, Hopkins received a letter from a woman who is a retired telephone operator from Putnam County, New York (Hopkins has given this woman the pseudonym of Janet Kimble). Hopkins did not bother to open the letter, and in November 1991, he received another one from her marked on the outside “CONFIDENTIAL, RE: BROOKLYN BRIDGE.” The odd outside marking and the fact that she had written two letters, seem to have raised no suspicions in Hopkins’ mind. The woman, a widow of about sixty, claimed to have been driving on the Brooklyn Bridge at 3:16 a.m., November 30, 1989. She reported that her car stopped and the lights went out. She too saw a large, brightly lit object over a building; in fact, the light was so bright that she was forced to shield her eyes, though she was over a quarter mile away. Nevertheless, she claimed to have observed four figures in fetal positions emerge from a window. The figures simultaneously uncurled and then moved up into the craft. Ms. Kimble was quite frightened by the event, and people in cars behind her were “running all around their cars with theirs (sic) hands on their heads, screaming from horror and disbelief” (quoted in Hopkins, 1992d, p. 7). She wrote: “I have never traveled back to New York City after what I saw and I never will again, for any reason” (Hopkins, 1992d, p. 5). Despite her intense fear and all the commotion, she had the presence of mind to rummage through her purse to find her cigarette lighter to illuminate her watch in order to determine the time.
Hopkins has interviewed this woman in person and over the phone. The woman claimed to have obtained his name in a bookstore; she called the Manhattan directory assistance for his telephone number and then looked up his address in the Manhattan White Pages. She alleges that she was reticent about speaking of the incident and had only told her son, daughter, sister, and brother-in-law about the event.
The Nasal X-ray
In November 1991 a doctor, whom Hopkins describes as “closely connected with Linda,” took an X-ray of Linda’s head because she knew about the story of the nasal implant and because Linda frequently spoke of the problem with her nose. The X-ray was not developed immediately. A few days later the doctor brought it to Linda but was very nervous and unwilling to discuss it. Linda took it to Hopkins, who showed it to a neurosurgeon friend of his. The neurosurgeon was astounded; a sizeable, clearly non-natural object could be seen in the nasal area. Hopkins has shown a slide of the X-ray during his presentations, and the implant is strikingly apparent, even to a lay audience. The object has a shaft approximately 1/4 inch long with a curly-cue wire structure on each end.
Other Unusual Aspects of the Case
During our meeting with Linda on February 1, she gave us additional miscellaneous details that might be pertinent. We were told that she believed that she was under surveillance and described a light silver-gray van that had parked near her apartment. She also claimed that she had once been a professional singer and the lead on a hit record, but she had lost her singing voice one day while in the shower. Linda mentioned that she was given to understand that her blood was quite unusual. A doctor had informed her that her red blood cells did not die, but instead they rejuvenated. She wondered whether this might be due to an alien influence; some time later she attempted to locate the doctor but was unable to do so. Linda seemed to imply that she now believed that she was part alien or somehow worked with the aliens.
Linda also told us that she had an agreement with Budd Hopkins to split equally any profits from a book on the case.
Initial problems with the case
There are a number of obvious but unanswered questions that raise immediate doubts about the credibility of the case.
The most serious problem is that the three alleged principal corroborating witnesses (Richard, Dan, and Perez de Cuellar) have not been interviewed face- to-face by Hopkins, although it has been over a year and a half since initial contact with Hopkins and over three years since the abduction.
Richard and Dan allegedly met with Linda and have written letters to Hopkins. Linda has a picture of Dan. Yet Dan and Richard refuse to speak directly with Hopkins. No hard evidence confirms that Richard and Dan even exist.
Though they initially expressed extreme concern over the well being of Linda, the alleged “Dan” and “Richard” waited more than a year before contacting Linda and Hopkins. Why? Furthermore, they contacted Hopkins before they visited Linda. How did this come about? After all, they knew the location of Linda’s apartment, so it would seem that they would have had no reason to contact Hopkins. Why did they bother with him at all?
The woman on the bridge said that before contacting Hopkins she only discussed the matter with her son, daughter, sister and brother-in-law. Why didn’t she contact other UFO investigators? Why only Hopkins? If there is some unclear reporting on this point and she did actually contact others, can such be verified? Has there been any investigation of this woman such as checking with her neighbors, friends, family, or previous employers? What is her background? Has she had any previous relationship with Linda? These questions have not been addressed, and thus the credibility of the only directly interviewed, corroborating, first-hand witness remains in doubt.
Dan has spent time in a mental institution. Richard suffered extreme emotional distress, forcing him to take a leave of absence from his job. Assuming that these two people actually exist, one must now be careful in accepting their claims (even if offered in good faith). Despite their debilitating mental problems, at least one of them was allowed to drive a car with UN license plates. Are we really to believe that they returned to active duty in a sensitive position (presumably carrying firearms) and were given use of an official car?
Who was the doctor who took the X-rays? We are only told that this person is closely connected with Linda. Why isn’t a formal report available? Given the alarming nature of the outcome, why wasn’t there an immediate examination? Linda said that the doctor was “nervous” and didn’t want to talk about the X- ray. It is not clear whether Hopkins has ever met this alleged doctor. Instead, Hopkins showed the X-ray to a friend of his. Some have speculated that Linda may have simply put some small object in her nose and had a friendly X-ray technician assist. We have seen no evidence to exclude this possibility.
Linda claims that she was kidnapped twice, nearly drowned, and further harassed. Yet she refuses to contact the police, even after Hopkins’ urging. During the February 1, 1992 meeting with Stefula and Butler, Linda asked if she had legal grounds to “shoot” Dan if he attempted another abduction of her by force. Stefula advised against it and recommended that she go to the police and make an official complaint. She declined. If she was afraid, why didn’t her husband contact authorities? The most plausible reason is that if a report was filed, and her story proved false, she could be subject to criminal charges. Linda’s failure here raises enormous questions of credibility.
Despite the numerous problems outlined above, we believed it worthwhile to gain additional information because so many people had contacted us with questions. On September 19, 1992, Stefula, Butler, and Hansen traveled to New York City in order to visit the site of the alleged abduction. We found that Linda’s apartment complex has a large courtyard with guard house manned 24 hours a day. We talked with the security guard and his supervisor and asked if they had ever heard about a UFO encounter near the complex. They reported hearing nothing about one. We also asked if the police routinely enter the complex and undertake door-to-door canvassing in order to find witnesses to crimes. They said that this was a very rare practice. We obtained the name and phone number of the apartment manager and called him a few days later. He reported knowing nothing about the UFO sighting, nor had he heard anything about it from any of the approximately 1600 residents in the complex.
We also visited the site under the FDR drive where Richard and Dan purportedly parked their car. This was in a direct line of sight and nearly across the street from the loading dock of the New York Post. We spoke with an employee of the Post, who told us that the dock was in use through most of the night. A few days later, we called the New York Post and spoke to the person who was the loading dock manager in 1989. He told us that the dock is in use until 5:00 a.m. and that there are many trucks that come and go frequently during the early morning hours. The manager knew nothing of the UFO which supposedly appeared only a couple blocks away.
Also in September, a colleague of ours contacted the Downtown Heliport, on Pier Six on the East River of Manhattan. That is the only heliport on the east side of Manhattan between Linda’s apartment and the lower tip of the island. Our colleague was informed that the normal hours of operation of the heliport are from 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. The Senior Airport Operations Agent researched the records and found that there were no helicopter movements on November 30, 1989 before normal hours. Our colleague was also told that about six months previously, the heliport authorities had been approached by a man in his fifties with white hair who had made a similar inquiry. That man had asked about a UFO that had crashed into the East River.
The Meeting of October 3
On October 3, 1992, we met with Hopkins and his colleagues at his residence in Manhattan. Among those in attendance were David Jacobs, Walter H. Andrus, and Jerome Clark. During our meeting a number of questions were raised, and some of Hopkins’ answers revealed a great deal about his investigations as well as the attitudes of Jacobs, Andrus, and Clark. Linda’s statements also told us much.
We inquired if Hopkins had asked the guards of the apartment complex whether they had seen the UFO. He indicated that he had not done so. This is quite surprising, considering that the UFO was so bright that the woman on the bridge had to shield her eyes from it even though she was more than a quarter mile distant. One would have thought that Hopkins would have made inquiries of the guards considering the spectacular nature of the event.
We noted that Linda had claimed that police canvassing of her apartment complex was a common occurrence. We asked Hopkins if he had attempted to verify this with the guards or the building manager. He indicated that he did not feel it necessary. Although this is a minor point, it is one of the few directly checkable statements made by Linda, but Hopkins did not attempt to confirm it.
We asked about the weather on the night of the abduction. Amazingly, Hopkins told us that he didn’t know the weather conditions for that period. This was perhaps one of the most revealing moments, and it gives great insight into Hopkins’ capabilities as an investigator. If the weather had been foggy, rainy, or snowing, the visibility could have been greatly hampered, and the reliability of the testimony of the witnesses would need to be evaluated accordingly. Even the very first form in the MUFON Field Investigator’s Manual requests information on weather conditions (Fowler, 1983, p. 30). We ourselves did check the weather and knew the conditions did not impede visibility. But the fact that Hopkins apparently had not bothered to obtain even this most basic investigatory information was illuminating. He claims to have much supporting evidence that he has not revealed to outsiders; however, because of Hopkins’ demonstrated failure to check even the most rudimentary facts, we place absolutely no credence in his undisclosed “evidence.”
During the discussions, Hopkins’ partisans made allusions to other world figures involved in this event, though they did not give names. Hopkins’ supporters, who had been given information denied to us, seemed to believe that there was a large motorcade that carried Perez de Cuellar and these other dignitaries in the early morning hours of November 30, 1989. At the meeting, we presented an outside expert consultant who for many years had served in dignitary protective services. He described the extensive preplanning required for moving officials and the massive coordination during the movements. Many people and networks would be alerted if there were any problems at all (such as a car stalling, or a delay in passing checkpoints). His detailed presentation seemed to take Hopkins aback. The consultant listed several specialized terms used by the dignitary protective services and suggested that Hopkins ask Richard and Dan the meaning of those terms as a test of their knowledge, and thus credibility. As far as we know, Hopkins has failed to contact Richard and Dan about that matter.
During the beginning part of the October 3 meeting, Linda’s husband answered a few questions (in a very quiet voice). He seemed to have difficulty with some of them, and Linda spoke up to “correct” his memory. He left the meeting very early, even though Linda was under considerable stress, and despite the fact that she was overheard asking him to stay by her side. His leaving raised many questions in our minds.
Linda also responded to questions during the meeting. Early in the discussion, Hansen asked Linda’s husband whether he was born and raised in the U.S. He replied that he had come to this country when he was 17. Linda promptly interjected that she knew why Hansen had asked that question. During a prior telephone conversation between Linda and Hansen, Linda had asserted that her husband was born and raised in New York. She acknowledged that she had previously deliberately misled Hansen.
Later in the meeting the question arose about a financial agreement between Linda and Hopkins. Stefula noted that Linda had told him that she and Hopkins had an agreement to split profits from a book. Hopkins denied that there was any such arrangement, and Linda then claimed that she had deliberately planted disinformation.
During the meeting, reports were heard from two psychologists. They concluded that Linda’s intelligence was in the “average” range. One suggested that Linda would need the mind of a Bobby Fischer to plan and execute any hoax that could explain this case and that she was not capable of orchestrating such a massive, complex operation. Although these were supposedly professional opinions, we were not given the names of these psychologists.
Ms. Penelope Franklin also attended the meeting. She is a close colleague of Hopkins and the editor of IF–The Bulletin of the Intruders Foundation. Hopkins had previously informed us in writing that Ms. Franklin was a coinvestigator on the Napolitano case. In a conversation during a break in the meeting, Franklin asserted to Hansen that Linda was absolutely justified in lying about the case. This remarkable statement was also witnessed by Vincent Creevy, who happened to be standing between Franklin and Hansen.
Franklin’s statement raises very troubling questions, especially given her prominence within Hopkins’ circle of colleagues. Her statement appears to violate all norms of scientific integrity. We can only wonder whether Linda has been counseled to lie by Hopkins or his colleagues. Have other abductees been given similar advice? What kind of a social and ethical environment are Hopkins and Franklin creating for abductees? We also cannot help but wonder whether Hopkins and Franklin believe it appropriate for themselves to lie about the case. They owe the UFO research community an explanation for Franklin’s statement. If such is not forthcoming, we simply cannot accept them as credible investigators.
Hopkins’ reaction to our investigation
In concluding his Mufon UFO Journal paper, Hopkins wrote: “if rumors are true and there are officially sanctioned intelligence agents within the various UFO investigative networks, these people will also be mobilized to subvert the case from the inside, even before its full dimensions are made known to the public at large” (Hopkins, 1992c, p. 16). Hopkins apparently takes this idea quite seriously. After he learned of our investigation, he warned Butler that he suspected Butler and Stefula of being government agents and that he planned to inform others of his suspicions. A few weeks after our October 3 meeting, he told people that he suspected Hansen of being a CIA agent. This was not an offhand remark made to a friend in an informal setting; rather this was asserted to a woman whom he did not know and who had happened to attend one of his lectures (member of MUFON in New Jersey who feared future repercussions if her name was mentioned, personal communication, November 7, 1992).
A possible literary basis for elements of the story
This case is quite exotic, even for a UFO abduction. Government agents are involved, the UN Secretary General is a key witness, Linda was kidnapped in the interests of national security, concerns are expressed about world peace, the CIA is attempting to discredit the case, and the ETs helped end the Cold War. The story is truly marvellous, and one might wonder about its origin. We wish to draw the readers’ attention to the science fiction novel, Nighteyes, by Garfield Reeves-Stevens. This work was first published in April 1989, a few months before Linda claimed to have been abducted from her apartment.
The experiences reported by Linda seem to be a composite of those of two characters in Nighteyes: Sarah and Wendy. The parallels are striking; some are listed in Table 1. We have not bothered to include the similarities commonly reported in abduction experiences (e.g., implants, bodily examinations, probes, etc.). The parallels are sufficiently numerous to lead us to suspect that the novel served as the basis for Linda’s story. We want to emphasize that the parallels are with discrete elements of the case and not with the story line itself.
Similarities Between the Linda Napolitano Case and the Science Fiction Novel Nighteyes
|The Linda Napolitano Case||The Science Fiction Novel Nighteyes|
|Linda was abducted into a UFO hovering over her high-rise apartment building in New York City.||Sarah was abducted into a UFO hovering over her high-rise apartment building in New York City.|
|Dan and Richard initially claimed to have been on a stakeout and were involved in a UFO abduction in during early morning hours.||Early in Nighteyes two government agents were on a stakeout and became involved in a UFO abduction during early morning hours.|
|Linda was kidnapped and thrown into a car by Richard and Dan.||Wendy was kidnapped and thrown into a van by Derek and Merril.|
|Linda claimed to have been under surveillance by someone in a van.||Vans were used for surveillance in Nighteyes.|
|Dan is a security and intelligence agent.||Derek was an FBI agent.|
|Dan was hospitalized for emotional trauma.||One of the government agents in Nighteyes was hospitalized for emotional trauma.|
|During the kidnapping Dan took Linda to a safe house.||During the kidnapping Derek took Wendy to a safe house.|
|The safe house Linda visited was on the beach.||In Nighteyes, one safe house was on the beach.|
|Before her kidnapping, Linda contacted Budd Hopkins about her abduction.||Before her kidnapping, Wendy contacted Charles Edward Starr about her abduction.|
|Budd Hopkins is a prominent UFO abduction researcher living in New York City and an author who has written books on the topic.||Charles Edward Starr was a prominent UFO abduction researcher living in New York City and an author who had written books on the topic.|
|Linda and Dan were abducted at the same time and communicated with each other during their abductions.||Wendy and Derek were abducted at the same time and communicated with each other during their abductions.|
|Linda thought she “knew” Richard previously.||Wendy “knew” Derek previously.|
|Dan expressed a romantic interest in Linda.||Derek became romantically involved with Wendy.|
|Dan and Richard felt considerable vibration during the close encounter.||During the UFO landing in Nighteyes there was much vibration.|
|Photographs of Linda were taken on the beach and sent to Hopkins.||In Nighteyes, photographs taken on a beach played a central role.|
The reaction of the ufology’s leadership
One of the most curious features of our investigation has been the reaction of several prominent leaders in ufology. Indeed, in the long run, this may turn out to be the most important part of the entire affair.
After the MUFON symposium in July, Stefula had several conversations with Walter Andrus, International Director of MUFON. Andrus told him that MUFON had no interest in publishing any material critical of this case even though they had published an article describing it as “The Abduction Case of the Century.” This is a most surprising statement from a leader of an organization which purports to be scientific. Andrus’ statements should raise questions about the legitimacy of MUFON’s claims to use objective, scientific methods.
On September 14, 1992, Hopkins faxed Butler a letter saying that as a long-standing member of MUFON, he was issuing an “order” (his word). He “ordered” Stefula and Butler to stop their investigation of the case. We found this very curious, and we wondered how Hopkins, as a member of MUFON, could believe that it was in his power to issue such an “order.” His letter seemed to reflect the mindset of a leader of a cult rather than that of an investigator searching for the truth.
For the meeting on October 3 in New York City, Hopkins flew in his close friend Jerome Clark from Minnesota. Under the sway of Hopkins, Clark strenuously urged that outsiders cease investigations, thus seemingly trying to reinforce Hopkins’ earlier “order” (despite the fact that the case already had been reported in the Wall Street Journal, Omni, Paris Match and the television show Inside Edition). Clark (1992a) later committed his position to writing, saying that this case may indeed involve a world political figure and have international consequences.
Andrus and Clark are arguably the two most influential figures in U.S. ufology. Andrus is International Director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and he organizes the largest annual conference on UFOs in the country and regularly writes for MUFON’s monthly magazine. Clark is a columnist for Fate magazine, editor of International UFO Reporter, vice-president of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, and author of books and even an encyclopedia on UFOs. Because of their eminence, their statements should be of special concern to the UFO research community.
At the meeting on October 3, the kidnapping and attempted murder of Linda were discussed. We informed Hopkins and the other participants that we were prepared to make a formal request for a federal investigation of the government agents responsible for the alleged felonies. Hopkins, Andrus, and Clark appeared to literally panic at the suggestion. They vigorously argued against making such a request. We could only conclude that they wanted to suppress evidence of attempted murder. We wondered why.
This situation seemed so outrageous that a few days later Hansen called Andrus, Clark, John Mack, and David Jacobs and asked them if they really believed Linda’s story about the kidnappings and attempted murder. All of these individuals said that they accepted her account. We were forced to seriously consider their opinions because they had been given secret information not revealed to us. During the telephone conversations, Andrus and Clark again strongly objected to requesting an investigation by law enforcement authorities.
A psycho-social perspective
The Napolitano case brings into stark relief symptoms of deep problems within ufology: major figures in the UFO community aggressively sought to suppress evidence of a purported attempted murder; Hopkins failed to obtain and verify even the most basic investigatory information; his coinvestigator, Penelope Franklin, approved of lying by the principal witness; and leaders in the field have willingly accepted and promoted the case despite its exotic features and lack of supporting evidence. This state of affairs raises perplexing questions and cries out for a plausible explanation. The thinking and motivations of ufology’s leaders deserve at least as much attention as the abduction claims themselves.
Did these leaders really believe, as they said, that they accepted the report of attempted murder? If so, they seem not to have acted as responsible citizens. However, these people do not appear to us to be delusional, in any usual sense of that word. They are highly functional members of society. They also do not appear to be perpetrators of a hoax or even “yellow journalists” with a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” attitude who knowingly want to capitalize on it for their own temporary glory or financial gain.
We believe that other motivating factors and concepts provide a better explanation and framework for understanding these seemingly bizarre actions. We would suggest that perhaps, at some semiconscious level, these individuals do not really believe their UFO investigations to be fully engaged with the “real world.” Rather, their behavior and statements seem more consistent with something like fantasy role playing, perhaps akin to the game Dungeons and Dragons (D & D).
Both ufology and D & D allow direct, immediate involvement with powerful “other-world” beings and mythological motifs. Both endeavors have been known to overtake (possess?) the participants, though only occasionally to their detriment. Most “players” are able to successfully detach themselves from involvement, but occasionally the “game” becomes obsessive and interferes with “real-world” pursuits. This “role playing” taps archetypal images that hold great psychological power. The archetypes can become immensely attractive, even addictive, to those playing the game. The notions and images of powerful “other-world” figures are part of the human condition. Accounts of them are found in all cultures throughout history, this being one of the traditional domains of religion. Even atheists and those who deny the existence of such beings must still grapple with the ideas on some level, though this might not be consciously recognized by an individual.
In the Napolitano case, the “other-world” figures include not only the ET aliens, but also the pantheon of agents of an unreachable, evil government conspiracy determined to prevent humankind’s knowledge of the ETs. Intermediaries between flesh and blood humans and the powerful masters of the mystical higher orders are ubiquitous in the realm of religion. Angels and devils serve the centers of ultimate good and evil. So here we see the largely invisible minions “Dan” and “Richard” and the mysterious witness on the bridge furthering the cause of “Truth.” Likewise, Hopkins discerns the skeptical investigators as agents of a secular satan.
Thus the interactions of Hopkins, et al., with these players are seen to conform to the rules that historically control the interactions between humans and gods. Humans question and provoke the gods only at the greatest peril. The proper approach is to appease, mollify and supplicate these “entities.” It should be no surprise that the simplest reality tests of the Napolitano story were not made in this case. Hopkins’ failure to check the weather conditions during the abduction actually makes sense in the context of this cult-like thought process. Just as lice were called “pearls of heaven” by medieval religious devotees, the physical event-reality issues in the Linda story are transmuted by her supporters.
The roles of high priest and acolytes are only too obvious when examaning the behaviors of personages Hopkins, Clark, Jacobs, and Andrus. These aging white males patronizingly refer to Linda’s “average” intellect, perhaps to reassure themselves that they are indeed in control. Yet the high priestess has, in effect, achieved the godhead (metaphorically speaking, of course).
There are some differences between D & D and ufological pursuits. D & D has more restrictive and structured rules. The boundaries of appropriate behavior are rather clearly defined. Ufology is more “unstructured,” there are fewer “rules” about what is and is not possible, and the powers of the “other- world” figures are almost unbounded. This relative lack of structure makes the UFO game somewhat more “dangerous.” In order to grapple with the phenomena, the paradigms adopted by many ufologists have “concretized” (i.e., structured) the beings as ET humanoids.
In fantasy role playing, the rules are not questioned; they are accepted by the players at the beginning. Similarly in the Linda case, the basic evidence is not to be questioned. Andrus, Clark, and Hopkins have all urged that outsiders cease investigation (despite the massive publicity given to the case). Such challenging of “rules” leads to disruptions of the “game,” and the dungeon masters need to keep order.
Direct interfacing of the “fantasy role” with the “real-world” (i.e., direct allegations of attempted murder, verification of details of testimony), usually does not cause problems, except when the players do not act in accordance with consequential “real-world” concerns. Hopkins, Andrus, Clark, Mack, and Jacobs seem to have accepted a system of beliefs and assumptions that have led to a collision with the “real world.” They have been unable to rationally defend their behavior, and Jerome Clark’s (1992a) “Torquemada” article is perhaps the single best example of that. In fact, his emotional attack labeling Hansen as “Torquemada” (director of the Spanish Inquisition) ressurects and reinforces religious themes, and it perhaps betrays his unconscious feelings of religious persecution.
The above discussion derives from a psycho-social perspective, and we would like to encourage U.S. researchers to become more familiar the ideas generated from that approach. We admit that the psycho-social theorists have failed to address many aspects of the abduction experience generally. Exclusive use of that perspective can lead to positing simplistic and scientifically sterile explanations. On the other hand, those that shun the psycho-social perspective typically fail to recognize the explanatory power it possesses and its ability to illuminate risks faced by investigators. Those wanting more information about the psycho-social perspective may wish to read the book Angels and Aliens by Keith Thompson (1991) and the British magazine Magonia; almost without saying, the works of John Keel are also recommended.
We are not denigrating ufology by such comparisons as those made above, nor are we attacking the existence of “other-world” entities. Regardless whether entities or ET aliens exist, the comparisons are useful and the consequences and insights are applicable. Such a comparative analysis should not be limited to only D & D players and ufologists; similar comparisons could be made for virtually everyone in the “real world.” They can help serve as warnings about becoming too complacent regarding beliefs in our own “rationality.”
The Napolitano case appears beset by an overwhelming number of problems. It was with some misgivings that we first embarked on this investigation because we did not wish to see UFO abduction research discredited. In fact, one of us, Butler, has had abduction experiences himself. It was our judgement that if we did not raise these issues for public discussion, there was a much greater risk for the field. The case was garnering considerable attention, and if it became widely regarded as evidential, it would reflect very badly on the field as a whole if it was eventually shown to be false.
We were quite unprepared for the reaction to our work from leaders of the field. Walter Andrus and Jerome Clark aggressively tried to dissuade us from continuing our investigation, and so far they have failed to publish any material critical of the case. We were unaware that such belligerently antiscientific attitudes were so prevalent at the highest levels of ufology. When these same individuals attempted to suppress evidence of an alleged attempted murder, we concluded that their beliefs and actions were incompatible with “real world” events. However, we do not consider the label “deluded” appropriate here, and we remind the reader that these individuals are backed by people such as Harvard psychiatrist John Mack and David Jacobs, professor of history at Temple University.
Despite our disappointment, we strongly support scientific research into the abduction phenomena and would like to call attention to high quality studies in the field (e.g., Ring & Rosing, 1990; Rodeghier, Goodpaster & Blatterbauer, 1992). We also believe that the core abduction experience has not been adequately explained within normal scientific frameworks. We commend the work of Hufford (1982) in exploring similar issues.
The present case has significant implications for assessing the true nature of the abduction phenomena. The idea that actual extraterrestrial physical creatures are abducting people has been vigorously promoted in the scientific literature and in the media. Jacobs has promoted that view in the New York Times (Hinds, 1992) as well as in the Journal of UFO Studies (Jacobs, 1992). He suggests that the ET aliens are visiting earth in order to obtain human sperm and eggs. In his JUFOS article, Jacobs was bitterly critical of Ring and Rosing, saying that they ignored “cases of witnesses seeing others being abducted while not being abducted themselves” (p. 162). Surprizingly, Jacobs gave no citations for any of these cases. Hansen wrote to Jacobs requesting such citations but received no reply. Jacobs’ article was lavish in its praise for Hopkins’ work, and we suspect that Jacobs had in mind the Napolitano case when he wrote his article. We would like to remind the reader that it was Hopkins (1992a) who wrote: “The importance of this case is virtually immeasurable, as it powerfully supports both the objective reality of UFO abductions and the accuracy of regressive hypnosis.” Because the argument for the “objective reality of UFO abductions” relies heavily on Hopkins’ work, our findings call into question this entire theoretical perspective.
In our judgment, conscious hoaxes are rare in the abduction field. The vast majority of those claiming to be abducted have had some kind of intense personal experience, whatever the ultimate cause. Nevertheless, the problems of fraud and hoaxing have long been a problem in ufology, especially for cases with high visibility. This will continue. Researchers must become more open minded to the potential for hoaxing, yet not be blinded to the genuine phenomena. This is a difficult balance. Some have questioned possible motives in this case; it is impossible to obtain certain knowledge here. Perhaps Linda really had some kind of an abduction experience (Butler believes this is likely to be the case). As she became acquainted with Hopkins and other abductees, she may have wanted to vindicate them–to save them from ridicule and derision. Perhaps money was the only motivation. Possibly there was a combination of factors. It does appear that if this was a hoax, it was not perpetrated by a lone individual. Collaborators would include the woman on the bridge, an X-ray operator, and a man (or men) preparing the tape recordings. However, we want to emphasize that we have no direct evidence to implicate Hopkins in attempted deception.
Cynics might criticize Hopkins saying that he ignored the obvious problems because he was motivated by money that might accrue from books and movie rights. While this might possibly be an unconscious factor, critics rarely acknowledge that Hopkins does not charge abductees for his services (unlike some “professionals”). Hopkins has spent an enormous amount of his own time and money investigating the phenomena. Furthermore, he does not have an academic position subsidized by the tax payers. One should not begrudge him the profits from his books. Hopkins has been involved in considerable controversy, and some have disputed his methods. Nevertheless, he has done much to bring the abduction problem to the attention of scientists and the mental health community, and his efforts have made it much more acceptable to discuss such strange encounters. Abduction experiences are often emotional and traumatic, and the abductees need considerable support. Hopkins has attempted to provide much needed aid.
The outside critic who is not directly involved in such activities almost never recognizes how difficult it is to serve as both a therapist and as a scientist. Those persons trying to help abductees emotionally need to provide warmth, acceptance, and trust. The scientist, however, needs to be critically open minded and somewhat detached and analytical. The two functions are not altogether compatible. We cannot realistically expect one individual to be 100% effective in both roles. By the nature of the endeavor, those trying to be helpful can be vulnerable to deception.
A Note on the Hansen-Clark Communications
One of the more entertaining aspects of this case has been the resulting missives by Hansen (1992a, 1992b) and Clark (1992a, 1992b) which have been widely circulated and posted on electronic bulletin boards. We encourage those interested to obtain copies.
Clark’s (1992b) most recent piece deserves comment. He now says that he now does not accept Linda’s claims about the kidnapping and attempted murder by government agents. However, in a telephone conversation with him on October 6, 1992, he told Hansen that he accepted those claims. Hansen did not tape-record the conversation, but he is willing to provide a sworn statement to that effect. Hansen also talked with Marcello Truzzi who had spoken to Clark near the same time. Truzzi understood that Clark believed that Linda was sincere in her claims and was telling the truth to the best of her ability.
The salient points are summarized as follows:
- At the 1992 MUFON symposium, Linda Napolitano spoke in front of hundreds of people and claimed that she was kidnapped by government agents.
- Clark told both Hansen and Truzzi that he accepted Linda’s story (i.e., that she was telling the truth to the best of her ability).
- Hopkins claims to have much evidence that could be used to identify the culprits.
- Hopkins flew Clark to New York, whereupon Clark aggressively injected himself into matters and vigorously opposed continuing an outside investigation and reporting the alleged felonies to law enforcement authorities. He defended this position, in writing, saying: “if this story is true, it is not just a UFO case but a `politically sensitive’ event because it supposedly involves a political figure of international stature…banging on the wrong doors could alert the relevant agency that two of its agents were leaking a huge secret.” (Clark, 1992a, p. 1).
We will let the readers decide whether Clark’s initial position was compatible with “real-world” considerations.
We are gratified that Clark has taken the time to comment, at length, on these issues, and in a style so typical of his level of dispassionate commentary. We caution readers that Clark perhaps may be currently acutely embarrassed by his statement quoted in point 4 and may feel the need to obscure this central issue. Nevertheless, we are pleased that he now seems to have made a cathartic conversion.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Philip J. Klass for assistance. We would also like to thank Vincent Creevy for providing materials and bringing the novel Nighteyes to our attention. Thanks are also due to several who provided help but do not want their names associated with the field of ufology.
Joseph Stefula is a former Special Agent for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command and is a former MUFON State Director for New Jersey. He resigned his directorship shortly after finishing this investigation.
Richard Butler is a former law enforcement and security police specialist for the U.S. Air Force and now a UFO investigator researching abductions and government cover-ups.
George Hansen has conducted parapsychological research and is author of the article “CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview” which appeared in the January 1992 Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.
Joseph Stefula (609) 893-9278
7 Michigan Terrace
Browns Mills, NJ 08015
Richard Butler (609) 625-2890
P.O. Box 65
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
George Hansen (609) 426-0927
Princeton Arms North 1, Apt. 59
Cranbury, NJ 08512
Link: George P. Hansen