The Linda Cortile (Napolintano) case,
An abduction that, supposedly, was witnessed by two federal agents and the Secretary-General of the U.N. -- and that's only the beginning of the most unbelievable UFO case ever vouched for by a major UFO investigator. Could any of it be true?
What's the most unbelievable UFO claim of all time? Ufologists could pass an amusing afternoon debating that. Would it be the George Adamski saga, or perhaps the supposed installation deep under Dulce, New Mexico, where aliens are said to store human body parts?
But if I narrowed the inquiry, and asked for the most unbelievable story ever vouched for by a major UFO investigator, I can't imagine there would be much disagreement. It would surely be the "Linda" case, which Budd Hopkins describes in his recent book Witnessed. And when I call the case "unbelievable," I don't mean that we shouldn't believe it, though there are plenty of people -- including some ufologists -- who most certainly don't. Instead, I'm using the word in its most informal sense, the sense I'd use if someone told me that my elderly aunt had just become a race car driver, and I replied "Unbelievable!"
Consider what Hopkins asks us to accept. To begin with, he tells us that, for the first time ever, a UFO abduction has been witnessed. Linda "Cortile" -- a housewife who lives on the lower east side of Manhattan with her husband and two sons (Cortile isn't her real last name) -- was supposedly seen just after 3:00 AM on November 30, 1989, floating upwards from her apartment to a brightly glowing UFO, accompanied by three of the standard gray aliens. One witness (though this isn't published in Hopkins's book) even says he saw tears running down her cheeks.
And who were the witnesses? One, Hopkins says, was a retired woman he calls "Janet Kimball," who was driving across the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan, on her way home to upstate New York after a late party. In letters, on the phone, and in person, she told him her car had stopped, and along with other drivers -- the scene she describes was quite chaotic, with people honking horns, and shouting in dismay -- she watched what she first thought was a movie being filmed, though she quickly realized that it couldn't be.
She sounds reasonable enough (Cortile's apartment is very near the bridge), but the other three witnesses send the case reeling into pretty wild territory. Two of them wrote to Hopkins, introducing themselves as New York policemen who'd seen the abduction from a car parked under the FDR Drive (a highway that runs along the east side of Manhattan), facing Cortile's building. (See map .) That wasn't the whole story, though. Later they revealed that they were security officers, working for an unnamed American agency and guarding a man Hopkins describes simply as "an international political figure," but who is widely known to be Javier Perez de Cuellar, at that time Secretary-General of the United Nations.
De Cuellar supposedly saw the abduction, too, and with that one stroke the case seems to get even more unbelievable (though we might ask ourselves why de Cuellar should be any less likely to witness an abduction than any ordinary person). To make matters worse, de Cuellar allegedly wasn't the only top official there. Allegedly he and his guards were part of a group coming late at night from the heliport on Governor's Island (at that time a military installation in New York harbor). With them, in other cars, were (as one of the agents put it, with quaint capitalization, again in a statement Hopkins didn't publish) "two US Governent officals [and] two foreign Statesmen," along with guards of their own. Hopkins doesn't know who these dignitaries were.
And now things get really strange. The two security officers, known only as "Richard" and "Dan" -- Hopkins says he never met them, doesn't know their last names, and knows their story only through letters and audio tapes they sent -- became obsessed with Cortile. They spied on her, showed up at her apartment, and even kidnapped her, spurred by a confused mixture of feelings -- fear for her safety, fear that she herself might be an alien, a sense of professional failure (shouldn't they have tried to stop the abduction?), and, finally, a need to be near Cortile, simply to prove that what they'd seen had been real.
Dan, who began to lose his emotional moorings, then kidnapped Cortile a second time, and might have raped her if Richard hadn't shown up to stop him. Earlier, however, he'd told Hopkins that he, Richard, and de Cuellar now remembered that they'd all been abducted along with Cortile. The aliens, Dan wrote, had telepathically identified her as "Lady of the Sands"; she'd held up a dead fish, and told the three men "Look and see what you have done." (In yet another unpublished tidbit, Richard later said that Dan returned from the abduction clutching the dead fish, and would have held onto it, if he hadn't been persuaded to drop it from the car's window.)
Cortile hadn't consciously remembered that. But under hypnosis she did recall the same details, and can be seen on video after her hypnosis, reacting with shock as Dan's letter is read to her. One curious sidelight here, and yet another amazement in this case, is that Richard, Dan, and de Cuellar remembered everything without hypnosis. Richard, in fact, recalled a lifetime of abductions, and set off another bombshell when he told Hopkins that he and Cortile had been abducted together many times, beginning in their childhood. They had formed a secret, shadowy relationship, one that existed only on the alien ships, and had become lovers; Richard, who had never married, was convinced he was the real father of her youngest child. Cortile, duly hypnotized, remembered all this, too, right down to the pet names Richard said they called each other when they were with the aliens. Again her shocked reaction was caught on video (though she won't comment on her son's paternity).
Anyone who needs a pause right here -- to pour a drink, perhaps, or just to hyperventilate or scoff -- should take one. Why, responsible UFO researchers might ask, did things have to get this messy? Why did de Cuellar have to be involved? And must we have this tabloid love affair?
It isn't reassuring to learn that Richard (during his abduction with Cortile, Dan, and de Cuellar) saw the aliens processing samples of earthly sand, and brought some back with him. That 's another first -- the first time any abductee came back with anything from an alien ship. (The aliens should abduct trained security operatives more often.) Richard even was alert enough, he said, to snatch "before" and "after" samples, which, when examined with an electron microscope, allegedly show subtle differences.
We're also asked to believe that yet another abductee, called "Marilyn Kilmer" in the book, was separately abducted with Cortile, de Cuellar, and Cortile's younger son, Johnny. Allegedly, Kilmer identified de Cuellar from photographs (though not with complete certainty). She and Cortile described what they saw each other wearing, and here again there's a video, documenting their amazement as each correctly names what the other swears she to bed that night.
But even now we're not quite finished. In what might be the strangest episode of all, de Cuellar had his driver stop his car while Johnny passed them on the street (Johnny then was nine), and asked Johnny if he'd like a present. When Johnny said yes, against his better judgment, de Cuellar arranged to deliver the gift, which turned out to be an antique diver's helmet! I've seen the helmet; it sits in ornate bronze splendor on a wall unit in the Cortile's tiny living room, unabashedly out of place among the photos and other items you'd expect a lower middle-class family to display. How do we know it came from de Cuellar? Because Hopkins showed Johnny photographs of distinguished older men, and Johnny picked de Cuellar's, without a moment's hesitation.
My assignment, if I accepted it -- and, rashly, perhaps, I did -- was to investigate all this, or more reasonably to conduct a preliminary inquiry (which is all anyone could do without writing a book as long as Hopkins's own). The question to ask was obvious. Could this -- any of it, some of it, even all of it -- be true? The stakes, I thought, were pretty high, because two things are immediately clear:
-- The case is either real or hoaxed. There isn't any middle ground. We can't say, as we might in a normal abduction case, that everyone sincerely believes it's real, but suffers from some psychiatric syndrome. After all, we've got people saying that they watched Cortile's abduction. We've got Cortile corroborating tiny details Richard mentions. So either the abductions really happened, or the whole thing is a scam. Maybe Hopkins staged it all, or maybe he and Cortile contrived it, or maybe Cortile -- forging a dozen letters, and hiring actors to record Richard's voice and portray Janet Kimball on the phone and in person -- staged an elaborate drama for Hopkins. (Or maybe there's an outside chance that it's all the result of government mind control. Maybe Linda was brainwashed to believe in her abductions. But with no evidence that government operations of this kind really exist, I'd say this explanation is purely speculative -- and, in its way, just as exotic as believing that the whole thing took place as advertised.)
-- If these events really happened, this is the most spectacular UFO case of all time.
It's also clear that there are some immediate problems. First, de Cuellar has denied he was involved. He denied it more than once, in fact, most recently in a fax to the PBS science show Nova (which was preparing its 1996 abduction episode), in which he said:
"I cannot but strongly deny the claim that I have had an abduction experience at any time. On several occasions, when questioned about that matter, I reiterated that these allegations were completely false and I hope that this statement will definitely put an end to these unfounded rumours. [de Cuellar's spelling]"
Not that this denial means very much. If de Cuellar really was abducted, would we expect him to admit it? But still we have to note his statement.
Second, there's a major unanswered question. Why would American agents be guarding the Secretary-General? According to a United Nations spokesman, the UN has its own security force. If the Secretary-General travels to Washington, the spokesman said, the Secret Service would protect him (as part of its mandate to guard important foreign visitors), but never in New York. We can speculate that, on a late-night secret mission (especially, perhaps, on one instigated by the American government), these rules might be broken. But until a diplomatic or intelligence insider confirms that, we don't know that the relationship the book describes between de Cuellar and Richard and Dan is even possible.
Finally, the most crucial witnesses are unavailable. Apart from de Cuellar, the three known people who (supposedly) saw Cortile's abduction are Richard, Dan, and the woman Hopkins calls Janet Kimball. And, with one exception, the only people who've ever met any of them are Cortile and Hopkins. The exception is Cortile's husband, who supposedly met Richard on the street one Sunday morning, when Richard saw the couple on their way to mass and stopped to say hello. (One of Cortile's sons and one of her friends supposedly saw Richard and Dan, without meeting them.) But for reasons I'll discuss more fully in the second part of this report, Cortile's husband won't be part of my investigation. (He and Cortile are seriously estranged.) Which brings us back to Cortile and Hopkins. If we believe the case, we're believing what Cortile and Hopkins tell us. And since Cortile has made very few public appearances, has never been extensively interviewed, and has never even taken a polygraph test, we end up believing her only because Hopkins does.
Why won't Dan and Richard talk? Dan, to begin with, is out of commission. According to Richard, he suffered a mental breakdown, and was removed from the scene by the agency the two men work for. (Was he hospitalized? Imprisoned? Killed? We don't know.) Richard won't go public, he says. because his career and, perhaps, his safety would be threatened. In one more unpublished passage from his letters, he discusses the character Ben Vereen played in the TV movie based on Hopkins's book Intruders -- a military man who sees a UFO crash, and is hounded by the government when he tries to talk about it. This, Richard says, is what might happen to him.
As for Janet Kimball, she told Hopkins that her family disapproved of her involvement, and that she didn't want to talk to him again. I could call her, I suppose. I know her real name, and her address. But as a member of the UFO community I feel I should respect the privacy a UFO witness asks for. Besides, Hopkins told Kimball he'd protect her. Should I make a liar out of him? In any case, calling her might do no good. She might hang up on me, and then -- if she felt she'd been betrayed -- we might lose any chance that she'll someday change her mind, and talk more publicly.
Which leaves me feeling honest, but also helpless. Normally, in UFO investigations, you have to figure out if witnesses are accurate. Here there's a much more basic problem. How do we know that Richard, Dan, and Janet Kimball even exist?
This is old news about the Linda Cortile (Napolintano) case, but does anyone have an update of this? I have seen the side of her story on television where she claims to have been taken out of her apartment through the window or wall, or something, and was on a beach and a passerby saw the episode from his limosine, but refused to come forward, because assumedly, he was an important person. So, is there any other news lately about this case, or this battle of ufologists?
To: Those interested in the UFO problem
From: George P. Hansen
Princeton Arms North 1, Apt. 59
Cranbury, NJ 08512
Date: 23 November 1992
The enclosed paper is one in a series constituting a public debate on Budd Hopkins’ Linda Napolitano case (stage name "Linda Cortile"). You may have seen my report "Attempted Murder vs. The Politics of Ufology: A Question of Priorities in the Linda Napolitano Case." In order to fully understand the present paper, you may wish to obtain a copy of that earlier article as well as the response by Jerome Clark, if you have not already seen them. Clark’s address is given in the first footnote of the enclosed article.
The ufological community has recently been given an important article from Clark, and I believe that it merits your close attention. Clark is a prominent leader in the field and familiar with some of the secret details of the Linda Napolitano case. His piece should raise serious questions of professional judgement and responsibilities.
Walter Andrus, head of MUFON, has yet to respond. This is most disturbing.
Both Clark and Andrus are in positions to control the information that is, and more importantly, is not, presented in their UFO magazines. Many of you pay good money for memberships and subscriptions in order to obtain that information. I urge you to contact the boards of directors of MUFON and CUFOS and request an explanation for the behavior and statements of their leaders in regard to the Napolitano case.
As with my previous article, please feel free to copy and distribute this memo and enclosed paper, publish them in any periodical, and post them on electronic bulletin boards.
"TORQUEMADA" RESPONDS TO JEROME CLARK
George P. Hansen
ABSTRACT: Jerome Clark is thanked for correcting a misinterpretation of his position reported in the paper "Attempted Murder vs. The Politics of Ufology." Clark has now provided, in writing, his reasons for opposing a federal investigation of the purported kidnapping and attempted murder of Linda Napolitano. This rationale and other writings of Clark are examined in order to gain insight into his thought processes.
This paper primarily discusses psychological factors influencing the investigation and interpretation of the Napolitano case. A paper is in preparation devoted to the substance and evaluation of the claims. This affair provides a wealth of material for those attempting to understand the field of ufology from a psycho-social perspective. In the long run, the actions and beliefs of the leaders of ufology may be far more important than Linda Napolitano’s UFO abduction claim. As such, this may yet prove to be "The Case of the Century."
My article "Attempted Murder vs. The Politics of Ufology: A Question of Priorities in the Linda Napolitano Case" has been published in a number of newsletters and posted on electronic bulletin boards. In that piece I reported that Budd Hopkins, Walter Andrus, and Jerome Clark had urged that the reported attempted murder of Linda Napolitano not be communicated to law enforcement authorities because such could be damaging to ufology. Clark has recently issued a response correcting my interpretation of his remarks, and I am grateful to him for now doing so ("The Politics of Torquemada; or, Earth Calling Hansen’s Planet" by Jerome Clark; 612 North Oscar Avenue, Canby, MN 56220; October 24, 1992). I should mention that I had sent Clark an earlier draft of my article and invited his comments before publishing it (Clark did not avail himself of this opportunity and sent me a note only saying "George -- Please do not call or write me again").
The comments and reasoning of Clark should be of special interest to the UFO research community. He is vice-president of the Center for UFO Studies and editor of its magazine International UFO Reporter. He writes a monthly column for Fate magazine, has written books and even an encyclopedia on UFOs. The Fund for UFO Research gave him the prestigious Isabel Davis Award for 1992. Clark has placed himself in a prominent, public role and is now in a position to determine what many persons will chance to read about the topic.
I am pleased that Clark now acknowledges, in writing, that he did indeed urge UFO researchers to suppress evidence of a series of felonies. He apparently wishes to impede the process of justice. His rationale is even more intriguing than I had imagined, and I will quote his entire paragraph explaining his position:
"I urged the critics to refrain, over the next six months, from pursuing the investigation, which they had indicated now consisted, or would soon consist, of knocking on the doors of government agencies looking for evidence of the elusive Richard and Dan. I stated that, 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 and therefore has consequences far outside the tiny world of ufology. If that is indeed the case, we would never find Richard and Dan (if they exist as who they say they are) because banging on the wrong doors could alert the relevant agency that two of its agents were leaking a huge secret. They would then be effectively silenced, and we would never learn the truth." (From page 1 of his paper "The Politics of Torquemada")
This is a candid, and remarkably revealing, explanation, especially because Clark told me that he accepts Linda’s story of being harassed, kidnapped, sexually molested, and nearly drowned by government agents. Clark’s statement provides insight into his mindset.
First, we are urged to stop investigating the case (even though the affair has been discussed in Omni, the Wall Street Journal, Paris Match, the Mufon UFO Journal, and the New York Times). The statement displays Clark’s true belief about the appropriateness of internal review and criticism in ufology.
Second, though the critics should refrain from investigating, presumably Hopkins should continue. One can only surmise that Clark believes Hopkins to be qualified to investigate kidnapping and attempted murder. He urges all outsiders to remove themselves from the case, and Clark would allow Richard and Dan six more months of unobstructed opportunities for kidnapping and murder. But concerned citizens should remain silent. This has led some to question Clark’s grasp on reality.
Third, Clark suggests that "banging on the wrong doors could alert the relevant agency that two of its agents were leaking a huge secret." Clark’s suggestion about "alerting the relevant agency" is ludicrous. Hopkins himself had already visited a number of agencies and made inquiries. He had even sent a picture of one of the agents to the United Nations. Further, Hopkins had spoken publicly numerous times about the case, including presentations for BUFORA, New Jersey MUFON, New York MUFON, the Abduction Study Conference at Massachussetts Institute of Technology, the 1992 MUFON symposium in Albuquerque, and even the television show Inside Edition. If there actually was a conspiracy, the perpetrators would be fully aware of Hopkins’ investigation. One can only wonder how Clark could rationally offer his idea.
Fourth, and most revealing, Clark suggests that it is plausible that a conspiracy at the top levels of the world’s governments is suppressing evidence about this UFO abduction and the subsequent kidnappings, sexual molestation, and attempted murder. Not only was the United Nations Secretary General reportedly involved, but during a meeting I attended on October 3, 1992, Hopkins’ partisans made allusions to the involvement of other world figures, though they were not named. Hopkins and Clark seem to think that they possess secret, crucial knowledge of the international political situation regarding the UFO abduction phenomena. Clark, living an isolated existence in a small, remote town in Minnesota, seems to believe himself to be in a position to make important recommendations affecting public disclosures by governments, revelations that would have a profound impact on world affairs.
Clark’s earlier writings on conspiracy theories
It is worth briefly reviewing some of Clark’s earlier writings on conspiracies because they provide additional illumination of his thinking. For instance, he calls Jacque Vallee’s book Revelations "the ultimate conspiracy book" (International UFO Reporter, September/October, 1991, p. 3) and describes Vallee as having an "ability to detect connections invisible to the rest of us [and it] reaches its most bizarre extreme..." (International UFO Reporter, January/February, 1990, p. 8). He attacks John Keel, saying "that his speculations were laced with paranoia" (UFOs in the 1980s by Jerome Clark, Detroit: Apogee, 1990, p. 175). These writings suggest deep, visceral reactions. For Clark, notions of conspiracies have a high psychological charge, and he appears unable to grapple with such ideas in a dispassionate frame of mind.
Unlike many vague conspiracy ideas, Clark’s and Hopkins’ are exceptionally specific. Hopkins claims to have a massive amount of evidence, and that material could be used to identify and convict the culprits. Times, dates, and places of the purported crimes are known as well as the license plate numbers of cars involved. But Hopkins and Clark refuse to divulge information. In any event, their conspiratorial notions are having a dramatic impact on the investigation of this case. We now have a stark instance of some of the most prominent leaders in ufology actively attempting to impede the enforcement of criminal laws they believe to have been violated. Their actions are guided by a belief in the existence of a powerful international government conspiracy.
By any measure, Clark’s own suggestions are far more extreme than those of Vallee or Keel, but because of Clark’s prior vehement denunciation of conspiratorial thinking, I failed to grasp his present views on the Hopkins-Napolitano case. This was the reason for my misunderstanding.
One of the unexpected benefits of the Napolitano case is that it provides remarkable illumination of the mentality of a prominent authority on UFOs. Because of his influence and control over a significant amount of popular UFO literature, this is of particular consequence.
If we accept Linda’s claim, Richard and Dan are menaces not only to Linda but to society at large. Yet Clark vigorously opposes reporting them to the authorities. He seems to believe that he has special insight into the world political situation that justifies his position.
Neither Clark nor Hopkins has provided even minimal evidence for such a notion. That being the case, there may be a plausible explanation for their behavior. They imply that they possess secret knowledge of a conspiracy within the highest levels of the world’s governments; such thinking can be termed "grandiose"; the word "paranoid" might even apply. Ironically, Clark’s previous writings display a loathing of and revulsion toward much tamer conspiratorial speculations. Clark’s "Torquemada" article is again emotional and self-laudatory, and I urge those interested to obtain a copy in order to verify that. After such a review, the reader will be in a better position to assess Clark’s mental state and deduce the plausible cause of his behavior.
23 November 1992
Document - Linda Napolitano Abduction Case
Document - Napolintano Case
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