How I got into the Roswell affair: it was pretty grim, as you will see. Way back in 1998, I wrote a book titled The FBI Files. It told the story of the Bureau’s involvement in the UFO phenomenon, contactee cases, the alleged Aztec, New Mexico UFO crash of 1948, the cattle mutilation mystery, and even FBI records on the sinister Men in Black. Chapter Four of the book was titled “The Oak Ridge Invasion.” As so often happens when I write a book, people who personally know something of its contents or subject-matter will contact me and share the relevant information. And that is precisely what happened with regard to that specific chapter. It was a study of FBI files that had been declassified under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act and which described various UFO encounters at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.
One of the people who contacted me – by letter, via the London, England-based publisher of The FBI Files, Simon & Schuster – was an elderly woman who worked at Oak Ridge in 1947, and who had read my book. She added she had some information that I was sure to find of interest, but which she preferred to tell me about specifically in person. Well, as I was living in the U.K. at that time, there wasn’t much of a chance of me meeting up with her at any time soon – which is exactly what I told her. I couldn’t persuade her to put her revelations onto paper. Nor would she share them with me over the telephone. And, she wasn’t on email – not a massive number of old folks were online in 1998, I am guessing. So, for a couple of years it was a case of her story not just stalling, but coming to a complete halt. That is, until the summer of 2001. I moved to the United States to live in early 2001, and, in the summer, I traveled around much of the west coast – chiefly to do a series of lectures for various UFO groups in California.
I put out a feeler to that same old lady, explaining my new circumstances and asking if we could now, finally, talk. Well, that would be just fine, she said. On July 28, 2001 I hung out with the then-seventy-nine-year-old woman: we had lunch in a Los Angeles restaurant and chatted extensively. She was driven to the restaurant by a family member, a much younger man who seemed to be equally as worried as she was. Nevertheless, she agreed to share what she knew, providing her name was never published (although, she was required to provide Simon & Schuster’s legal people with a release-form, as were each and all of the other whistleblowers). So, I sat back and listened. I referred to her in the book as the Black Widow. There was a relevant reason for this; a reason which was not mentioned in Body Snatchers in the Desert: her husband, who she married in 1972, was African-American. She, however, was not. They were both just into their very early fifties when they married and had twenty-four happy years together, despite some unforgivable racist comments from her ignorant family. It was in 1996 that her husband passed away, hence the title I gave her.
When we met, and knowing that she had read The FBI Files, my natural assumption was that she wanted to tell me something about UFO encounters at the Oak Ridge facility. Makes sense, right? No. I was wrong: what she actually wanted to share with me was certain information that, if provable, would radically alter the face of Ufology and blow the Roswell case right out of the water. As we ate, I wondered, with a fair degree of excitement: what the hell have I got myself into? It wasn’t long before I had the answer to that loaded question. The Black Widow, born in 1922, had been in the employ of Oak Ridge from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s. While there, and on three occasions between May and July 1947, she saw a number of unusual-looking bodies brought to the facility – and under stringent security.
They looked like regular Japanese people, she said. Others, however, displayed the signs of certain medical conditions: dwarfism, oversized heads, and bulging eyes. A few of the bodies were extensively damaged – as if they had been in violent accidents, which proved to be the case. In all, fifteen such bodies were brought to Oak Ridge under great secrecy; all of them reportedly used in certain high-altitude, balloon-based experiments in New Mexico, one of which led to the Roswell legend. Or, became a part of the legend is probably more correct. The Black Widow said: “Those bodies – the Roswell bodies – they weren’t aliens. The government could care less about those stories about alien bodies found at Roswell – except to hide the truth.” She added: “I don’t know anything at all about how these people were brought [to the United States], but I heard at Oak Ridge that some of them were in the States in late 1945 and brought over with Japanese doctors and Nazi doctors who had been doing similar experiments. That’s when some of this began.”
The story continued that at least some of the people used in the tests were American prisoners given the opportunity to cut the lengths of their sentences – if, that is, they were willing to take a chance and take part in the dicey experiments. Reportedly, a number did take the bait, but failed to survive the flights. Some of the handicapped people did not come from Japan, but from “hospitals and “asylums” in the United States. All of the material evidence was said to have been eventually destroyed – chiefly because the operations didn’t provide much in the way of results, and because of the outright illegality of the experiments. Everything, the Black Widow said, was hidden beneath a mass of fabricated tales of flying saucers and little men from the stars. She doubted that anything of any significance still existed – certainly not the bodies or the balloons, and probably not even the old records, which she believed were burned to oblivion. Unless, however, some of them were preserved for secret, historical purposes, which is not impossible. I hope they were. If not, it may be nigh on impossible to conclusively prove anything about Roswell – ever.
Silencing those who saw the bodies: There was one other aspect of the Black Widow’s story that needs to be addressed: her overwhelming fear. It was ever-present throughout our 2001 meeting. She tried to disguise that fear with smiles and laughter, but she was certainly no Oscar-winning Hollywood actor. That’s for sure. Seeing through her façade was like seeing through freshly polished glass. In Body Snatchers in the Desert I said that she “possessed the sad and somewhat sunken eyes of a person with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She was clearly looking for someone to speak with; but, equally, she was very concerned about the ramifications of doing so, ‘if the government finds out.’” In my original manuscript, I detailed why she was so scared, but that section didn’t make the cut. The reason? The publisher was highly concerned about the Black Widow’s claims to me that certain people who had got too close to the truth of Roswell, and who couldn’t keep their mouths shut, had been…murdered by the government. So the story went, certain hired assets, who regularly worked with the intelligence community on “troublesome” situations, were secretly contracted to terminate those who threatened the status quo and its dangerous secret. Interestingly, the Black Widow made a mention to me of a long-retired nurse from Roswell who had died under extremely questionable circumstances “a few years ago.” I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s highly possible that she was referring to a woman named Miriam Bush.
Miriam was not actually a nurse: in 1947 she was an executive secretary at Roswell’s RAAF hospital. She worked for a medical officer, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Warne, and saw the bodies found on the Foster Ranch – specifically when they were brought into the confines of the hospital. They were, as nearly everyone claimed, small, damaged, and unusual-looking. This trauma-filled experience clearly affected Miriam to a huge degree. The whole thing was like an albatross around her neck. That huge, ominous bird never left her. Miriam’s private life was a mess and she became alcoholic – as did, by the way, both Major Jesse Marcel and Dee Proctor; a sign, perhaps of the tremendous burden of hiding what they may have known. And, in the late 1980s, Miriam became fearful that she was being watched and followed. She was. Miriam Bush was found dead in a motel-room just outside of San Jose, California, in December 1989. A plastic bag was around her head and her arms were bruised and scratched. The verdict? Suicide. Yeah, really.
When the story of Miriam Bush surfaced – years after I spoke with the Black Widow, and also a couple of years after Body Snatchers in the Desert was published – my mind instantly swung back to the Black Widow’s comments relative to the highly suspicious death of a certain “nurse” from Roswell. Was it Miriam Bush? I don’t know. But, logically, it would make sense. If so, though, how did the Black Widow know this? After all, Miriam was based at Roswell, New Mexico and the Black Widow worked in Tennessee. I have no answer to that question; I wish I did. But, I do know that the Black Widow’s major concern about speaking on the record was the fear that she would finish up like the woman from Roswell; a woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who paid for it with her life, years later.
Fear of the bodies: The story of Miriam Bush and the words of the Black Widow led me to conclude that those who saw the bodies – and who might still be in positions to reveal what they knew – were the ones who had far more to fear and lose than anyone else. After all, seeing – and even handling – the debris all those years ago wasn’t really a big cause of concern for those in government who were determined to keep the secret hidden. Accounts of odd-looking foil couldn’t prove anything conclusive. Such accounts still can’t prove anything. But, credible people attached to the military and the government and who saw the corpses – like the Black Widow and like Miriam Bush – had everything to lose. Including their lives. Sheridan Cavitt and Bill Rickett knew enough to avoid discussing the angle of bodies wherever, and whenever, possible. Dee Proctor, as a young boy, had the fear of God put in him by the military – and to such an extent that he never, ever brought up the specific word: bodies. But, Miriam Bush did share her story. And something happened in late 1989 that upped the ante and led to her death. Little wonder, then, that the Black Widow also had a deep fear that’s she too would be killed. Like Miriam, she saw the bodies. Later on, we’ll see how yet another source who saw the bodies, Dr. Lejeune Foster, was also told that if she ever spoke out on what she knew her life would be over.
Since the bodies, or even just one of them, would be the prime piece of evidence that could prove the true nature of the Roswell event – human or extraterrestrial – it makes perfect sense that those who were in positions to reveal what they knew would potentially be the most dangerous of all to the secret-keepers. Indeed, there has been a huge cover-up to hide the real story of what happened outside of Roswell in the summer of 1947. Namely, an experiment involving people, not aliens.