Grey Matters: Erroneous at Exeter

gm2crop

“I, Norman J. Muscarello, was hitchhiking on Rt. 150, three miles south of Exeter, New Hampshire, at 0200 hours on the 3rd of September. A group of five bright red lights appeared over a house about a hundred feet from where I was standing. The lights were in a line at about a sixty-degree angle.

They were so bright, they lighted up the area. The lights then moved out over a large field and acted at times like a floating leaf. They would go down behind the trees, behind a house and then reappear. They always moved in the same sixty-degree angle.

Only one light would be on at a time. They were pulsating: one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one. They were so bright I could not distinguish a form to the object. I watched these lights for about fifteen minutes and they finally disappeared behind some trees and seemed to go into a field.

At one time while I was watching them, they seemed to come so close I jumped into a ditch to keep from being hit. After the lights went into a field, I caught a ride to the Exeter Police Station and reported what I had seen.

signed,

Norman J. Muscarello

This statement comes from one of the most infamous cases in UFOlogy, the subject of John G Fuller’s classic “Incident at Exeter”. Hailed as one of the great unsolved cases, until recently. In the The November/December 2011 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, Senior Research Fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) Joe Nickell claims to have solved the cold case with the help of former military pilot James McGaha.

Their shared epiphany came from the witness’ description of the five red lights,”…  pulsating: one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one.” In Nickell’s article, ‘Exeter Incident’ Solved! A Classic UFO Case, Forty-Five Years ‘Cold’, they relate the description with that of the light array on the KC-97 Stratotanker refueling plane, postulating that the light panel on the underside of the fuselage reflected off of the refueling boom, which happens to hang at approximately 60 degrees, the same orientation as Muscarello’s  UFO.

pic2

381218_251266114931095_175280855862955_744131_1675087897_n

Left: As the photo appeared in the print publication. Right: The photo as it appeared in the online article.

Fortunately, I read the article online, and was tipped off by the picture. Something looked fishy about that light panel.

026_kc-97g_pima
So I looked around online and found a more suitable photo of the panel. Not only do we see that the middle light is blue, but the two foremost lights have “DWN” and “FWD” labeling, leading me to believe that each light signifies a command to the refueling aircraft, aiming it into position to dock with the fuel boom of the KC97, contradicting the idea that they would flash in the “ one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one” sequence described in the report.
There are several other flaws in Nickell’s solution, though I believe it can be thrown out in regard to only the aforementioned. Before I get ahead of myself, I want to discourage the readers from drawing any wild conclusions. With the dismissal of this explanation, I am not suggesting that the object witnessed was, in fact, an alien craft, but only that it has once again avoided identification. The point I wish to make is that we should all be wary to brazenly declare something identified without adequate evidence, whether that be alien craft or, in this case, a solved case. As a skeptic, I require sufficient evidence to believe a claim and therefore try to refrain from making bold assertions. Declaring this case solved places the burden of proof upon Mr. Nickell and unfortunately, the proof fell short. I say unfortunately because I can see a number of repercussions resulting from this error. Namely, this being used as “evidence” of the object’s unearthly origins. Sadly, to some, unidentified or mysterious often translates to supernatural.

Advertisements
Grey Matters: Erroneous at Exeter

Psychic Mortician Avoids Skeptical Questioning

Mariah de la Croix, depending on where you look, bills herself as a psychic, medium, empath, and even a “sensitive intuitive.”  She claims to be able to communicate both with the spirits of humans and the “energies of the animal kingdom.”  For modest prices, she offers a variety of services, including, but not limited to:  astrological charts, past life therapy, tarot readings, and something called personal animal totems.  The slogan at LadyMariah.com is “Where answers are given…just not always the ones you want.”  Unfortunately, Mariah herself doesn’t seem to be willing to answer any of my questions at all.

It all started the week before Halloween when her publicist, Liz Donatelli, emailed myself and my co-host Bobby Nelson over at Strange Frequencies Radio.   She was requesting that we book her client for an interview to discuss her book, “Restless in Peace:  A Psychic Mortician’s Encounters with Those Who Refuse to Rest.”  In this paranormal memoir, it is revealed that Mariah de la Croix worked in several funeral homes as a mortician and embalmer and encountered a variety of spirits along the way.  For instance, Mariah relates a tale of a female spirit that left the confines of one mortuary to take up residence in her car for over a year.  Another spirit, who was apparently murdered outside the mortuary, returned annually to the scene of the crime to pursue justice.  Still other spirits Mariah met and communicated with were said to perform such mischievous acts as moving urns and hiding items on the roof of the mortuaries themselves.  And, yes, sometimes the dead assist in their own funeral proceedings.  Ms. de la Croix,  it seemed to us, would make a wonderful guest for our show.  We said yes and booked the date of November 4th with her publicist.

Mariah de la Croix (via: authors.com)

On the Amazon.com page for her book, I had been able to find out a couple names of the mortuaries she is said to have worked at.  I tried googling them but couldn’t find any precise matches in Arizona, where she resides, or anywhere else with an admittedly cursory search.  Because I didn’t have a physical copy of her book at the time, and her website didn’t provide much information, I wrote to Mariah personally to get a bit more background information on her story.  It’s not something that is altogether uncommon for me, and it has never posed a problem before to ask a few questions so I could gather a bit more interview material.  In the interest of full disclosure, here is the unedited text of the email I sent to Mariah:

Hi Mariah,

I was curious about some of the mortuaries you mentioned working at in your book.  Are they in the Phoenix area?  I was interested in checking them out.  Thanks so much!

Jason

Here was her response, also unedited:

Hi Jason,

Thank you so very much for your enquiry, but unfortunately, for legal reasons, plus the privacy of the establishments involved and the families they serve, I can’t give you their locations.  I’m sorry.  I would be able to chat with you about the book, though, if there is anything else you would like to ask.

Mariah

So, okay, fine.  She doesn’t want to give out the locations.  I was unaware that providing the cities or states they were in was a legal concern, particularly when in much of the biographical information of Mariah online, the Phoenix, AZ area is mentioned.  Judging by her response, the names of the mortuaries may very well be real.  But then why wasn’t I able to find them?  I decided to leave it at that and just ask any further questions to her personally during the interview.

Except, that ended up being canceled shortly thereafter.  We received an email from Liz Donatelli, the publicist, later that night to rescind approval for the interview.  Liz claimed that Mariah felt my email to her was “inappropriate” and had decided to cancel after listening to an archive episode of our show.
I was incredulous.  My email to her was in no way inappropriate.  And judging by her response, she didn’t think so at first either.  I began to suspect that Mariah checked out our show, saw we were skeptical, and backed out for fear of tough questioning.  At the time she canceled, the most recent archived episode involved us speaking about a recent psychic failure involving a missing child.  Could Mariah have seen this and decided to go into hiding?

At this point, it would seem so.  I tried emailing her again directly to express my confusion.  I explained that I have never had someone respond to an email query with a phrase like “thank you,” as well as an open-ended invitation for more questions, only to later determine my original communication was inappropriate.  I also asked Mariah to please tell me what about our show she suddenly found unfavorable.  I explained to her that, in the four years we have been doing Strange Frequencies Radio, we have never had anyone, from scientist or philosopher to ghost hunter or psychic, claim that we treated them unfairly.  I told her that, even in the cases where we disagree with our guests, the vast majority of the time we end up laughing and having a good time with them.  The point of Strange Frequencies Radio, I said, is conversation, not confrontation.  We only want the truth.  I hoped my email would calm any fears she may have and that she would reconsider.

Well, I can’t say that I anticipated getting a response.  I assumed by that time her publicist had already told her to avoid further communication from us.  As of this writing, now several days after sending that last email, she has not gotten back with me.

Later, after talking to a friend, I decided to run a search with the Arizona Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers to see if Mariah de la Croix was licensed in the state.  She’s not.  There is no listing for her as a funeral director, embalmer or cremationist.  She’s not even an intern.  My friend and I have both sent messages to her on Twitter on successive days since neither she or her publicist have been responding to emails.  I asked if she is using a pseudonym or is perhaps no longer licensed.  The latter wouldn’t be a good answer, however, since the Board lists both current and former licensees right on their website.  Anyone can access them, both to verify licensure or even to see whether or not the person in question has faced any disciplinary action related to their profession.  Unsurprisingly, she hasn’t responded.

As of now, it has gotten to the point where I think Mariah de la Croix is hiding something.  She may or may not be using a fictitious name for her psychic business and book, but then she won’t divulge any information regarding the whereabouts of the mortuaries she is said to have worked at either.  A quick phone call to verify her employment and spiritual encounters is all I would like to do.  But since I can’t find record of her even having a license to do the type of work she says she has done, I have no evidence by which to back up any of the claims she is making.

Is it all a misunderstanding that Mariah de la Croix refuses to help clear up?  If so, why?  Or, even worse, is her entire story built on a foundation of lies and misinformation?  Only Mariah has the answers to the questions I have been asking.  And it seems that, after all this time, neither her or the spirits are interested in talking.

Psychic Mortician Avoids Skeptical Questioning