The Carp Case — The MUFON Ontario Version — Part 1.
(Credits: March, May & July 1994 issues of «THE MUFON ONTARIO NEWSLETTER»)
Tom Theofanous was an investigator with CUFORN, in Toronto, from 1987 to 1992. He and his wife, Lise, have been with MUFON Ontario since then. Tom is now Deputy Director of MUFON Ontario, in Toronto. This case has had much coverage in the media. Tabloid television shows like ‘Unsolved Mysteries’, ‘Sightings’ and ‘Encounters’ have given it much air-time, as have cable-tv stations all over North America. Internationally, magazines newspapers and news-letters have devoted hundreds of pages to it and UFO conferences around the planet have intrigued many thousands of attendees with it’s seemingly startling details. ‘Carp’ has achieved ‘One Of The Most Significant Cases In UFO History’ status. You’ve probably heard, seen and read about it yourself.
In this and succeeding issues we’ll deal with the FACTS of the case. We’ll describe the events, as told by the media and as we’ve experienced them — and we’ll try not appear too judgemental.
Beginnings — 1989
Tom Theofanous, working with The Canadian UFO Research Network (CUFORN), received a package from someone calling themselves ‘Guardian’. It had no return address. «The package contained a story about a UFO crash that supposedly happened close to Carlton Place, which is about a half-hour drive from Ottawa», Tom said. «There was also a photo-copied picture of an Alien.» «For the most part, we thought it was a joke. But, CUFORN director Harry Tokarz decided to call Arthur Bray, a well-respected UFO author and researcher who lives in Ottawa, and ask him if he had someone in the Carlton area who could check out the story for us. As luck would have it, Arthur knew a fellow who was fascinated by the field of ufology, Graham Lightfoot.»
Graham, with what was to become typical thoroughness, used the somewhat sketchy co-ordinates he got from Arthur Bray to not only pinpoint the ‘UFO crash-site’ near Manion Corners, but also locate a number of witnesses.
One of those witnesses, Diane Labanek, claimed that on the night of November 4th 1989, she saw an intense, bright light pass overhead, heading towards a swamp at the far end of the field behind and south of her home. She said she also saw several helicopters earlier that evening using bright lights to scan the area. Another West Carlton resident recalled that that was the weekend when some cattle escaped from a nearby pasture and that it took till late Sunday to round them up. A couple told Graham about the wife being scared by a very bright light shone through their south-facing bathroom window. «It reached right down our hallway!». The wife also mentioned that she vaguely remembered hearing the sound of helicopters at the time. Others talked of «dogs and cattle being disturbed».
Many people could think of absolutely nothing unusual happening during the course of the weekend, including a couple who had a telescope set-up. Graham reported those findings to CUFORN, along with results of his examination of the field and swamp behind Labanek’s home — there were no signs on the ground, anywhere, of the heavy equipment that would be needed to recover a ‘crashed craft’.
His report closed with, «although I could find nothing conclusive to support or disprove any of the witnesses claims. I shall check back around the area later this summer.» The same Guardian material had been sent to several other investigators, researchers and UFO groups and as the story spread, both the former Provincial Director of MUFON Ontario Clive Nadin, and the current Quebec Director Christian Page, visited the area on separate occasions, and spoke to the ‘witnesses’. They confirmed Graham Lightfoot’s initial findings and agreed with Tom & Harry at CUFORN that someone was «trying to put us on — a hoax!»
Guardian re-surfaces — 1991
In the middle of October 1991 CUFORN began receiving more Guardian ‘information’ via the mail and all postmarked ‘Ottawa’. An envelope with some documents that mention a ‘conspiracy’ between the Chinese and ‘Grey Aliens that are planning to take over the world’, arrived first. Then came a Polaroid photograph of a ‘UFO’ flying across an unidentified road. A while later came a black & white picture of a grey-type ‘Alien’. The fourth delivery in the series was a package. It contained the now infamous VHS video tape with a green label on the cassette, with a thumb print and the word GUARDIAN printed on the label. There were also three playing cards in the package, all with hand written notes on them — an Ace, King and Joker. A photo-copied map showed the ‘Grey’s landing area’, along with notes explaining that the flares in the video were used to help the UFO, which can out maneuver anything on the planet, fly under the radar and know where to land! There were also ‘Canadian Department of National Defense documents’ enclosed — which, upon later investigation, proved to be forgeries.
These ‘documents’, it is thought, were designed to look like the official documents on UFOs that Canadian UFO author/researcher Stanton Friedman acquired, via ‘The Freedom of Information Act’, from the United States Government. The video — a few minutes long — showed two different angles of what Guardian alleges was an ‘alien craft’, on the ground. First, a long shot of bright lights clumped together to the right of the scene and what looked like four red emergency road flares or fires in barrels on the left side of the screen. The second scene showed the same clump of bright lights from approximately the same distance but more to the centre without any flares and the sound of a single dog barking in the distance.
The third scene was only three frames long and was a close-up of a a pair of wipers half-way across a very Earth-bound vehicle! CUFORN pondered what to do with all the Guardian information that arrived in October of ’91 and decided, that in view of the season — winter, that they would hold off visiting Carlton until after the spring run-off. Enter Oechsler At the beginning of March ’92, Bob Oechsler (pronounced Bob Ex-ler) an American MUFON investigator — who describes himself a ‘former NASA mission specialist’ — called CUFORN from his home in Maryland.
Apparently, he too had received a video and documents from Guardian, although when comparisons of the two videos were discussed, his had an additional scene — a somewhat closer one minute shot of the ‘alien craft’. His version also had a couple of minutes worth of the windshield, plus several still shots of the ‘Grey Aliens’. The most important difference, however, was that his version of the tape had no audio-track at all — «it seems it was intentionally removed», says Tom Theofanous. Oechsler had shown the tape to Bruce Macabbee and they agreed that what they saw was a UFO and should be investigated further — and that’s why Oechsler called Tom at CUFORN. They agreed they would meet in Carlton, Ontario on May 10th 1992. Tom then called and spoke with Graham Lightfoot, for the first time, and Graham agreed to act as guide for the May meeting. It transpired that Graham worked for The O.F.A — The Ontario Federation of Agriculture — and knew the Carlton area and its farmers well.
The First Visit
On May 10th, Mother’s Day, 1991, Torontonians, Tom & Lise Theofanous, Victor Lourenco, Vaughn [LAST NAME?], Drew Williamson, Harry Tokarz and Wayne St. John met with Oechsler, his son and Graham Lightfoot at the motel the Oechslers were staying at in West Carlton, near Ottawa, Ontario. They all had breakfast together as Oechsler told many, many fascinating stories. Eventually they ended up in Oechsler’s motel room to compare their copies of the Guardian video. «Oechsler, despite being an expert in video analysis, had a great deal of difficulty connecting my video camera up to the tv set in his room so that we could play back the Guardian videos. In retrospect, his combination of technical ineptness and more story telling seemed to be a stalling tactic», said Tom.
They stopped at a spot off Highway 7 near Manion Corners and Graham pointed out the direction from which the 1989 ‘UFO’ had come when it ‘crashed’, and where the Labanek’s house was in relation to where the group was standing. Oechsler seemed to be stalling once more, shooting video of everything. Finally, they set off again. «This time Oechsler took the lead, with me following him and Graham who’s supposed to be our guide following me!» Tom says. «I thought at the time that this was pretty odd. How did Oechsler, who supposedly had never been to Canada, let alone this area before, know his way, using side-roads and making the correct turns toward our destination?»
Earlier, Oechsler had asked the Toronto group to check for anomalies on their compasses while they were driving, because the Guardian papers described magnetic changes in certain parts of the area the group was travelling in. «So, we’re driving down a small hill when Oechsler braked suddenly up ahead of us, stopped and came back to our car to tell me that he had found an anomaly on his two compasses», Tom recounts, «now, he had both of his laying in the back of his pick-up on the metal floor where they were bouncing around. His son was keeping an eye on them from the cab. I told him that the three compasses, we were holding in the palms of our hands, in our car didn’t waver at all. But, he insisted that he’d go back up the hill, by himself, and check again.» While the rest of the group stood around waiting for Oechsler, Drew Williamson noticed a Stop-sign at the end of a long driveway leading to an abandoned farmhouse with a For-Sale sign on it. Tom continues — «I looked through my binoculars at the Stop-sign and saw that it was propped up by rocks. There were other signs around it that read ‘Do Not Enter’ and ‘DND Killing Fields’. The last one had pictographs of tanks, helicopters and weapons on it and appeared to be riddled with bullet-holes.
«So, out of curiosity, we went over to the signs and looked more closely.» «We found tracks left by cars and what might have been four- wheeled vehicles, leading into the property. We felt that perhaps the field around the old farm house was being used for ‘War Games’ — or maybe even was the location used for the Guardian video.» «Why? Because the terrain was perfect — lots (200 acres) of open field. I also noticed a dog barking up at the house at the top of the hill.» said Tom. This would become significant later in identifying the possible location of the Guardian video shoot. «Eventually, we continued along Corkery Road. But, when I mentioned to Oechsler that we should be interviewing the people in the neighbourhood we were passing, who were out sitting in their front gardens or working on their lawns, he insisted that we look for the ‘crash’ or ‘landing’ sites.» Guardian’s map described an area about one and a quarter miles square, which consisted of dense, knee-high scrub, and wet, swampland.
The group headed toward it, using a path beneath high-tension power transmission lines that cut across below the southern end of the Labanek’s property. Most of them had great difficulty with the rough conditions and became very tired, annoyed by biting mosquitoes and soaked by the swampy ground. They gave about a half way into the swamp and headed back to the back to the parking lot. Tom picks up the story again: «Bob and his son continued to look for the landing site as the rest of us left the swamp in a couple of different groups. Lise, Drew, Wayne and I left first and drove off looking for a drink of cold pop.» «When we got back to the parking lot twenty minutes later, the second group out had left a note on our windshield saying they’d meet us at a restaurant twenty minutes away in Carp. We left a note on the Oechsler’s truck windshield telling them where we’d be. «The first of our group to arrive at the restaurant ordered their food and twenty minutes later the rest of us arrived and placed our orders.»
«Thirty minutes later, as Oechsler and his son were walking through the door, I jokingly said: I bet he’ll say he found the spot!» «As he sat down, I asked him what had happened. He smiled and said he’d found the spot.»
«I asked how he’d managed to do that when we’d left him a about a mile from his car in a dense swamp halfway to the alleged site and it was getting dark. There simply hadn’t been enough time to get there examine the ‘site’ and get back out to his truck and drive to the restaurant. He just smiled, but didn’t answer.» After they finished their dinner, Drew, Victor and Vaughn decided to leave for Toronto. Graham suggested that the remainder should go talk to the Labanek, and he and Harry left ahead of Tom & Lise and the Oechslers, since Oechsler senior was still eating. The seven of them would meet at the corner by the Labaneks. «Lise, Wayne and I confronted Oechsler out in the parking lot, where the three of us had gone to discuss the days events privately.»
«I asked him what he was trying to pull here. He responded by asking «what’s wrong with trying to make a buck?», I answered that there was nothing wrong with making money as long as we didn’t compromise our ethics.» «Oechsler came back with: «No matter what or how good the story is, 50% of the people will believe you, 50% wont. All you have to care about is the 50% that will». «It was at that point», recalls Tom, «that I decided to back away from the investigation for a while to see what Oechsler would do.» They joined the others at Manion Corner by the Labaneks house — Graham had knocked on their door but there was no one home. So, they waited, enjoying a pleasant early summer evening, talking. The Labaneks didn’t get home till after 10 p.m, which the group felt was late to do an interview. Graham and Oechsler would come back the next morning and talk to them Tom finishes up this part of the story: «I told Graham about the conversation that I had in the parking lot of the restaurant with Oechsler, after he left the restaurant. Then Lise, Harry, Wayne and I left for Toronto, shaking our heads.»