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Brooksville Incident: John Reeves & His Claims Of Extraterrestrial Encounters & Trip To Moniheya

John Reeves claimed that in 1965 he witnessed a UFO land close to his home in Brooksville, Florida. He went on to make the sensational claims that he was later taken on board an alien spacecraft and travelled to the planet "Moniheya".

Now known as the Brooksville Incident: John Reeves made some sensational claims about extraterrestrial encounters

A man so obscure as to be barely known to most other residents of the rural area where he lived, John F. Reeves, 66, became the focus of international attention in 1965 when he reported an encounter with a UFO and its occupant. Reeves further claimed to have pieces of paper containing messages in what he said was an alien language.

Reeves lived in a partially finished house six miles west of Brooksville, Florida, in a remote location known as the "scrublands," A longshoreman on a disability pension, Reeves moved to Brooksville from New York with his wife and son in 1961. He opened a trailer park but lost it in 1963. His wife moved back to New York, and his son entered the Navy. Since then, Reeves had been living alone.

Around mid-afternoon on Tuesday, March 2, 1965, Reeves walked into a service station grocery store next to his house. He told John (Red) Wells, the owner, that he had just seen a flying saucer land. Wells, who knew Reeves well, had no trouble believing his story. He later claimed that "after the story got out, three different people came to me and said they'd seen it too, same time, same locality."

That evening, Reeves visited another neighbour, Estes Morgan, and showed him two pieces of tissue-like paper with writings on them, Morgan later said, "I held them up to the brightest light in the house and gave them a good going-over. Never in my life had I touched anything like it, so filmy, yet so tough, and containing very long, very fine, dark purple veins or threads. The tissues gave off a strong, acrid smell that I couldn't identify. Nothing around here smells like that."

The next morning, Reeves went to the office of the Brooksville Sun-Journal, the local weekly newspaper. The Brooksville city clerk also looked at the tissue paper and its alleged alien writings. Someone encouraged Reeves to see William Johnson, owner of Brooksville's radio station WWJB.

After hearing Reeves's strange story, Johnson called MacDill Air Force Base, which promised to send out investigators as soon as possible. Then, accompanied by his son Wally, Reeves, and photographer Frank Fish, he went out to the site. Meanwhile, someone from the Sun-Journal phoned a St. Petersburg radio station, WLCY, which quickly aired a report about a landed UFO, its "robot" occupant, and the alien writings. Evelyn Anderson of St. Petersburg heard the report and notified another St. Petersburg UFO enthusiast, E.R. Sabo. Sabo phoned Robert Snyder, a Clearwater man who headed Florida Unit #2 of the Washington-based National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). The world was about to descend on Brooksville.

Reeve's Story.

Early in the afternoon, Reeves had been wandering in the shrublands when he spotted a big "flying saucer" sitting in an open clearing on the top of a sandhill. Reddish purple and blueish green in colour, it rested on four legs and was six feet high and 20 to 30 feet in diameter.

Reeves sneaked to within 100 feet of the craft, then crawled into dense bushes to watch it further. Suddenly he saw something moving on the far side of the object and heading in his direction. A "robot" with a glass dome or a space helmet over its head spotted Reeves and came within 15 feet of him.

Though Reeves would persist in calling the figure a "robot" - reasoning that "anything that isn't human has got to be a robot" - he described an essentially humanlike being with a darkly tanned face, five feet tall, clad in a silver-grey canvas material. It had thin white gloves on its hands and metallic-looking boots on its feet. Its eyes were a little farther apart, closer to the ears, and its chin a bit more pointed up than a normal person, and it had a "cylinder" on its back and was wearing a skullcap.

After watching him for a minute and a half, it reached to its left side and produced a round, black object, six or seven inches in diameter. It lifted the device to its chin, and the device flashed twice. Reeves tried to run, but he tripped and fell back down into a sitting position facing the figure, which flashed the round object at him one more time, Reeves thought it was taking his picture.

John Reeves Alien Sketch
Sketch drawn by John Reeves describing the UFO he claimed to have witnessed land

The figure now walked toward the object. Beneath the craft, Reeves could see a small spiral staircase made up of round steps. The being walked up these and into the ship. Once it was inside, Reeves told NICAP investigators:

"A lot of little blades around the rim of the saucer started to move in unison like the slats of a Venetian blind. They opened and closed. Then the rim started going around counter clockwise. It made a whooshing and rumbling sound as it speeded up its spinning. The staircase pulled up inside. Then the four stilts or legs retracted, and the saucer went straight up with that whooshing sound. I watched, and it was out of sight in less than 10 seconds in the cloudless sky."

At the clearing, where the UFO had rested, Reeves found a large number of footprints, round at the heel and toe areas but narrow in the arch. Four holes left by the landing gear stood in a square area, irregularly spaced within a 10-foot range of each other. Each hole was cup-shaped, four inches wide, and four inches deep. In the middle of the square, Reeves noticed a wad of loosely folded paper, it consisted, he said, of "two sheets of very strong but very thin tissue... Both were covered with very strange writings or marks that looked like Chinese."


Early on the afternoon of the third, 1st Lt. Edward R. Goettl and three enlisted men arrived in Brooksville from MacDill AFB. They met Reeves and Johnson at Johnson's radio station. After an hour's worth of interviewing, they drove the witness to the encounter site, spoke with him further, and took photographs of the markings, prints, and paper. In his official report, written later that day, Lt. Goettl remarked, "The paper Mr Reeves claimed he found at the landing site is similar to silkspan paper used to build model airplanes." The officer judged Reeves to be of "doubtful" reliability. In any case, Reeves had willingly handed over the paper for analysis, which presumably would settle the question of whether or not he had had some kind of unearthly encounter.

The Air Force men took Reeves back to the radio station around 4 p.m. By this time reporters from Tampa, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere were waiting. With Johnson acting as a sort of combination agent/protector, Reeves answered questions until well into the evening. The next morning, Thursday, there were even more reporters and curiosity-seekers. By evening the throngs of gawkers had obliterated most of the alleged "robot" footprints at the site. What little remained was washed away in a rain shower that night.

The circus continued through the weekend. Even so, amid all the hoopla, a few of those who were flocking to Brooksville came with a serious purpose. On Saturday, March 6, investigators arrived separately from the Air Force and from NICAP.

The Air Force team consisted of Lt. Goettl, a sergeant, and a civilian scientist named C. W. Bemiss. As a member of the technical staff of Pan American Airways, a major Air Force contractor, Dr Bemiss worked at the Air Force Eastern Test Range, headquartered at Patrick AFB in Florida. After reading accounts of the Brooksville incident in the press, Bemiss offered to test the site for traces of radiation. Early on the afternoon of the sixth, he and the MacDill investigators examined the location. Bemiss detected no evidence either of radiation or disturbance in soil, grass or leaves. "This type of litter," he wrote in his official report six days later, "is very loose and could be easily moved by a moderately strong airflow." The fact that it hadn't been struck him as suspicious, unless "if a 'sighting' did actually take place, the unknown vehicle must have included a form of propulsion unknown to our science." Bemiss also thought the irregular spacing of the four holes allegedly left by the landing gear raised questions.

The Air Force men did not speak with Reeves that day, but Robert M. Snyder and Robert S. Carr of NICAP spent a great deal of time with him. On the third, Carr had called MacDill about the case and been stonewalled by six departments. Finally, Capt. Richard Henry, the base's public information officer, reluctantly acknowledged that MacDill already had investigators on site. Carr prevailed on Henry to give him the name of the individual who had alerted the base of the incident, and Carr called William Johnson immediately. Work commitments kept Carr from going to Brooksville that day, but he sent his wife, who purchased a set of photographs, including one depicting the alien writings, from Frank Fish. The next morning, Carr placed the negatives in his safety deposit box.

The next day, in a series of phone conversations, Carr and Snyder advised Johnson, with whom they had managed to establish a rapport, to be cautious in his dealings with would-be exploiters. For example, Tampa's WTVT wanted to have him hypnotically regressed on live television. The NICAP men urged Johnson to shelter Reeves from the press until they could get there themselves. Johnson hid Reeves on Fish's farm.

Meanwhile, on the fifth, Miguel Acoca, chief of Life's Miami bureau, contacted Carr. Carr suggested Acoca accompanied him and Snyder to Brooksville the next day. He made the suggestion, Carr later told NICAP, "thinking this might prove a good way to shape to NICAP's benefit whatever might appear in Life magazine." Carr soon would learn how wrong he was.

Sketch by John Reeves describing the extraterrestrial he said he saw
Sketch by John Reeves describing the extraterrestrial he claimed to see

At 10 a.m. Saturday, March 6, Snyder, the Carrs, Acoca, and life photographer Burton McNeely showed up at Johnson's radio station. Johnson told them, "I examined the tissue closely. I have never seen or touched anything like them: very light, yet very strong, veined with long threadlike fine dark lines, and almost impossible to tear. I took scissors and clipped off a corner to see if it would burn, It did."

The group then returned to Fish's farm east of town and spoke with Reeves for two hours. According to Snyder and Carr, "All later agreed that reeves created the impression of an honest, simple, uneducated, guileless man who had had a very great surprise, a profound experience." He appeared to be in a "mild state of shock."

Reeves invited the investigators to his house, where he talked about his life and showed them copies of musical scores he had composed a quarter of a century earlier. Much interested, for reasons Reeves gave no sign of suspecting, the investigators examined the sheet music carefully, and Carr stepped outside with Fish so that the latter could photograph one sheet. Everybody but Reeves grasped at once that they now had samples of Reeves's writing that they could compare to those on the tissue materials. Subsequently, they concluded that there was no obvious resemblance. They may not have stopped to consider that someone's handwriting may change over a 25-to-30-year period.

In the course of this trip and others made in the next few days, Snyder and Carr interviewed Wells, Morgan, and other Brooksville-area residents. All spoke well of Reeves. The investigators learned that Life planned to subject Reeves to a polygraph test. Johnson asked Snyder if he thought that it was a good idea, and Snyder replied in the affirmative. He suggested, however, that Johnson record the polygraph interview without telling Reeves that he was doing so. It is not clear what Snyder had in mind, but the tape would prove useful to the ufologists in the dispute about to erupt. In any case, on March 9 Johnson set up recording equipment in the office of Tampa polygraph operator David Allison.

Allison's analysis of the test convinced him that Reeves was not telling the truth. When Snyder heard this two days later from Life reporter Acoca, he was so upset that he drove almost at once to Brooksville and picked up Johnson's tapes. That night he played them for NICAP associates, who agreed that Alison had done a poor job. In the pre-test interview, he had asked Reeves about his background and forced him to recall a traumatic incident of years before, when he witnessed a murder committed by waterfront gangsters. Thus, once he had been hooked up to the polygraph machine, Snyder and Carr reported to NICAP headquarters, "John Reeves was in such a pitiable condition that the instrument showed confusion, fear, and guilt registering on every question asked - not merely the 'catch' questions."

So, the ufologists arranged for a polygraph examiner more to their liking, fellow NICAP member E.J. Edwards. Edwards brought Reeves to Orlando (where Edwards lived) on the thirteenth and gave him a polygraph test. Edwards concluded that Reeves "answered all the questions truthfully."

Tissue of lies?

Meanwhile, the Air Force's Project Blue Book, which had the tissue papers in its possession, sought to have them analyzed. On March 16 Maj. Hector Quintanilla, Jr., head of Blue Book, wrote the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton, Wisconsin, and asked if it would give immediate priority to an examination of the material. On the twenty-fourth, in a four-page reply, T.A. Howells, chairman of the Institutes Technology Section, wrote, "The sample is composed of bast or leaf fibers from any one of a number of plants. Although these fibers are a minor part of the raw material of the paper industry, their use in some segments of the industry is not uncommon."

At the end of March, Blue Book announced its conclusion that Reeves had hoaxed the story. Among other suspicious features, it noted, "The holes which were purportedly caused by the landing gear were straight and appeared to have been scooped or dug as opposed to indentations caused by an object of any sizeable weight." When deciphered, according to the Blue Book, the "hieroglyphics" on one page read, "Planet Mars, are you coming home soon? We miss you very much. Why did you stay away too long?"

The Florida NICAP representatives disputed the accuracy of what the Blue Book had called a "simple substitution code." Snyder and Edwards complained that the Air Force had one word represented by two different symbols.

On March 31, Reeves wrote Maj. Quintanilla and asked politely for the return of the tissues. Two captains from MacDill delivered them personally to Reeves on the morning of April 13. If this method of transmission was intended to assuage any fears that the Air Force was trying to cover up evidence of extraterrestrial visitation, it failed. The officers had barely driven away before Johnson was on the phone to the NICAP people in Clearwater. The papers the Air Force had returned, he said, were not the ones it had been given.

When Carr met him on May 1, Johnson produced a sheet of lens tissue that he had just purchased in a local camera store. It was exactly the same as the paper the Air Force had turned over. "Had the originals been on lense tissue," he said, "I would have not believed Reeves, as I still do. The writings look the same, but now the materials are completely different." Reeves's friend Estes Morgan also claimed that the tissue material he had seen prior to the Air Force's first visit was "completely different."

Snyder and Carr would, however, part company in their analysis of what this meant. Snyder thought the Air Force had substituted ordinary tissues and kept the real ones. Carr was sure, on the other hand, that the ordinary tissues were the "real" ones. In his interpretation, Reeves had had an authentic UFO encounter, but after him, he went home, brooded on the matter, and finally decided he would produce his own "proof."

On June 15, Elizabeth McCarthy, a Boston-based document expert who had examined the writings on the tissues, reported to NICAP investigator Owen Lake:

"It is my opinion that these symbols were made with a common type of pencil of the hard variety. The colour and condition match the condition of the writing line and match rather closely that of a No 4 pencil, such as Mongol 482, Saphir 200 of A.W. Faber or Dixon Oriole 287."

From Brooksville To Moniheya.

"I don't care what anybody says about me," Reeves told a correspondent on April 2. "All I know, I saw the flying saucer and its robot pilot."

That story, however, had begun to expand, or so it seemed to some. Several months later he wrote the same individual:

"There is a lot more to that story than what I told the news reporters. Something happened back in the woods that no one knew about. The robot, after he took the second flash. Didn't go over to the saucer. He came over by me, and put his hands on my shoulders three times, tapping me on the shoulders. Something happened there that wasn't to get out, something I knew about. That spacecraft came back in twenty-nine days. I knew it was going to come back. There was three of us that saw it. We got a picture of it, but the picture didn't come out too clear. We had to do some running from under the trees to get out in the opening. The ship came down to about a thousand feet, and about half a mile away. From what I understand, there was a jet chasing it. So I was told by this other party... When the robot came over to me, he pointed to the sun. Then he pointed to the East, then to the West; then he pointed to himself, then to the saucer; then he pointed to the sky. As he did this he made his hand go round in a circle like; as he pointed to the ground, he was trying to tell me that the sun would rise and set so many times. That was the number of days that would past that he would be back again. I understood what he was trying to tell me. I have the paper he made the dots on. After what he done he put his finger on my lip like and then held his hand out afterwards and closed his hand up like a fist, meaning I shouldn't let anyone know that he was coming back here again."

On October 26 the Tampa Tribune reported:

"Two people confirmed the March 2 saucer sighting saying that they had seen one on that day in the area. On March 31, a Brooksville man and his wife went with Reeves to the woody landing place to await the saucer to return and reported that they did see it approaching in the sky from the north and then the Air Force jet approached and the disc-shaped object flipped over on its rim then disappeared. A Pinellas Park resident also reported seeing an unidentified flying object the same afternoon."

Reeves claimed that on October 21, he found footprints and holes at a sight about 400 feet from the original landing spot. The footprints, apparently made by two or three individuals were two inches longer - 12 inches as opposed to 10 - than those at the first site had been. Reeves allegedly witnessed a landing in the early morning hours of December 4, 1966. A group of UFO enthusiasts led by Saucer Scoop editor Joan Whritenour, who arrived a few hours later, found traces and footprints.

To commemorate his UFO experiences, he constructed a 23-foot obelisk, at the top of which he placed a crescent moon and a replica of earth and displayed it in his front yard. Elsewhere on his property, he put a large wooden saucer. He began wearing a jumpsuit and mounting displays of UFO-related materials such as clippings and photographs at local shopping malls.

In 1968, Reeves came forward with a story so bizarre that it shocked his supporters into silence. As he told the tale, at 2 a.m. on August 5 he awoke with a strong urge to go into the woods. He resisted it and fell back to sleep. The feeling continued during the day, and finally, at 3 p.m. he headed for the trees. There he met two men, one shorter than the other; both wore spacesuits and carried helmets under their arms. The men quickly overtook him and gently guided him to a waiting flying saucer. There he met a beautiful spacewoman and was flown to the moon.

Before they dropped him off, the space people told him they would come back and take him to their home planet. He would be gone a couple of weeks, so if he disappeared for a time, no one should worry about his whereabouts. True to their word, the space people returned two months later and took him to their world, which they called Moniheya and which the earthlings call Venus. He returned home with a Venusian flag. Where the ship had landed, he erected a plaque with this inscription: "The spaceship that took John F. Reeves to planet Moniheya, millions and millions of miles from planet Earth, landed here October 5, 1968."

In 1980 Reeves was forced to sell his property to the state to pay off back taxes, and he moved to a trailer in Brooksville. The state destroyed both the house and monuments. Interviewed in the early 1980s, Reeves expressed regret that his ambition to be buried at the foot of the obelisk would never be realized. The stone was to bear these words:

"In this tomb lies the body of John F. Reeves, one of the greatest men of our time, the greatest of them all. Outer space traveller to other planets of our galaxy." Certainly, a fascinating claim, if not somewhat difficult to digest, let us know what you think about the claims made by John Reeves in the comments section below.

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