Anomalist

Lonnie Zamora as the Hoaxster


We
have talked about the possibility of a hoax in the Socorro UFO landing case. We
have, or at least I have, thought that the idea of a student hoax has been
rejected as implausible. There were way too many moving parts that required way
too many unpredictable actions to be a reasonable scenario. From the very
beginning, it required Lonnie Zamora to react in a way the students needed him
to react so that he would find his way to the location of the landing.
Socorro, New Mexico. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle.
Dr.
J. Allen Hynek, who seemed to have liked Zamora and thought of him as a good
police officer also paid him a left-handed compliment. Hynek, according his
“Report on Socorro New Mexico Trip” found in the Project Blue Book files, “That
Zamora, although not overly bright or articulate, is basically sincere, honest,
and reliable. He would not be capable of contriving a complex hoax, nor would
his temperament indicate that he would have the slightest interest insuch (sic).”
Hynek
seemed to be indicating that Zamora, on his own, couldn’t have pulled this off.
He would have needed help which is suggestive of a conspiracy involving at
least one other. Philip Klass thought that it was the mayor of Socorro who had
a financial motive and the intelligence to set this up. Research by others,
including Paul Harden, proved that this was not the case.
But
then I got to thinking about it.
The
hoax scenarios, as they have been developed over the years, are way too
complex. They involve balloons, which should have been recognized as such,
several different people who left no trace of their presence at the landing
site, and no way for them to escape before the arrival of others on the scene
to spot them. Sergeant Sam Chavez of the New Mexico State Police arrived within
three minutes of receiving the call from Zamora but, unfortunately not long after
the craft had disappeared.
All
this presupposes that Zamora related, accurately, what he had seen. It
presupposes that he didn’t embellish in any way, and it presupposes he wasn’t clever
enough to have pulled it off, just as Hynek suggested.

Let’s
look at this from, well, a different perspective.

According
to what we know, no one else saw the landed craft. No one else saw it lift off
and disappear in seconds. No one else saw the little beings near the craft. All
of this came from Zamora and if he wasn’t telling the truth about it, well,
then, the hoax becomes easier to accept. Just assume that he hadn’t really seen
all these

Lonnie Zamora

things, and some of the arguments about the alien nature of the craft
and its capabilities are no longer relevant. The whole thing becomes much
simpler to explain in terrestrial terms.

Chavez
said something during his interviews with the Lorenzens, when viewed in this
light seems strange. According to The
A.P.R.O. Bulletin
of May 1964 (page 3, second column), “Sgt. Chavez also
told the Lorenzens that he had looked into Zamora’s car to see if there were
any implements of any kind with which the indentations and fire could have been
effected. There were not. Mrs. L asked Chavez why he did that. Chavez admitted
that Zamora’s story had been so strange, and he followed the regular procedure
to establish evidence.”
Going
back, and looking specifically at the descriptions of the landing marks, it
seems that the various witnesses talked mostly about how the soil had been scraped
to one side or the other. That seemed to indicate that something heavy had set
down, but in the process, as the weight was applied, the landing pads shifted
slightly. It didn’t seem as if they had been scraped out in the way it would
look if a shovel had been used but more as if it was the result of something
having landed there.
Ray
Stanford reported in his book, Socorro
Saucer in a Pentagon Pantry
, in the caption on page 37, “The southwest
imprint photographed on the morning after by New Mexico State Police Sergeant
Samuel Chavez, giving the distinct impression of having been gouged into the
earth by great weight from above.”
One of the landing pad traces.
And,
finally, Hynek wrote in a letter to Dr. Donald Menzel of Harvard, on September
29, 1964: “…I have the word of nine witnesses who saw the marks within hours of
the incident, who tell me that the center of the marks were moist as though the
top soil had been freshly pushed aside.”
But
we have to remember here that those nine people only saw the landing
impressions and the burned vegetation. There might have some embellishment
simply because it seems that no one really saw the bush smoking after the craft
took off. Oh, it seems to have been reported that steam or smoke was rising
from that bush by Chavez, but it is one of those things that is hard to pin
down in the world today.
Although
many rejected the idea that Zamora had created the hoax on his own for some
unknown reason, the Zamora hoax explanation is by far the simplest. It
eliminates the need for a balloon either hot air or helium filled, it eliminates
the need for other participants to create the illusion of something landing
there, and it explains the lack of physical evidence that the hoax scenario
should have left behind. If Zamora had done it, he just needed his shovel and a
tape measure. Then he called the station to make his report and request that
Chavez come out to meet with him. This also explains why none of those other
people who said they had seen something ever came forward. All the rest of it,
from the alien creatures, the banging of the hatch, the red symbol… all of it
was so much window dressing created by Zamora.
And
while that theory is applauded for its simplicity, it fails when other facts
are figured into it. We can begin with the three telephone calls into the
police station. Again, we know little about them, we don’t know who made them,
but they are documented in the records gathered that night and in the report
filed by Richard Holder. It would mean that, at the very least, one other
person had to be involved. He or she could have made the three telephone calls
though it is more likely to have been three people.
It
would have involved Opal Grinder who said that he had talked to the tourists
from Colorado who mentioned the low flying aircraft. That adds another person
to the conspiracy which is, of course, another person to spill the beans on
this unless, of course, Grinder was the one who made the telephone calls to the
police.
We
also have to wonder what inspired Zamora to create the hoax. The Project Blue
Book files confirm that there were no other reports of UFOs in New Mexico at
the time and there had been very little publicity about them anywhere prior to
Zamora’s sighting. In fact, from Hynek’s “Report on the Trip to Socorro –
Albuquerque, March 12 – 12, 1965, we see, “One should remember that before the
time of the sighting there had been no talk in the Socorro region of
unidentified flying objects.”
Hynek
also mentioned, “No paraphernalia of a hoax was ever found. It would be rather
hard to have done away with all the tell-tale evidence, such as tubes of
helium, release mechanism, etc.”
And
one thing that might argue the loudest against Zamora doing it on his own was
that the impressions on the ground, when corrected for the terrain features are
symmetrical and the burned bush seemed to be located at the precise center
where you would expect the rocket or jet used to lift it would be situated.
That seems to be much too sophisticated for Zamora to have pulled off. It is
one of those things that he might have lucked into, but it does seem to argue
against a Zamora alone hoax.
I’m
not a fan of the Zamora hoaxed the sighting without any real motivation and no
real inspiration. Again, Hynek mentioned there had been no UFO sightings
reported around Socorro prior to Zamora’s sighting, but afterwards, there were
many (some of which were hoaxes). The sightings for April 1964 from other parts
of the world are fairly mundane and didn’t receive much in the way of publicity
if any at all. Had Zamora’s sighting come in the middle of the wave, it might
be that these other reports suggested the idea to him.
I
like this idea, that Zamora hoaxed it by himself because of the simplicity of
it. However, when we add in other factors, all the factors, it seems that the
theory is flawed. Hector Quintanilla suggested the solution for the case would
probably be found in Zamora’s head, and had he hoaxed the thing, then
Quintanilla had it right. But Zamora never suggested to anyone that he had made
up the story, his friends and his actions that night seem to argue against
hoax, and there is no real motivation for him to have created the hoax that included
the landing site.
And
any theory, or solution, that has to discount some of the evidence to work is
no real solution. In this case there are too many factors that argue against a
Zamora designed hoax, not the least of which is the physical evidence and the
other, unidentified witnesses. If we can come up with a theory that explains
all that, then we have something. Until that time, the case remains,
“Unidentified.”

(Blogger’s
note:
I thought it important to say that in one aspect of my training as
an intelligence officer, we were taught that you needed to review all possible
scenarios when assessing a situation. In one example of that, I was analyzing
the military and political situation on East Timor. In one of the most ridiculous
scenarios, I had to determine the possibility of the United States and Australian
peacekeeping forces engaging in some sort of conflict. The possibility of that
happening was almost zero, but, given that armed military forces were occupying
the same terrain, there was the possibility that something would go horribly
wrong. Didn’t mean that it would, it was just one of the possible outcomes. I
mention this because the idea that Zamora invented the whole tale it
practically zero, but it is one possibility. I say this because I don’t believe
it happened that way, but I do like the simplicity of that solution.)



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