Updated: Nov 24, 2020
What an exciting case this was! Kyle and I fell in love with the Exeter Case and the Hill Case as we got to dive deep into these cases. Now you can dive deep into our research with us.
The incident took place on September 3, 1965
5 miles South of Exeter, NH, at approx. 2 am
18-year-old Norman Muscarello was hitchhiking to his girlfriend's house in Amesbury, Mass.
He was three weeks away from leaving for service in the United States Navy
Muscarello is walking along NH 150 when he sees red lights
He thinks they belong to a police or fire vehicle.
The lights were bright enough to illuminate the woods and two houses in bright red light. (Dining's house)
Before he knows it, the lights are chasing him so he hides in a ditch.
He then jumps in front of a car that takes him to the police station.
Muscarello was visibly shaken by the incident.
"Police officer Eugene Bertrand, Jr., who earlier in the evening had passed a distressed woman sitting in her car on NH 108"
The woman had apparently been chased in her car by the craft for about 12 miles.
It then hovered over the car and flew away.
Officer Bertrand went back to the Dining's house with Muscarello
They both saw a craft slowly rise from the trees with red flashing lights on it. - - The red lights match Betty & Barney Hill's account. "Bertrand described the UFO as "this huge, dark object as big as a barn over there, with red flashing lights on it."
The object agitated local animals
dogs barking, horse kicking the barn
Officer Hunt was called for backup.
Officer Bertrand and Muscarello watched the object about 100 ft in the air at about 100 ft away. It stayed until Officer Hunt arrived.
He witnessed it as well.
John G. Fuller - wrote for the Saturday Review
From Exeter Case: The sightings by Muscarello and the two policemen received national publicity. John G. Fuller, a journalist and regular columnist for Saturday Review magazine, decided to travel to Exeter and investigate. Fuller interviewed a number of people in the Exeter area who also claimed to have witnessed strange lights and unusual objects. Among them were Ron Smith, a senior at Exeter High School, who told Fuller that about two or three weeks after Muscarello's sighting, he was traveling in a vehicle with his mother and aunt one evening at 11:30. According to Smith, he, his mother, and aunt all saw an object with "a red light on top and the bottom was white and glowed. It appeared to be spinning. It passed over the car once and when it passed over and got in front, it stopped in midair. Then it went back over the car again." Fuller also spoke to police officer Toland at Exeter's police station. Toland told Fuller of a number of calls he had received from Exeter-area residents regarding UFO sightings. A good example of the type of calls Toland had received came from Mrs. Ralph Lindsay. According to Toland "she called in here early, just before dawn. She said it was right out of her window as she was calling. It was like a big orange ball, almost as big as the harvest Moon ... and it wasn't the Moon, either ... all the time she was talking to me, her kids were at the window watching it. Now, why would people go to all this trouble — people all over the area — if they weren't seeing something real?"
In 1966 writer John G. Fuller secured the cooperation of the Hills and Simon and wrote the book The Interrupted Journey (see below) about the case. The book included a copy of Betty's sketch of the "star map." The book was a quick success and went through several printings.
Reporting the case to the USAF
They reported the case to Pease Air Force Base. They dispatched Major David Griffin and Lieutenant Alan Brandt to interview the officers and Muscarello.
The Air Force officers asked them not to speak to the press, but they already had.
Major Griffin sent in a report to Blue Book and wrote:
"At this time I have been unable to arrive at a probable cause of this sighting. The three observers seem to be stable, reliable persons, especially the two patrolmen. I viewed the area of the sighting and found nothing in the area that could be the probable cause. Pease AFB had five B-47 aircraft flying in the area but I do not believe that they had any connection with this sighting.""
USAF Major Hector Quintanilla wrote to the officers saying they likely saw B-47s practicing in the area - they claim to have seen and heard the difference between the two types of crafts (USAF vs UFO). The Air Force also claimed the group had just seen, "nothing more than stars and planets twinkling ... owing to a temperature inversion." "nothing more than stars and planets twinkling ... owing to a temperature inversion."
Other people reported fairly similar sightings including Ron Smith, a senior at Exeter High School. He claims: he was traveling in a vehicle with his mother and aunt one evening at 11:30. According to Smith, his mother, aunt, and himself, all saw an object with "a red light on top and the bottom was white and glowed. It appeared to be spinning. It passed over the car once and when it passed over and got in front, it stopped in midair. Then it went back over the car again."
A. Mrs. Ralph Lindsay. According to Toland "she called in here early, just before dawn. She said it was right out of her window as she was calling. It was like a big orange ball, almost as big as the harvest Moon ... and it wasn't the Moon, either ... all the time she was talking to me, her kids were at the window watching it.
B. For background, Officer Toland was the dispatcher working the desk the night of Muscarello seeing the craft.
Writing to Blue Book
The two policemen sent a letter to Project Blue Book in which they stated, "As you can imagine, we have been the subject of considerable ridicule since the Pentagon released its 'final evaluation' of our sighting of September 3, 1965. In other words, both Patrolman Hunt and myself saw this object at close range, checked it out with each other, confirmed and reconfirmed that it was not any type of conventional aircraft ... and went to considerable trouble to confirm that the weather was clear, there was no wind, no chance of weather inversion, and that what we were seeing was in no way a military or civilian aircraft."
They received no answer so they wrote again. "When Project Blue Book did not respond to their letter, on December 29, 1965 — nearly four months after the sighting — the two men sent another letter to Blue Book in which they wrote that the object they observed "was absolutely silent with no rush of air from jets or chopper blades whatsoever. And it did not have any wings or tail ... it lit up the entire field, and two nearby houses turned completely red."
At one point an Air Force officer claimed that the UFOs people had been observing were merely lights from nearby Pease AFB. To prove it, he had the lights activated before a large crowd who were gathered some distance away. According to Fowler, "he ordered personnel at the base to turn the lights on. Everybody looked and waited — and nothing happened. Frustrated, he yelled into the mike to turn on the lights. A voice replied that the lights were on. The very embarrassed officer slunk back into the seat of the staff car and drove off amongst the laughs and jeers of the crowd."
In January 1966 Lieutenant Colonel John Spaulding, from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, finally replied to the policemen's two letters. Spaulding wrote that "based on additional information submitted to our UFO investigation officer, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, we have been unable to identify the object you observed on September 3, 1965.
In 2011, Joe Nickell, a prominent skeptic, and James McGaha, Major, USAF retired, proposed a possible explanation for the incident in the Skeptical Inquirer. As a pilot, McGaha had been refueled in flight by KC-97 tanker aircraft like the ones stationed at Pease AFB near Exeter in 1965. In the article, he claimed to have recognized the flashing red light pattern reported by the witnesses Bertrand and Muscarello: one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one. According to Nickell and McGaha, before refueling, the underbelly of the KC-97 tankers flashed five very bright red lights in that same pattern. The refueling boom hung down at a 60 degree angle and would flutter in the air currents when not being controlled by the boom operator: hence "floating like a leaf" per witness Muscarello.