THE FOLLOWING STORIES CONCERNING A MUTILATED HORSE (SNIPPY A.K.A. LADY)--- MAY NOT BE A HOT TOPIC-- BUT READ ON -- THIS UNSOLVED MYSTERY IS LINKED TO UFO ACTIVITY — LIKEWISE THIS DOCUMENTED HAPPENING HAS REMAINED AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY FOR OVER 50 YEARS... THAT IS ---- IF ONE DOES NOT BELIEVE THAT ALIENS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS BAFFLING INCIDENT
--- The death of a horse 50 years ago put the San Luis Valley on the world map, and discussion continues today.
The diary of an old family friend says it took place on Sept. 27, 1967, while other accounts have the incident happening on other dates.
A columnist for the Rocky Mountain News observed that Lady/Snippy had become more famous in death than Man O’ War was in his prime. He also suggested the horse had tripped and fallen with its head in a band of cannibal ants.
The only thing people can say for certain after the past five decades is that something killed Nellie Lewis’ horse.
The horse, an Appaloosa named Lady, was a creature of habit, so caregiver Harry King became concerned when she didn’t come to the fence behind the King home for her water and usual treat.
Harry lived with his aged mom, Agnes, then 87, and cared for the horse belonging to his sister, who lived in Alamosa. He went looking for the horse and found her lying on her side, with her head stripped bare to the bone. He said the precision cuts on the flank couldn’t have come from a coyote or even a pack of them. A strong chemical smell akin to acetone lingered in the air.
Nellie called a friend and then hurried to the ranch. What she found there is carved in the annals of history, embellished by many, and featured in short films, folk legends and books, which have brought fame and fortune to the authors, but no answers about the horse’s death.
The carcass was poked, prodded and renamed “Snippy,” a name Nellie used for her horse from then on. The bizarre event, one of many that had been plaguing the sparsely populated San Luis Valley, began 50 years of mysteries.
When Nellie and husband Berle Lewis began walking around the grisly scene, the odor was still in the air and the bones appeared to have been exposed to the sun for years, though they had a pinkish cast.
Below Nellie and Berle circa 1966.
Although the carcass had lain exposed for several days, it was not bloated and the smell was not that of decomposition. No predators, vultures or buzzards had found it appealing, though the flesh at the base of the neck was pliable.
The horse’s footprints ended about 100 feet from where the remains lay. No other prints were around. The Lewises found 15 burns that could be circular exhaust marks. A hundred yards north of the carcass they found a three-foot bush and bushes within a 10-foot radius of the bush that had been flattened to within 10 inches of the ground. Six indentations two inches across and six inches deep formed a circle three feet in diameter.
On the bushes, Nellie found some gelatin-like green globs and a piece of metal covered with horsehair. After touching these, her hands began to burn and hurt until she could wash them.
The only footprints around by then were those of people Nellie knew had been there.
Nellie reported the incident to then-sheriff Ben Phillips, who declared the horse had been killed by lightning. Weather reports for the time period did not show any such activity. Duane Martin, a United States Forest Service employee, arrived with a Geiger counter and began testing. The area around the burn marks was radioactive and so were the green globs and the horsehair-wrapped metal object.
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Residents and visitors also reported strange phenomena. One man said his car was followed by a top-shaped object, a college student said both his rear tires blew out as he approached an object as it sat in a field and two sheriff’s deputies were followed by an orange globe, then threatened with their jobs if they wrote reports on it.
Several days after the horse was found, police at the nearby Great Sand Dunes found Dr. John Altshuler, an award-winning pathologist, trespassing on the monument after dark. When police lectured him about breaking the law, he begged to keep his name a secret, afraid his reason for being in the park would ruin his career if it came out. He was watching for UFOs.
When the officers learned Dr. Altshuler’s area of expertise was in the study of blood coagulation, they decided to let him off the hook if he would take a ride out to Harry King’s ranch and view the remains of a horse to see if he, a medical expert, could make some sense out of them.
He found the animal’s lungs, heart and thyroid were completely missing, removed with some of the cleanest cuts he had ever seen. The brain and abdominal organs were gone, he said, and there was no material in the spinal column.
At the edges, the sliced skin was a deep black in color. Even stranger to him was the lack of blood. Many years later, as an old man, he told a reporter, “I have done hundreds of autopsies. You can’t cut into a body without getting some blood. But there was no blood on the skin or the ground. No blood anywhere. The outer edges of the skin were cut firm, almost as if they had been cauterized by a modern day laser, but there was no cauterizing laser technology like that in 1967.”
Reporters from Associated Press, United Press International, The London Times, Parish Match, periodical magazines and publications devoted to strange things arrived to cover the story.
A guard was placed at the gate, pending investigation by the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization (APRO). News of possible UFO involvement eventually reached the Condon Committee, a group funded by the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1968 at the University of Colorado. Their purpose was to study reports of UFOs. They reached out to pathologist Dr. Robert Adams who agreed to take a look at the animal and present his findings.
Adams examined Lady and the evidence. He concluded there were “no unearthly causes, at least not to my mind.” Harry King saw no one in the area before finding the horse, but Agnes King reported seeing and hearing an unknown object flying over the house.
Nellie Lewis contended Adams’ conclusions failed to account for the chemical odor and lack of blood at the scene.
The mutilation was blamed on space aliens, but those who didn’t believe stories of flying saucers attributed the injuries to everything from secret government projects to the work of Satanic cults until Superior Court Judge Charles E. Bennett of Denver and his wife said they had witnessed “three reddish-orange rings in the sky that maintained a triangular formation, moved at a high speed and made a humming sound.” And then there were the small black jet planes people claimed to have seen buzzing the area where Snippy died.
Berle Lewis pounded a stake in the ground with plans to erect a monument, but Nellie died and the plans faded away. After being removed from the meadow, Snippy’s bones began an odyssey of their own. Alamosa veterinarian Wallace Leary boiled off the remaining skin and tissues in 1968 and mounted the skeleton on a metal platform, bones held together by wires and screws.
In that condition, Snippy spent a few years on the sidewalk in front of the Chamber of Commerce and was in a private museum for a while before ending up in an abandoned house on Carl Heflin’s ranch, where she sat for about 20 years.
Frank Duran, a marketing specialist with Dell’s Insurance, offered the bones on eBay at the behest of Helfin’s nephew. Some $10,000 was raised. The nephew reportedly wanted $50,000 and took the skeleton away. It’s in a warehouse somewhere.
Snippy’s legacy still hangs over the San Luis Valley in places like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and the nearby UFO Watchtower, where sky watchers continue their hopes of glimpsing a visitor from outer space.
Caption: In this old photo, from left Duane Martin, Nellie Lewis and Leona Wellington watch as a Geiger counter records radiation around the carcass of Snippy the Horse.
By Sylvia Lobito
Colorado’s beautiful San Luis Valley is full of interesting stories. But perhaps the most peculiar story that the Valley can lay claim to is one of particular importance to UFOlogy and general fringe weirdness: the story of “Snippy” the horse – the first cattle mutilation associated with strange lights in the sky.
On September 9th, 1967, Harry King left his humble ranch in search of Lady, his three year old mare. He and his mother had noted that she hadn’t moseyed back to the ranch for water in three days, something that was particularly odd considering how dry and hot the weather had been. Their fears were realized when they found Lady, or most of her anyway, laying on her side with her neck stripped bare to the bone.
The cuts were incredibly clean, surgical even, a fact that led Harry to believe that Lady wasn’t simply the victim of a coyote or some other local predator. He noted that there was no blood on the scene, only a series of strange burns on the ground a strong “medicinal” smell hanging in the air.
When reported, the local sheriff blew Harry off and wrote the ordeal up as a lightning strike, never bothering to visit the ranch himself.
Days later, park police at the nearby Great Sand Dunes national park busted someone for trespassing on the property after dark. This miscreant turned out to be Dr. John Altshuler, an award-winning pathologist with an extensive history of contributions to medicine. As the police lectured him about breaking the law, he begged for them to keep his name a secret, afraid that not only an arrest, but that his reasoning for being in the park in the first place would ruin his career. You see, he was searching for UFOs.
The San Luis Valley, particularly the area surrounding the Great Sand Dunes Park, has long been a hotbed of mysterious lights in the sky for longer than most records have been keeping track. In fact, the Native Americans who dwelled in the land would often tell stories of underground caverns where “ant people” sheltered humans and “flying seed pods” shuttled people back and forth between the stars.
These stories have since morphed into flying saucers and underground cave bases where little grey men perform horrific experiments, but the point is the same: people have been seeing very weird things there for a very long time.
In the book An Alien Harvest: Further Evidence Linking Animal Mutilations and Human Abductions to Alien Life Forms, Dr. John Altshuler was interviewed by television producer Linda Moulton about the evening he spent in the park looking for aliens.“About 2:00-3:00 AM I saw three very bright, white lights moving together slowly between the Sangre De Cristo mountain tops.. They were definitely not the illusion of stars moving.. At one point I thought they were coming toward me because the lights got bigger. Then suddenly, they shot upward and disappeared. At the time, I was both elated and disbelieving in a way. I knew that the lights were not my imagination, that the stories of UFOs were true.
”When the park officers found out that Dr. Altshuler’s area of expertise was in the study of blood coagulation, they decided to let him off the hook under one condition: that he took a ride out to Harry King’s ranch to view the remains of Lady and see if he, a medical expert, could make some sense out of them.
Since he was clearly into weird things already, Dr. Altshuler agreed.When he arrived at body, he recalls being “amazed” by what he saw. The animal’s lungs, heart, and thyroid completely missing, removed with some of the cleanest cuts he had ever seen. At the edges, the sliced skin was a deep black in color.
Even stranger to him was the unbelievable lack of blood on the scene.“I have done hundreds of autopsies. You can’t cut into a body without getting some blood. But there was no blood on the skin or the ground. No blood anywhere.. the outer edges of the skin were cut firm, almost as if they had been cauterized by a modern day laser. but there was no cauterizing laser technology like that in 1967.”After examining Lady,
Altshuler became so frightened that what he had seen would discredit him that he couldn’t sleep. He was utterly convinced that he had seen a horse that was experimented on by complex equipment, and furthermore, he was beginning to believe that it’s demise was related to the lights he had seen in the sky.
Sure enough, those same thoughts were shared by the King family. Harry’s 87 year old mother Agnes had seen a strange object fly over their house on the day of Lady’s disappearance. Even Lady’s owner, Nellie Lewis, mentioned that she had been seeing “something” in the skies every night, but declined to elaborate further when asked. When the went to see the body for herself, she reported that her hands began to burn after touching the horse’s mane, and that her boots had become radioactive after walking through several “burns” littering the area where Lady’s tracks stopped.
This caught the attention of the United States Forest Service who sent an agent out with a Geiger counter. What he discovered was a pulse of unusually high radioactivity roughly two city blocks of Lady’s body… an area where many people were starting a believe that a craft had landed.Nellie, who was also an occasional writer for the Pueblo Chieftain, recounted her odd tale, and on October 5th, 1967
It didn’t take long before the account was filling the newspapers, who had mistakenly reported the horse’s name as “Snippy” and decided to run with it. While the first obvious place the lay the blame for the mutilation is space aliens, those not simply content with stories of flying saucers attributed the injuries to everything from secret government projects to the work of menacing satanic cults. But none of that mattered, because that same day, an account by Superior Court Judge Charles E. Bennett of Denver was published.
Bennett and his wife claimed to have witnessed “three reddish-orange rings in the sky. They maintained a triangular formation, moved at a high speed, and made a humming sound.”News of the UFO involvement in “Snippy’s” death eventually reached the Condon Committee, a group funded by the US Air Force from 1966 to 1968 at the University of Colorado. Their purpose was to study reports of UFOs, the number of which had boomed since the 1947 incident in Roswell. They reached out to pathologist Dr. Robert Adams who agreed to take a look at the animal and present his findings to the group.
Dr. Adams concluded that “Snippy” had a leg infection at the time of her death, and that someone had slit the animal’s throat to put her out of her misery.“Bacteria, birds, and coyotes were responsible for the absence of organs in the abdominal cavity… predators had eaten away part of the horse’s rump, exposing the cavity.” Dr. Adams said. “It was normal under the circumstances that the brain cavity was devoid of fluid. Because all tissue was gone from the skull, the opening in the back was exposed to the air. Since the brain, after death, liquefied in hours, the fluid evaporated quickly in the warm prairie air.” “It was at least 30 days after Snippy’s death before anyone examined the carcass, and the longest the fluid could have remained would have been two weeks.”“I know it’s going to pop the bubble, but the horse was not killed by a flying saucer.”
UFOlogists pointed to the source of the Condon Committee’s funding, the US Government, as proof that the group’s true purpose was to downplay UFO reports and provide disinformation. But at this point, it didn’t matter either way. Reports of cattle mutilations and their accompanying UFO’s were exploding around the world.
Snippy had started a phenomenon.In 1975 Democratic senator Floyd K. Haskell claimed there had been 130 mutilations in Colorado alone, going so far as to request the FBI step in to help in order to quell the growing fear the cases had instilled in Colorado residents. By this time, cattle mutilations had been reported in 15 surrounding states, including Texas, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Montana, and were starting to appear in many Latin countries as well. These mutilations continued to grow, including all variety of animals in their wake.
Snippy’s bones reportedly floated around from local museums, to abandoned houses, to veterinary clinics, to local businesses, eventually finding their way to eBay in late 2006 with a reserve of $50,000. The auction was eventually put on hold due to a dispute over ownership of the remains, and I can’t personally find any reference to whether or not the bones were actually ever sold (can you?). One would imagine that they’re still out there somewhere.
There are those, such as Weird America author Jim Brandon, who don’t believe that her bones were ever around to sell in the first place. Branson reports that Snippy’s skeleton disintegrated “like shredded wheat” shortly after her death.
While the whereabouts of her body might be mystery, the legacy she left stings hangs over the San Luis Valley in places like the Great Sand Dune National Park where skywatchers continue to trek in hopes of glimpsing a visitor from outer space.
By Greg Newark
OCT 5, 1967 AP
ALAMOSA, Colo (AP)- Snippy, a 3 year old Appaloosa horse, didnt return to the Harry King ranch for her usual evening drink Sept. 7, and her owner is blaming a flying saucer-or at least a radioactive surgeon.
The bizaree event, just one of many that has been plaguing the sparsely populated San Luis Valley in the past six months, began Sept. 9 when Began a search for the saddle pony.
He found snippy just a quarter mile from the ranch house. There were no tracks about the dead horse, but the animal had been completely skined. All that remained of the neck and shoulders were bleached bones, but they were still intact and attached to the rest of the body.
The cut around the neck was completely smooth, not a jagged edge. No blood remained in the horse's body and there was none on the ground.
King returned to the site the next day with the horse's owners, Mr and Mrs Burl Lewis. Nothing had changed except a sickening sweet odor prevaded the area and the exposed bones were a bright pink.
After a search of the immediate area they found what appeared to be 15 circular exhaust marks. They covered an area about 100 by 50 yards.
A hundred yards north of the carcass they found a three-foot bush squashed to within inches of the ground. The area within a 10 foot radius of the bush had also be flattened to within 10 inches of the gorund.
Near the area Mrs. Lewis found a piece of the horse's flesh encased in a piece of the skin. It was very sticky, she said, and dropped it. Her hand began to burn and turned red and continued to burn untill
she washed her hands.
On another check of the area they found more flattened brush but this time there were six indentations forming a circle three feet in diameter. Each undentation was two inches across and four inches deep.
By Sept. 23, the neck and head bones had turned black.
Mrs. Lewis tried in vain to get the authorities to check the incident but most of them told her the horse had been struck by lightning. None of them had visited the area.
A check of the area by a forestry offical with a Civil Defense geiger counter found the radiation count to be high.
The exhaust marks were radioactive as were the areas where the brush had been flattened. The count lessened however as readings were made closer to the dead horse.
Many residents of the area have reported sighting unidentified flying objects. One man said his car was
followed by a top shaped object and a student at nearby Adams State College said both his rear tires blew out as he approached an object as it sat in a field.