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UFOS: The Way Newspapers Used To Do It

One of the frustrating aspects of covering the paranormal is its treatment in the mainstream media, if the media covers the paranormal topic at all. You’ll be hard pressed to find a ghost story without a mention of “Ghost Busters,” a Bigfoot report without a reference to “Harry and the Hendersons,” or a UFO story without the term “little green men” or the “X-Files” theme playing in the background.

But there was a time when major metropolitan daily newspapers took UFO reports seriously, such as this encounter near Kansas City, Missouri, that appeared in the 18 February 1967, edition of The Kansas City Star. Stella Holcomb, a mother of seven in her early thirties, looked out the north living room window of her Prairie Lee Lake, Missouri, home at 7:50 p.m. when she saw something that shouldn’t be there – a saucer in the sky.

“It was as big as a house, oval shaped, and had red, green and blue blinking lights,” she told The Star.

Holcomb’s husband Don, a member of the Kansas City Fire Department, and neighbors on their cozy cul-de-sac at the north end of the lake, Nadine Wagner and Marlene Morris, were in the living room when Holcomb saw the light in the sky.

“Sure, we saw the thing,” Morris said in the newspaper account. “We saw it coming in like a star and we all jumped in the Holcomb’s station wagon. Us three women and thirteen kids.”

Don Holcomb had to report to work, so the women and children pursued the craft.

“The thing came from the west like a big red ball,” Stella Holcomb said. “It turned south, then west right out there back of our house. I’d say about a half mile away.”

The craft then moved west and seemed to descend into the tree line near the bottom of a hill.

“We thought it landed,” Holcomb said. “That’s why we jumped into the station wagon and followed it.”

Several teenagers who had gathered for a service at the Prairie Lee Baptist Church across the road stood outside to watch the UFO. Holcomb drove her Rambler station wagon west on her paved street, then down a rural dirt road, chasing the craft.

It hovered about forty or fifty feet above a pasture about 300 feet away from the cars.

“As soon as I slammed on my breaks, the kids piled out of the car and started running across a small ravine towards the fence,” Holcomb said. “As soon as they reached the fence, the UFO started moving away.”

Although the adults couldn’t make out many details of the craft because of the bright lights it emitted, Mark Morris and Earl Holcomb, who ran to the pasture fence, said through the flashing “red, green, blue and white lights,” the craft was “round like a saucer.”

As the group stared at the house-sized saucer, smaller craft began to circle above it.

When it began to move away, the women called the children back into the car and the chase began again, going onto U.S. 50 highway before Holcomb’s station wagon began to have car problems and they returned home.

The ship followed them. When Holcomb pulled into her driveway around 8:30 p.m., the craft descended and landed behind a grove of trees about a quarter mile away from the house.

“I know it was on the ground because I could see the lights shining through the trees,” she said.

Holcomb called nearby Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base and within a half hour a military airplane circled the area above her house. Air Base Capt. James Stethens kept Holcomb on the telephone, relaying what she saw to the pilot of the airplane searching the area; but the pilot never saw the glowing saucer or the smaller lights that had again become airborne.

“It zipped over, around and under the plane,” Holcomb said. “I can’t see how he could help but see it. But he said he didn’t.”

Someone at the Air Force base did. “The Air Force did say they spotted an object on radar,” Earl said.

While Holcomb spoke to Capt. Stethens, Wagner, her husband and three children drove to the shelter house of the nearby lake and watched the craft hovering, and the Air Force plane circling over it.

A Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy arrived at the Holcomb house at 9:42 p.m. and saw the patrolling plane, but couldn’t see the UFOs.

“I am not a drinking woman and I am not silly, and I sure don’t know how to explain this sort of thing, but a lot of people saw the same thing I saw,” Holcomb said. “I’m beginning to wonder, could it be that just certain people can see these flying objects?”

Follow-up calls to the base by the nearby newspaper The Independence Examiner, failed to reach Capt. Stethens to confirm the Air Force’s response to the call. Richards-Gebaur closed in 1994.


Jason Offutt is paranormal investigator, an author of several paranormal books such as “What Lurks Beyond,” “Darkness Walks: Shadow People Among us,” “Haunted Missouri,” and “Paranormal Missouri” and a teacher of journalism at Northwest Missouri State University.
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