Mention the name of John Keel to anyone with an interest in UFOs, cryptozoology, and the paranormal, and doing so will likely provoke imagery of Keel's research into two areas he was particularly known for investigating: (a) Mothman and (b) the Men in Black.
There is, however, one case that Keel only briefly touched upon in his all-time classic, The Mothman Prophecies, but which is of such genuine high-strangeness that it is definitely worthy of further study and commentary. It was a story that surfaced in late October 1971, and reached the eyes and ears of the United States' media. This was hardly surprising since - in a curious fashion - it involved none other than President Richard Nixon.
The story - which Keel presents in his book, in verbatim form from a newspaper article - revolves around a woman named Shirley Cromartie. She was a mother of three, who - the press revealed - held a security clearance in the Florida White House and who found herself plunged into a profoundly strange situation.
The media began, on October 23, 1971: "A part-time housekeeper at President Nixon's Key Biscayne retreat has testified she was put in a hypnotic daze by a stranger who told her to shoplift four dresses."
The press continued that Mrs. Cromartie "...pleaded no contest Thursday and was given a suspended sentence after law enforcement officers and a psychiatrist testified they believed she was telling the truth. Mrs. Cromartie holds a security clearance to work in the Florida White House, according to testimony."
Mrs. Cromartie said a mysterious woman met with her in a parking lot and asked if she had the time, and then ordered her to shoplift the items and bring them to her. The press added, elevating the high-strangeness to even greater levels: "Mrs. Cromartie testified she fell into a daze when the young woman released a jasmine-like scent from her left hand."
She added: "I just sort of lost my will. It was a terrifying experience."
The media coverage continued: "Mrs. Cromartie joined the Key Biscayne White House housekeeping staff about a year ago, according to FBI Agent Leo Mc Clairen. He testified her background was impeccable."
She was also examined by a psychiatrist, who, the newspapers said: "...found she could be hypnotized ‘quickly and easily’ and believed she was telling the truth."
"But it wasn’t the same when he hypnotized me," Mrs. Cromartie said. "I couldn’t remember anything afterwards. Whatever that young woman did to me, it was like being in a sleepwalk, only awake."
As the media continued to dig into the story, things got even more bizarre. The mysterious woman, with the mind-altering, “jasmine-like scent,” was described as being attractive, young, and...wearing a wig – the latter being something which is a staple part of certain "Women in Black" cases I have investigated (and which are the subject of a book I have almost finished writing).
Also, both the WIB and their more famous male counterparts, the Men in Black, are oddly fond of asking people the time, as Mrs. Cromartie’s mysterious woman was so very careful to do.
Metro Court Judge, Frederick Barad, said of this surreal saga: “This is all so bizarre that I’m frightened what could happen to the president.”
This latter point was something clearly on the mind of John Keel, too. He speculated in The Mothman Prophecies that the hypnotic abilities of Cromartie’s mind-altering woman amounted to “…not some small demonstration for the benefit of President Nixon.”
It's curious that very little additional coverage ever surfaced on this genuinely weird affair. Whether officialdom - as a result of the White House connection - learned any more is a matter that, outside of governmental channels, remains unknown...