The police have always been a force that ideally seeks to protect us from the more nefarious elements of the world we live in. They are supposed to look over us and patrol our streets looking to eliminate criminal threats and maintain a sense of peace. In the process of doing so law enforcement often comes across the strange and the inexplicable, but they also encounter things that their training and even common sense has not prepared them for, things beyond the scope of our understanding which lurk in the world of the paranormal. One place where such encounters have been seen are with the police who patrol the Navajo reservation of the American southwest, well away from the public eye in a place that many of you may never give a second thought to. This is a land of legend and mystery, and often it seem that the police here are firsthand witnesses to some very bizarre things indeed.
Perhaps one of the most interesting cases of reservation law enforcement dealing with the paranormal is a whole department devoted to such phenomena. The Navajo Reservation in Arizona had long had numerous reports of all manner of strange goings on that went beyond the scope of what ordinary law enforcement were trained to deal with, including ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, shape shifting creatures of Native lore known as Skinwalkers, and other assorted myriad weirdness. What is interesting is that rather than scoff at these reports or write them off, the Navajo Reservation instead went about assigning a special branch of their department to investigating such fringe cases.
The team is called the Navajo Nation Rangers, consisting of a group of specially trained federal officers that are typically in charge of a variety of tasks, such as managing national parks, archaeological sites, and fish and wildlife services. In this case, they expanded their operations to include the investigation of reports of the paranormal, and although such reports accounted for less than 1% of their total cases, they were taken very seriously by the department. Some of the most illuminating information on these cases and the inner workings of the Navajo Rangers with regards to the paranormal comes from retired 31-year law enforcement veteran of the Arizona Police Department, the National Park Service, Navajo Historic Preservation Department, and the Navajo Nation Rangers, Lt. John Dover, and his long time partner Stanley Milford, Jr., an 18-year veteran and Sergeant with the Navajo Nation Rangers in Window Rock, Arizona. Milford has said of the sort of cases they covered and the decision to pursue such reports:
Haunted locations and things going bump in the night. Objects appearing out of the air and dropping onto the floors, objects flying across rooms, ceramic vessels exploding and then we got involved in UFO investigations. In many of these cases people are frightened by what they have seen and that is really the bottom-line of why we investigate these cases. Because of the fact that my chief has basically told us that we will investigate a case when somebody comes forward asking for help and that is the bottom-line. They are asking for help and they are needing someone to turn to and someone to listen to them, and that is what we do.
The cases are coming from people that are just normal people who were very afraid — something unusual was happening to them. They didn’t know what was going on, they didn’t know if it was military, something supernatural, if it was witchcraft. They wanted answers and they wanted to know that somebody cared enough about them to find those answers for them. Maybe we don’t believe it. Maybe we don’t hold every belief that you do, but we’re going to investigate it rather meticulously and professionally. We’ll report it and let the chips fall where they will.
Dover spent 10 years investigating paranormal claims for the reservation, a sort of real life Fox Mulder, and along with Milford they ran across some particularly odd cases. Many of these have been weird accounts they have come across involving what seem to be UFOs and even their occupants. In one case, an old hermit who lived out in the desolate desert scrub came forward to say that he had seen a UFO land nearby, which then disgorged several unearthly entities that inspected his home before boarding their craft and shooting off into the vast sky of the desert night. The Rangers took a look at the site and found inexplicable circular holes near the shack where the man said the craft had landed.
There was also the case of a mother and daughter who spotted a formation of bright blue, orange and white lights in the night sky over uninhabited desert of the reservation near the town of Chinle in January of 2012. They allegedly watched the mysterious lights for several minutes before they suddenly vanished, leaving behind a sonic boom that apparently knocked out power in the entire town. Some UFO phenomena have been seen by Dover and Milford themselves, such as a cigar shaped craft they both witnessed, and Dover has claimed that he was once followed by a mysterious orb of light for 30 minutes. Indeed, the Navajo Rangers have had so many UFO reports on the reservation that they have teamed up with the UFO research organization the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
The pair have investigated hauntings as well, many times during which they directly witnessed paranormal phenomena themselves. In one allegedly haunted home Dover explained that coins suddenly began to fall from the ceiling to patter them like rain, even though there were no holes or vents through which they could have fallen. There was also an allegedly haunted location in which they personally witnessed objects levitating through the air and ceramic dishes exploding to send shards everywhere for no apparent reason. Bigfoot reports were also pursued, with Dover saying that one case they investigated had over 30 eyewitnesses, and he would say of it to CBS 5 News, “We came out with physical evidence. Hair samples, footprints, stride distances, logs that had been pulled out of the bog area and removed — normal people wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Other cases they looked into are a little harder to classify. One bizarre account they described was a young woman who was driving home one evening when she noticed a mysterious glowing orb bobbing in the darkness behind her, seemingly following the vehicle. She managed to reach her home when the light sort of flickered away, but when she looked to her parking spot there was reportedly a very large rabbit sitting there where her car would normally be peering through the night at her. The startled woman claimed that she had rushed inside and locked the door, and that the next morning she awoke with a splitting headache. Dover and Milford investigated the site, and would find that the car was imbued with anomalous electromagnetic readings, particularly in the driver’s seat. What is going on here with the orb and the giant rabbit and headache? Is this a case of a Skinwalker, a spirit, a UFO, or what? Who knows? You can listen to an interview with these two on UFO Think Tank Radio here and here.
If this was a case of a Skinwalker it would not be he first time that there have been sightings of the legendary creatures on Navajo lands, or by law officers who have come across them in the wilds of the Southwest. One New Mexico highway patrol officer claims that he was on a stretch of highway south of Gallup, New Mexico, when he came face to face with something he could not explain. As he was on patrol, the officer claims that a creature wearing a “white ghostly mask” ran up to his car at great speeds, purportedly easily and effortlessly pacing the patrol car at high speeds. A few days later, the same officer claimed that he had been having a coffee with another highway patrolman and the conversation veered towards the odd experience. The original witness than found that the other officer had had a remarkably similar encounter with a spectral, ghoul faced person who had appeared out of the darkness to run alongside the car at high speeds of at least 65 mph along a desert stretch of highway before running back off into the remote badlands.
There was another bizarre case related to me personally in the wake of my own possible Skinwalker encounter, with a man who claimed to have been a police officer on the Navajo reservation in the late 1990s when he went out into the night on a rather strange call. According to him the report was for some sort of disturbance right outside of the settlement on the fringes of the harsh wilderness that surrounds it. An unidentified male was supposedly wandering along the highway whooping and screaming with incredible volume and someone had called the cops. When the witness got there he claims both him and his partner encountered a tall, thin man looking very disheveled and howling up at the sky like a coyote or wolf. It was all very unsettling from the start, but things would get very strange very fast. The witness would tell me:
So this guy is just out there on this lonely stretch of road just outside of town, and he looks completely dazed and out of it. He walks a bit, throws his head back, and just unleashes this unearthly, animalistic howl like I’ve never heard. It is just chilling. We obviously can’t have this guy out there on the road making noise like that so close to the town, he could be a danger and he seems like he could be drunk or on drugs, so we get out of the car. This guy just goes completely still and stands there staring at us.
We ask him what is going on and shine our flashlights on him, and he seriously looks like a ghoul standing there, pale faced, emaciated, and wild-eyed. He doesn’t respond at all to our questions, so at this point we are creeping closer, wondering what we are going to do with this guy. That was when his eyes sort of glint, like they glow. Then he just suddenly dashes, just from zero to full speed ahead, with such suddenness and acceleration that, well, no track star could pull that off, let alone a guy that seemed like he could barely stand a moment before. It was amazing. And he just bolts off down along the highway towards the desert at just phenomenal, explosive speed.
We got in the car and tailed him and he just keeps getting faster and faster, until my partner and I look at the speedometer and I swear this guy is reaching nearly 50 miles an hour. Just staying right in front of us no matter how fast we go. Then he sort of goes onto all fours, loping along, and veers off the road into the night, just dissolving into the desert, whooping and howling as he does. Was he a Skinwalker? I don’t know, but it is just about the strangest damn thing I have ever come across.
I don’t know if this particular witness is legit or not, or if he was just pulling my leg, but it is still a very odd account that seems to heavily suggest Skinwalker, and again it was, at least allegedly, witnessed by reservation police. Whether any of these accounts are truly of the paranormal or not, it is nevertheless a peek into another world that most of us don’t get a chance to see very often, that of the police who patrol these out of the way, forgotten locales. Here out in this forbidding terrain and surrounded by myths and legend, these officers of the law are encountering things beyond their understanding and training, the things that stalk and inhabit the night out past our ability to comprehend.