The Shermans, like their neighbors, also saw strange lights and flying objects, including more than a dozen on one evening. On many of the occasions that they spied these UFOs, they also experienced the death or disappearance of seven of their best cows. Four disappeared without a trace and three more were found dead and partially mutilated.
One of the dead cows had a peculiar hole in the center of its left eyeball but was otherwise untouched Another was found with a similar hole in its left eye and a 6-inch hole, about an inch deep, had been carved out of its rectum. The last cow to be killed and mutilated had been seen alive by the Shermans’ son just five minutes earlier. It had a 6-inch wide, 18-inch deep hole cored out of its rectum that extending into the body cavity. In all three cases, there was no trace of blood found, a chemical odor was apparent, and no evidence of predators, footprints or tire tracks.
Of the cattle that disappeared, one seemed to have been magically lifted from the snow. Its hoofprints led into a field and then just simply stopped. The ground was littered with broken twigs and branches and the tops of the trees appeared to have been cut off.
Other strange events were also happening during these years. Pastures would unexplainably light up at night, the sounds of heavy machinery could be heard that seemed to be operating under the earth, poltergeist types of activities were occurring such as items disappearing only to reappear at later times, and strange disembodied voices, often speaking an unfamiliar language, were heard from above. Crop circles of flattened grass were found on the ranch.
“For a long time, we wondered what we were seeing if it was something to do with a top-secret project. I don’t know really what to think about it.” — Terry Sherman
The final straw occurred one evening in May 1996 when Sherman was outside with three of his dogs. When he noticed a blue orb darting around in the field near the ranch house, he urged his dogs to go after it. The dogs chased and barked at the orb as they followed it into some thick brush. Sherman heard them make three terrible yelps and when he called for them they didn’t respond. The next morning when he went to look for the dogs, he found only three round greasy lumps with what appeared to be a scorched spot. The dogs were never seen again.
After two years of these terrifying events, the family began to publically speak out. The first claims about the strange claims about unusual events at the ranch first appeared in the Salt Lake City, Utah Deseret News, and later in the alternative weekly Las Vegas Mercury as a series of articles by journalist George Knapp.
George Knapp and co-author, Colm Kelleher, subsequently authored a book in which they detail the earlier investigations into alleged UFO sightings in the Uintah County region, the vanishing and mutilated cattle, large animals with piercing red eyes that were not injured when struck by bullets, invisible objects emitting destructive magnetic fields, crops circles, bigfoot-like creatures, and poltergeist activity.
The Shermans planned to sell the property, however, before they got the chance, Robert Bigelow, a millionaire businessman, a believer in ufology, and founder of the National Institute for Discovery Science, offered to by the property after he read about the events in the newspaper.
Bigelow bought the ranch for $200,000 contingent on a non-disclosure agreement with the Shermans, who agreed not to talk further about the events on the ranch. He then began to establish a compound with high-tech sensing equipment, PhD-level field investigators, scientists, and a security detail which guarded the property 24 hours a day. The investigators were tasked with collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and searching for explanations.
Its purpose was the research and advance the study of various fringe sciences and paranormal topics, including UFOs and cattle mutilation. With little “apparent” success, the National Institute of Discovery Science was disbanded in 2004.
However, the organization was quickly replaced by the Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), which had was more secretive and was apparently working towards having a government sponsor. In 2007, the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was a secret investigatory effort funded by the United States Defense Department to study unidentified flying objects, primarily on Skinwalker Ranch.
In the next several years, $22 million were spent on the program, which investigated reports of unidentified flying objects and was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo from the Pentagon. The shadowy program was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. He was was also a longtime friend of Robert Bigalow.
This information, however, was not publically known at the time, until it was released by the New York Times in 2017. When the story broke, a Department of Defense official confirmed the government-funded program and Senator Harry Reid admitted his complicity.
Today, parts of the study remain classified and the Department of Defense has never officially acknowledged the existence of the program, but, interestingly, it does admit that the program was shut down in 2012.
That year, the Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies lost its funding from the Department of Defense, as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program contract expired and was not renewed. This was primarily due to Luis Elizonodo’s explanation that officials feared the public might learn about the program and see it as misappropriation of taxpayer funds.
In the meantime, the ranch was sold for the rumored amount of 4.5 million in 2016 to Adamantium Holdings. Bigalow’s company then disbanded its security team, but it was quickly replaced by the new owners.
That same year, the Hicken Ranch Road, a Uintah County public road, which bisected the Skinwalker Ranch, was illegally gated. Later that year, a representative of ranch owner Adamantium Real Estate, approached the county for a road vacation, claiming rampant trespassing issues led the owners to make the road private. The request was granted, there is no access to the property today, and gates block the entrance with large warning signs.
In 2018, Adamantium Real Estate, LLC was issued a trademark for the name “Skinwalker Ranch.”
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, December 2019.