Before the gory cattle mutilations, break-ins, and threatening phone calls, Dulce, New Mexico was a safe and peaceful place for R. Edmund Gomez and his family.
It wasn’t a place where you locked your doors or were wary of your neighbors, Edmund said. He and his family worked their ranch then – a ranch that had been in the family for 100 years.
Then, in 1976, they began to find their cattle dead, having been horribly mutilated and left without ears or other anatomy, across their ranch in Dulce.
“Financially, emotionally, and probably physically, we were probably the family that was most affected by this whole situation,” Edmund said. “We lost 23 head of cows that were mutilated, two bulls, and a yearling filly during that time period. … It was a cloak and dagger situation there.”
It was the beginning of what turned out to be a nightmare for the Gomez family – an ordeal that would cost them their peace of mind and livelihood.
Welcome to DulceFor decades, Dulce, the tribal headquarters for the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, has served as a kind of beacon for an amalgam of strange activities, stories, and theories, like UFOs and Bigfoot. The explanations run the gamut from a government cover-up to supernatural portals.
One of the most well-known theories, though, is that an alien and human operated military base is supposedly located underground in Archuleta Mesa, just seven miles outside of Dulce on the Colorado-New Mexico border. That theory is one of the first results that comes up when you Google “Dulce, New Mexico.” According to a story told in 1979 by Albuquerque businessman Paul Bennewitz, Bennewitz believed he was receiving electronic communications from UFOs outside Albuquerque. In the 1980s, he claimed he discovered the location of a jointly-operated human-alien base that was hidden underground near Dulce.
Eventually, government explosives engineer Philip Schneider also claimed that in 1979 he helped to build the underground base in Dulce, according to the Huffington Post. Schneider claimed to have witnessed a battle that occurred in the underground base and left 60 humans dead.
Though the stories seemed a bit outlandish, they spread through the UFO community, leading to investigations into the claims. From there, the story was picked up by publications and TV shows like the History Channel’s now-defunct “UFO Hunters,” which concluded the conspiracy “could be one of the darkest and most sinister secrets in the entire field of UFO investigation.”
Dulce is small, boasting a population of about 2,700 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau. It’s hard to imagine such an intense scenario playing out in secret there, but onlookers and investigators still travel to see the supposed base for themselves.
There are figures in the world of UFO research who don’t give credence to Bennewitz’s or Schneider’s claims, though.
Norio Hayakawa, who runs the blog site Civilian Intelligence News Service, has been researching Dulce since 1988. He’s even been to the top of Archuleta Mesa, and says with confidence that there is no underground military base in the mesa.
“It’s a beautiful place, but, unfortunately, there’s no evidence of any physical base there, despite the fact that local people have been telling that they have seen some strange activities, including sightings of military helicopters and witnessing strange phenomenon,” Hayakawa said.
The researcher, who lives and works in Rio Rancho, N.M., and was one of the speakers at the 2018 Dulce Base UFO Conference, is scientific in his approach to investigations.
“I have to, because you have to put your two feet on the ground while doing all this research into the weirdness of this entire thing,” Hayakawa said.
Still, even he concedes that there are some pretty strange occurrences in Dulce, and doesn’t feel that he can discount the experiences of others, as he was not was there to witness them.
“I cannot debunk any of these claims because I wasn’t there when these things were happening. I personally haven’t seen anything unusual at all in Dulce, but that’s because, probably, I am there during the daytime,” Hayakawa said.
Both Hayakawa and Edmund said the community is split on their opinions as to the cause of the strange activities.
“We have the Native American community and we have the very old traditional Hispanic community that believe in a lot of things,” Edmund said. “They’re very religious, in a certain way, but they also believe in witchcraft and the supernatural. … People see things and they assume that they’re something else. They see a craft flying or they see something in the air or wherever, and, if they don’t know, they assume (things), in my opinion.”
The Gomez ranchThe cattle mutilations at the Gomez family ranch started in the mid-1970s when Edmund was 21 years old. The family began to find their cattle dead and, even more concerning, missing different body parts.
According to copies of a police report found in declassified FBI files about the cattle mutilations, Manuel Gomez reported that on April 24, 1978, the family found an 11-month-old bull that had been mutilated. The report reads:
“Investigation showed that this eleven month old bull was dropped by some type of aircraft north of Mr. Gomez’s ranch house. … The rectum and sex organs had been removed with a sharp and precise instrument.”
The liver and heart of the bull were subsequently removed by the reporting officer. The heart was sent to the Los Alamos Medical Laboratory, and the liver was taken to three different private labs for examination.
The liver was checked against healthy livers, and the comparison showed a difference in chemicals in the mutilated bull’s liver. According to the report, the mutilated bull’s liver contained no copper and four times the amount of phosphorous, zinc, and potassium as the healthy liver.
“No explanation for this condition is available at the present time,” the report stated.
Blood, which came off the nose, was also examined by the lab. It was found to be light pink in color.
“A probable explanation for the pinkish blood is a control type of radiation used to kill the animal, according to radiation experts. … It is believed that this type of radiation is not harmful to humans, although approximately 7 people who visited the mutilation site complained of nausea and headaches.”
After the Gomez family began collecting evidence about the strange occurrences, Edmund said people began breaking into their home to steal the evidence. Edmund’s mother received menacing phone calls, he said, with the voice on the other end threatening harm to her children.
The family began to fear for their safety, and Edmund started following his younger brother’s school bus after it picked him up, just in case anything were to happen to him along the way.
“We weren’t used to that. We grew up on the ranch. Nobody ever locked the doors, and there was very little crime in the area,” Edmund said. “And then, after a while, when we were getting the threatening phone calls and we’re getting the break-ins. You’re always looking over your back. You are always uneasy. You never knew what to expect. When you go out to the ranch by yourself to fix the fence or to check on the cattle or whatever, you didn’t know what you were going to find out there. It was a pretty scary situation, very uneasy.”
The Gomez family were not the only ranchers to experience these bizarre mutilations at the time, either.
Reports from the declassified FBI files state that across the Midwest and Western part of the country, including Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Minnesota, other ranchers were finding their cattle horribly maimed. These reports can be found in the The Vault, the FBI’s digital FOIA library containing 6,700 documents.
One of the documents’ memorandums states that in 1975, Colorado Sen. Floyd K. Haskell asked that the FBI investigate the 130 grotesque mutilations that had been reported to Colorado officials.
The 1975 memorandum states:
“Senator Haskell indicated his concern for a situation occurring in the western states where cattle have been discovered mutilated. The Bizarre (sic) mutilations involve loss of left ear, left eye, sex organ, and the blood drained from the carcass with no traces of blood left on the ground and no footprints.”
The Director of the FBI at the time, Clarence M. Kelley, responded to Haskell, stating that, “I regret to inform you that these actions do not constitute a violation of Federal law coming within the FBI’s investigative jurisdiction.”
In a 1976 memorandum to the director of the FBI from Springfield, Ill., Sheriff Russell Crews of Marshall County, Ill., reported widespread incidents of cattle mutilations. The memorandum concluded on this chilling note:
“This is furnished to the Bureau in view of numerous references in this article to Federal investigative agencies and also theories that these mutilations of cattle are only a forerunner of later mutilations of human beings.”
Edmund said he and his family also worried that whatever was happening to their cattle wouldn’t stop with the animals.
“I was wondering, are they going to do humans next?” Edmund said.
Edmund believes that the government is responsible for what happened to his family’s ranch. The cattle mutilations, he believes, are related to Project Gasbuggy.
In 1967, the Atomic Energy Commission detonated a nuclear device near Dulce. The name of the project was Project Gasbuggy, which was meant to ease the flow of natural gas in the Dulce area and the Northwest area of Dulce.
“But on the other hand, that governmental project may have created some kind of a disaster in the sense that radiation leakage started happening in the late 1970s, and that’s coincidentally when a lot of cows in that area were affected – not only cows, but sheep and other animals. And coincidentally, in the late 1970s, there have been many cattle mutilation cases in that Dulce area and southern Colorado and so on,” Hayakawa said.
In 2013, author Greg Valdez published his father’s investigations into the cattle mutilations in Dulce. He laid out a theory in his book, “Dulce Base The Truth and Evidence from the Case Files of Gabe Valdez,” that the government was monitoring the radiation effects on specific local cattle and was trying to do research on the tissue of cows in the area. The government, according to Valdez, was trying to avoid scaring people or reveal that they had made a mistake and leaked radiation.
Gabe, who was a New Mexico state trooper stationed in Dulce, believed the government clandestinely chose cattle and took them by helicopter for testing.
Edmund said several police officers even spotted a strange aircraft hovering over his family’s cattle ranch one night.
“If radiations leakage happened because of Project Gasbuggy, it’s a big issue health-wise,” Hayakawa said.
The mystery continues without answersEventually, the Gomez family couldn’t keep up with the cattle losses and in 1985 had to sell the ranch, which had been in their family for 100 years.
“My dad and I were leasing the ranch from my grandfather,” Edmund said. “We would run the cows for him, but we were responsible for any deaths. So we have to replace say, if there was 100 head of cows, we had to give him 100 head of cows, and then whatever the percentage of the calves to keep it going. Our intention at that time was to purchase the ranch from my grandfather. Well, because of the financial situation there, we took a beating, and eventually we couldn’t come up with the cash to purchase the ranch when the family decided to sell it.”
When asked whether he thought his family would ever receive compensation, answers, or closure for what happened to them, Edmund said he gave up on that idea long ago.
“I had hoped that we would at this time, but I don’t see it happening,” Edmund said. “We can’t afford to sue the government. We don’t have the financial resources to do so. And the other part of it is, the government has to give permission to be able to sue them anyway. So, we were stuck with the bill.”
Though Edmund also saw a strange aircraft hovering next to his school bus while he was in sixth grade, he doesn’t believe that aliens are responsible for his family’s hardships, and believes that only hard evidence is going to give people the answers they’re looking for.
“There’s things that I’ve seen. I can’t explain them, but I’m sure there’s got to be an explanation for them. But, the only thing that I know is that the evidence that has been left behind all points toward the government, toward humans. I’m not saying that there aren’t extraterrestrial aliens that have been visiting, or that we haven’t inter-dimensional worlds that come and go. … I haven’t seen that,” Edmund said.
“We don’t have the evidence to (support) that. I think people are thinking, ‘Well, since I can’t explain it, I’ll make up a hypothesis and try to try to figure it out.’ So, I can only go with what is concrete data that we have to support what we’ve seen. Everything points to humans and points to the government.”