- The story of multimillionaire Robert
Bigelow is surrounded by the kind of mystery, intrigue, and conspiracy
charges that typically fuel the UFO community's rumor mill. Some observers
call him a generous benefactor who has nothing to hide. Others label him
a manipulative puppetmaster who uses his money as a weapon and hordes the
paranormal research data he once promised to make public.
- Very little is known about Bigelow. Even
the source of his fortune remains a mystery. Some say he is of the Bigelow
Tea family, while others claim he made his money in Las Vegas real estate.
Another rumor has it that the death of his son several years ago brought
about his passionate interest in the paranormal, the mystery of survival
after death, and UFO phenomena.
- There are also foreboding rumors that
when crossed, Bigelow responds through emissaries who threaten violence
-- or worse. Accusations of bribery are commonly tossed around. Even more
common are the whispers that Bigelow's public posture of secrecy points
to covert connections to the CIA or other government agencies. Bigelow's
determined silence in the press only further fuels the speculation.
- But once in a while even Bigelow makes
a move that unavoidably brings him into the public eye. Bigelow's purchase
of a ranch in isolated eastern Utah perfectly illustrates how he operates:
moving in with large sums of money and quickly covering his trail to keep
it hidden from prying eyes.
- The tale begins with Terry and Gwen Sherman,
the ranchers who in 1995 purchased a large tract of Utah land -- and got
much more than they bargained for.
- Home on the Range
- The family found their new ranch unusual
from day one, according to UFO researcher Christopher O'Brien, who was
one of the first to arrive on the Sherman case. "The house had sat
empty for seven years. Any house that sits empty for even a month or two
in this area is completely cannibalized to the ground. This place -- no
one would touch it," says O'Brien.
- The house looked like it had been vacated
hastily the day before, and all the doors in the house had deadbolt locks.
A central corridor could be locked on both ends, and a closet in that hallway
could be locked from the inside. "It was very spooky -- like a Stephen
King novel or something," says O'Brien.
- The strangeness didn't end there. In
July 1996, the Shermans made news by going public with claims of seeing
several types of UFOs on their land. According to Zack Van Eyck, a reporter
for Salt Lake City's The Deseret News, the Shermans reported having three
cows mutilated and several others missing, and finding strange impressions
in the soil and circles of flattened grass. They saw lights emerge from
"doorways" that seemed to appear in the air. One night, as Gwen
Sherman was driving home, she was chased by strange red lights. On another
occasion, Terry Sherman and his son waved to a black craft, reportedly
the size of a football field, and then felt they had received some kind
of response from it. Terry, viewing the craft through a scope from about
400 yards away, supposedly saw a tall, dark figure get out.
- Enter Robert Bigelow, who flew to Utah
soon after the reports and offered to buy the ranch for about $200,000.
The Shermans accepted the offer and bought a smaller ranch about 15 miles
away, where they hoped to escape the upsetting events that plagued them
for more than a year.
- Zack Van Eyck tells FATE about the Shermans'
dire need to unload the ranch. "Bigelow's been a savior to them because
he got them off the ranch," he says. "I really am impressed with
the Shermans. They had chances to sell the ranch; Terry told me that a
guy from Colorado wanted to buy it. Terry just didn't feel comfortable,
because he was afraid that this guy and his family would go in and have
the same experiences. So Terry, not wanting to put any other family in
that position, really had no choice but to sell to someone like Bigelow."
- An article in Spirit magazine by David
Perkins described the Shermans' experience on their last day at the ranch.
The night before, they had locked all the doors and gone to bed. "The
next morning they awoke to find their bedding covered in blood," Perkins
wrote. "They [each] had a one-eighth-inch deep 'scoop mark' in the
same place on their right thumbs. The ranch from hell had managed to nick
them one last time."
- Once he acquired the ranch, Bigelow reportedly
hired a pair of scientists and a veterinarian to take up residence there.
They would conduct research under the umbrella of the National Institute
of Discovery Science (NIDS), a private research organization formed by
Bigelow in October 1996.
- Beyond these facts, little else is known.
Bigelow maintains a strict silence with the media, and his hand-picked
assistant and spokesman John Alexander has granted the press no details
into the nature of the research. Terry Sherman, now employed by Bigelow
to maintain the ranch, told The Deseret News he could no longer comment
on his experiences because of a non-disclosure agreement he had to sign.
- So here lies the core of the Sherman
ranch mystery: What is Bigelow hiding behind his tidy legal agreement that
he doesn't want to make known to the UFO community and the public? Is that
secrecy imposed, as some have suggested, because of covert connections
to the military or government? Or are Bigelow's motives much more personal?
- Find out more in the August 1998 issue
- Sean Casteel has reported on UFOs and
alien abductions for nearly ten years. His interview with Heaven's Gate
member Rio DiAngelo appeared in the July issue of FATE.
- Copyright © 1998 FATE Magazine P.O.
Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383