In the early 1970's, a disturbing new phenomenon was reported in the United States -- a phenomenon that spread across rural America baffling ranchers as well as law officers. Increasing numbers of livestock were found dead and mysteriously mutilated. This phenomenon began to receive considerable coverage by the media. In Colorado, it was the news story of the year in 1975. Articles appeared in national magazines, and several books were written on the subject.

According to some estimates, by 1979 10,000 head of cattle had been mysteriously mutilated. Of the states that have been affected by this phenomenon, New Mexico has been unusually "hard hit." Since 1975, over 100 cases have been reported. The New Mexico reports, like those from other parts of the country, describe the mutilations as being characterized by the precise surgical removal of certain parts of the animal, particularly the sexual organs and rectum. Predators, it is claimed, avoid the carcass, which is said to be devoid of blood. Mutilation accounts are often accompanied by sightings of strange helicopters or UFOs. The link between UFOs and the New Mexico incidents is further supported by the alleged discoveries of carcasses with broken legs and visible clamp marks, indicating to some investigators that the animals are being airlifted to another place where they are mutilated, and then returned to the spot where they are found. This belief in further supported by two additional reports -- one of a case in which the cowls horn was sticking in the ground as if the animal had been dropped there; the other of a steer "found in a tree five feet above the ground" (Coates 1980).

Although mutilations have been reported throughout the state, a large number of cases have occurred in Rio Arriba County, which is under the legal jurisdiction of the First Judicial District. According to information furnished to the district attorney's office, prior to this investigation, more than 60 mutilations have been reported in that county. This represents an estimated loss of $18,000 a sizeable amount for a county as economically distressed as Rio Arriba. The concern of those whose cattle have been victims of this phenomenon is understandable, especially when there seems to be no obvious motive for the crimes.

In response to the reactions of area residents, Eloy F. Martinez, district attorney for the First Judicial District, decided further investigation of this phenomenon was warranted. On the basis of available evidence, these livestock mutilations appeared to be a law enforcement problem, a belief shared by Senator Garrison Schmitt, who at that time was attempting to initiate a federal investigation. By legal definition, however, the crime being committed is not a serious one; it's a misdemeanor. According to Section 30-18-2, New Mexico Statutes Annotated, 1978 Compilation, as amended:

Whoever commits injury to animals is guilty of a misdemeanor. Injury to animals consists of willfully and maliciously poisoning, killing, or injuring any animal or domesticated fowl, which is the property of another.

On jeudi 1 février 1979, the district attorney's office, First Judicial District, submitted a grant proposal to the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) requesting $44,170 to fund an investigation of livestock mutilations in New Mexico. The grant was awarded in the spring. By that time the mutilation problem in New Mexico had catapulted into the national spotlight as the result of a special conference on livestock mutilations conducted by Senator Schmitt. Private investigators and law enforcement officers from more than ten states attended the conference, which was held 1979-04-20 in Albuquerque. It was several days after this highly publicized event that the district attorney's office received word the LEAA grant had been awarded.

I was hired shortly afterwards to direct the investigation, which was to begin samedi 28 mai, and run through mardi 27 mai 1980. The grant specified that the project was to employ a director with at least 20 years of top level investigative experience who was familiar with and had access to the best testing laboratories and who also possessed established communication skills with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

In reviewing my background of experience, the district attorney felt I adequately met all the qualifications for the job. This background includes 28 years as a special agent of the FBI 10 years of which were in the counter espionage field, working against Soviet and Satellite Intelligence. The remaining 18 years were in the criminal field -- 15 of these devoted almost exclusively to investigating bank robberies and other major crimes of violence. My many experiences involved assignments both within and outside the continental United States.

1 For the sake of brevity, the term "human-induced" mutilation will be used to designate those mutilations performed with the aid of knives or other sharp instruments.