Ed Walters, the Model and Tommy Smith

Hufford, Art: MUFON Journal n° 297, January 1993


On Sunday, June 10, 1990, the Pensacola News Journal ran a story announcing that a UFO model had been found in the attic of Ed Walters' former residence. One week later, the newspaper announced that a Gulf Breeze teenager, later identified as Tommy Smith, had helped Walters hoax the UFO photos. On 19 Tuesday, Charles Flannigan, MUFON State Director for Florida, announced MUFON was reopening the Walters' case to investigate these new allegations. He assigned then State Section Directors, Rex and Carol Salisberry, to assist him in this investigation.

When the Salisberrys failed to deliver a complete report on the allegations (as outlined by MUFON's Deputy Director of Investigations, Dan Wright), the MUFON Chief Investigator for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Gary Watson, was assigned to the task. Watson completed his investigation and submitted his report on May 23, 1991; his report was 29 pages long with 27 attachments. The following paragraphs summarize the central facts brought out in Watson's investigation.

The Model

In late December 1988, Ed Walters moved to a new home to escape the attention of curiosity seekers. The residence he had occupied at 612 Silverthorn Road was put up for sale. The home remained vacant for 10 months, until it was purchased by Mr. Robert E. Menzer. In March 1990, Menzer was trying to find a shutoff valve on the water supply to his kitchen, so he could hook up a new ice maker. This search led him into the attic, where he found a UFO model under insulation and next to the water line to the kitchen.

On Monday, June 4, 1990, a Pensacola News Journal reporter, Craig Myers, interviewed Menzer and asked a number of questions, including: "Did you find any models of UFOs, anything like that?" Menzer showed Myers the model, which Myers borrowed and from which he published the story.

Conclusions on Model

Watson's investigation concluded the model was not constructed before September 1989, at least 8.5 months AFTER Walters had moved out of the home. Furthermore, close examination of the model and Walters' photographs did not show any exact match of markings, height/width ratios, etc. Watson's final conclusion: The Model was built and planted by persons unknown in an attempt to discredit Ed Walters. The following chronological events are significant:

The following words and numbers were printed within this section of the drawing; the letters in parentheses are added guesses as to what was probably a part of the original drawing.

(LIVI)NG A. 1740
(SLA)B 2393

(unknown information) JAMESTOWN DR.

1740 L. AREA
2393 SLAB

Along the edges of some of the lines drawn on the paper, are the following numbers:

22', 9', 13:0", 25:8 (or 25:5)

By his own admission, Ed Walters recognized the handwriting as being his own, suggesting the original blueprint was from a home Walters had designed. (Walters is a successful homebuilder in Gulf Breeze.) However, a search of floor plans of homes Walters had built failed to locate one with the same 1740 sq.ft. living area and 2393 sq.ft. slab. Walters then remembered designing a home for a Michigan couple, Mr. and Mrs. Lynn C. Thomas, but it was a home that was never built. Subsequent checks with the Thomases revealed they still had the preliminary sketch of the floor plan, with notations that the living area would be 1740 sq.ft. and slab 2393 sq.ft. A copy of the sketch and a note from Mr. Thomas was included in Watson's reports.

Thus, it became apparent that the Thomas house plans discarded in September 1989 were used to construct the model. By using plans designed by Walters, the persons responsible hoped to link Walters to the model, but were undone by the September 1989 design date. Detractors have tried to argue that the model was built from plans for a home Walters built for the Folkers family at 712 Jamestown Drive. However, those plans show a living area of 1696 sq.ft. and a slab of 2178 sq.ft. Not only do these square feet not match up, but neither do any of the floor plan lines match those found within the model. Since no known copies of the detailed Thomas plans exist, we can not make such a direct comparison with the model.

Tommy Smith

On Friday, June 15, 1990, Tommy Smith was interviewed by telephone by Gulf Breeze Mayor, Ed Gray; Gulf Breeze Police Chief, Jerry Brown; Pensacola News Journal reporter, Craig Myers; and Channel 3 TV reporter, Mark Curtis. The interview and unsworn testimony was transcribed by Court Reporter, Chris Morrow. This interview was the basis for the News Journal story published two days later on 17 Sunday.

In this interview, Smith offers explanations for many of the photographs and events surrounding Ed Walters. He claims Walters talked to him about the stunt and answered Smith's questions on how various photos were taken. However, on closer examination, Tommy Smith's statements do not satisfactorily explain anything. He also appears to contradict himself in one important area. When all the evidence was examined, it was concluded that: "Tommy Smith's statements do not add up!" The basis for this conclusion is documented in the following paragraphs.

"Ed Said" Statements

Virtually everything Tommy Smith had to say was based on what "Ed told me." Smith states he was not present when any of Ed's published photographs were taken. He states he did witness some UFO hoaxing sessions, but none of the photos from these sessions were ever published. The following are examples of what Smith says Ed told him:

  1. The "blue beam" photos were made by slowly peeling back the back of the film and exposing it to light. (Photo analysts and film manufacturers all say this is an impossible explanation.)
  2. The circle of dead grass found in the school soccer field behind Walters' home was made by Ed turning a trampoline upside down and jumping on it for several hours. (Experts say this would be an impossible method for creating the circle in which grass would not grow for 18 months.)
  3. Ed had no idea how the tree limb blocked part of the UFO in photo #1. "He was just stunned by it." (Photoanalysts have tried unsuccessfully to duplicate this feat with color Polaroid film, and believe it is impossible without sophisticated equipment.)
  4. The Nimslo Camera photos (#25-34 in the book) were taken by holding the camera sideways and photographing an airplane at night. (These photos actually show three rows of horizontal lights with a short vertical light bar on one end. We are unaware of any airplane with a light pattern similar to the Nimslo photos. Secondly, turning the camera sideways would not fit unless the plane were in a nose dive.)
  5. The video tape of the UFO was made by attaching the UFO on the end of a long piece of PVC pipe painted black. A flashlight was shone up thru the pipe to illuminate the UFO. (Analysis of the video tape shows no evidence of anything blocking the view of the illuminated base of the UFO, which was also rotating at 7.5 rpm.)

I could go on and on with these "Ed Said" statements, but space limitations and your interest do not permit. The fact is that most of the 35 pages of this transcripted interview describe things that Ed supposedly said in Smith's presence or in answer to his questions. We also find it hard to believe that Ed would be that trusting of a teenager who was not a close friend or acquaintance to anyone in the Walters family.

Tommy Smith's UFO Photographs

Tommy Smith had in his possession a series of UFO photographs, supposedly taken on his own camera by Ed Walters. Tommy claims he witnessed Walters take one roll of photos using a double exposure technique. However, Smith claims these photos did not turn out and Ed supposedly burned them. Smith claims he left his camera with Ed, who took another set of UFO photos, which Smith had developed at University Mall. When Smith supposedly changed his mind about taking them to the Sentinel newspaper, Smith claims Ed allowed him to keep the photos and the negatives. Incidentally, Smith's photos have been analyzed by photo analysts, and they find no proof of double exposures, suggesting these may also be authentic photos of a UFO.

An interesting sidenote is that Smith talks in length during his June 15 interview about how Ed supposedly took double exposures, using a small Kodak Instamatic type of camera. However, with the exception of the 35mm Nimslo camera supplied by MUFON, Walters took all of his UFO photos with Polaroid cameras. The only UFO photos taken on Instamatic 110 film were the six UFO photos in Tommy Smith's possession. Tommy apparently felt it was important to establish an explanation for his UFO photos.

Incidentally, neither Tommy Smith, nor any of the debunkers, have ever come up with an explanation of how Walters could take double exposures using the Sun 600 Polaroid cameras, which he used in all of the self-referencing, stereo photos.

Tommy Smith Contradiction on the "Road Shot"

Another damaging piece of evidence against Tommy Smith comes from a possible contradiction in his statements about the "Road Shot" (photo #19 in Ed Walters' book). Let me first quote from the transcripts (note: at the time of this interview, Tommy Smith's identity was protected by using the pseudonym, Chris):

Mark Curtis: "Chris (i.e., Tommy Smith), do you know...probably the most famous shot of all, this is that one out over the road on Sound Side Drive. Do you know how that picture was done?"

Smith: "Yes, Ed said he had a lot of trouble with that one. He just fabricated it like all the other ones...double exposure."

Curtis: "Do you know how he illuminated the roadway?"

Smith: "Illuminated the roadway? Okay, I would have to see the photograph, to be sure."

Curtis: "If I can refresh your memory a little but, it was the one over the road on Sound Side Drive, and not only was the object there, but there was a bright light reflecting onto the middle of the roadway."

Ed Gray: "And the light looked like it was emanating from the object that's hovering over the road."

Smith: "No, I don't think I could help you there, for sure."

Curtis: "Do you know if Ed had help on that picture, or did he do that one alone?"

Smith: "I couldn't answer that honestly either."

Thus, from the above testimony on June 15, 1990, Tommy Smith first acknowledges he is familiar with the "Road Shot." However, as soon as the questioning gets into details, such as the illumination, Smith starts backpedalling and indicates he knows little or nothing at all about this photo. However, in an interview published in the August 9, 1990 Sentinel, Smith seems to be very familiar with this shot. In this article, Smith claims "Ed told me" that he had found the perfect place, that "he said he was gonna go down there, pull his truck off to one side, jerk it back onto the road and head back down there. It (the UFO) was supposed to land in front of him and that was going to be the final encounter." For one who knew so little about this photo on June 15, Smith seems to have a lot to say a few weeks later. Was Smith just unable to understand which photo was being discussed on June 15, or had he not done his homework well enough to have an answer ready on Photo 19? You can draw your own conclusion.

Why would Tommy Smith make this all up?

many people have asked this question, and lacking a good answer, have assumed Smith must be telling the truth. We have no way to investigate Smith's motives...only Tommy Smith can answer that, and he is not available for questioning. We know that he did have in his possession photos and negatives showing a UFO similar to Ed Walters' photographs. We know, too, that in December 1987, Ed Walters told MUFON Investigators Charles Flannigan and Don Ware that a young acquaintance had also taken photos of a similar UFO. Walters said this young person would not take his photos to the Sentinel because he was concerned about his father's reaction. Ironically, Walters protected the identity of this young person (Tommy Smith) until Smith made his charges public. We also know that one of Tommy Smith's young friends told Investigator Gary Watson that "Tommy Smith told him in 1987 that he (Smith) had taken photographs of a UFO."

We also recognize that all of Smith's statements regarding Walters' published photographs are just hearsay ("Ed told me"); when those statements do not add up, Smith can always just claim: "I'm not lying, that is just what Ed told me." We know Walters has taken and passed four Polygraph/PSE tests, administered by three different polygraph operators. If we could just lock up all the players in this drama in a room full of polygraph experts, we could proabably get answers to our questions, but that is not to be. (Tommy Smith refuses to face Ed Walters and the prime investigators.)

Final conclusions on the Ed Walters case

Gary Watson's reinvestigation of the Ed Walters case also dealt with some of the other issues surrounding this case, but time and your interest do not permit going any further. Watson's reinvestigation found no basis for rejecting the original MUFON conclusion...that Ed Walters IS TELLING THE TRUTH.

Since Watson's report was published, there have been additional photo analyses done by William Hzyer and Jeff Sainio. Although Hzyer has excellent equipment and expertise, he was hampered in his work by never having access to any of the original Walters photos, which Hyzer did not. Although Sainio originally set out to prove Walters' photographs fake, he soon encountered evidence that Ed Walters could not have generated his photographs with his equipment and the double exposure techniques suggested by debunkers. If you missed Sainio's presentation at the 1992 MUFON UFO Symposium, be sure to read his paper in the Symposium Proceedings. It is excellent work and clearly rejects the explanations offered by debunkers and Tommy Smith.

Thus, it is still my conclusion, as the current State Section Directory for the Walters case, that "Ed Walters' UFO photographs, and his accompanying story, must still be accepted as the truth." Back to Gulf Breeze Docs.