The Jim Mortellaro Case

n1L'utilisation du véritable nom de M. Mortellaro ne viole pas sa confidentialité parce qu'il a signé une autorisation pour que j'utilise son image et ses mots et a volontairement utilisé son nom sur Internet et sur des émissions radio depuis un certain nombre d'annéees.

A breathtaking special hook, a new twist on the standard abduction story–that now seems to be the Holy Grail for some abduction researchers. That’s precisely how Jim Mortellaro caught and held Hopkins’ attention after several years of hanging around at the edges of the UFO community. It was how he would take Hopkins for a two-year ride along the lecture circuit, humiliate him, and cost him the resignation of nearly half his Advisory Committee–and, indirectly, cost him his marriage.

In my opinion, the Jim Mortellaro case is one of the best examples of what’s wrong with the abduction research that I observed, second only to the Linda Cortile case.

Jim claimed to have earned two Ph.D.s, and implied he’d held a national or international marketing directorship with Hitachi, none of which was confirmed by the investigator. We learned that he was technically skilled in work with computers and electronics when he donated and installed in Budd’s Intruders Foundation office a completely new PC, with printer, scanner, and the newest software. As the one tech-savvy person in our duo, I’d always kept up on Budd’s computer and other equipment, so I was there to see how the system was being installed. That’s when I first became aware of Jim’s high intake of prescription drugs and asked why he kept a pistol stuck in his boot. It just didn’t seem like a good combo to me and I said so. That day, Leslie KeanKean, Leslie, Budd’s new protege, advisor, and all-round organizer, was in the studio, too. Just beginning to learn about alien abductions from Budd, she agreed with me. Not a good combination, Jim. But Jim explained that he was a nervous guy and belonged to the police auxiliary, a volunteer organization for local law enforcement, so he needed to have the gun handy.

Leslie KeanKean, Leslie had begun her exploration of UFO abduction by allegedly vetting the Linda Cortile case (from Hopkins’ book Witnessed). After doing her own review of source material and interviewing both Budd and Linda, she concluded that it was a sound, well-researched case. Now Kean took up the Jim Mortellaro case in a big way, once she was let in on the spectacular opportunity of his case. It would be the first time that ufologists would be included in a major mainstream, scientific study of the medical evidence of alien abductions. According to Jim, an upstate group of physicians had discovered, to their shock, that they each had people under their care who had medically inexplicable symptoms, just like Jim’s. Each had between two and five patients with missing time, scarring without having surgery, phobias that seemed inappropriate to the person’s experience, low self-esteem, and embarrassed reports of encounters with strange grey beings. The physicians were fascinated and now had a large number of Jim’s fellow abductees enrolled in a self-funded, longitudinal study of patients with this constellation of symptoms. Which would prove, beyond doubt, that something was going on. They were, however, extremely secretive about the study and Jim was not allowed to give out anyone’s number or talk much about it. He did assure Budd, though, that a “Dr. Nancy” was going to put in a confidential call to Budd because she was scared to death of something and needed his advice. Since Budd was notoriously lax about listening to voice messages and returning phone calls, Jim Mortellaro and Leslie Kean went in together and bought Budd his first cellular phone and a year’s service plan, so that the two of them could be in direct touch with him at all times and move this case forward.

One evening after Budd had gone down to the studio to check his messages, he came running back upstairs in great excitement. I must come listen to the message that “Dr. Nancy” had just left on his machine. By now, I was a bit skeptical about several matters, but willing to listen. Budd replayed the message. A woman’s voice came up, idenHopkins’ unverified report of Beanie’s claims garnered its own chapter, “Santa Rosa” in Majic Eyes Only, a book that covers “74 crashed saucer cases supported by compelling evidence.” (Photo, still from documentary, C. Rainey)tifying herself as “Dr. Nancy.” A high, agitated voice, rushing through her hope to speak to Mr. Hopkins about an urgent matter regarding James Mortellaro. She was concerned, wanted his opinion, would call back, and couldn’t seem to get off the phone fast enough. Listening, I felt my spirits sink toward the rough floorboards of the studio like a deflated party balloon. Oh, no.

Budd looked at me in triumph and clapped his hands together. “Now we’re really going to get somewhere!” he said.

“Did you hear that voice?” I asked. “Don’t you recognize it?”

“What? What do you mean?” Now he was getting angry. “It’s Dr. Nancy, and I’ve never heard her voice before this instant!

“It’s Jim.” I said, very sorry to bring the news. But startled, too, that he didn’t hear it. “It’s Jim’s voice, electronically altered.”

“It absolutely is not!” he shouted. “How could you say such a thing? That’s a woman, that’s not Jim! Why would you tell me that?”

“Because I’ve spent twenty-plus years in post-production suites, with the editor or the mixer altering voices up, down, and sideways,” I said. “It’s certainly not rocket science and Jim knows electronics. Listen, that’s his syntax, that’s the way he says ‘very concerned’ and drops his ‘gs’ on certain words.”


But Budd was furious with me, vehemently denying it. Over the next month, three more voice messages were left. One, a baritone male voice, identified himself as “Noah,” Jim’s neighbor. He wanted to testify that while standing outside on his own deck, he’d seen Jim lifted up by a beam of light into a craft. There was another woman’s voice, higher yet, but with words emerging at a snails’ pace, who identified herself as Jim’s wife and she wanted Budd to know Jamie had been in awful shape, he really had, coming home that night with blood running down both legs, okay, if she could help, just let her know; and another voice message from “Dr. Nancy,” still on the run, still agitated, still desperate for Mr. Hopkins’ advice.

They are all Jim, I tell my husband. But Budd will not listen, will not be stopped. Leslie KeanKean, Leslie, now actively involved in the case, supported him completely. Budd began to do the lecture circuit, speaking at various conferences and on radio shows and podcasts about the Mortellaro case he was building and the coming day of justice for all of ufology when what is known by us will have to be reported and confirmed to the world by the scientists engaged in this ground-breaking study. One such lecture on the case, now sold by a major UFO media distributor, has become a permanent part of the field’s literature. It is entitled “Budd Hopkins Presents ‘A 2002 WATERSHED ABDUCTION IN THE ENVIRONS OF NEW YORK CITY’ DVD.”

Jim, meanwhile, set up a massive presence on the Internet, posting regularly and noisily to UFO UpDates and multiple other sites about his experiences and perceptions as an abductee. He posted several documents related to his case on the Internet, one of which purports to be a medical record written by the physician who treated him in the emergency room after a nasty abduction. In it, the alleged physician used language and style I’d never before seen emerge from a doctor’s pen. In this clinical document, the alleged physician reports “nearly miraculous healing of the contusions in the bladder… Very strange, indeed. Very strange.” The medical record continues: “We have never before seen such a bizarre case”. The phrase “bizarre case” is sprinkled throughout the medical record. The physician’s text was obviously forged.

Okay, that was it. I was done and urged Budd to stop, too.

Instead, Budd and Jim together began to address the audiences of several popular paranormal radio shows, with Jim narrating his savage treatment by alien abductors and Budd playing an audio taped hypnotic regression session with a terrified Jim railing and wailing at the aliens. This case, minus the audio, is now part of the publicly available record of abduction research at the BUFO Paranormal Radio website. On November 9, 2002, the Intruders Foundation hosted a New York seminar in its series called “Jim Mortellaro & Budd Hopkins, An Important New Abduction Case With Extensive Medical Evidence.” Unfortunately, the only medical evidence was that hopedfor, future evidence that would have to be made public by the upstate physicians when they’d completed their study of abductees. That and the forged ER physician’s letter. I was too embarrassed and alienated to attend the seminar.

Jim’s internet claims were getting broader and deeper. He came off as somewhat unhinged and was attacked on several of the public forums as being a fake. People on the Intruders Foundation’s Advisory Committee—a strong, bright group of people that included an astronomer and two psychologists—were getting increasingly uneasy. They had no first-hand knowledge of Jim’s case at all, yet Budd had gone completely public with a case for which he promised to produce evidence in the future. They had never been shown any of the socalled evidence or heard the doctor’s voice messages. They had been treated to a highly dramatic audio taped hypnosis session with Jim, punctuated with screams and shouting. Such emotion, Budd assured the committee, was never faked. “How could it be faked? He’s not a professional actor. This is a terrified man!” At least that’s what his office assistant reported back to me. I’d also stopped going to the Advisory Committee meetings, even though I was a member.

Jim’s High Noon moment occurred one day in 2004—after two years of collaboration with the world’s preeminent abduction researcher. That day Jim came into our house, saying that he’d just killed a man. As a member of the auxiliary police in his small town north of the city, he’d spotted a burglary in progress and, unfortunately, had to use deadly force to stop him. Now he was considered a hero around town and two days ago he’d been presented with a certain police association’s highest award by the town mayor and the head of the policeman’s association and he was feeling much more confident about things in general. Oh, and he’d meant to bring the local newspaper article telling all about the robbery and award, but his elderly mom and dad wanted to hold onto it.

The office assistant and I glanced at each other. This story was so checkable! We left the men to their coffee and went to our respective studios. She immediately called the Chief of Police in Jim’s town. He said there had been no break-ins in the area for over a year and that no shootings of any kind had occurred there for at least five years. I went to the website of the policeman’s organization mentioned by Jim and discovered that they only gave awards to cops who were quite, quite dead and permanently underground. Posthumous awards to heroes, that’s what they specialized in. That appeared to rule out our Jim. No newspaper article ever materialized, and, eventually, neither did the great hope for that elusive study of abductees by physicians.

Des membres du Comité de Conseil de la Fondation Intruders en 1998, planifiant des activités longtemps avant l'interruption du cas Mortellaro s1Rainey, C.: Image du domentaire
Des membres du Comité de Conseil de la Fondation Intruders en 1998, planifiant des activités longtemps    avant l'interruption du cas Mortellaro s1Rainey, C.: Image du domentaire

When word of this obvious hoaxing on Jim’s part leaked out to the Advisory Committee members, many of them came to the Intruders Foundation and insisted on listening to the voice messages on tape—“Dr. Nancy,” the wife, and ‘Noah,” the neighbor. They just shook their heads. Then one member, a medical writer by profession, stated that the physician’s letter Jim had posted online was a complete hoax. Physicians don’t write that way. In fact, the Committee believed that the entire case was a hoax, that the man was pathological, that the very public forum of the case was a disgrace—and that Budd must stop this investigation. They requested a formal meeting with him, a forum for the whole group to discuss what had happened and how there were no checks and balances here. If they were going to continue lending their names and services to his organization, they wanted to be part of the process of teaming up to vet new cases.

Budd responded by getting novice Leslie KeanKean, Leslie to write the experienced Advisory Committee a chastising letter about the need to not prematurely restrain Hopkins from proceeding on a case-in-progress. Budd himself wrote the Committee a letter in which he seemed to dismiss all but one of their many suggestions for “a deepened degree of participation by the committee.” That suggestion—that for all cases in the future the advisory group should gather, bimonthly, to listen to recordings of hypnotic regressions done in the previous weeks by Budd with an alleged abductee—Budd conceded was “an excellent idea,” then added the kicker: “I may excuse myself during those meetings, however. Since I sat through these hours of often depressing, grueling sessions the first time, maybe I could just slip off to the Met for a little personal uplift!” s2From a letter to the Intruders Foundation Advisory Committee from Budd Hopkins, February 23, 2004. . In other words, he had no intention of playing on a team that included anyone but himself and would not put himself in a position to have his actions or judgment questioned by anyone.

When the Mortellaro case blew up, I resigned from the Advisory Committee and never again filmed a regression session or participated in abduction research. Three other Committee members eventually resigned, including two psychotherapists and an engineer. Budd conceded to the remaining members that a public statement needed to be made about the case. For a brief period, a one page statement was posted on the Intruders Foundation website. It said, among other things, that “this case was of great interest because of the alleged medical injuries resulting from [Mortellaro’s] abduction in 2001. Unfortunately, Mr. Mortellaro has never produced credible evidence in support of these claims. Furthermore, he provided us with two allegedly official documents, which have proved to be fabrications. Therefore, Budd Hopkins and the Advisory Committee of the Intruders Foundation no longer consider this case worthy of investigation.” The page, summarizing two years of work on a hoax, a case not voluntarily stopped by Hopkins, concluded by stating that: “As always, the Intruders Foundation continues to apply a detailed, cautious and methodical protocol to the consideration and investigation of all potential abduction cases.”

It was positively Orwellian. Language with the meaning turned inside out, scientificsounding language used to deny and deceive. The bottom line seems to be that an abduction researcher is free to make absolutely any claim he cares to make, and as long as the claim is made convincingly and often—they will believe.