Case of the mutilated car

From Peter B. Davenport’s column, National UFO Reporting Center, with photos by Illinois State Director Sam Maranto

Chicago, November 4, 2008, @ 9:20 p.m. (LOCAL)—At 8:05 p.m., on Wednesday night, November 5, 2008, I received a call over the Hotline from a concerned mother in West Virginia, who reported that on the previous evening, Tuesday, November 4, her daughter had experienced a very unusual occurrence, which both mother and daughter were alarmed and confused by. 

The mother briefly described that her daughter, an undergraduate in Chicago, IL, was driving her car during the previous evening, when suddenly, the daughter’s late-model Japanese four-door sedan, was simply “shoved” one lane to the right.

Given that I field a broad spectrum of calls that have nothing to do with UFOs, my initial reaction to the call was that the case would be of little interest, but how wrong my preconception was.

Curious to know more, and having little else to do that night, I telephoned the daughter in Chicago, and obtained a more complete picture of what had happened. 

At approximately 9:20 p.m. (CST), the young woman had left her apartment, gotten into her car (a compact, late model Japanese four-door sedan), and had started to drive north on Lake Cook Road toward Interstate 94.  She was planning to meet with a friend to discuss school matters.

Just a block or two from her apartment, and still south of the entrance to the interstate, the witness reported that she felt a strong “nudge” against her car, which was strong enough to shove it very quickly from the center lane of the three-lane road into the far right lane.

The driver was mystified by what had happened, but thinking that she might have hit something, or someone, and she began looking actively all around her car, and in her rear-view mirrors. She saw nothing that caught her attention, but her scanning of her immediate area satisfied her that she had not been hit by another vehicle, since none were visible anywhere near her location, and she could see nothing in the road behind her. The one thing she did note, however, is that her outside driver’s mirror was missing.

Realizing that her car might have been damaged, although it seemed to drive normally, the driver turned right onto Revere Drive, and turned on her emergency flashers. She then exited her car, but she was not prepared for what she saw. The whole left side of the vehicle appeared to her to be “pressed in” in an irregular fashion, as if the metal had been melted, leaving deep furrows in the metal doors and body. Making the situation even more baffling to the driver was the fact that the metal didn’t appear to be torn at all, and the paint did not appear scuffed, cracked, or missing, and none of the glass windows or plastic light lenses was damaged. It appeared as if some type of mysterious force had just pressed the metal into deep furrows, leaving the rest of the car unaffected. 

Thinking that some kind of accident had occurred, which she didn’t fully understand, and concerned over the condition of her relatively new car, the woman called the 9-1-1, explained the situation to the operator, and a police officer was dispatched to her location. The driver was interested in having a formal police report generated, most of all to be able to satisfy her insurance company that the incident had occurred, and that it had occurred as she described the events to the investigating officer.

When I spoke via telephone with the young woman, she sounded to me to be both eloquent and sincere, so I decided to pursue the case further by turning it over to Mr. Sam Maranto, the State Director for MUFON/Illinois. Within a very short period of time, Mr. Maranto had visited the driver, and had taken several photographs of the damaged car, copies of which he forwarded to NUFORC in Washington State.

Photo from the November 2008 ‘mutilated car’ case in Chicago where the vehicle’s metal appears to be pressed or melted rather than torn. Credit: Sam Maranto.
Sam Maranto photo.
Sam Maranto photo.

Based on the baffling appearance of the left side of the car, I immediately offered to purchase the vehicle, in order to preserve the evidence in the case. However, the owner declined the offer, Mr. Maranto reported, explaining that she liked the car, and she preferred to have it repaired, and restored to its original condition.  As a result, she took the car to a nearby repair facility, which initiated the repair, part of which involved either replacing the doors, or cutting out the damaged metal and replacing just the panels. Mr. Maranto arranged also to remove a few paint chips from the damaged area of the car, and conveyed them to a laboratory at the University of Chicago for analysis, which was conducted, and apparently completed by mid-February 2009.

Making an already strange case stranger still, sometime during mid-January, Mr. Maranto discovered that the damaged doors, which were being held for him at the body shop, mysteriously had disappeared. Mr. Maranto reported to me that because of the sincere and contrite reaction of the proprietor of the body shop over this strange disappearance, Sam felt that the proprietor was reporting the mysterious theft honestly.

What compounds the mystery still further is that approximately two weeks after the disappearance of the doors, an unidentified male entered the offices of the University of Chicago laboratory, where the paint chip analysis had been completed, represented that he had been sent by Mr. Maranto to pick up a copy of the completed report, and to retrieve the paint chips. The report and samples were given to the stranger, he left immediately, and he has not been seen since. No one knows who he was, and no one knows who had sent him. Tragically, the laboratory had not kept a copy of the report in its computers, so both the samples, and their analysis, were lost permanently, together with the doors.

Someone must have wanted that evidence very badly, I conclude. The only logical conclusion is that someone who is very interested in the UFO phenomenon, for whom expense may be no concern, and who prefers anonymity, appears to have organized a very well-orchestrated effort not only to obtain evidence related to the case, but to deny others access to the  same data.  The rather daring double theft must have been well planned, and it was superbly well executed.

*        *        *

Many months after the above incidents had occurred, and as I continued to ruminate on the case, searching for some explanation for what had happened to that car, something quite surprising suddenly occurred to me. Whether it is merely a coincidence, or whether it is some type of very subtle message, intended to convey information, I cannot say, but I feel duty-bound, as an investigator, to share honestly with the readers my epiphany…

The damage to the automobile, a black sedan from Chicago, occurred at almost precisely the same time, 9:20 p.m. (Central Time), that the momentous announcement was being made on the east coast that the presumed victor in the Presidential election, held on that date, November 4, 2008, was U. S. Senator Barack Obama, the first Black American to win a Presidential bid, who also was from Chicago.  Not only did these two events occur on the same night…they occurred at the same time.

Whether there is any possible message here, or whether it is just one of those rare, and meaningless, coincidences, I cannot say.  However, it is an example of how a UFO investigator, if he delves deeply enough into a case, may gain very subtle insight into an incident, even if he does not fully understand what its significance may be.

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