MIG - Missouri Investigators Group

1973 - UFO leaves physical trace - Columbia, Mo.



A compelling UFO case with physical trace proof occurred in Columbia, Missouri on June 28, 1973. This case was investigated by well-known investigator J. Allen Hynek, and Ted and Ginger Phillips. Ted Phillips would later be known for his accumulation of UFO cases with physical trace characteristics. This extraordinary case would have two adult witnesses, 41-year-old James G. Richards, and his 16-year-old daughter,  Vanea.  And Jamie,  Vanea's 3-year-old son was also present.

Loud Sounds Heard Outside:

The Richards family lived in a mobile home on the outskirts of Columbia. The home is located on a dead end road, and sat in the middle of numerous trees, except for the front yard. The case began as Vanea headed into the kitchen to put a baby bottle into the refrigerator. She heard a loud sound coming from the trees on the north end of the house. It was dark at the time, shortly after midnight, and Vanea was unable to see anything that would account for the loud sounds.

Two Beams of Light:

She became scared as the sound continued, and called to her father. Before he could get off of the living room couch and join her, she ran and locked the door at the front of the house. Soon, both Vanea and her father were looking through the kitchen window searching for the source of the noise. Suddenly, Mr. Richards spotted two beams of light. They were coming from a spot between a tree and a fence.

Oval Shape Seen:

The beams were about 50 feet away from the window-they were wider at the top than the bottom, and the two beams were approximately 5 feet from each other.

Nothing else could be seen because of the brightness of the beams, but suddenly, they disappeared, and an oval shape was now visible above where the beams had been. The form of the oval was from 12-15 feet in diameter, and extremely bright. The area was “lit up bright as day,” the witnesses stated.

Force Moving Trees:

The object, whatever it was, was having a great effect on the trees below it. Both witnesses could see the limbs being whipped from side to side, although the wind was light this night. One of the trees was affected by a "tugging" motion, according to Vanea. After the form had appeared, the "thrashing" sound was heard no more. As the two startled witnesses watched the motion of the trees, they heard a loud cracking sound. The next day they could see a large cracked limb about 17 feet above the ground.

Dogs Made No Sound:

After hearing the sound of the limb cracking, all was quiet. Mr. Richards made rounds of all of the windows in the house to see if he could see or hear anything else. He could not. He did notice, however, that his dogs were extremely quiet. Normally, they would bark at any sound or sight in the night. Richards thought this to be very strange. After Richards loaded his guns, he rejoined Vanea at the kitchen window. The object was still there.

Orange Glow on Object:

They could see that the object light was illuminating parts of the trees 100 feet away. The object appeared to be metallic-a silver / white color. At this point, the object seemed to be stationary. Richards decided to call for help. Soon, however, the UFO began to move away from the house, traveling parallel to the ground until it reached an open area. It then hovered about 200 feet from the house. Now the object appeared to be white at the center, with a blue band of light and an orange glow around its outer edge.

Richards Calls for Help:

Richards called directory assistance. The lady who took his call would later remark that Richards was very excited and frightened. He asked her to contact someone to help him, either the Police or the FBI. About this time, the house lights began to dim, and Richards hung the phone up. Shortly thereafter, the phone operator who was responding to his call for help tried to call him without success. She would state that there was no ring, no busy signal-it was if the line was dead.

Telephone Line Dead:

Richards’s phone number was dialed 5 times, with short breaks between each attempt. Still, there was no sound on the line. Richards began to become concerned because no one had called him back, so he picked up the phone. It was dead. He tried several more times to make a call without success, until finally the woman calling him was on the line. He began to explain to her what he and his daughter had seen.

FAA Contacted:

Both operators who had talked to Richards felt he was sober, yet frightened. They believed his story. He was continually asking his daughter what the object was doing during his phone conversation. The FAA at Columbia Regional Airport was finally contacted by the second operator and informed as to what was being reported by Richards.

Second Sighting in Area:

The FAA did relate that another sighting had been reported on June 24, at Jefferson City. This was, of course, only 4 days ago. The operator told Richards that she was contacting the Police to assist him. After hanging up the phone, Richards was told by his daughter that the UFO was again on the move toward their house.

UFO Returns:

Later, Richards would state: "It came back and we had it. I’ll tell you. We didn’t know what to do, we both got kinda scared. I said, 'what’s gonna happen?' Something’s gonna happen here. This cold feeling came over me, I got speechless at this time. I just had this cold feeling when it came back that second time.  I was just sure, like you almost feel that you were gonna get killed or something."

UFO Hovers near House:

The UFO had moved through the trees very near the house. It was again about 50 feet from the mobile home. It just hovered there for a time, and then finally moved away. It made no sound as it slowly, deliberately, moved out through the trees. This time, however, there was no thrashing of the tree limbs. It reached a place about 200 feet from the house, and hovered. The orange and blue bands were again visible.

Object Begins to Dissolve:

As James and his daughter Vanea watched the object, something totally unexpected occurred. It began to either slowly dissolve, or move so ever slowly away from them. It gave the appearance of shrinking in size, as its glow became smaller and smaller, until the object was not visible. A sense of relief now set in on the two weary observers. Finally, the object was gone for good.

Police Finally Arrive:

The Police finally arrived at 1:45 AM. Richards would be very disappointed with their brief cursory look at the evidence of the case. One young officer looked around for a time, and told Richards that all he saw was some tracks which were probably made by rabbits. Maddened by the officers observations, Richards told him to just "never mind."

Full Investigation-Deep Imprints Found:

A full investigation was done by Phillips, his wife, and Hynek. Ample evidence was found to substantiate Richards and his daughter's sighting. There were broken tree limbs and foliage with scorched leaves. There were also two impressions in the ground about one foot deep. No doubt something heavy had landed there. Also other imprints were found along the path that the UFO took.

One of the Best Physical Trace Cases:

There would also be an aftereffect to the UFO visit. Later, healthy leaves on the trees were found to be brown, and prematurely aged. The case is certainly one of the very best investigated and documented cases in the physical trace category.

Final Thought:

Here is one final quote from Richards that sums up his experience.<p> "Like death was at you, this was it. I didn’t know what to do, I just froze. I just knew this was it and no one would come, no policemen. I was scared to go out the door, I wouldn’t have gone outside, no way." 

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