The Baltic Anomaly: Another “Great Lakes Hoax”?

After a day at port, the Ocean X Team has disappeared again, presumably back to the Baltic Anomaly, a mammoth underwater formation of unknown origin. The excitement among UFO enthusiasts over the Baltic Anomaly is palpable. But is this just another Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax?

Did a Northrop F-89C like this one crash into a UFO?
Source: Wikimedia Commons via Eglin Air Force Base

Background on the Baltic Anomaly

Here’s the background. Last summer, the Ocean X Team used side-scan sonar to “photograph” a strange object deep in the Baltic Sea, approximately 260 feet below surface. It’s about 200 feet in diameter, with a tail stretching over 1,300 feet across the sea floor. Recently, the team returned to the site to give it a closer look.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. We’re highly skeptical of the Baltic Anomaly. Between the vague and highly charged updates, the involvement of Titan Television, and dark hints at “military intervention,” we can’t help but wonder if this is a hoax to drum up publicity. It has precedent, namely the Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax.

The Disappearances of Felix Moncla Jr. & Robert L. Wilson

On November 23, 1953, radar operators in Michigan spotted something unusual on their screens…an unidentified flying object. First Lieutenant Felix Moncla Jr. scrambled an F-89C Scorpion Jet into the air to check it out. Second Lieutenant Robert L. Wilson flew with him, acting as the radar operator. Moncla caught up with the object 8,000 feet above Earth.

Back at Ground Control, radar operators watched the situation unfold. The radar blips – one for the jet and one for the UFO – grew closer and closer together. They merged, turning into a single blip. And then this blip vanished. Moncla didn’t respond to radio calls. And a search and rescue operation failed to recover him, Wilson, or the jet. No traces of the ill-fated flight were ever found (although some researchers think the parts were found in 1968).

The Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax?

In 2006, a man named Preston Miller emailed an Associated Press story to UFO scholar Francis Ridge. The story proclaimed the discovery of Moncla’s missing jet at the bottom of Lake Superior…along with something else. The divers who’d made the discovery called themselves the Great Lakes Dive Company.

“In searching the general vicinity of the wreck, we believe we have also found a part of the object that the F-89 collided with. We are still in the process of documenting the mystery object…There is still a lot of wreck site forensics to complete.” ~ Adam Jimenez, Great Lakes Dive Company Spokesman, Great Lakes UFO Mystery Solved, Another Begins – (Supposed Associated Press Story)

Ridge forwarded the email to a popular UFO forum and the story spread like wildfire. Adam Jimenez, the Great Lakes Dive Company’s spokesman, gave interviews to numerous reporters and radio programs. His description of the crash site was similar to the Baltic Anomaly, namely “a plow mark trailing behind the object (as if it had crashed).” Two images of the plane were posted on the company’s website, appearing to show an aircraft half-buried in silt. Sonar images of a second metallic object, presumably the UFO, were also posted (see above).

There was just one problem. The Great Lakes Dive Company didn’t exist. Neither did Adam Jimenez. Three weeks later, the company’s website, www.greatlakesdive.com, disappeared. So did the man claiming to be Jimenez. James Carrion, the International Director of Mutual UFO Network, investigated the incident. To make a long story short, he discovered the original Associated Press story was bogus as were many of Jimenez’s statements.

“In summary, MUFON after many hours of investigation by a number of our dedicated field investigators has not been able to substantiate any of GLDC’s claims. Until GLDC personnel resurface with more information and definitive proof of the F89 discovery, their claims remain doubtful at this time.” ~ James Carrion, Update on Kinross / Great Lakes Dive Company Case

Jimenez and the Great Lakes Dive Company never resurfaced. These days, most people consider the whole thing a hoax.

The Baltic Anomaly vs. The Great Lakes Dive Company Hoax

There are some similarities between the Ocean X Team and the Great Lakes Dive Company. Both groups published strange sonar images. Both made extraordinary and vague claims about their discoveries. Both deliberately fanned the flames of UFO enthusiasts. And both got increasingly tight-lipped as time progressed. Even the supposed image of GLDC’s UFO (pictured above) looks similar to part of the Baltic Anomaly.

However, if the Baltic Anomaly is a scheme, it’s far more elaborate and refined than the 2006 scam. The Ocean X Team is a real company with a real boat led by real treasure hunters. Their reputations are on the line. Also, they haven’t made any outlandish claims about the exact nature of the Anomaly, other than to say it’s “top secret.”

At the same time, the Ocean X Team is under pressure to produce something extraordinary. They’ve raised a lot of money and they could find it difficult to raise funds for other projects if the Baltic Anomaly turned out to be nothing of interest. That’s part of the reason why we expect the Ocean X Team to drag this out as long as possible before claiming they were forced to evacuate the site due to ”military intervention.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

We’re not convinced the Baltic Anomaly is real. Side scan sonar images are highly prone to distortion. If it is real, we here at Guerrilla Explorer suspect it’s nothing more than a hot spring. A hot spring would explain the initial radiation reported by the Ocean X Team, as well as the Anomaly’s strange shape.

“When hot water is expelled from a hot spring, it causes dissolved minerals and the surrounding soil to be driven outward. These materials eventually cool and harden in the water. All in all, this might account for the vast amount of disturbed seabed as well as an object that looks like a sandbar.” ~ David Meyer, The Baltic Anomaly: UFO…or just a Hot Spring?

So, is the Baltic Anomaly a hoax? Is the Ocean X Team this year’s version of the Great Lakes Dive Company? At the very least, we think this has the potential to turn into a hoax. In other words, the Ocean X Team could hide the true nature of the Baltic Anomaly under the guise of “military intervention.” That would leave everyone happy. It would help Titan sell its documentary on the “Baltic Cowboys.” It would keep the Ocean X Team’s reputation intact. And it would give UFO enthusiasts yet another near-miss legend to kick around.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Coverage of the Baltic Anomaly

The Mysterious Disappearance of Glenn Miller

On December 15, 1944, a plane carrying jazz sensation Glenn Miller vanished while flying over the English Channel. The plane, its crew, and the passengers were never seen again.

What happened to Major Glenn Miller?

Major Glenn Miller during his service in the US Army Air Corps
Source: Wikimedia Commons

What happened to Glenn Miller?

The disappearance of Glenn Miller is one of the great unsolved mysteries of history. For decades, researchers have questioned whether the plane even flew the intended route. Now, almost seven decades later, we may finally have an answer.

It turns out a 17-year old kid named Richard Anderton was living in Woodley at the time, just eight miles from Maidenhead, Berkshire. On December 15, 1944, he logged a Norseman plane flying in the sky. It was east of his position and on a southeastern heading. In other words, Anderton’s books indicate the plane carrying Glenn Miller was heading in the correct direction at the right time. If true, this would appear to eliminate other theories about where the plane might have flown.

Here’s more from BBC News on the mysterious disappearance of Glenn Miller:

The most recent discovery started with a 17-year-old plane-spotter in 1944, who meticulously logged each plane he saw flying overhead while he worked at an airfield in Woodley, Reading.

The now deceased Richard Anderton had two small notebooks filled with details of the locations of passing aircraft, estimated altitude and directions of flight. On 15 December 1944, he logged a UC-64A-type aircraft passing on the horizon to his east and flying below the fog in a south-easterly direction.

It was not until his brother, 77-year-old Sylvan Anderton, brought the books into the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow TV programme 67 years later that the entry came to light…

(See BBC News for more on the mysterious disappearance of Glenn Miller)

The Lost Franklin Expedition?

In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin departed England on a voyage to pass through the last unexplored part of the Northwest Passage. He never returned. What happened to the lost Franklin Expedition?

The HMS Terror from the Lost Franklin Expedition

HMS Terror stranded in the ice
Engraved with the aid of a drawing by Captain George Back, from his 1836-37 Arctic expedition
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Disappearance of the Franklin Expedition?

By 1845, large portions of the Canadian Arctic had been explored. The last remaining section covered about 70,000 square miles and was considered extremely important since it was believed to contain a route allowing sailors to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Eager to locate this Northwest Passage, the Second Secretary of the Admiralty, Sir John Barrow, recruited Sir John Franklin to sail into the unknown.

Franklin wasn’t Barrow’s first choice. In fact, he was the sixth choice. But the other candidates either refused or weren’t considered right for the task. Franklin accepted, a decision that he would soon regret.

On May 19, 1845, the Franklin Expedition set sail with 24 officers, 110 men, provisions for seven years, and two ships – the Erebus and the HMS Terror – under his command. It never returned.

What happened to the Franklin Expedition?

In 1848, the first of many search parties were launched to find the lost Franklin expedition. In 1850, a second search effort uncovered a winter camp site and three graves. Subsequent expeditions have uncovered additional graves, messages etched on rocks, and oral accounts from the local Inuit people who claimed to have seen the Erebus and HMS Terror lodged in ice.

Most historians believe that the two ships hit ice in Victoria Strait, which is near King William Island. The crew travelled south to hunt for food and Franklin died shortly afterward. After a year in the Arctic, the Franklin Expedition had lost 15 men. The survivors grew sicker, due to a mixture of pneumonia, scurvy, tuberculosis, hypothermia, starvation, and lead poisoning caused by poorly soldered canned goods and/or the expedition’s distilled water systems. Eventually, they were forced to resort to cannibalism of their dead comrades. Around 1848, the survivors abandoned ship and vanished.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Despite numerous searches, the ships and Franklin himself have never been found. Recently, a Canadian expedition threw its hat into the ring, only to come up empty. Its not surprising. The terrain is vast, icy, indistinguishable, and always changing. Plus, the ships were lodged in moving ice for several years and may have drifted hundreds of miles during that time.

For the moment, the lost Franklin Expedition remains lost. But the search continues. Someday soon, explorers will hopefully find the missing ships and Franklin’s frozen corpse. Then we can finally put to rest one of the greatest explorers in history…as well as one of the greatest mysteries of history.

Who is D.B. Cooper?

In 1971, Dan Cooper skyjacked a Boeing 727. After pocketing $200,000 in ransom money, he parachuted into the night, never to be seen again. Now, almost forty years later, the FBI has announced a breakthrough in the case. Is the truth behind D.B. Cooper finally at hand?

An FBI composite sketch of D. B. Cooper
Source: Wikimedia Commons

D.B. Cooper hijacks Flight 305 

On the afternoon of November 24, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper purchased a one-way ticket on Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, a thirty-minute trip from Portland, Oregon to Seattle Washington. After takeoff, he passed a note to a flight attendant named Florence Schaffner. Although he later took the note with him, she later recalled that it said, “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.” D.B. Cooper showed her the bomb, which she described as eight red sticks, wire, insulation, and a battery. Then, he proceeded to make his demands:

“I want $200,000 in unmarked 20-dollar bills. I want two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land, I want a fuel truck ready to refuel. No funny stuff or I’ll do the job.” ~ Dan Cooper

It seemed clear that D.B. Cooper intended to jump from the plane with a hostage. Donald Nyrop, the President of Northwest Orient, agreed to meet the demands. Upon landing in Seattle, the FBI provided Cooper with the money and four civilian parachutes. In exchange, Cooper released Florence, another flight attendant, and all thirty-six passengers. After refueling, the plane lifted into the air again, on course for Reno, Nevada.

D.B. Cooper Parachutes into History…and Mystery

After takeoff, D.B. Cooper ordered the remaining crew to gather in the cockpit. Around 8:00pm, the crew noticed a flashing warning light, indicating that a passenger staircase in the rear of the aircraft had been deployed. At 8:13pm, the plane jolted. Two hours later, the crew landed in Reno, with the airstair still open. Cooper was nowhere to be found.

Two of the parachutes remained onboard and it quickly became apparent that D.B. Cooper had jumped out of the airplane with the other two, most likely somewhere over Washington’s lower Cascade mountains. The FBI swarmed the plane, gathering additional evidence such as 66 partial fingerprints, a black clip-on tie, and a mother of pearl tie clip.

Using available data, the FBI determined his likely landing area and initiated a manhunt. They also distributed a list of serial numbers corresponding to the ransom money to law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, casinos, racetracks, and other places.  But the investigation failed to unearth any evidence.

What happened to D.B. Cooper?

In February 1980, eight-year old Brian Ingram found three packets of waterlogged bills on the banks of the Columbia River. The money, which totaled $5,800, matched the serial numbers of bills given to D.B. Cooper. The FBI relaunched its investigation. However, they failed to determine how the bills arrived at the location. To this day, the money as well as an instruction placard found in 1978 remain the only pieces of hard evidence found outside the aircraft that can be tied directly to D.B. Cooper.

No one is quite sure what happened to Cooper and the ransom money. Many people believe that he died during his parachute attempt. He wasn’t an experienced jumper, evidenced by the fact that he chose to take flight with a dummy chute used for training exercises that had been purposely planted by the FBI. Also, his jump took place at 10,000 feet in the middle of a raging storm complete with powerful winds, freezing rain, and below-zero temperatures. Under those conditions, he needed to land safely in extremely difficult terrain, something that would be challenging even for an experienced jumper.

Other people believe that he survived the jump and proceeded to live a long life. They point to literally dozens of serious and semi-serious suspects, each one backed by considerable circumstantial evidence. Perhaps the most popular suspect is Kenneth Christiansen. However, a lack of hard evidence makes it difficult to be sure.

Now, investigators hope to finally settle the debate. A few days ago, the FBI made a series of startling announcements pertaining to the D.B. Cooper investigation.

“We do actually have a new suspect we’re looking at…It comes from a credible lead who came to our attention recently via a law enforcement colleague…The credible lead is somebody whose possible connection to the hijacker is strong…And the suspect is not a name that’s come up before.” ~ Ayn Dietrich, FBI Spokeswoman

Ayn also mentioned that the FBI is attempting to compare fingerprints and DNA from the suspect to those found on items recovered from the airplane. She even went so far as to call the lead the “most promising one to date.”

The FBI will face significant hurdles if it wants to prove the identity of D.B. Cooper. Apparently, it is uncertain if the fingerprints recovered from the plane actually belonged to Cooper in the first place. Also, the FBI appears to have misplaced cigarette butts belonging to Cooper, which could dash any hopes for a DNA test.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Forty years have passed since Dan Cooper vanished into the night. His case is shrouded in mystery and mythology. Even his name remains a source of confusion to the general public. Due to a media miscommunication, he is commonly known as D.B. Cooper when in fact, he never used the initials D.B. at all.

Will this latest suspect and supporting evidence be enough to put the case to rest? I have to admit I’m skeptical. Over 1,000 people have been suspected of being D.B. Cooper. And every few years, a new piece of explosive evidence emerges only to be ruled out. There was that misidentified skull in 1981, that tattered parachute in 1988, and that other tattered parachute in 2008. But all the same, I’ll be following this story closely. The unmasking of D.B. Cooper would close America’s last unsolved skyjacking and finally, bring an answer to a case that has baffled hundreds of thousands of people for over forty years.

The Missingest Man in New York?

On August 6, 1930, Judge Joseph Crater left Billy Haas’s Chophouse in New York City. He was never seen again. His high-profile disappearance rocked the nation and despite decades of police work, his case remains unsolved to this day. So, what became of Judge Crater, the infamous “Missingest Man in New York”?

Judge Crater’s home at 40 Fifth Ave. in New York City (September 13, 1930)
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Disappearance of Judge Crater?

Joseph Force Crater was an Associate Judge of the New York Supreme Court. He was appointed to office in mid-1930 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who at that time was the state’s Governor. His strange story begins during the waning days of July 1930.

While on vacation in Belgrade, Maine, Judge Crater received a phone call. Afterwards, he told his wife that he needed to return to New York City in order “to straighten those fellows out.” He traveled to New York and then returned to Maine on August 1. Two days later, he departed again for Manhattan, promising his wife he would return within a week.

On August 6, Judge Crater bought a single ticket for a Broadway show called Dancing Partner. Then, he met up with two friends at Billy Haas’s Chophouse on West 45th Street. After dinner, the two friends entered a taxi. Meanwhile, Judge Crater walked down the street, presumably heading for the Belasco Theatre. He was never seen again.

Judge Crater’s Secret Life

Around August 13, Judge Crater’s wife, a woman by the name of Stella Mance Wheeler, began calling friends in New York, searching for her husband. On August 25, he failed to show for court, raising eyebrows amongst his colleagues. Finally, on September 3, nearly a full month after his last sighting, the police were alerted to the case.

Judge Crater’s disappearance became national news and led to a gigantic investigation. As the police waded through information and thousands of false sightings, they quickly learned that there was more to the story than met the eye. Layers of the Judge’s life were peeled back, revealing numerous strange facts.

  • The Affair: Judge Crater was having an affair with Sally Lou Ritz, a showgirl. After he received the mysterious phone call in July, he returned to New York, supposedly “to straighten those fellows out.” Instead, he took Sally on a trip to Atlantic City. Later, Sally was of the last two people, along with the Judge’s lawyer, to see him alive.
  • The Money: On August 6, just hours before his disappearance, Judge Crater asked his assistant to cash two checks totaling $5,150. He also removed $20,000 from campaign funds, close to a year’s salary. They proceeded to carry the cash in locked briefcases to the Judge’s apartment. Afterwards, the Judge gave his assistant the rest of the day off.
  • The Missing Safety Deposit Box: During the course of the investigation, the cops learned that Judge Crater had emptied his safety deposit box prior to going missing.

In January 1931, the Judge’s wife opened a desk drawer and discovered uncashed checks, stocks, bonds, and three life insurance policies. She also found a long note from the Judge, part of which read, “I am very whary (weary). Joe.” Ultimately, the investigation ended with a whimper and on June 6, 1939, Judge Crater was declared dead in absentia. His case was officially closed forty years later.

What happened to Judge Crater?

Numerous theories have been put forth to explain the Judge’s vanishing act:

  • Political Victim: The Judge’s wife believed that he was murdered “because of something sinister connected to politics.” Also, there were many rumors at the time of a pending legal scandal. It should be noted that Judge Crater was deeply involved in the machinations of the Tammany Hall political machine.
  • Lover’s Quarrel: This theory, advanced by Mrs. Crater’s attorney, indicated that the Judge was being blackmailed by a showgirl. The Judge refused to pay her off and was killed for his troubles.
  • The Wife: Over the years, many have viewed Mrs. Crater with suspicion. The Judge was obviously cheating on her. Also, the fact that she didn’t involve the police until four weeks had gone by is somewhat strange.
  • Extended Vacation: Some think that the Judge skipped town and resettled elsewhere under a different name in order to live with another lover or to avoid a scandal.
  • Murder by Madam: In his book, Vanishing Point, Richard Tofel makes the argument that the Judge ended August 6 in a well-known brothel run by a woman named Polly Adler. Polly later wrote a popular book about her life as a madam. According to Tofel’s research, early drafts of the book stated that Judge Crater died of natural causes while in her brothel and that she had his body removed to an unknown location. While this is an interesting possibility, it should be noted that these early drafts have yet to be found.

On August 19, 2005, a handwritten note was discovered in a metal box after the death of a seemingly random woman named Stella Ferrucci-Good. The letter claimed that Judge Crater was murdered by three men: Robert Good and two brothers named Charles and Frank Burns. Robert Good was a Parks Department supervisor and Stella’s late husband. Charles was a New York police officer and Frank was a cab driver. While she didn’t mention a motive, she did state that the three men supposedly buried Judge Crater’s body under the boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

In the mid-1950′s, the boardwalk had been torn up and the New York Aquarium built in its place. Unsubstantiated reports indicate that the remains of five bodies were found at the time. These skeletons were later interred in a mass potter’s grave on Hart Island.

Interest surged in the cold case. But the excitement quickly died off. The police were skeptical of Stella’s claim. And unfortunately, there was no way to substantiate it. Even if bones had been recovered from under the boardwalk, it would take a miracle to find them. It would take an even greater miracle to identify them, given that Crater has no living direct relatives from which to extract DNA.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

For decades, Judge Crater’s disappearance was one of the most famous unsolved disappearances in American history. Indeed, he was as well-known as Amelia Earhart or Glenn Miller. The term “to pull a Crater” became an established expression. “Judge Crater, call your office,” became a national punchline.

Although the Judge’s fame has waned, the mystery continues. In my mind, the most believable theory is the one offered by Ms. Stella Ferucci-Good’s letter. However, in order to prove it, we need more evidence. Interested researchers might want to consider tracking down workers who helped build the Aquarium. A detailed search of tabloids of the time, which supposedly reported the five bodies, might also prove helpful. With a little legwork, we might finally be able to close the books on Judge Crater, one of history’s strangest mysteries.