UFOgate New York, New York: the Linda Napolitano “abduction”
Did the most important UFO abduction ever – proving the physical reality of the aliens – occur in late November 1989? Or was it instead a carefully constructed plot to disinform and discredit?
by Philip Coppens
Possibly the most sensational abduction case, the so-called ‘Brooklyn Bridge Abduction’, was slowly built up to be the “best evidence” for the legitimacy of the UFO and UFO abduction phenomenon. It involved the abduction of a woman from her New York apartment in late 1989; the event was witnessed by several people… which seemed to include the then Secretary General of the United Nations Perez de Cuellar. Too good to be true? Of course… The case centres on an abductee named Linda Napolitano (aka Linda Cortile), who was one of the subjects being studied by Budd Hopkins. Hopkins had nurtured the UFO abduction from his publication in 1981 of Missing Time onwards, hoping that his report on Napolitano – published in 1996 as Witnessed – would form the crowning moment of his years of dedication to – and the validation of – the phenomenon.
In April 1989, Hopkins received a letter from Linda Napolitano, saying she had begun to read his book Intruders (his second on the subject, at the time relatively recently published) and had remembered that 13 years earlier she had detected a bump next to her nose. It was examined by a physician who insisted that she had undergone nasal surgery. Linda claimed that she never had such surgery; she even checked with her mother, who agreed. It resulted in a meeting with Hopkins, upon which Linda began to attend the meetings of his abductee support group.
On November 30, 1989, Linda called Hopkins and reported that she had been abducted during the early morning hours of that day, providing some details.
Under hypnosis a few days later, Hopkins extracted the memory of an experience in which Napolitano was levitated from her high-rise apartment into a hovering UFO. Asleep, she suddenly saw several alien figures standing beside her bed. She described these as the typical “Greys”. The next morning, Linda contacted Budd Hopkins and told him what she remembered about the abduction. Linda revealed, over the course of many hypnosis sessions, that while inside the craft the aliens had examined her. Nothing in these sessions made her case stand out and Hopkins must have treated it as yet another case that conformed to the norm – the type of accounts he typically heard, hypnosis in, hypnosis out. The case dramatically changed scope once Hopkins had received the letter from the two policemen, “Richard” and “Dan” – in February 1991, 15 months after the abduction, which launched him on a search to contact the two officers, who refused to meet him.
Hopkins realised that their account matched the place and time of Napolitano’s experience. Further investigation convinced him that this was the first independent corroboration of an abduction. Furthermore, the witnesses seemed to have impeccable credentials: policemen, rather than “normal” members of the public. However, as soon as the expectations were built, they began to crumble. Hopkins soon discovered that the two “policemen” were, in fact, members of the CIA. Budd Hopkins The “policemen” had claimed that they contacted Hopkins as ever since they had witnessed the abduction, they could not get the image out of their head. As to their reasons why they stayed out of reach, Hopkins learned that they were acting as security guards for a famous political figure. The two men, along with the then anonymous political figure, were heading towards the New York heliport when the car had stopped mysteriously on its own. The two bodyguards and the politician then witnessed the abduction. It almost seemed as if the abduction had been staged so that one of the most influential men in the world – the Secretary General of the UN – would see the alien reality himself. That same year, 1991, the case seemed to become even more solid when Hopkins received a letter from a woman (later nicknamed Janet Kimble) saying that while she was passing over the Brooklyn Bridge at 3 AM on November 30, 1989, somehow all of the cars’ lights and engines on the bridge failed, including the streetlights on the bridge. She therefore got out of her car to see what had happened and saw, along with other drivers, a woman floating, twelve-stories high, into a hovering UFO above her apartment building.
Hopkins must have felt this case was becoming too good to be true – it was – when during a routine examination, a metallic object was discovered inside Linda’s nasal cavity, which suggested that it might be an alien implant. Two weeks after the x-ray, she suffered a serious nosebleed during the night. In the morning she found extensive bloodstains on her face and pillow. A later x-ray revealed that the metallic object was no longer present in her nostril, though a conspicuous ridge of built-up cartilage showed that there had once been an implant. The “suspicion” was that the aliens had implanted her, but that after the implant having been discovered, it was removed, so that this “alien technology” would not fall in human hands. Still, it meant that the case remained just like all others: a case of “reports”, but without any hard evidence – though the case remained much better than all others. Even though Witnessed only appeared in 1996, Hopkins had gone public with the case much earlier. Seeing that Richard and Dan only entered the scene in February 1991, when they sent him a letter, Hopkins first wrote about the incident in the September and December 1992 issues of the MUFON UFO Journal and had made a presentation at the July 1992 MUFON symposium, where Linda had been present and had spoken to the assembled audience. It was a weighty podium, as three years earlier, Moore had used the forum to admit his involvement in the Bennewitz affaire and his status as an agent of disinformation
By 1993, the Napolitano case had generated enormous interest and drawn international attention, being discussed in the Wall Street Journal (Jefferson, 1992), Omni (Baskin, 1992), Paris Match (De Brosses, 1992), the New York Times (Sontag, 1992), and Hopkins and Napolitano had appeared on the television show Inside Edition.
He also realised that if he could convince de Cuellar to publicly corroborate the story, then it would be sensational. Perhaps it was one of the reasons why the publication was delayed, as “the deal” would be substantially different with or without the Secretary General’s endorsement. .Imagine the headline: “the book in which the Secretary General endorses the UFO reality… and explains his own involvement and abduction.”
Unfortunately, although the “Third Man” apparently wrote him anonymous letters corroborating the claims, he demanded anonymity. Hopkins apparently even approached him and engaged him in conversation at one point, but without being able to pry from him the all-important testimony he sought. As a consequence, the man’s identity remained undisclosed in the book, though all UFO researchers and many of the book’s readers by then knew it was none other than Javier Perez de Cuellar. However, an objective reading of the evidence reveals many inconsistencies and too-good-to-be-true coincidences that make it clear that Hopkins had, in fact, been set up – that the story had been concocted specifically in order for him to make the right connections and gradually uncover this ‘perfect’ case. The first corner of this lid was lifted when Hopkins learned that the “policemen” – now “Secret Service agents” were, in reality, CIA agents.
In short, what we are meant to believe is that two CIA operatives, rather than use their internal systems to try and find out whether Linda was alright and what had been going on, instead relied on Hopkins – a private citizen – to put all the pieces together. It would not have looked overly suspicious if it had remained with just one single letter. After all, perhaps the two agents were scared beyond belief and did not dare to contact the CIA’s own fact chasing machine. But it did not stop there…
But the case falls apart when it was learned that in the original letter, the two mentioned that they could identify the building and window from which she emerged. Even for a private citizen, this would present little problem in identifying the person involved. For the CIA, it is the easiest piece of cake.
It meant that from the beginning the two had no real need to contact Hopkins. So why did they? It is a vital question, as it is this contact that has set this report apart from all others. The extra-ordinariness of the case rests solely on these two CIA people contacting Hopkins, for no reason. So why did they do it? It is a question seldom posed, as it can only lead to one answer: it was a set-up.
Furthermore, though they initially expressed extreme concern over the well being of Linda, the alleged “Dan” and “Richard” waited more than a year before contacting Linda and Hopkins. Why?
The “well being” of Linda soon became irrelevant. One of the agents displayed what was described as “obsessive behaviour”. Apparently, he had been so upset by the incident that he lost it. He kidnapped Linda in an effort to scare her into admitting her culpability in creating a hoax. This unsettling event is the last thing an abductee needs, and she naturally enough became increasingly concerned for her safety. It added a touch of drama to it all, which in the end only meant that the story became more elaborate, and Hopkins and Linda more determined to tell their story. In the end, even UFO believers admitted that the involvement of CIA operatives in this case is a “problem”, lending “credence to the argument that the incident is a very elaborate hoax. […] The inclusion of these men raises the possibility of some form of government involvement, perhaps to undermine a real encounter or to inject damaging disinformation. Perhaps it is in the best interest of the government to allow, even engender, the alien myth in American society.” Nevertheless, the believers often argue that the government does not seem to have a clear reason for this, and therefore they advise that disinformation cannot be the right reason.
Of course, in the early 1990s, as today, people who believe in UFOs are – in the eyes of the majority of society – seen as slightly off-balance. Not necessarily mad, but definitely “weird” – eccentric. Furthermore, there is evidence that shows that the Linda case fits perfectly within a US government campaign, which involves UFOs and the Secretary General of the United Nations. According to Richard Tomlinson, an ex MI6 [British Intelligence] operative, “During the run-up to the 1992 Secretary General elections, [MI6] mounted a smear operation against the Egyptian candidate, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who was regarded as dangerously Francophile by the CIA. The CIA are constitutionally prevented from manipulating the press so they asked MI6 to help. […] [MI6] planted a series of stories to portray Boutros-Ghali as unbalanced, claiming that he was a believer in the existence of UFOs and extra-terrestrial life. The operation was eventually unsuccessful, however, and Boutros-Ghali was elected.”
Here is testimony that the CIA in 1992 was mounting a disinformation campaign directed towards the highest echelons of the UN, in depicting the Secretary General as a UFO believer. The Linda Napolitano abduction fits within this timeframe (1991), including the target (UN Secretary General) and the modus operandi (UFOs); it is a perfect match. Furthermore, the actions of the two agents – spreading disinformation – is allowed within the bailiwick of the CIA, as the press was indeed not manipulated; but the CIA manifesto says nothing about manipulating UFO abduction researchers, does it? In a perfect world, Witnessed could have made a real impact and could have convinced many of the reality of the UFO phenomenon. What it in the end lacked was the name of Perez de Cuellar featuring in its pages, as that would have resulted in a yes or no from the by then former Secretary General. But the name was of course missing for legal reasons – though according to Hopkins he largely agreed with what he had seen, he did not want to say so in public. The inclusion of his name must have opened up his publisher to a major law suit, which was no doubt why his name did not go in the book. The Secretary General was not discredited and the hoax had missed its maximum impact.
The question is: who was responsible? Did Richard and Dan somehow gain access to Linda’s story and decided to “elaborate” on this? This would qualify this as straightforward disinformation. Had Linda invented everything? Many agreed that it would be impossible for her to pull this off, as specifically Richard and Dan seemed genuine people and true CIA agents. Could a private citizen employ two CIA agents to help a woman perpetrate a UFO hoax? It would take an extreme amount of “guts” for this woman to do so. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that she would wait more than a year before bringing Richard and Dan on the scene.
However, though Budd Hopkins and Linda Napolitano were manipulated, they were both easy and willing victims. The term self-delusion comes to mind, whereby the biggest carrot ever dangled in front of a UFO researcher and an abductee made them blind to any logical thinking. This became very apparent in early 1993. One of the first critics of the case were Joseph J. Stefula, Richard D. Butler and George P. Hansen, who published their critique in January 1993. They based their analysis on the public presentations about the incident that Hopkins had done by that time. They were furthermore the first to name Javier Perez de Cuellar as the mystery individual involved.
Both Butler and Stefula were part of Hopkins’ circle and they spoke to Napolitano before the controversy became a matter of public interest. As early as January 28, 1992, Linda requested a meeting with Richard Butler, and on February 1, 1992, Linda, Stefula and Butler met in New York City. Linda provided additional details about her experiences, but also asked them not to inform Hopkins of their discussions.
At the 1992 MUFON convention, Stefula attended the convention and noted that some of the statements directly contradicted what Linda had earlier told Stefula and Butler. They then contacted Hopkins in an attempt to resolve these matters, but Hopkins declined to meet them, saying that he didn’t want to discuss the case until his book manuscript was submitted. Nevertheless, a meeting did occur on October 3, 1992.
Stefula and Butler were specifically flabbergasted over Hopkins and Napolitano’s behaviour surrounding her kidnapping by the two agents. Linda claimed that in April of 1991 she encountered Richard on the street near her apartment. She was asked to get into their car, but she refused. Richard then picked her up and, with some struggle, forced her into the vehicle. Linda reported that she was driven around for 3 1/2 hours, interrogated about the aliens, and asked whether she worked for the government. She also said that she was forced to remove her shoes so they could examine her feet to determine whether she was an ET alien (they later claimed that aliens lack toes). If it happened, it is clear that both men were mentally unstable at this moment in time. Alternative scenarios include that Linda had invented the abduction, or that the two men were acting. It should be noted that Linda had risen from a total nobody to the most important UFO abductee of all… and such abductions would only add weight to her status, as it would be considered validation in the eyes of both Hopkins and the reader of the account.
As early as the MUFON symposium, Linda was asked if she had reported the kidnapping to the police. She said that she had not and went on to say that the kidnapping was legal because it had to do with national security. As early as the conversations with Butler in early 1992, Linda had expressed concerns about her personal safety. A meeting was arranged with Stefula because of his background in law enforcement. Despite claiming she was kidnapped twice, nearly drowned and feared further problems could be in stall for her, she refused to contact the police, even though apparently Hopkins had given the same advice as Stefula: make an official complaint.
To quote the three researchers: “If she was afraid, why didn’t her husband contact authorities? The most plausible reason is that if a report was filed, and her story proved false, she could be subject to criminal charges. Linda’s failure here raises enormous questions of credibility.”
When the researchers were finally okayed to speak to Hopkins, they found he was not alone. Among those in attendance were David Jacobs, Walter H. Andrus, and Jerome Clark. Jacobs was a leading UFO abduction researcher, Andrus the head of MUFON and Clark one of the leading authors in the field.
To quote the researchers: “We inquired if Hopkins had asked the guards of the apartment complex whether they had seen the UFO. He indicated that he had not done so. This is quite surprising, considering that the UFO was so bright that the woman on the bridge had to shield her eyes from it even though she was more than a quarter mile distant. One would have thought that Hopkins would have made inquiries of the guards considering the spectacular nature of the event.” When they asked about the weather conditions on the night of the abduction, Hopkins stated he had not checked. Such details convinced the three researchers that Hopkins’ research of the basic story had been more than sloppy. In short: all the possible hard evidence had not been researched by Hopkins, who had merely concentrated on hypnosis sessions with Napolitano and trying to track down Richard and Dan, and convince de Cuellar to endorse the project.
Jacobs, Andrus and Clarke had – apparently as a world exclusive – been told that the “Third Man” was de Cuellar. Butler and Stefula however presented an outside expert who for many years had served in dignitary protective services. He described the extensive preplanning required for moving officials and the massive co-ordination that was involved. Many people and networks would be alerted if there were any problems at all (such as a car stalling, or a delay in passing checkpoints). “His detailed presentation seemed to take Hopkins aback. The consultant listed several specialized terms used by the dignitary protective services and suggested that Hopkins ask Richard and Dan the meaning of those terms as a test of their knowledge, and thus credibility.” Later in the meeting the question arose about a financial agreement between Linda and Hopkins. Stefula noted that Linda had told him that she and Hopkins had an agreement to split profits from a book. Hopkins denied that there was any such arrangement, and Linda then claimed that she had deliberately planted disinformation. It is an intriguing admission, whereby a person when caught out telling a lie, states that the she deliberately planted disinformation. Why? Hopkins, it seems judging from his character, would be the last to ever ask such a question.
A UFO believer, Hopkins instead spoke the party line, suggesting that anyone who would criticize him now that he had gone public, “had” to be a member of the intelligence agency, sent out specifically to discredit the truth. It is an intriguing allegation, which in essence means that Hopkins a public warning to anyone who doubted his research credibility, stating he would be labelled a government agency set out to destroy the truth from coming out. Indeed, “Big Brother” tactics are not just practiced by government authorities… UFO researchers have used them for many decades, with moderate success. True to form, when Hansen published his research on Linda Napolitano, Hopkins by the time had already “suggested” that Hansen was a CIA agent. To quote the accused: “This was not an offhand remark made to a friend in an informal setting; rather this was asserted to a woman whom he did not know and who had happened to attend one of his lectures (member of MUFON in New Jersey who feared future repercussions if her name was mentioned, personal communication, November 7, 1992).”
The biggest gem uncovered by the three researchers was not Napolitano’s apparent willingness to change her story to fit the audience, nor Hopkins’ sloppy methods of research. It was the fact that when Linda was apparently reading Intruders, another book got published: a science fiction novel, Nighteyes, by Garfield Reeves-Stevens. To quote the three researchers who uncovered the parallels: “The experiences reported by Linda seem to be a composite of those of two characters in Nighteyes: Sarah and Wendy.” They then listed the series of “coincidences”, some which are more than remarkable.
Napolitano abduction Nighteyes
Linda was abducted into a UFO hovering over her high-rise apartment building in New York City. Sarah was abducted into a UFO hovering over her high-rise apartment building in New York City.
Dan and Richard initially claimed to have been on a stakeout and were involved in a UFO abduction in during early morning hours. Early in Nighteyes two government agents were on a stakeout and became involved in a UFO abduction during early morning hours
Linda was kidnapped and thrown into a car by Richard and Dan. Wendy was kidnapped and thrown into a van by Derek and Merril.
Linda claimed to have been under surveillance by someone in a van. Vans were used for surveillance in Nighteyes.
Dan is a security and intelligence agent Derek was an FBI agent.
Dan was hospitalized for emotional trauma One of the government agents in Nighteyes was hospitalized for emotional trauma.
During the kidnapping Dan took Linda to a safe house. During the kidnapping Derek took Wendy to a safe house.
The safe house Linda visited was on the beach. In Nighteyes, one safe house was on the beach.
Before her kidnapping, Linda contacted Budd Hopkins about her abduction. Before her kidnapping, Wendy contacted Charles Edward Starr about her abduction.
Budd Hopkins is a prominent UFO abduction researcher living in New York City and an author who has written books on the topic. Charles Edward Starr was a prominent UFO abduction researcher living in New York City and an author who had written books on the topic. Linda and Dan were abducted at the same time and communicated with each other during their abductions. Wendy and Derek were abducted at the same time and communicated with each other during their abductions.
Linda thought she “knew” Richard previously. Wendy “knew” Derek previously.
Dan expressed a romantic interest in Linda Derek became romantically involved with Wendy
Dan and Richard felt considerable vibration during the close encounter. During the UFO landing in Nighteyes there was much vibration
Photographs of Linda were taken on the beach and sent to Hopkins. In Nighteyes, photographs taken on a beach played a central role.
The letter from “the third man” warned of ecological problems and potential harm to world peace if there was interference. Wendy was racing world disaster in Nighteyes. We can only wonder whether someone somewhere used this novel as the script along which to develop some part of “reality”. The answer has to be yes.
What had all the marks of becoming one of the defining UFO cases ever, turned in just another incredible UFO case. That is what it is. It was too ambitious to pull of; Butler, Stefula and Hansen were good researchers, but not exceptional. They tore the entire story apart. Hopkins, Andrus and Clarke apparently then tried to dissuade the men from continuing their research, Hopkins even “ordering” them to stop – which, if anything, made the researchers wonder in what type of reality lived, where Hopkins somehow thought he had some form of authority over another individual. In the end, the situation is one of belief. Did alien beings make a statement by abducting a woman in the centre of New York, at the same time they abducted the Secretary General, only to have the incident erased from the memory, only to be recovered under hypnosis, and relying on the skills of Hopkins – which are not very impressive – to piece them together? Or did someone manipulate Hopkins into making the proper connections, tying a mundane case of one of his abductees into a phenomenal event. This would not merely have been the first witnessed UFO abductions of this type (the Travis Walton case and others are of a different nature, in which an incident occurs and immediately, there are or are not eyewitnesses. In the case of Linda, the testimony was 15 months apart and apparently independently made); it had the Secretary General of the United States as the witness. In the knowledge of the lengths that the CIA went to to discredit Boutros-Ghali, knowing Richard and Dan were more than likely CIA agents, is it perhaps more likely they tried to put pressure on de Cuellar? Even though Hopkins apparently tried to make him talk, behind the scenes surely someone could “threaten” de Cuellar that his name would be ousted in major publications unless he did “this” or “that”? Perhaps the entire story was even payback for a decision de Cuellar had previously made, in which he managed to upset certain people… But most likely, he never upset any Grey alien…