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Evan Mannweiler | Weekend

Take him to your leader

'This is what it feels like to be dead'

Updated with an overview of local UFO activity

Twenty-three-year-old Debbie Kauble had just arrived at her friend’s house one evening when she received a panicked phone call from her mother telling her to come home immediately.

Kauble had noticed a strange light out by the pump house before leaving the home on Indianapolis’ southeast side that she shared with her parents and two children. But the light was gone by the time she walked outside to leave, and though she noticed the garage door open, she had dismissed it.

Returning home, Kauble walked out to the garage to investigate. Armed with a shotgun, she found the family dog cowering under a truck. The shotgun wasn’t loaded, but Kauble was relying on appearances.

The garage was empty, and Kauble was about to turn back when suddenly her body temperature sky-rocketed.

Confused and uncomfortable, she started in the direction of the door when something thudded into her chest. Frozen, Kauble dropped the gun as an intensely bright light enveloped her and her entire body started to vibrate.

The Taken

That was June 30, 1983, a date that remains burned into Kauble’s mind.

Though it was one of the most recent extraterrestrial experiences that she’d had, the event unleashed a flood of memories, dreams and incidents that slowly trickled back into her consciousness.

Kauble is the first one to beat the skeptics in saying many of her experiences might be nothing more than dreams; however, the events of that night are fact she said.

Whatever hit her in the chest in the garage Kauble can only describe as “a bolt of lightning.” Standing in the blinding light, Kauble said it felt like an existential experience. 

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is what it feels like to be dead,’” she said.

The light stopped after a moment, but Kauble still couldn’t move. Then something yanked her right shoulder, and she felt a “hot poker” stuck into her ear. A voice from someone she could not see remarked on how unfortunate it was that she had felt pain.

Kauble’s vision was still popping from the light, though she could dimly make out six child-like figures running around in the yard. Out of the corner of her left eye, Kauble could see a white egg-shaped object and a white ball of light moving slowly up and down.

“I didn’t want to look at it, but I didn’t want to not know where it was,” she said.

The next thing Kauble remembers is standing on the patio and hearing her mother call her name. She had completely forgotten everything that had just occurred, but the next morning she woke up with her eyes swollen shut. A run to the emergency room referred them to the ophthalmologist’s office across the street, where the doctor informed Kauble her corneas had been severely burned.

For months following the incident, Kauble was a wreck. Her hair thinned, her gums bled, rashes broke out, she ran fevers for no reason and developed life-threatening allergies. Her dog ended up losing all of her hair too, and died within a couple months.

“I always connected, in my mind, whatever happened to me that night to her dying,” she said.

It wasn’t until an eight-foot-wide, perfectly round mark appeared in the backyard that the memory of that night, along with countless other experiences, started to beat down the door of Kauble’s subconsciousness.

“From that point on, when I looked at that mark in the yard, I started remembering things years earlier that I had blocked out,” she said.

The Experts

Kauble, who now lives in Kokomo, eventually got in touch with UFO researcher and author Budd Hopkins, who flew her to New York and put her through every test imaginable: EEGs, CAT scans, lie detector tests, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy.

“I was just like, ‘Just give me a pill. Tell me I’m crazy. It’ll be alright, I can deal with that,’” Kauble said.

But Hopkins never delivered that verdict.

In fact, there was no logical reasoning offered to Kauble. Common explanations like childhood trauma and sleep paralysis were never even mentioned. The researchers’ only diagnosis was post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jerry Sievers, director of the Indiana chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, said Kauble’s case was one for the books. Indeed, several books were written about Kauble as well as her mother and sister, who started uncovering similar experiences in their pasts. Hopkins wrote the first book on Kauble, titled “Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods.”

Sievers was one of the first researchers to work on Kauble’s case and said that there needs to be an explanation to these stories, no matter what you believe. “I saw a need to help these people cope with whatever this is,” Sievers said. “Whether you attribute this to extraterrestrials, which a lot of them do, these people want to tell their story.”

Sievers has been involved with UFO and extraterrestrial phenomena since high school, eventually working his way up through the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena as a field investigator, then switching over to MUFON. He said early fall is one of the peak times for UFO sightings.

“Very few are hoaxes that we’ve worked on – less than 1 percent,” Siever said. “As far as all of them being extraterrestrial, I don’t believe that. Eighty-five percent of what’s reported is just lights in the sky.”

Thomas Bullard, who works in technical services at the Herman B Wells Library and has a Ph.D. in folklore from IU, studies abduction phenomena. Though he’s devoted the majority of his life to extraterrestrial research, he said the only evidence they have are stories like Kauble’s.

“When you have to depend on anecdotal evidence, you’re never going to get anything that’s very convincing to science,” Bullard said. “You’re not going to get anything that’s really very reliable for the most part. Even the most rabid ufologists have realized all along that, at most, 20 percent of the reports might be something genuine. Most reports come from honest people who have just mistaken what they’ve seen in the sky.”

Others, Bullard said, suffer from sleep paralysis, a condition where a person is half-awake but essentially still dreaming. As a result, the dreams take on a more physical dimension, with the sleeper feeling physical pressure, smelling odors and inventing other experiences.”

“The two hemispheres of the brain are usually in sync, but they can get out of sync, and one recognizes the other hemisphere as an external presence,” Bullard said. “Sometimes you get this thoroughly hallucinatory experience.”

The Hybrid

Bullard is familiar with Kauble’s story because of how long her abductions went on and also because a rather unusual story eventually unraveled once she was placed under hypnosis.

Kauble found out she was pregnant after one of her experiences and naturally assumed her fiancee was the father. But when her doctor estimated the due date, Kauble noticed something wrong.

“I’m doing the math, and it doesn’t add up,” she said. “I told him, ‘What you’re telling me is not possible. It’s too far back.’”

But since there was no other logical explanation, she forgot about it until she woke up a few months later feeling strange. She had yet another experience again while baby-sitting her sister’s children. Falling asleep to Bob Newhart, Kauble felt a soft touch on her back that startled her, then put her to sleep instantly. She woke up in her niece’s bed.

“I couldn’t shake this weird feeling that something was wrong,” she said.

Another doctor’s visit informed her that the fetus was gone. Although doctors told her incidents like this are somewhat common, Kauble said years later in her dreams aliens introduced her to her daughter – who was half-human, half-alien.

“You can draw your own conclusions,” Kauble said. “I know I was pregnant, but I still consider the dreams as dreams.”

Kauble had several incidents with the hybrid child, including one at her apartment in broad daylight. Sitting on her patio, Kauble noticed a pair of feet under the fence around her yard and was shocked to see a young girl with white hair and an enormous, blue eye through the slats. The girl disappeared before Kauble could get closer.

“I always felt in my mind that that was her,” she said. “But I can’t prove it.”
It’s been about 10 years since Kauble’s last experience, but others are still reporting events and strange sightings every day.

“There is something uncommon about these stories in the sense that they seem to be coherent,” Bullard said. “People who don’t really know anything about the subject tend to tell the same sort of story. People who go to different investigators with different agendas and different approaches still manage to tell the same sort of story.”

Although Bullard believes there is something underlying these incidents, he acknowledged that hard evidence of extraterrestrials is lacking.

“Nothing has ever turned up that is utterly out of this world,” he said. “It doesn’t have ‘made on Mars’ written on it; it’s not some alloy that we know nothing about or anything like that. We don’t have any videotapes, security tapes of alien press gangs going out to get their nightly quota of abductees.”

The Activity:

Kauble's case isn't exactly recent, especially since it's been nearly a decade since her last experience. But there have been several other alleged extraterrestrial incidents around the state in the past year, and though their causes have mostly been ruled conventional, some people aren't buying it.

In Bedford last September, residents were baffled at the site of three bowl-shaped crop circles that had appeared overnight in a private field. Though their appearance was eventually attributed to a downdraft of wind, the sight was enough to keep passing motorists blowing up the police switchboard.

"This type of grass is easy to do that with," Bedford police dispatcher Mark Duncan said. "It was some kind of hay, really thin. It doesn't take much for the wind to drop it straight down."

Some of the indentations were over 100 yards in diameter, Duncan said. But since the crop circles were far from perfect -- oblong and "randomly done" -- the alien factor wasn't a serious consideration.

Kokomo experienced a burst of strange aerial activity in April 2008, as a sound like an explosion rocked the town one night. Witnesses described seven to nine lights jetting across the sky as one formation. Following the boom, witnesses reported thinking a plane had crashed.

Kauble had been working as a field agent for MUFON at the time, and began investigating. She downloaded over six hours of police scanner recordings, which included traffic indicating the police thought a plane had crashed, too. Kauble said reports from officers about the supposed plane crash could be heard on the scanner, saying things like, "We have an aircraft down" and "I am at the only known debris field."

Kauble also gathered evidence from witnesses in the area, who reported seeing multiple military vehicles tearing into the area of the alleged crash site, gouges in the fields, scorched cornstalks, and ripped up roads.

"People were reporting multiple lights in the sky, a large disc-shaped craft with rotating, red lights around it, as well as an acrid smell of burning metal in the air," Kauble wrote in an article for paranormal magazine The White Crow. "We also had reports of an octagon-shaped craft with blue lights around the edges, that tipped up on its edge immediately before shooting off into the night sky. This is identical to reports coming out of Stephenville, Texas within daysof the Kokomo Boom incident, if not hours. Several people, including me, reported an intense, bright, yellowish flash immediately before the explosion. There were eyewitness reports of debris burning and falling from the sky immediately after the explosion. There were even a couple of unrelated individuals that reported seeing a damaged saucer-shaped craft attempting to leave the area, being chased by F-16s."

The Indiana National Guard initially denied being in the air that night, but later recanted and issued a statement taking responsibility for the disturbance, saying there were pilots training in the area when they shouldn't have been.

But neither Kauble and Sievers believe it. Sievers said his radar evidence absolutely disproves the National Guard's story; there were UFOs on his radar that night that were separate from the F-16s.

"There's more to that story than what they're saying," Kauble said.

The event was featured on both The History Channel and the Discovery Channel. Both Kauble and Sievers both believe something more happened that night, but whether it was of alien origin is a different story. Bullard said just because something is "unidentified" doesn't necessarily mean it's from another planet.

"Does it confirm space visitors?" he said. "Well, that's pretty hard to say."

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