Lydia Sleppy supposedly was told by the FBI  not to broadcast any information about Roswell over the the teletype (Image from the early office museum website)

Chapter 10: A Crumpled Dishpan and Tight Security

By Timothy Printy 1999

After the initial story about the Roswell Incident was released in the late 70’s a series of individuals began to come forth, who claimed to have seen the actual crashed craft and not just the debris scattered about. Their stories are fantastic and many claim to have seen alien bodies or, in some cases, actual alien beings alive mourning the loss of their own kind. Why didn’t Jesse Marcel Sr. or Mac Brazel see them? The answer, according to the pro-crash advocates, is simple. The spacecraft crashed elsewhere. The debris field was only where the spaceship skipped off the surface of the earth or exploded above the earth. In this scenario, the aliens were able to control their craft for some time until it came to it’s final resting-place. The authors of Crash at Corona hypothesize that there was a mid-air collision between two craft. This would explain why there is more than one suspected site for the crashed spaceships. So what are the stories told and do they tell a coherent tale that can be followed?

The story of the actual saucer crash jumps around but it was the comments of Lydia Sleppy, an Albuquerque Teletype operator, which sparked the idea that an actual craft could have come down. We are led to believe that Lydia was at her Teletype machine conveying a story from Johnny McBoyle, who had the big scoop on the crashed saucer story. McBoyle was calling by phone and described the object as a "big crumpled dishpan" (Berlitz and Moore 3). Despite Sleepy’s claim that McBoyle was there, none of the "crash" witnesses ever place McBoyle at the scene of the crash. As Sleppy heard the story on the phone, she began to type it out on the teletypewriter. However, she then received an interrupt signal and could not transmit. This signal read, "ATTENTION ALBUQUERQUE: DO NOT TRANSMIT. REPEAT DO NOT TRANSMIT THIS MESSAGE. STOP COMMUNICATION IMMEDIATELY" (Berlitz and Moore 16). Then Lydia states that McBoyle told her, "Forget about it. You never heard it. Look, you're not supposed to know. Don't talk about it to anyone" (Berlitz and Moore 16). Lydia’s message became more and more interesting as years went by. We find several variations to the message printed in The Roswell Incident. For instance, one book states it read, "ATTENTION ALBUQUERQUE, CEASE TRANSMISSION, REPEAT, CEASE TRANSMISSION, NATIONAL SECURITY ITEM, DO NOT TRANSMIT. STANDBY..." (Good 255). Another book adds the following line, "THIS IS THE FBI, YOU WILL CEASE TRANSMITTING" (Freedman and Berlinner 77). In her affidavit, she finally claims the message stated, "THIS IS THE FBI. YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY CEASE ALL COMMUNICATIONS" (Pflock 172). So what did the message say? Who knows? There are no records of the mystery teletype and it is hard to validate her story. McBoyle denies it occurred. Schmitt and Randle call upon Merle Tucker to produce confirmation. Tucker only recalls hearing about it that afternoon after it all had transpired and was not there when the message came out. It is interesting to note that, according to Crash at Corona, Lydia recalls Tucker being in Washington D.C. at the time of the incident! Lydia states that it was Karl Lambertz who was present and dictating. However, nobody bothered to find Lambertz as best as I can tell.

Lydia’s story has another interesting twist, when we learn about her Teletype machine. According to her, the message just started typing out and she could not transmit. However, Kal Korff points out that the Dallas field office of the FBI found out that the Teletype used by Sleppy had a transmit-receive switch. Her description of the message just printing out is not exactly correct. She had to change the switch position to receive. Kal also states the FBI had no files on Lydia Sleppy, which indicates they were not monitoring her communications.

Finally, one must note that Lydia claims that McBoyle was not exactly at the crash site but apparently was only passing information he had learned from Mac Brazel. According to her, the "crumpled dishpan" was at the Foster Ranch. This is not true as demonstrated by Marcel’s, Cavitt’s, and the Brazel’s testimony. Lydia’s tale is one of memories lost and a story that does not sound quite right. Lydia’s shifting message content takes on the specter of a growing myth and may not have happened at all.

Lydia’s claims about the FBI being concerned about security is part of the Roswell tale.  However, she is not the only person who claims there was concerns about security regarding the Roswell incident. Randle and Schmitt continuously point out to the reader that the military set up check points up and down route 285. This may seem odd since Marcel never mentioned such measures when he made his trip on the 7th. Certainly, if such measures were in place, he would have mentioned it. Many of the witnesses claim that these security precautions were in place BEFORE the 7th to protect the crashed saucer, which supposedly crashed around the 4th.

In 1997, the USAF issued another report on Roswell, which addressed several key points about alien bodies and tight security requirements. They point out that in the mid-1950s, the USAF conducted "dummy" drops from high altitude balloons to the west of Roswell. They often-barricaded side roads off for landing small spotter aircraft and C-47's used in the program. In addition, the recovery teams were positioned north and south of Roswell on the only major north-south road in the area (Rte 285) to be in position to recover the dummy drops.

Example of prepositioned vehicle for "dummy" drops. (HQ USAF)

These pre-positioned vehicles could have been misinterpreted as blocking side roads. The counter argument is that the "dummy drops" were a decade too late. However, as we will see, many of the witnesses tend to fabricate or forget what year it was they saw such events. Forty years is a long time and memories tend to fade and blur together. It is not beyond reason to think that the memory of such an event could be linked to questions about security north of Roswell by eager investigators. A perfect example of this is a statement made by Jud Roberts concerning security,

If it was a weather balloon, what were they doing with all these little BLUE (My Emphasis) cars from security running around and keeping anybody from getting out. All you had to do was go out there and you found out that everything was blocked off. (Shawcross 125-126)

Note the term BLUE cars. In July 1947 the Air Force was still part of the US Army. All their vehicles were painted standard army colors (olive drab is what I believe it is called). They did not start painting their vehicles blue until years later.

The stories of crashed discs go beyond Lydia’s Teletype message. There are witnesses who claim to have actually seen the spaceship and bodies. Their tales indicate crashes in numerous places. The first "crash site" is far away from the Foster Ranch in the direction of the Plains of San Agustin in the western half of New Mexico.

Works Cited

Berlitz, Charles and William Moore. The Roswell Incident. New York: Berkley, 1988

Friedman, Stanton and Don Berlinner. Crash at Corona. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1997

Good, Timothy. Above Top Secret: The World Wide Cover-up of UFOs. New York: William Morrow & Co. Inc., 1988

HQ USAF. The Roswell Report: Case Closed. Washington: D.C., US Government, 1997

Pflock, Karl. Roswell in Perspective. Mt. Rainier: Fund for UFO Research, 1995

Shawcross, Tim. The Roswell File. Osceola: Motorbooks International, 1997


Chapter 11 - The Wild West

Back to Roswell 4F: Fabrications, Fumbled Facts, and Fables index

Return to Roswell: The UFO case that keeps on giving