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  The North Newark UFO Case:
Anatomy of a Journalistic Investigation
The MUFON Investigation

"The case is interesting," says George Filer, the New Jersey State Director for MUFON, "because of the confirmed damaged to the oak tree and the numerous ham radio operators listening in at the time of the incident. A similar sighting took place on November 16, 1993, when a 30-foot disc-shaped craft passed to the north of Newark Airport. Our files show 25 UFO sightings in the Newark area since 1950."

Filer and a team of investigators that included two physicians visited John Gonzalez on April 21, 1994. "We took photographs, video taped and interviewed the witnesses," notes Filer. "We inspected John's home and backyard. He has a room at the back of his home packed with his computer, radio gear, scanners and other equipment. We saw one of the remaining branches that had fallen from the tree. The Geiger counter readings on the branches and yard were within normal limits. However, it's normal for radiation to dissipate after a month. Our magnetic field locator that is designed to locate magnetic lines of flux was unable to uncover any abnormal readings in the area. John's rooftop wireless antenna was knocked off center and bent slightly west towards the tree.

"It is apparent from talking with John and his neighbors that on the night of March 5 there were serious electrical current fluctuations in the area. Witnesses agree that the lights went off and on, light bulbs blew out, and appliances such as televisions, radio, ham and computer equipment were affected, or stopped entirely. One neighbor, A.M., indicated her lights went out at about 10:30 P.M. She saw very bright lights outside, but did not see a craft. Then she heard sound like rain. This was probably branches falling on the roof. She thought it was the beginning of a thunderstorm. But the weather report indicates it was clear and cold. Her TV picture was out for 30 minutes. All those interviewed claim that police and fire departments came immediately and most of the witnesses felt the ground shake and thought there might have been an earthquake. We know of cases in Williamstown, New Jersey and Williamsport, Pennsylvania where UFOs caused houses to shake and electrical power to be disrupted."

An engineer from Public State Gas and Electric (PSE&G) told Filer that he thought the trouble in Newark was probably due to an overload rather than a low-voltage condition. Filer also contacted the Lamont-Dougherty Geological Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., and was told by a seismologist that there had been no earthquakes of any kind in the Newark area on that date. He also checked with the Newark Office of Emergency Management, formerly Civil Defense, and was told they had no log entries for that evening. There were no reports of UFOs in the local newspapers.

A chemist at a Massachusetts laboratory analyzed the broken tree branches and told Filer that the beta radiation was slightly above background, but that this could have come from any source and not necessarily a UFO. The lab also analyzed a strange ash-like sphere that Filer's investigative team had found in Gonzalez's back yard. It was about the size of a golf ball, had the consistency of soft chalk, and had an outer shell measuring about one-quarter of an inch thick. The lab told Filer that the ash was an unusual fungus.

"It appears something happened," Filer concludes, "but we have no proof it was a craft. We couldn't get any of the other witnesses to support Gonzalez's story that there was a UFO, though they did support the story that there was a light out there and that effects to their electrical systems occurred. This, in the past, has been an indication of UFOs in the area. There are some conflicting statements. One of the things I've noticed with witnesses is that they have a tendency to pull in data that they think supports their case but actually has nothing to do with it. So all the activity in the area may not be relevant to the case. "

A MUFON investigator who wishes to remain anonymous learned from PSE&G that the damage to an electrical pole a few blocks away from the Gonzalez home was caused by a cement truck on March 7 or 8--a few days after the Gonzalez "UFO" incident. This investigator concludes: "Maybe something happened that night, but that's the only thing I've been able to come up with. What I think we have here is a man with so much time on his hands and who wants to believe in UFOs so much that he's let his imagination run away with him. If he did see a nuts-and-bolts craft, I don't see the evidence for that."

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