Navajo Task Force investigates the paranormalPosted: Updated:
With this story, keep in mind that we really do tell it like it is -- even when it is hard to believe.
There is a law enforcement agency in Arizona that actually welcomes claims of the paranormal -- ghosts, witchcraft, UFOs and even Bigfoot.
CBS 5 News obtained dozens of photos and case files from strange scenes and sightings in northeastern Arizona.
Most police won't take reports like this. But about 10 years ago, officials on the Navajo Reservation decided to stop the snickering, to treat these witnesses with respect and thoroughly investigate.
Only one agency -- the Navajo Nation Rangers -- stepped up to the plate. For the first time ever, they are sharing their documents exclusively with CBS 5 News.
Retired Lt. John Dover explains that Navajo Nation Rangers are a federal law enforcement resource. They manage national parks, archaeological sites, fish and wildlife services and more as officers of the law.
Dover spent 31 years in police work -- the last 10 included claims of the paranormal.
"Haunted locations and things going bump in the night," he said. "Objects appearing out of the air and dropping onto the floors, objects flying across rooms, ceramic vessels exploding and then we got involved in UFO investigations."
In one of the most solid cases, a mother and daughter describe a mass of lights floating over uninhabited reservation land in January. As they watched, the lights blinked out after a few seconds, followed by a sonic boom, a black domed craft and the entire town of Chinle losing power.
Their drawings are strikingly vivid -- blue, orange and white colors stand out against a dark landscape.
There are also reports of Bigfoot. The hairy creature is most often associated with the Pacific Northwest. However, both the Apache and Navajo tribes say they've got Sasquatch too.
One case Dover investigated had 30 witnesses. "We came out with physical evidence," he said. "Hair samples, footprints, stride distances, logs that had been pulled out of the bog area and removed -- normal people wouldn't have been able to do that."
Here in Arizona, so-called paranormal activity is abundant, but serious investigation is not. Just ask Jim Mann, state director of the research organization MUFON.
Mann told CBS 5 News, "Tribal lands are filled with Native American legends and folklore and we know those people take the UFO phenomenon very seriously."
Mann said partnering with the Rangers is a huge step forward for the field of paranormal research. "It's always been the history that unfortunately the news media has sort of rolled their eyes at us and snickered at us," he said. "We have to grow up and realize this phenomena is really happening and we have to get over the giggle factor."
Dover says 10 years of investigations have revealed a wealth of information. Witnesses are comfortable speaking with officers who promise to be thorough and protect their anonymity. "Maybe we don't believe it," he said. "Maybe we don't hold every belief that you do, but we're going to investigate it rather meticulously and professionally. We'll report it and let the chips fall where they will."
More often than not, Dover said those chips fall on the side of truth. "Their testimony would be accepted in a court of law. The confidence level is high," he said. "We've seen them ourselves on occasion. We've seen cigar-shaped craft flying low, we've seen orbs. I had one follow me for about 30 minutes one time."
Dover retired from the Rangers last year but still consults unofficially on the side. The Rangers continue to take paranormal reports. "The cases are coming from people that are just normal people who were very afraid -- something unusual was happening to them," he said. "They didn't know what was going on, they didn't know if it was military, something supernatural, if it was witchcraft. They wanted answers and they wanted to know that somebody cared enough about them to find those answers for them."
You can meet Dover on March 11. That Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Harkins Shea 14 Theatre, Dover and other guests will attend a screening of the documentary The Phoenix Lights. They will take questions from the audience along with filmmaker and witness Dr. Lynne Kitei. For more information on the film and their appearance, click here.
Sound off below- tell us about your paranormal experience or why you think it's just not real!
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