June 1996 brought a stranger to the Gorman property. Hearing tale of the area's mysterious attributes, a tall, blonde man appeared one day, asking if he could meditate on the land. Although Tom was hesitant, the visitor's near pleading led the rancher to acquiesce. Gorman took the stranger to a clearing a mile from the house, where the man began his introspection.
In the distance, the herder became aware of an eerie cowbell resonating. The sound puzzled Tom, since none of his animals wore the crude devices. Behind a nearby copse of trees, Gorman could see something moving at a high rate of speed. Something big.
Continuing his meditation, the visitor took no notice, as a monstrous wraith, mired in what appeared to be heat waves, broke from the woods. Before Tom could warn his peaceful visitor, the enormous beast towered over the blonde man, bellowing forth a thunderous roar that shook the ground. Jarring from his reverie, the stranger scrambled backward in terror. The huge anomaly returned to the cover of trees in mere seconds. It took the rancher several minutes to calm his distraught visitor. Needless to say, the man vowed never to return to the Skinwalker Ranch.
In Tom's mind, the episode validated the immense power of what he and his family were up against. The sight of the creature looming above the meditating man also proved the forces at work may no longer be hesitant to harm humans.
Gorman's worst misgivings were justified after a group of blue, fear-inducing orbs appeared on the property one evening. Curious to see what might transpire, the rancher unleashed three of his dogs on the whirring objects. Within moments, he realized he had made a grave mistake. The spook lights proceeded to lead the canines behind a growth of trees, and systematically incinerate the animals. It was at this point Tom understood he would be putting his family in tremendous danger, should they remain on the property. Within hours, the Gormans had vacated the ranch.
Shortly, thereafter, Tom had sold his property to the National Institute for Discovery Science. Funded by Las Vegas real estate mogul, Robert Bigelow, NIDS was a collaboration of expert investigators hell-bent on probing the paranormal.
Armed with a pair of Ph.D. accredited scientists and a group of top-tier technologists from multiple disciplines, the organization headed out to the ranch to see what they could find. In the meantime, the Gorman family relocated to a diminutive farmstead 25 miles away. Tom Gorman signed on as ranch manager of the Skinwalker, in order to hopefully clarify the mystery surrounding the property.
NIDS began their tour of the ranch with an investigation of four cattle mutilations that had taken place prior to their arrival. Tom lead the team to a pair of circular cavities in the ground, he claimed were remnants of inexplicable, nocturnal aircraft.
With a full briefing of anomalous events, NIDS hashed out a course of action. For the first time, whatever enigmatic presence was inhabiting the area became the prey, as opposed to the pursuer.
Although many involved in the project argued advanced technology would be the key to success, an opposing faction concluded low-end surveillance would yield optimal results. Tom sided with the latter of the two camps, explaining the only time he got the drop on the strangeness was when he employed minimal electronic equipment.
Despite Gorman's recommendation, an extensive network of devices was deployed to ensnare enigmas not only in the UV spectrum, but also the electromagnetic, as well as the magnetic.
A pair of reconnaissance teams, armed with a multitude of surveillance equipment, were sent into the field on a nightly basis. Both squads consisted of one or two paranormal researchers and at least one scientist. An advisory board of 15 top scientific minds would fly into Las Vegas for regular debriefings from the field investigators.
Apparently, the Gormans' old ranch wasn't the only property alive with paranormal activity, although it did seem the epicenter of the bizarre disturbances. The team recorded dozens of interviews with local residents who had experienced the unexplained.
One horrific account came from a Mr. Gonsalez, who had discovered a cow, two of its legs broken, lying in a field on his property. Fearful the animal was in shock, Gonsalez raced to his ranch house, retrieving a blanket with which to keep the creature warm. When the herdsman returned five minutes later, the heifer had vanished. Cattle in the aforementioned condition can't just move on their own.
Perplexed, the rancher returned home. An hour later, Gonsalez was astounded, as he peered out his window and viewed the same cow 50 yards from her original position. This time, however, when the man examined the animal, all four of her legs were broken. Gonsalez theorized the heifer must have been lifted into an aircraft on two separate occasions, and dropped from considerable altitude. Why, then, hadn't the rancher heard nor seen the surmised flying machine? His land was flat, and provided no place for aerial vehicles to hide.
Three nights following the Gonsalez interview, NIDS would experience an enigmatic encounter of their own. On November 13th, at 1:30 AM, two crew members witnessed a brilliant, yellow light racing toward them from a nearby ridge. Emitting no sound, the luminance circled the investigators before speeding off into the darkness.
As temperatures dipped below zero, the investigative group headed for the warmer confines of Las Vegas, but remained on call. January 21, 1997 found a frenzied Tom Gorman reporting bizarre injuries to three calves, sustained during a severe snowstorm the previous evening. Conditions this drastic would have prevented predators from venturing into the open and attacking the animals, who were kept inside a closed corral. Yet, photos clearly showed a cow with a shredded ear, and another two cattle with holes poked in their eyelids.
On March 10th, Tom informed NIDS something inexplicable had dismembered a prized calf during the day, while he and Ellen were in close proximity. According to the cattleman, neither he nor his wife heard nor saw a thing.
Five hours later, three members of NIDS had flown in from Vegas and were examining the carcass of the dead beast.
Whatever killed the calf had been exceedingly powerful, able to rip the animal's leg bones from their knee sockets. Even more peculiar was the fact the creature's four severed appendages were positioned methodically around the body, itself. The internal organs of the cow were missing, and not a single drop of blood remained in, on or near the animal. NIDS' resident veterinarian determined one of the beast's ears had been sliced off by a razor-sharp instrument.
Three of Gorman's dogs, no strangers to tracking predators, had subsequently huddled in their respective kennels, refusing to come out for food or water. The fourth canine had raced off in the direction of the calf's killer, and would never be seen again.
With the partial NIDS team on site, another incident rocked the property after 11 PM, when the remaining dogs began barking maniacally. In response, Gorman and the crew jumped into the ranch manager's pickup, and raced onto the homestead. Viewing a cow in trouble, Tom aimed his vehicle at a nearby tree. That's when all four men present saw two massive, reflective eyes gazing forth from the darkness. Braking to a halt, Gorman grabbed his rifle and fired a shot at whatever awaited in the foliage some 20 feet above the ground.
<See part three for conclusion.>
© 2011. Hugh Mungus
Kelleher, Colm, Ph.D.; Knapp, George. (2005). Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah. Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN: 1416505210