By Ken Korczak
Police found the body of Laverne Landis deep in the Minnesota wilderness near Grand Marias, a small town on the North Shore of Lake Superior in the rugged Arrowhead country.
Her frozen corpse was discovered in December 1982 after four grueling weeks of searching the cold, snowy woods, according to Associated Press reports.
She was still in the front seat of her car, which had run out of gas a few hundred feet from a dirt road. The coroner determined Landis died of exposure — hypothermia, dehydration and starvation.
Landis’ boyfriend, 38-year-old electrician Gerald Flach of West St. Paul, was found semi-conscious on the famous Gunflint Trail, about 41 miles from Grand Marias. He also nearly died from exposure to the elements. He was treated for hypothermia.
While it seems strange that two people from the Twin Cities would drive to northern Minnesota just so they could die inside their cars, Gerald Flach’s explanation was even more bizarre.
What had killed Landis, and almost killed Flach was a strange, all-absorbing obsession with UFOs. They had driven to the northern woods to make contact with aliens. For Flach, this kind of behavior was hard to imagine.
According to Flach’s friends, he developed a sudden fixation with UFOs that just didn’t make sense. They described him as an intelligent, gentle man who underwent an abrupt change of personality. One day he was a normal grounded individual, the next, he was a total UFO kook, who was convinced that alien beings could communicate with him by “channeling” messages through his companion Laverne Landis.
The latest messages they received told them to go to the end of the Gun Flint Trail where they were to await further contact from aliens. Landis was so convinced that she was in touch with superior beings from outer space, she literally starved herself to death, rather than leave the frigid Minnesota wilderness without further instructions. Her boyfriend almost did the same.
Cook County Deputy Sheriff Frank Redfield said that there was no evidence of foul play in Landis’ death, and ruled her death “accidental.” No criminal charges were filed against Flach, who almost died the same way Landis did. He remains convinced that aliens — speaking through Landis — wanted them to rendezvous in the woods.
The case of Landis and Flach is a relatively rare case of a UFO encounter resulting in death. The vast majority of cases involve abductions, sightings, visitations and sometimes physical damage, but the media rarely reports incidents of lethal UFO contact.
But some UFO investigators believe that cases of UFO deaths have now become a regular aspect of UFO experience, beginning in about the late 1970s.
The case of Landis and Flach is an example of a “passive” death in association with UFO phenomenon, perhaps similar to the nutty Heaven’s Gate cult, 29 of whom killed themselves in the belief that they would wake up again inside a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp Comet.
While Landis did not commit suicide, her weird behavior certainly could be considered suicidal. Any Minnesotan is well aware of the danger of stranding oneself in a car in the dead of winter. Landis either didn’t care if she lived or died, or firmly believed she was in contact with aliens.
Even though many cases are passive, as in the Landis case, there are dozens of documented cases of “active” UFO deaths — that is, cases where UFOs literally hunt down human beings and kill them.
One of the most famous cases involve five deaths of deer hunters near the small town of Parnarama, Brazil. In this small, very poor town among the jungles of Brazil, the residents hunt every day for food, not for sport. They generally hunt at night to escape the broiling heat of the day. Also, night provides greater opportunity to spot deer in the Brazilian jungles.
In October of 1981, several nocturnal deer hunters using flashlights were suddenly accosted by a rectangular-shaped UFO that moved just above the trees. It was about the size of a refrigerator, and did not look big enough to carry even one normal sized person.
Local residents are so familiar with seeing these strange box-shaped objects they have given them a name — the Chupas. While men hunt deer, the Chupas sometimes hunt men.
The primary hunting technique in this region involves the hunter climbing 10 to 15 feet into a large tree, where they rest in a hammock while waiting for deer to come by. They use flashlights to spot game.
The local people have come to believe that the Chupas are attracted by the flashlights. When they find a man sitting in a tree, they zap them with bright beams of energy, which kills instantly. The victim is said to be left “drained of blood.”
Dozens of Brazilian night hunters report having seen or chased by Chupas. Many deaths have been officially labeled as “unknown” by Brazilian authorities, although the local people claim they are being hunted at night, just as they hunt other creatures.
Two men Parnarama men, Ribamar Ferreira and Abel Boro, were in the woods at night when they spotted a Chupas coming toward them. They quickly climbed down from their trees and began to run. But the Chupas quickly caught up with them and sent a dazzling beam of light down toward them. Ferreira was luckier because the beam hit his buddy Abel Boro more directly. He reported that his body was surrounded by a glittering glow. Terrified, Ferreira ran for it. He returned a short time later with several members of Boro’s family, only to find him extremely white and dead.
Reports of Chupas sighting and the occasional death are reported to this very day in the deep jungles of Brazil. Several American investigators have traveled to these remote sights to investigate the Chupas, but find the extreme heat and harsh conditions of the jungles difficult places to conduct meaningful investigation. Also, much of the local population is uneducated and superstitious, and thus have low credibility with sophisticated scientists.
While some of the local Brazilians think the Chupas are UFO, many others are convinced they are American military experimental craft carrying on research which requires the blood of human beings! The Brazilians reason that no one cares about or would miss remote hunters of the deep jungles, so they prey upon the population with impunity.
The Chupas are a serious enough problem to have attracted the attention of the Brazilian military, which conducted extensive investigations of Chupas activity. The Brazilian military concluded:
(1) The UFO phenomenon deserves serious objective study.
(2) All possible information and witness reports must be gathered.
(3) Further public statements about the Chupas must be avoided.
Has the UFO phenomenon turned deadly in the past 20 years? Some evidence seems to suggest so, although the majority of cases resemble that of Laverne Landis — compelling obsessions with space aliens that may have nothing at all to do with UFO, and a lot to do with human mind and its large capacity to deceive itself, even to the point of death.