In Episode #5 of Season Three of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, Jesse and the crew take on what the narrator refers to as “the most far out conspiracy yet- a cover up of an extraterrestrial invasion”- the so-called “Skinwalker Conspiracy.”
In conspiracy theory culture, multiple theories exist suggesting that, not only do aliens from another world exist and visit us, but that they might be in contact and collaborating with the U.S. government. Some theories even go as far as to suggest that aliens are actually stationed here on Earth, living in secret with the government’s aid and approval.
The so-called “Skinwalker Conspiracy” alleges that such high-level collaboration between our government and alien species from other worlds is a reality. The theory is named after the Skinwalker Ranch, a location in Utah with a history of paranormal phenomena and possible UFO interaction. “Skinwalker” is a term from Native American culture to describe supernatural entities that have the ability to shape-shift, and many believe the origin of their myth is rooted in real-life experiences Native Americans have had with aliens and UFO’s.
According to the show’s narrator, the ranch was bought in 1996 by billionaire aerospace magnate Robert Bigelow, after the previous owners were allegedly driven away from the property by the paranormal events they encountered on a regular basis. Believers in the “Skinwalker Conspiracy” think Bigelow bought the ranch to investigate these paranormal phenomena, and that he might be in contact with alien entities, seeking his own answers to the UFO mystery and possibly trying to unlock the secrets of their advanced technology.
The team’s investigation begins with Jesse meeting Robert Regehr, a believer in the Skinwalker Conspiracy, and retired scientist who worked with NASA on the Apollo moon missions and the Skylab Space Station. “I get a lot of calls from a lot of people that want me to investigate conspiracies. This one was different from the start. This guy said he had a conspiracy that is out of this world,” says Jesse, in a voice-over. Regehr explains to Jesse that with NASA losing its heavy-launch capability to send craft into space, that “just like the Oklahoma land rush, there’s a lot of civilians moving in to take over the void left by NASA.” Jesse seems concerned with this move to privatization. “Fat-cat corporate suits… they’re already making billions in salaries, and now they’re finding a new way to keep us under control- from above,” says Jesse, ominously. Regehr points out further concerns with having such operations privatized. “I’m concerned that they’re going to start doing a lot of things that were before constrained by international treaties.” When Jesse asks if these private companies would have the ability to weaponize space, Regehr confirms Jesse’s fears. “The conspiracy is that there’s a large consortium of corporations that make Wall Street look like children. Think Blackwater, KBR, Halliburton” explains Regehr. Jesse seems rather unnerved by the proposition. “These guys could be spying on us, shooting at us, enslaving us from outer space. Heck, they could be colluding with aliens from space- I wouldn’t put it past them,” says Jesse, in a voice-over. “Wild, Wild West all over again,” Regehr confirms.
Jesse heads back to headquarters and gathers his team together to talk Skinwalkers. “Alright people, this one’s a big one. This person told me that NASA, our space program, is basically being shut down and it’s being turned over to private enterprise.” Tyrel Ventura, Jesse’s son and investigative team member doesn’t like the sound of it. “Now we’re going to turn space over to these kind of people?” Jesse’s advisor, Braverman, explains that the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which is overseen by the U.S. State Department, allows only one exception to its ban on private companies exporting weapons and munitions into space- Robert Bigelow and Bigelow Aerospace. “He can legitimately take weapons into space and he’s the only one that’s allowed?” asks a stunned Jesse. “Now you have to ask why, he, out of all them, has an exception? And what’s the end game?” wonders Braverman. “I think, people, we better get on this. Let’s find out everything we can about this Mr. Bigelow and go from there,” says Jesse.
Tyrel heads out to meet with Don Ecker, former research director for UFO Magazine and a paranormal expert. Ecker explains that Bigelow, a Las Vegas native, is a multi-billionaire and former owner of the Budget Suites hotel chain and still owner of Bigelow Aerospace. According to Ecker, as of 2010, public records show that Bigelow has invested over $180 million into Bigelow Aerospace. “To me, he sounds like a new millennium Howard Hughes,” observes Tyrel. “There is no doubt he has a dedicated approach to getting into outer space,” believes Ecker.
Ecker details Bigelow’s long history with UFO research, originally spurred on by an incident his grandparents experienced with a UFO close encounter outside of Las Vegas. Ecker also points out that, long before he invested in aerospace, Bigelow founded an organization called NIDS (National Institute for Discovery Science) to investigate the UFO phenomenon. “Do you know exactly what he was looking for?” asks Tyrel. “Utlimately, proof of extraterrestrial contact,” says Ecker. Ecker explains that Bigelow and his team spent eight years searching for alien contact at the ranch, but then mysteriously stopped research in 2004. “All the evidence, all the data that’s been collected, has been locked away by Mr. Bigelow,” says Ecker.
Meanwhile, team member and son of filmmaker Oliver Stone, Sean Stone, meets with nuclear physicist and ufologist Dr. Franklin Ruehl, whom the team also consulted on the “Time Travel Conspiracy” episode from earlier in Season Three. According to the narrator, Ruehl has followed up on every UFO sighting and close encounter of the last 20 years. “Robert Bigelow knows something the rest of us don’t, and it’s vitally important, Sean,” explains Dr. Ruehl. Ruehl cites an interesting interview with Bigelow from the New York Times in June 2010, in which Bigelow, when asked about UFO’s, stated that “People have been killed. People have been hurt.” “Wait, what do you mean people have been killed?” asks Sean. Ruehl explains that Dr. Jack Sarfatti, a theoretical physicist and consciousness researcher, was told by reliable sources that there as an invasion of aliens on Skinwalker Ranch, and that a number of Bigelow’s men were killed or injured by aliens. “What they had on that ranch was like the movie ‘Cowboys and Aliens’,” believes Ruehl.
However, when asked later about his mysterious quote about people dying and being injured by UFO’s, Bigelow claims he was referring to the Colares, Brazil incident from 1977, not anything that happened at Skinwalker Ranch. The Colares incident was an alleged UFO sighting and attack on the island of Colares in Brazil, during which radiation beams fired by the UFO’s injured or killed up to 35 people. Dr. Ruehl also cites an entry on the NIDS website from 2001 in which Bigelow stated that they wanted to develop the same technology as “our UFO friends.” “That is the question- did they actually provide him with technology?” asks Ruehl. “It’s a scary and dangerous place, but the key is the Skinwalker Ranch.”
Sean and Tyrel return to headquarters to report their findings to Jesse. “Well, I tell you what, I don’t want two eyes up at this Skinwalker Ranch, I want four, which means I want you both to go,” instructs Jesse. Tyrel and Sean then head out to meet up with Zach Van Eyck, who the narrator describes as the individual who wrote the first stories to reach the public about the Skinwalker Ranch. Van Eyck relates a story of a sighting he experienced near the ranch in which openings in the sky appeared, and unusual craft came flying out of them. “Like a portal?” Sean asks, as Tyrel shakes his head in disbelief. The narrator suggests that it was Van Eyck’s article that inspired Bigelow to buy the ranch. The guys ask if Van Eyck knows of any encounters Bigelow and his team have experienced since owning the ranch. “We’ll never really know, because Bob Bigelow owns the property and controls all the information, in and out,” says Van Eyck. “My recommendation to you guys you have to go on a very dark night.”
Next, Tyrel and Sean meet with paranormal researcher, Christopher O’Brien, for further insight into Skinwalker Ranch and the phenomena occurring there. “Every type of paranormal event you could possibly imagine at some time has been reported here.” Tyrel asks O’Brien if anyone has ever been killed at the ranch, and O’Brien claims that he has heard from several reliable sources that there was an incident at the ranch and that some guards were killed by “something.” “By aliens?” asks Tyrel. “That would be the logical, you know, lead,” believes O’Brien. O’Brien also contends that Bigelow’s agenda is to collect as much scientific data as he can to “give his scientific team a leg up when designing advanced propulsion systems” via reverse engineering. When Tyrel asks O’Brien if he would be willing to join them on a stakeout of Skinwalker Ranch that evening, O’Brien refuses. “No, I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to be around trigger-happy ex-military guys.”
However, Skinwalker Ranch expert Ryan Skinner has agreed to join the guys on their stakeout. “It’s one of the most scariest places on earth. I’ve been doing this for five years, and each time I’ve had a close encounter occur here at the ranch,” explains Skinner. The ranch is under constant guard and surveillance, so the guys have to tread carefully. “Let’s take a look, see how far we can make it around the perimeter,” says Sean, who proceeds to jump the fence. “Is he in danger right now?” Tyrel asks Skinner. Skinner concurs. “There are armed guards out there man! Hey Sean, get back here man!” yells Tyrel. Suddenly, Sean turns, runs back and hops back over the fence. “It’s weird. I’m getting a tingling sensation in my muscle. Right here, right here in the thigh,” says Sean. “It felt like something electromagnetically attacked me, and that’s when I ran back.”
Meanwhile, team member June Sarpong meets with Las Vegas Sun business reporter Richard Velotta to discuss the activities of Bigelow Aerospace. Velotta tells June about the space habitats Bigelow Aerospace is producing, where people can live and work in space , which can then be connected together to form a space station. “So, if all of these are attached and keep growing, it will essentially be a city,” observes June. “It’ll be a city in space,” says Velotta. “Started by a private individual,” June replies. Velotta then tells June that in 2007 and 2009 Bigelow launched two such crafts from Russia, called Genesis 1 and 2, which are the only private spacecraft currently orbiting Earth. “They’re doing something,” says June. “Yes, they’re doing something, but I can’t tell you what that something would be,” says Velotta.
With the rest of his team out in the field on assignment, Jesse meets with UFO investigator Elaine Douglass to gather more information about Bigelow’s relationship to MUFON and UFO research, in general. “MUFON’s job is to be absolutely transparent and make all the information available to the public. Robert Bigelow seems to have a different agenda. His agenda seems to be to get the information for himself and his quote ‘unseen backers’,” says Douglass. “’Unseen backers’ is what Mr. Bigelow told the MUFON board he had when he offered them $760,000 for a one year contract. When all this started happening, MUFON suddenly jumped up and said ‘these investigations are secret’. Although in the whole history of MUFON, we’ve always been completely open about it.” Bigelow would soon replace MUFO N investigators with his own team, possibly, according to Douglass, to recover craft and gather evidence before anybody else can. Also, his investigators are allegedly sworn to secrecy. “Any evidence that aliens made contact is locked away. The only people with access are Bigelow and his cronies,” says Jesse, in a voice-over. “Is there a possibility that these secret backers could be extraterrestrials?” he asks Douglass.
“Back at Skinwalker Ranch, things really do begin to happen after dark,” says the narrator. While setting up their gear for the night time stakeout, the crew experiences strange technical difficulties. “Something electronic is clouding your signal,” says one of the crew members to Tyrel. Apparently, the camera also is having problems, due to a drained battery.
As Sean, Tyrel, and Ryan Skinner drive to another location around the ranch, the radio in the car starts acting strange, spouting out weird robotic-like voice distortions. “Is it a hidden message, or a threat?” asks the narrator. The subtitles of the strange sounds decipher them as threatening phrases, such as “true evil” and “get off.” Then the voices from the radio apparently start saying “evil, so evil.” Now out of the car, Skinwalker researcher Ryan Skinner leads them to another “hotspot” on the ranch. He then describes an event he witnessed where he and other observers spotted eight spheres of pulsating light, with three eventually breaking away from the pack, heading toward Skinner and the rest of the group. Then, Sean interrupts Skinner’s story. “Hold on a second,” he says, asking for silence. “What you got Sean? What are you doing?” asks Tyrel. “Inviting the spirits to come out,” explains Sean. According to the narrator “Sean’s ritual paid off. Within minutes a light appears in the sky- it’s a UFO.” Skinner, armed with a laser pointer, points out the strange, glowing object in the sky. “Whoa, there it is!” exclaims Sean. The bright light hovers, makes a sharp turn, darts across the heavens, disappears for a moment, then reappears. “It’s flashing us back,” says Sean. “I just saw it- it’s leaving a long trail. I just saw it with my own eyes,” Tyrel confirms.
Shaken up by what they’ve seen at the ranch, Tyrel and Sean report back to Jesse. “You saw what?” asks Jesse. “I can’t say what I saw, I don’t know what I saw,” says Tyrel. “Hold on- did you report this? Because you’re supposed to report UFO sightings to the government,” says Jesse. “We did, and they told us to contact Robert Bigelow at Bigelow Advanced Space Studies Group,” says Sean. Jesse and the crew are stunned by Sean’s discovery. “Contact Robert Bigelow? It’s another sign he’s trapping the truth, controlling information,” says Jesse. “At what point did Bigelow become in charge?” he wonders. The narrator answers, pointing to a FAA directive from February 11, 2010, instructing the FAA to refer all UFO reports to the Bigelow Advanced Space Studies Group. “I think it’s about time that Mr. Bigelow and Jesse Ventura have a face to face. Let’s find this guy people,” orders Jesse.
Jesse and the crew then head over to a Bigelow Aerospace factory, also located in Nevada. When the team approaches the building, they notice a strange logo on its façade- a Grey-like alien head. Jesse then leads the team to the main entrance, where they encounter guards who are also sporting the alien head logo on their hats. Jesse then asks one of the guards if there are aliens on the property, and the guard replies mysteriously, saying “I’m not able to answer any questions about what may or may not be on Mr. Bigelow’s property. That would have to be routed through corporate, sir.” Jesse’s frustrated by the corporate stonewalling. “Yeah, we already ran it through corporate- no go! But then we got a tip on where we might find him.”
“Make sure you hit him on the UFO question, this is very important,” Sean says to Jesse, as he prepares for his confrontation with Bigelow. “And what I want to find out, too, is why is I the government defers to him,” replies Jesse. “Is there a corporate takeover of UFO’s too?” Jesse and the team have tracked down Bigelow at a meeting with the “aerospace elite” in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Jesse spots Bigelow as he’s coming out of a conference room, introduces himself as Governor Ventura, and begins his line of questioning. “I heard that whenever there’s a UFO sighting, they defer to you, the government. Is that true?” he asks. “It’s a passion I’ve had for a lot of years. I have a company that is referred in the FAA manuals, that we’re supposed to receive a phone call,” explains Bigelow. When Jesse asks how that happened, Bigelow replies with a laugh and says “that’s a long story.” Bigelow’s people then hustle him away, but Sean is able to catch up with him a few minutes later and continues to ask him about UFO’s. “Years ago, I had to make a decision that it was probably best that we not talk too much,” explains Bigelow. Sean then asks him if he believes in UFO’s, and Bigelow doesn’t shy away. “Most folks have somebody in their family that has seen something very strange, that was anomalous. So, yes, I do believe that there is enough evidence, enough proof, that a prosaic explanation doesn’t cover the phenomenon.” When Sean asks about the “UFO friends” posting from the NIDS website, Bigelow denies that he ever said that or intended to say that. “Would you ever consider putting together some sort of dossier or document based on all the investigation you’ve done over the years?” asks Sean. “Right now is not the right time for that, and I don’t see that on the horizon,” states Bigelow.
After their encounters with Bigelow, Jesse seeks out the expertise of his old friend, conspiracy theorist and alternative media mogul, Alex Jones. “Governor, Bigelow is an unwitting front man,” explains Jones. “The guy who’s really behind this is Col. John B. Alexander. This guy headed-up Special Forces in Vietnam, he brought the occult into the Pentagon in the 60, 70’s, and 80’s.” The narrator adds that Alexander was part of the “First Earth Battalion,” a “new age military project that tried to develop a super soldier who could walk through walls,” which served as part of the inspiration for the book and film “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” “Governor, it is insane when you start researching this,” says Jones. “The head guy who ran Black Ops was at the genesis of this setup? What is he really doing in orbit? This is literally, the rabbit hole, right here. Something’s going on.” Jones goes on to warn Jesse that Alexander “is probably one of the most scary, living people out there today. He’s the real deal, so watch it. He’s one scary son-of-a-bitch.”
According to the narrator, Alexander moved to Nevada in the 1990’s to work for Bigelow on his UFO hunt. The narrator also states that “Alexander also led a top secret study into the government files. The study concluded that UFO’s are not only real, but are controlled by superior intelligence.” As Jesse and Alexander sit down in Las Vegas, Alexander denies he still works for Bigelow, but informs Jesse that Bigelow had called him to let him know about Jesse’s efforts to track him down at the aerospace meeting. First, Jesse asks Alexander about the connection between the FAA and Bigelow in relation to UFO reporting. “Well, I’m the guy who set that up,” says Alexander. “That was easy- he admits he’s the connection. I wonder what else he’s connected to,” wonders Jesse, in a voice-over. “Some conspiracy theorists passionately believe that we have contact with alien life forms, and that they’re passing to us technology that we’re now using, that they term ‘reverse engineering’. What do you say to that?” asks Jesse. “******** (Bullshit),” says Alexander. “Because I think your ******** (bullshit) filters just don’t work.” Jesse, however, doesn’t buy it. “B.S.? Tell that to Bigelow’s UFO friends!” says an incredulous Jesse, in a voice-over. Jesse then asks, “What’s the story on the Skinwalker Ranch?” “It’s a very strange place,” Alexander replies, vaguely. When Jesse asks him if he was ever in charge of the ranch and their investigations, Alexander says he’s been up there, but insists he never ran the place.
“When you tell me very strange things happened, define strange things to me, what is a strange thing that would happen at this ranch?” asks Jesse, seeking clarification. “I thought we agreed not to go off into here,” says an annoyed, slightly frustrated Alexander. “I’m trying to learn about outer space. Is the government being truthful about what they’ve told us?” Jesse asks. “I’m not convinced those are related issues. That’s the whole point.” says Alexander. “So Skinwalker has nothing to do with space?” Jesse asks. “I don’t think so, no,” replies Alexander. Jesse has a big smile on his face, clearly enjoying making Alexander squirm. “Could you call up and get me to the ranch and let me spend a week there?” asks Jesse. “A, It’s his ranch, and B, you’d be really bored,” laughs Alexander. “I’m not so sure,” says Jesse. “I had a couple of my protégés go up there and they said it wasn’t boring at all.” Jesse then asks if Bigelow ever stated that people were killed by extraterrestrials at his ranch. “He’s talking about Corales, that stuff from Brazil,” says Alexander. “It’s pretty well known. It’s a dumb statement,” he jokes. “He admitted he’s Bigelows connection, but will he admit that he’s Bigelow’s Dick Cheney- is he the one pulling the strings?” Jesse asks, in a voice-over. “You’re not the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain?” Jesse asks Alexander. “Heavens, no!” says Alexander.
The investigation concludes with Sean and Tyrel meeting up with MUFON investigator Preston Dennent, who contacted them claiming to have important information about Bigelow Aerospace and Skinwalker Ranch. According to Dennent, Bigelow “knows what the aliens know, and he’s taken their message to heart.” Dennent then informs Sean and Tyrel of a deal made between Bigelow Aerospace and Space X in May of 2012. Space X is the privately-owned company that now flies U.S. astronauts into space, replacing NASA’s old shuttle program. Dennent is suspicious of Bigelow’s intent in making the deal. “ “These things only hold six, seven people- just enough to hold Bigelow and his friends.” Could he possibly be preparing for an imminent attack by aliens on Earth? “Our planet is in serious trouble- Bigelow knows this. He’s ready to take off and evacuate the planet, just he and his cronies, when the whole apocalyptic scenario goes down, as E.T.’s are predicting, which, again, could happen any day. This rocket and this space hotel, it’s an escape pod. You’ve got to let Jesse know this is all real. This is important stuff. This is no joke,” says Dennent.
Ultimately, Jesse concludes his “Skinwalker Conspiracy” investigation with more questions than answers. “Robert Bigelow is an American dreamer. He’s like Howard Hughes, with all the good and bad that comes with it. He doesn’t hide his fascination with UFO’s, and his hope is there’s life out there. But his connections with government, individuals, other nations, hell, who knows, maybe extraterrestrials, that’s got to keep us all worried. When corporations take over space, when they’re allowed to spy, haul weapons, even create their own space stations, somebody’s got to be held accountable. A conspiracy of silence ain’t the answer. And what’s going on at that Skinwalker Ranch anyway? I’m Jesse Ventura, and this is Conspiracy Theory.” Tune in next week for Episode #6: Brain Invaders.