The MUFON Ontario Version
by Tom Theofanous & Errol Bruce-Knapp [Written August 1995 & published in the MUFON Ontario Newsletter]
Reprinted here with permission - Pararesearchers 2003
Tom Theofanous was an investigator with CUFORN, in Toronto, from 1987 to 1992. He and his wife, Lise, have been with MUFON Ontario since then. Tom is now Director of MUFON Ontario, in Toronto.This case had much coverage in the media. Tabloid television shows like 'Unsolved Mysteries', Sightings' and 'Encounters' have given it much air-time, as have cable-tv stations all over North America.Internationally, magazines newspapers and news-letters have devoted hundreds of pages to it and UFO conferences around the planet have intrigued many thousands of attendees with it's seemingly startling details.'Carp' achieved 'One Of The Most Significant Cases In UFO History' status. You've probably heard, seen and read about it yourself.We'll deal with the FACTS of the case here, describe the events as told by the media and as we've experienced them.
Beginnings - 1989 Tom Theofanous, working with The Canadian UFO Research Network (CUFORN), received a package from someone calling themselves 'Guardian'. It had no return address."The package contained a story about a UFO crash that supposedly happened close to Carlton Place, which is about a half-hour drive from Ottawa", Tom said. "There was also a photo-copied picture of an Alien.""For the most part, we thought it was a joke. But, CUFORN Director Harry Tokarz decided to call Arthur Bray, a well-respected UFO author and researcher in Ottawa, and ask him if he had someone in the Carlton area who could check out the story. As luck would have it, Arthur knew a fellow who was fascinated by the field of ufology, Graham Lightfoot."Graham, with what was to become typical thoroughness, used the somewhat sketchy co-ordinates he got from Arthur Bray to not only pinpoint the 'UFO crash-site' near Manion Corners, but also locate a number of witnesses.One of those witnesses, Diane Labanek, claimed that on the night of November 4, 1989 she saw an intense, bright light pass overhead, heading toward a swamp at the far end of the field behind, and south, of her home. She claimed she'd also seen several helicopters earlier that evening using bright lights to scan the area.Another West Carlton resident recalled that that was the weekend when some cattle escaped from a nearby pasture and that it took till late Sunday to round them up.A couple told Graham that the wife had been scared by a very bright light shone through their south-facing bathroom window. "It reached right down our hallway!". The wife also mentioned that she vaguely remembered hearing the sound of helicopters at the time.Others talked of "dogs and cattle being disturbed".Many people could think of absolutely nothing unusual happening during the course of the weekend, including a couple who had a telescope set-up.Graham reported his findings to CUFORN, along with results of his examination of the field and swamp behind Labanek's home - there were no signs on the ground, anywhere, of the heavy equipment that would be needed to recover a 'crashed craft'.His report closed with, "although I could find nothing conclusive to support or disprove any of the witnesses claims. I shall check back around the area later this summer."The same Guardian material had been sent to several other investigators, researchers and UFO groups and, as the story spread, both the former Provincial Director of MUFON Ontario, Clive Nadin, and then Quebec Director, Christian Page, visited the area on separate occasions and spoke to the 'witnesses'. They confirmed Graham Lightfoot's initial findings and agreed with Tom & Harry at CUFORN that someone was "trying to put us on - a hoax!"
Guardian Re-Surfaces - 1991In the middle of October 1991 CUFORN began receiving more Guardian 'information' via the mail and all postmarked 'Ottawa'.An envelope with some documents that described a 'conspiracy' between the Chinese and "Grey Aliens that are planning to take over the world", arrived first. Then came a Polaroid photograph of a 'UFO' flying across an unidentified road. A while later came a black & white picture of a grey-type 'Alien'.The fourth delivery in the series was a package - containg a VHS video tape with a green label on its cassette with a thumb-print and the word 'GUARDIAN' printed on the label.There were also three playing cards in the package - an Ace, King and Joker - all with hand written notes on them.A photo-copied map showed the 'Grey's landing area', along with notes explaining that the flares in the video were used to help the UFO, which can out maneuver anything on the planet, fly under the radar and know where to land!There were also 'Canadian Department of National Defense documents' enclosed - which, upon later investigation, proved to be forgeries.These 'documents', it is thought, were designed to look like the official documents on UFOs that Canadian UFO author/researcher Stanton Friedman acquired, via 'The Freedom of Information Act', from the United States Government.The video - a few minutes long - showed two different angles of what Guardian alleged was an 'alien craft', on the ground.First, a long shot of bright lights, clumped together to the right of the scene, and what looked like four red emergency road flares or fires in barrels on the left side of the screen.The second scene showed the same clump of bright lights from approximately the same distance but more to the centre, without any flares, with the sound of a single dog barking in the distance.The third scene was only three frames long and was a close-up of a a pair of wipers half-way across a very Earth-bound vehicle's windshield! CUFORN pondered what to do with all the Guardian information that arrived in October of '91 and decided, that in view of the season - winter, that they would hold off visiting Carlton until after the spring run-off.
Enter Oechsler At the beginning of March '92, Bob Oechsler (pronounced Bob Ex-ler) an American MUFON investigator - who has described himself a 'former NASA mission specialist' - called CUFORN, from his home in Maryland.Apparently, he too had received a video and documents from Guardian, although when comparisons of the two videos were discussed, his had an additional scene - a somewhat closer one minute shot of the 'alien craft'.His version also had a couple of minutes worth of the windshield, plus several still-shots of the 'Grey Aliens'.The most important difference, however, was that his version of the tape had no audio-track at all - "it seems it was intentionally removed", said Tom Theofanous.Oechsler had shown the tape to Bruce Maccabee and they agreed that what they saw was a UFO and should be investigated further - and that's why Oechsler called Tom at CUFORN. They arranged to meet in Carlton, Ontario on May 10th 1992.Tom then called and spoke with Graham Lightfoot, for the first time, and Graham agreed to act as guide for the May meeting.It transpired that Graham worked for The O.F.A - The Ontario Federation of Agriculture - and knew the Carlton area and its farmers, well.
The First Visit On May 10th, Mother's Day, 1991, Torontonians, Tom & Lise Theofanous, Victor Lourenco, Vaughn Killin, Drew Williamson, Harry Tokarz and Wayne St. John met with Oechsler, his son and Graham Lightfoot at the motel the Oechslers were staying at in West Carlton, near Ottawa, Ontario.They all had breakfast together and Oechsler told many, many fascinating stories. Eventually they ended up in Oechsler's motel room to compare their copies of the Guardian video."Oechsler, despite being an 'expert' in video-analysis, had a great deal of difficulty connecting my video camera to the tv set in his room. In retrospect, his combination of technical ineptitude and more story-telling seemed to be a stalling tactic.", said Tom.Eventually, the group set off in a convoy of vehicles to examine the area depicted on Guardian's map.They stopped at a spot off Highway 7 near Manion Corners and Graham pointed out the direction from which the 1989 'UFO' had come when it 'crashed', and where the Labanek's house was, in relation to where the group was standing.Oechsler seemed to be stalling once more, shooting video of everything.Finally, they set off again."This time Oechsler took the lead, with me following him and Graham, who's supposed to be our guide, following me!" Tom said. "I thought at the time that this was pretty odd. How did Oechsler, who supposedly had never been to Canada, let alone the area, know his way, using side-roads and making the correct turns towards our destination?"Earlier, Oechsler had asked the Toronto group to check for anomalies on their compasses while they were driving, because the Guardian papers described magnetic changes in certain parts of the area the group was travelling in."So, we're driving down a small hill when Oechsler braked suddenly up ahead of us, stopped and came back to our car to tell me that he had found an anomaly on his two compasses which were both laying in the back of his pick-up on the metal floor, where they were bouncing around. His son was keeping an eye on them from the cab. I told him that the three compasses, we were holding in the palms of our hands, in our car didn't waver at all. But, he insisted that he'd go back up the hill, by himself, and check again."While the rest of the group stood around waiting for Oechsler, Drew Williamson noticed a Stop-sign at the end of a long driveway leading to an abandoned farmhouse with a For-Sale sign on it.Tom continues - "I looked through my binoculars at the Stop-sign and saw that it was propped up by rocks. There were other signs around it that read 'Do Not Enter' and 'DND Killing Fields'. The last one had pictographs of tanks, helicopters and weapons on it and appeared to be riddled with bullet-holes.""So, out of curiosity, we went over to the signs and looked more closely.""We found tracks left by cars and what might have been four-wheeled vehicles, leading into the property. We felt that perhaps the field around the old farm house was being used for 'War Games' - or maybe even was the location used for the Guardian video.""Why? Because the terrain was perfect - lots (200 acres) of open field. I also noticed a dog barking up at the house at the top of the hill." said Tom.This would become significant later in identifying the possible location of the Guardian video shoot."Eventually, we continued along Corkery Road. But, when I mentioned to Oechsler that we should be interviewing the people in the neighbourhood we were passing, who were out sitting in their front gardens or working on their lawns, he insisted that we look for the 'crash' or 'landing' sites."Guardian's map described an area about one and a quarter miles square, which consisted of dense, knee-high scrub, and wet, swampland.The group headed toward it, using a path beneath high-tension power transmission lines that cut across below the southern end of the Labanek's property.Most of them had great difficulty with the rough conditions and became very tired, annoyed by biting mosquitoes and soaked by the swampy ground. They gave-up about a half way into the swamp and headed back to the parking lot.Tom picks up the story again "Bob and his son continued to look for the landing site as the rest of us left the swamp in two groups. Lise, Drew, Wayne and I left first and drove off looking for a drink of cold pop.""When we got back to the parking, lot twenty minutes later, the second group out had left a note on our windshield saying they'd meet us at a restaurant twenty minutes away in Carp. We left a note on the Oechsler's truck windshield telling them where we'd be."The first group arrived at the restaurant and ordered their food - twenty minutes later the rest of us arrived and placed our orders.""Thirty minutes later, as Oechsler and his son were walking through the door, I jokingly said 'I bet he'll say he found the spot.'""As he sat down, I asked him what had happened. He smiled and said he'd found the spot!""I asked how he'd managed to do that when we'd left him a about a mile from his car in a dense swamp, halfway to the alleged site and it was getting dark. There simply hadn't been enough time to get there examine the 'site' and get back out to his truck and drive to the restaurant. He just smiled, but didn't answer."After they finished their dinner, Drew, Victor and Vaughn decided to leave for Toronto.Graham suggested that the remainder should go talk to the Labaneks, so he and Harry left ahead of Tom & Lise and the Oechslers, since Oechsler senior was still eating. The seven of them would meet at the corner by the Labaneks."Lise, Wayne and I went out to the parking lot to discuss the days events, privately and when Oeschler joined us we confronted him.""I asked him what he was trying to pull here. He responded by asking 'What's wrong with trying to make a buck?' I answered that there was nothing wrong with making money as long as we didn't compromise our ethics.""Oechsler came back with 'No matter what or how good the story is, 50% of the people will believe you, 50% won't. All you have to care about is the 50% that will.'"It was at that point", recalls Tom, "that I decided to back away from the investigation for a while to see what Oechsler would do."They joined the others at Manion Corner, by the Labanek's house. Graham had knocked on their door but no one was home. So, they waited, enjoying a pleasant early summer evening, talking.The Labaneks didn't get home till after 10 p.m, which the group felt was late to do an interview. Graham and Oechsler would come back the next morning and talk to them.Tom finishes up this part of the story "I told Graham about the conversation that I had in the parking lot of the restaurant with Oechsler, after he left the restaurant. Then Lise, Harry, Wayne and I left for Toronto, shaking our heads."The following morning, Graham Lightfoot, Oechsler and his son met and drove to the Labanek's home. Graham reintroduced himself and asked Diane Labanek if she remembered him. "Vaguely." she said, and then remembered their conversation about a bright light that had headed towards the swamp at the bottom of her field back in 1990.When asked if she'd seen anything strange since then, she described an event that in their field. It seems she was putting her children to bed one night, in August 1991, and something caught her eye from a bedroom window on the second floor.Labanek described seeing what she thought was a fire, or perhaps flares burning at the far end of the field behind the house and as she looked, a 'craft' landed next to the fire/flares. "After a few minutes, maybe five or eight, the very bright lights on the craft went out - just like you turn off a light-bulb. And soon after, the flares went out. Then some minutes later, a helicopter came and hovered over the area - like they were looking for something" she said.When asked later why she hadn't called the fire department about a 'fire' burning in her field, which was tinder-dry in the August heat, she replied "I didn't think that anyone would believe me and I thought I'd get into trouble!"On Oechsler's next visit to the Labaneks, she was asked to draw what she had seen. She drew a craft that she described as being silver/grey, with a zig-zag design around it, sitting on three blocks which, coincidently, matched a drawing that was in one of the Guardian packages (see MUFON Ontario Newsletter, Volume 1.1, page 14) - a drawing that she maintained she'd never seen.Labanek was able to see an object and details that were over 2,200 feet away, in the dark and brightly lit from the bottom up. Guardian's video camera, which was closer, couldn't see the 'thunderbolt insignia' around the 'craft' or the three 'blocks' beneath it. The video clearly shows the 'craft' to be red and not silver/grey.
More On Guardian's Video In the version of Guardians video sent to the Canadian UFO Research Network, the last three frames show a windshield with the wiper blades in an upright position. Why would Guardian put those frames, that appear to have been shot at night with artificial light, on the tape? Were those frames designed to give a clue as to what the craft really was?In the course of one of many discussions between them, Tom Theofanous asked Bob Oechsler what he thought about the windshield footage on Guardian's video. Oechsler replied that it wasn't a windshield but rather the design on the side of the 'craft'. Tom asked how he'd come to that conclusion? Oechsler replied "Well there's Diane's evidence together with my expertise in analysis - that's how."Oechsler had once again brought up his 'qualifications and expertise', which he seemingly did at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, Oechsler's 'qualifications' on the subject of windshields were definitely non-existent compared to Tom's - who ran a windshield repair company for seven years!
Field Investigator Oechsle rOechsler and Graham went out to the field after their first talk with Diane Labanek. The previous night, at a restaurant, Oechsler had claimed that he had found the 'landing site' and now insisted that they look for 'evidence'. He spotted an area of grass that had been "dug up during the landing". Graham, who works for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, patiently explained that skunks caused that kind of damage while looking for grubs.Oechsler's biography touts his experience in dealing with the UFO phenomenon and his 'expertise' in field work - an 'expertise' not on display that day. "He seemed not to know what he was looking for or much about the country and nature.", Graham later observed.Oechsler's inexperience continued to show as he pointed to vegetation that had "been treated with microwave radiation"! How did he come to that conclusion without using any instruments? "It's very dry and brittle, so it's obviously been irradiated" Oechsler said.The "irradiated"' plants were Juniper bushes which always look dry and brittle after a Canadian winter - and also bleached, dried and flattened by heavy snow - probably in much the same way as in Maryland, Oechsler's home-state.Graham and Oechsler continued to examine what Oechsler was convinced was the 'landing site'. He then asked Graham if he had anything to put samples in. Graham thought that it was extremely odd that an investigator of Oechsler's 'calibre' would show up with no sample containers and handed him some empty film canisters.On returning to Labanek's house later that day, Labanek told them that her husband Bill had "gone for milk" at around 1000pm on the evening of the 'landing' and had missed it. Bill Labanek had also been doing a milk-run on the night in 1989 when there had been a 'crash' in their swamp.He didn't appear to be at all concerned about what had transpired on his property on either occasion. He didn't take the time to go look at the spot which his wife said had been a 'UFO landing site'.Diane Labanek claimed to have gone only part way into the field the day after the 'landing', looked briefly in the direction of the 'landing site', didn't see anything, and walked back to the house.She had told no one about what she saw that night until Graham and Oechsler asked her about it.Why didn't she walk the remaining couple of hundred yards to where an 'amazing event' took place? She said that it was a beautiful summer evening, too.Later, Graham called Tom in Toronto and recounted the day's events. They discussed Oechsler and his amateurish approach to the investigation and observed that a pattern seemed to be emerging. It seemed that Oechsler was incompetent, egocentric and attempting to steer the case and its 'facts' to fit his own agenda.
Helicopters As a follow-up to Diane Labanek's assertions about helicopter activity following the 'landing', Investigator Drew Williamson called the Department of National Defence (DND) on May 12, 1992. He was told that the military held exercises every August, using helicopters. They had to get permission from landowners for the choppers to land in their fields. If an emergency were to arise and a helicopter had to land, DND would pay compensation for any damage caused.On July 12, 1992, Graham made a number of calls to various military establishments to get information on helicopter activity. He was told that they don't use flares during landings at night, but do use Chem-Sticks that glow in the dark. Captain Mark Bigoutte said that although choppers were on exercise on August 19, 1991, they were many miles to the west of Manion Corners.On July 14, 1992 Oechsler arrived back at Graham's place and the next day they went to Uplands Royal Canadian Airforce base and showed Colonel Cajo Brando and Major Norm Patterson the Guardian video - over and over.Colonel Brando didn't think it was a helicopter and when shown a photograph taken by one of the Labanek children of a Huey Helicopter that Diane Labanek maintained had 'buzzed' their home after the 'landing', he said, "It's not one ours, they were decommissioned [taken out of active-service] two years ago."Brando suggested that it may have been an American chopper that had come across the border without notifying Canadian authorities - something which, apparently, happens often.Later that day, Graham and Oechsler returned to the Labanek's and collected some fifteen soil and plant samples from the 'landing' site.On a radio call-in show, March 30th '93, Oechsler claimed to have collected "over a hundred samples from all over the area"!
Unsolved Mysteries Oechsler, in a conversation with Graham and Tom expressed interest in getting the case on the 'Unsolved Mysteries' tv show, feeling that it might flush Guardian out. Tom countered that it might be better to further investigate the claims of the 'witnesses' before giving the case national tv exposure.What neither Tom nor Graham knew at the time, was that Oechsler had already gone ahead and made a deal with Unsolved Mysteries to shoot a segment on the Carp Case in the fall.In the following three months preparations were made for the shooting of the 'Unsolved' segment. Graham received many calls from and eventually met the tv show's Bob Kiviat and Bob Wise.Oechsler flew into Ottawa in mid October 1992 with the 'Unsolved' crew and interviewed Major Patterson about the Guardian 'Documents'.Graham, feeling as he did about Oechsler's slant on the case was very reluctant to appear on the show and it took many calls from various production people to eventually talk him into appearing.On November 15, 1992 participants in the Carp segment gathered for the taping. Graham met Bruce Maccabee for the first time and, to use his words, "was not very impressed." He put his contribution 'in the can' the next day at the Labanek's.
Guardian Revealed In the course of a meeting on November 19, 1992 Graham learned that a man named Andy Williams claimed that he knew who Guardian was. Graham and Oechsler arranged to meet with Williams the next day in Ottawa. Andy Williams explained that a friend of many years, Bobby Charlebois, had an on-going interest in UFOs and had called himself 'Guardian' over the course of those years. He went on to give details about Bobby Charlebois and his 'interests'.Oechsler, inexplicably, gave Andy Williams much material regarding the Carp case.On November 22nd, Graham discovered that a co-worker knew Bobby Charlebois well - his sister, Meg had dated the Guardian 'suspect'. Graham talked with Meg and she confirmed that Charlebois was an avid UFO buff and had discussed the phenomenon on many occasions in the past.Despite having signed an 'exclusive' with Unsolved Mysteries to not do another show until 30 days after their 'airing' of the Carp Case, Oechsler records a segment for 'Sightings' in January of 1993 without telling Graham until after the fact.Interestingly, Dr. A.J. Quarington a 'witness' participates in 'Sightings' after refusing meet or even discuss the case with Graham and Clive Nadin (the former Director of MUFON Ontario) in the early stages of the investigation.