Space Odysseys | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Space Odysseys

According to Walter Andrus, Jr., who helped found the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network (MUFON) in 1969, there's simply no way to count the large number of people who are abducted by aliens each year. Andrus can't even tally the number of reports that come in over the MUFON hot line (800-UFO-2166), which he operates out of Seguin, Texas, just east of San Antonio. But he does report that, according to a questionnaire developed by MUFON, approximately 2 percent of the American population has been abducted. "That's a lot of people," he avers.

MUFON boasts offices or representatives in every American state and in several nations around the world. Its officials investigate abduction reports, interviewing abductees -- using hypnosis when necessary -- to collect data. "Many descriptions are repeated over and again," Andrus observes. "What the creatures look like, how big they are, and how the people are taken. When they fall right in line, you have good reason to accept their story as factual and truthful."

But what happens after the abductees leave the interview session? Where do they go to talk to others who have had similar experiences? Here in South Florida, they attend Janice Scott-Reeder's Alien Abduction Support Group, which meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the Cosmic Salamander, Scott-Reeder's metaphysical bookstore in Coconut Creek. (Attendance is free; attendees' names are kept confidential.)

Scott-Reeder tries to create an informal atmosphere where people can share stories and sympathize with one another. "Most of the people don't want their identities known," she allows. "They're afraid of ridicule and problems at work. It's very anonymous."

Scott-Reeder believes aliens have repeatedly attempted to kidnap and drug her. Once, she recalls, she woke up with a needle mark and a bruise on her arm. "I've gotten into a couple of physical fights with these things," she says defiantly. "I don't just gleefully walk out with them."

The group began meeting two years ago but then went on a brief hiatus. Since reinstating the group this past summer, Scott-Reeder has seen a low turnout. Sometimes she finds herself talking to just one person. "It's circumstances," she guesses, "back to school, Thanksgiving, Christmas. People just have other concerns."

Both Andrus and Scott-Reeder feel that the Alien Abduction Support Group is a valuable service. "It's a way [for people] to talk about the sighting or the event," explains Andrus, "and get back on their feet after a very traumatic experience." Adds Scott-Reeder: "The longer you get involved in this, the more memories you recall. Now I'm starting to remember things from my childhood. Undoubtedly my father was an abductee also."

-- Rafer Guzman