On a cold, wet night in late December 1980, three Houston area residents were driving home when they saw something that changed their lives forever.
Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and her Landrum’s 7-year-old grandson, Colby Landrum, were driving from New Caney to Dayton down FM 1960, which was then a two-lane blacktop road with dirt shoulders. Cash and Landrum were heading home after trying to go find a bingo game.
As Cash would later tell Air Force investigators, “Well, we hadn’t thought about it being a Monday night because we’d had so many holidays and we’d gone to Cleveland that night to play bingo.” The transcript of Cash and Landrum’s interview with Air Force Captains John Camp and Terry Davis goes on to say that the ladies thought that their weekly bingo game had been canceled due to the holidays, so they drove to New Caney and found that there was no bingo there either. They stopped to eat at a truck stop restaurant on U.S. 59.
Cash explained that “after we got through eating, we got in the car and started home, and we drove approximately, I’d say, maybe twelve miles, when we spotted this object. And we kept watching it. We couldn’t figure out what it was, not ever dreaming that we were going to run dead into it.” According to a Texas Monthly article titled “Close Encounters of the Lone Star Kind,” Cash and Landrum saw “a large, glowing, diamond-shaped aircraft spurting flames.”
Cash said in the interview with the Air Force that the craft was “maybe as large, if not larger than, a water tower.” All three reportedly exited the 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass to get a better view. They were soon forced to reenter the vehicle because of the intense heat coming from the flying diamond. Cash and Landrum reportedly told the Air Force officers that after 15 to 20 minutes the strange craft flew away followed by anywhere from 23 to 26 helicopters.
Cash described the helicopters as: “They were the ones that had two deals, two rotors, on them” and that they had Air Force markings on the side. After returning home, Cash, who had stayed out of the car longer than the others, immediately fell ill and was soon taken to Parkway Hospital in Houston. All three allegedly began to show symptoms of what appeared to be radiation poisoning or sickness. Their symptoms included burns, blisters, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches, sore and irritated eyes, heat and light sensitivity, hair and fingernail loss. These symptoms, and the fact that Camp told the women that “since 1969 the Air Force no longer has been made the responsible agency to investigate UFO sightings,” prompted the women to file suit against the government in 1981 seeking $20 million in damages.
The notice of the suit filed in Federal District Court in Houston made headlines around the country. It was picked up by UPI and versions of the story ran in papers as far away as Philadelphia and Miami. The case wound its way through the justice department until a judge dismissed it, citing a lack of evidence. His judgment hinged on the fact that the women had been unable to prove that the helicopters belonged to any branch of the U.S. military and that Air Force officers testified that they didn’t have a diamond-shaped craft.
After the case was dismissed, life became fairly tragic for the three. Cash later developed breast cancer. Colby Landrum rarely spoke about the events or the subsequent health problems and tried to put that night behind him. Now almost 30 years later, the History Channel series UFO Hunters is coming to Liberty County to try and find out information about the event. “It’s a fascinating case,” said series producer Kevin Berry.
“The heat from the craft melted the dashboard and Vickie Landrum’s handprint was visible for weeks afterward.” Berry and his crew will be arriving in mid-August and are trying to find any area residents who remember the events of that night. “There was a sheriff’s deputy and his wife who said that they saw some helicopters,” said Berry.
“I would love to interview them.” He also expressed interest in finding newspaper clippings as well as books and videos that anyone may have on the subject. - Your Houston News
NOTE: The above image is a witness rendering.
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