Snippy and the Flying Saucer

Snippy a 3-year-old, appaloosa mare was found dead on the Harry King Ranch in the fall of 1967. The locals believed the animal was killed by "spacemen" based on sightings of UFOs in the area.

Until the day before the grim discovery of her mutilated remains, her name was Lady. Afterwards she became Snippy.

Her owners were Berle and Nellie Lewis, but they stabled her at the King Ranch which was owned by Nellie's brother. The first tip-off that something happened to Lady, was she failed to show up to drink water. 

The newspaper accounts described the horse was found after two days on a lonely prairie about a quarter mile from the ranch house. Dead, and from the neck forward denuded of flesh. ​

A smell similar to acetone enveloped the area. Stranger still, decomposition had not set in, and predators gave it a wide berth. There were no tracks of any type of animals even coming close to investigate.

Later Mr. King said no one had come to the ranch before the horse was found, but his wife Agnes said she saw and heard a UFO hovering over the house.

Once the shock of finding the carcass wore off, an examination was made of the area around it. Fifteen circular exhaust marks which covered 100 by 50 yards were discovered. A hundred yards north of Snippy's lonely corpse they found a 3-foot bush squashed down to the ground, along with a 10-foot radius around it. Everything was uniformly reduced to inches above the dirt. Close by, a circle was created by six indentations measuring 2 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep.

Nearby Nellie Lewis found a piece of Snippy's flesh with the skin attached to it. She dropped it immediately when she felt its stickiness, afterward her skin began to turn red and a burning sensation engulfed her nerve endings. It only stopped after she washed the substance off.

Snippy's owner tried in vain for the police to investigate what really killed her horse, but the best she got from them was a roll of the eyes and the explanation that her horse was struck by lightening. Despite the fact there were no storms predicted. They never bothered to show up and examine the horse or the ground it'd been killed on.

A forestry official used a Geiger to measure radiation around the strange marks on the ground. The count was high, and lessened closer to the dead animal.

Snippy's strange demise was preceded by reports from the residents of the area describing weird flying objects. A top-shaped object followed a man in his car, and a college student said two tires on his automobile blew out when he drove towards an unknown object in a field.

If the police were sure that extraterrestrials were not to blame for the horse's death, there were others who were inspired by it.

Days later Dr. John Altshuler, a pathologist was arrested by park police for trespassing after dark on the Great San Dunes National Park. You better believe they asked him what he was doing there, but they were not prepared for his answer which turned out to be that he was watching for UFOs.

He asked them to keep his secret. They said sure, but only if he'd do them a favor and go out to the King Ranch and take a look at Snippy. Anxious to keep his extracurricular activities private he agreed.

​Dr. Altshuler found the horse's heart, lungs, thyroid, brain and abdominal organs were neatly cut out, with the edges of the skin mottled a deep black as if they were cauterized. The spinal column had been emptied. He wondered on what others had before, which was the complete absence of blood inside the animal or on the ground where she lay.

Finally Snippy got some attention. The Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization (APRO) placed a guard at the gate. The Condon Committee, funded by the U.S. Air Force in those years, sent the carcass to be examined at the University of Colorado.

Dr. Robert Adams examined Lady AKA Snippy and found no "unearthly reason" for the horse's death.

The carcass was sent to the University of Colorado UFO Study Project, and examined by Dr. Ora Adams, head of the veterinary clinic. He claimed to find two .22 caliber bullet holes in the animal's hindquarters, and an infection caused by these injuries killed Snippy. 

The mystery persisted because he found the holes but not the slugs. What about the missing blood, and the chemical smell? No explanation was included in his report.

The Desert Research Institute of the University of Nevada examined materials from around and under the horse's carcass, then explained the injury to the horse's neck was due to being struck by lightning.

"The condition of the horse and the immediate area surrounding the horse cast some reasonable supposition toward an unnatural death" was reported by the scientists. 

"Several marked areas termed 'exhaust marks' were found around the area and the remains of a 'tool' or 'bottle' that allegedly contained a green fluid was discovered in the field near the horse."

Soil samples tested by a biochemist found nothing unusual. Flesh from the horse's neck was analyzed as well, and "no evidence of excessive burning was found". 

The final report stated, "Since the death of the horse took place during the thunderstorm season and in an area where thunderstorms are common, it is possible that the horse could have been struck in the neck by lightning and killed."

Despite the reports issued after the examination of the horse and the soil, the case of Snippy deepened its mystery. In mid-February, The Alamosa Valley Courier published a photograph brought to them by Berle Lewis. They were taken by a Pueblo college student of the area where the animal's body had lain. It showed tracks measuring five inches by five inches made by a bi-pedal creature. A conservation officer said that neither a mountain lion or bear would make those types of tracks.

Dr. Leary, a local veterinarian finished de-fleshing Snippy and mounted her on a display, held together by screws and wires. 

The summer of 1968, Snippy's skeleton was displayed in front of a pottery shop near Alamosa, then went on to spend a few years in front of the Chamber of Commerce. Next stop was a private museum, and then she sat for about 20 years in an abandoned house on Carl Heflin's Ranch.

Heflin's nephew via an intermediary, offered it for auction on e-Bay in 2006. He wanted $50.000, but only got $10,000. Perhaps he thought that like good wine, it would become more valuable with time and stuck it in a warehouse somewhere.

The main players who shared the spotlight with the unfortunate Snippy, stayed living in the area, perhaps looking for the definitive proof of what dissected an animal so efficiently. Nellie Lewis, 55, died on February 12, 1976. Berle died in 2009, age 95. Harry King died in 1986.


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