The Trumbull County Disturbance


It can be demonstrated that police departments across Ohio and other states are more reluctant than ever to associate their departments or officers with alleged UFO occurrences, and understandably so. Those armed with the "badge of truth" do not usually relish their position as the 'middleman' between the U.S. Air Force and the UFO phenomenon.

"From my information, calls placed from police departments to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are forwarded directly to secret offices at the air base that are solely responsible for monitoring the UFO situation," charges George Clappison, UFO researcher and investigator.

To bolster his contention, Clappison cites a 1995 source he identifies only as "a southern Ohio law enforcement official." After several confidential, tightly controlled meetings with his source, Clappison was informed that his contact had a UFO sighting while on-duty about ten years prior. His dispatch office then alerted the air base of the occurrence. The officer recalled that within days of the event, he was visited and questioned by several agents from the Cincinnati offices of the FBI.

The law enforcement official conveyed to Clappison his belief that the Air Force and various intelligence communities currently monitor and investigate the UFO situation, despite public denials. According to the opinion of the informant, the U.S. Air Force monitors and utilizes the vast resources of police dispatch centers for the collection of UFO reports.

Even when reporting a UFO directly to the Dayton, Ohio, air base, a phone receptionist taking the call will politely refer the caller to "report the incident to your local police department." 1

It is known that certain air emergency situations are held under the authority of the State Patrol for handling and disposition, and as the Air Force position illustrates, this authority also extends to the State Patrol for response and investigation of UFO reports.   2

One should also consider the curious existence of the strange "SIGNAL 50" code word utilized by The Ohio State Highway Patrol during radio communications to announce the observation of unknown aircraft.   3

A heated UFO incident at the Lebanon Correctional Institute occurred on April 8, 1993 in Warren County, Ohio, in which a glowing red object hovered for nearly three hours over a state penitentiary. The Warren County Sheriff's Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to the multiple witness event, and calls were placed by the dispatch office to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, requesting aircraft identification.  4

Wright-Pat denied having any experimental aircraft in the vicinity, and furthermore stated that they had no radar track of the unknown object, which, according to a statement given by Commander H. Lake of the adjacent Warren Correctional Institute, was "presented to the Warren County Sheriff's Department by his shift supervisor upon their arrival."

Despite denials by the LeCI or WCI prison offices and the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that any internal documentation of the event exists, H. Lake stated emphatically, "I don't know what they're talking about. A report does exist because I wrote the report myself."  5

Presently , public relations officials at Wright-Patt contend that they have no documentation available regarding any incoming calls from the Ohio State Highway Patrol regarding the April 8, 1993 UFO incident at LeCI. However, FOIA Manager Paul Cassidy stated that "if a phone call was indeed made to this base, there should be SOME kind of documentation SOMEWHERE, whether it be in the form of a log entry or scribbled notes."  6

To the contrary of WPAFB public relations department, O.S.P. log entries acquired by UFO investigators revealed that several calls were indeed placed to the Dayton, Ohio, air base. Dispatchers at the Ohio State Patrol and Warren County Sheriff?s Office even confirmed that Wright-Patt had been alerted by utilizing a special, confidential phone number that gives them direct access to the high-tech air base. When asked for the number to be released to researchers, each respective office refused to disclose it, saying it was a restricted line, and not releasable to the public.  7

It can be said with certainty that this writer did hear and detect abnormal aircraft activity above the Cincinnati region in the form of jet engine sounds which were heard constantly from around 4:15 A.M. until daybreak on the night of the incident. The jet sounds were deep and powerful, unlike common air traffic heard frequently above Cincinnati. Not until the evening news later that day did this writer learn of the events at the Lebanon, Ohio, prison, upon which time the heavy droning sound of the jet noise was recalled.

There is a healthy historical precedent for UFO mix-ups between Ohio police agencies and UFOs, with the U.S. Air Force always having a distant and uncertain role in the drama.

Case in point: at 4:50 A.M. on April 17, 1966, two sheriff?s deputies, Dale Spaur and Wilber L. Neff, were advised by the Portage County, Ohio, Dispatch Center to investigate a low-flying UFO reportedly headed in their direction. The twosome watched as the glowing object approached their position, illuminating the roadside.  8

"It?s about fifty feet across, and I can just make out a dome or something on the top, but that?s very dark," Spaur yelled into his microphone. "The bottom is real bright, it?s putting out a beam of light that makes a big spot underneath. It was overhead a minute ago, and it was as bright as day here."

The dispatcher advised Spaur and Neff to keep the UFO in sight, as a car with camera equipment had been sent out. Soon, the twosome were racing along Route 14 at ninety miles per hour.

Other police officers soon joined the chase. Wayne Huston of East Palestine, Ohio, witnessed the UFO pass his location at more than 80 miles per hour, and also joined the chase. "It was a funny thing," he later said, "but when the object got too far ahead of us it appeared to stop and wait." 

One police officer later recalled that he had seen two jet-fighter aircraft being followed by a bright object shaped like a football. The vehicular pursuit took multiple police officials on an eighty-five mile journey into Pennsylvania before the object allegedly shot off at great speed and disappeared.

Radar Operators at the Pittsburgh airport control tower advised the Conway Police Department that they had picked up the UFO on their radar screens, but later denied this.

Police chief Gerald Buchert of Mantua, Ohio, claimed that he photographed the object, but was told by the United States Air Force not to make the pictures public.

The official Air Force conclusion was that Spaur and the others had been chasing the planet Venus.

Months after the drama, Deputy Spaur was found in hiding by a reporter. Working as a painter, Spaur lived in poverty residing at a seedy motel. He had resigned from the police force, and had been divorced from his wife. "If I could change all that I have done in my life," he said, "I would change that night we chased that damned saucer."

Given the sad but true public belittlement of UFO witnesses by the Air Force, the news media and the debunking celebrities, it is understandable why police officials such as those involved in the LeCI Incident and the Portage pursuit are reluctant to talk about their full knowledge of these events.

Startling details regarding police department involvement in UFO sightings surfaced during a routine investigation into an alleged "UFO crash retrieval" from Ohio. But the findings were surprisingly unrelated to the initial event being investigated.

Inquiries were being made into a December 26, 1988 UFO incident, happening in an area near Liberty, Ohio, north of Dayton (not far from Urbana). According to the legend, the Assistant Chief of Police observed a gigantic, lime-green ball of light change color as it emerged from the clouds overhead to slam into the ground. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was notified of the incident by the dispatch office, and allegedly sent out a clandestine recovery team to retrieve the object.   9

In researching the validity of the account, this author placed a phone call to directory assistance to acquire the telephone number of the Liberty Police Department. Unbeknownst to both parties, the directory assistance operator had bungled the task and furnished this author with the WRONG telephone number, instead, providing him with the number of the Liberty Township Police Department, located north of Youngstown, Ohio. A long distance phone contact was then placed to the wrong Liberty, Ohio.  10

"Hello, Liberty Township Police Department," came the kindly greeting after the phone call was placed.

"I?m trying to get some information about the UFO report from a few years back that was reported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base," advised this caller.

"Yes sir, I believe that was two years ago ... "

To the shock of the startled caller, certain details gradually emerged which took nearly two weeks before it was fully understood that a telephone mix-up had taken place, and that the accounts in question involved two completely separate occurrences. A two-year investigation followed, which revealed the details of an incredible event in Trumbull County, Ohio, happening in December of 1994.  11

Many police departments including the Liberty Township Department, Howland, Hubbard and Girard City Police Departments, as well as the Trumbull County Sheriffs Department, engaged in an intense, late-night vehicular pursuit of a "red, saucer shaped object" for several hours on December 14th. The object was described by police officials as an enormous, brightly luminescent object that rotated, as if on an axis. The object allegedly made no sound, and hovered directly above housetops in a residential neighborhood at a disturbingly low elevation.

Upon receiving phone calls to the Trumbull County Dispatch Office by area residents, one of whom described the UFO as a flaming object resembling the 'back end of a jet fighter, Liberty Township police officer Tobe Melero was alerted to the situation.

"I was drinking some coffee when we started getting calls about a UFO, and we laughed about it," recalled Melero. "But then we started getting more phone calls, so I had to go check it out."  12

While en route to the disturbance, the officer told of how that he strangely encountered an elderly gentleman wandering dazed and confused on the dark and empty roadway. "I wish now that I would have got his ID, or found out who he was," Melero said. "The poor man was evidently lost, and he kept saying, "It was right above my house."

Shortly afterward, the Liberty Township police officer approached the object in an area near Churchill/Hubbard Road, at which time he contends that the electrical instrumentation in his patrol cruiser experienced a complete power failure.

"It made no sound whatever," Melero said, "and I couldn?t look directly at it because it was so bright. I had to look around it."

The dispatcher for the Trumbull County Sheriff?s department, Ms. Royanne Rudolph, confirmed numerous calls had been received regarding the object, which seemed to maintain a definite interest over two adjacent residential neighborhoods. Families and residents had taken to the streets in droves to view the phenomenon, which another police officer of the Hubbard City Police Department advised, was pursued for a six-hour duration.

The Trumbull County 911 Dispatch Center contacted numerous other agencies, requesting assistance and aircraft identification. To the disbelief and dismay of the Trumbull County police officials, no aircraft dispatch or technical assistance or support was advanced from any of the agencies contacted, which also included the local FAA at Youngstown Airport, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Air Force Base (Youngstown, Ohio), and a nearby NASA facility (Cleveland, Ohio). 

According to Melero, NASA had offered the dispatch office the notion that the planet Mercury was visible for the duration of the occurrence.

A county-wide pursuit of the UFO was enacted by numerous police officers, many of whom approached the hovering object from differing vantage points. By radio correspondence, they were able to triangulate its position. It first appeared in an area above Samson Drive and then drifted near Henheid Road before finally ascending to a high elevation, appearing as a star in the sky.

At the same time numerous police officials were converging on the UFO, which was described as a 'structured' object with a parachute-like appendage situated on the top of it, the FAA tower operator, mere miles from the scene of the UFO incident, claimed not to have seen the UFO, even with binoculars and at a 70-foot elevation. While fielding two separate phone calls from the Liberty Township police dispatcher, the FAA tower operator also claimed to have no radar track of the UFO.

The FAA tower is part of the same facility where the Youngstown Airbase is headquartered. During the pursuit of the UFO, a police officer traveled to the airbase and confronted a security guard at the facility. According to information conveyed on audio tape from the incident, the security guard at the airbase also could not identify the UFO.

Strangely, while numerous police officers work to identify and pursue the glowing intruder, more UFO's are suddenly observed in various areas of Trumbull County.

"We have two now, I think you'll know what I mean," stated one officer into his radio.

As more objects are suddenly observed, the police officer at the airbase reports: "We have a bright light over the airbase."

The region in question is adjacent to a Defense Logistics Agency and National Defense Stockpile at 1740 Niles-Warren River Road, one of the biggest radar/air defense installations in the United States. The Youngstown Municipal Radar Air Defense Agency is also within the locality.

"Most people don?t realize," advised a Hubbard police officer with great conviction, "that this air base out here is one of the best kept secrets in the whole damnable country.

"Don?t kid yourself. You wouldn?t believe the hardware."

Repeated efforts to acquire the specific date of the incident were unsuccessful until two years after initial acquisition of the information, as no written report of the incident had been produced by the Trumbull County 9-1-1 Dispatch Office.

"They are stonewalling you, because they don?t want you requesting the audio copies of those dispatch tapes," stated one officer in 1996 who was advised that this writer sought the audio recordings made from the 911 Dispatch Center.

"On those tapes, it?ll tell you who all was involved in this, which implicates just about everyone."

The officer even attempted to locate the date himself, and expressed that his cohorts at the Trumbull County Dispatch Office did not respond favorably when he began making inquiries.

"Let me get right to the point, all indication leads me to believe that the 911 Center is stonewalling you!" the officer charged in a letter he personally sent to this writer. "I made an attempt to get some more information and ran into a very polite: 'I can't remember. I don't recall!'

"I've been around long enough to know when someone is pissing down my neck and telling me it's raining out!" stated the angry officer.

Another police officer, interviewed privately, stated "I don?t want my involvement with this known."

In an official letter from Robert J. Caffro, operations manager of Trumbull County 911, he declared that: "the events under investigation are in no way being discarded or restricted by this 911 center. As discussed during prior conversations, we would need a date and approximate time of the occurrence so that an audio copy could be produced."  13

It was once thought that the time-frame of the Trumbull County incident was somewhere in late August or early September, as per comments from an officer who was interviewed. The officer, who was not a witness to the event happening on December 14, equated the UFO sighting with the fatal crash of a jetliner near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a UFO sighting was reported in the vicinity of the calamity one day before the disaster.

A major break in the investigation of this case came in May of 1998 when this writer was contacted by a telecommunicator of the Trumbull County 9-1-1 dispatch center, who reviewed a report on the Trumbull County incident which was available on the internet. Acting strictly as a private citizen, the telecommunicator conducted his own unofficial investigation, being compelled by the information which was presented in the report. He acquired a date of the event: December 14, 1994.

In duplicating the information onto audio tape, the telecommunicator commented: "This event is totally unreal!"

At one point on the tape, a UFO is reported by a Howland Township police officer who is observing the object with a security guard at the airbase. A second UFO appears over the airbase, and later, one police officer even speculates that military jets in the air were scrambled from the base.

Inquiries placed by this writer with control tower radar operators at the Youngstown FAA revealed that there are no current employees now on duty that would have been employed at the air tower during this time frame.

"All of those people were all fired. There is only a core of two persons in upper level management here that are hold-overs from then," advised the control tower telephone tattler.   14

"All present employees were hired at roughly the same time after the date in question."

"Isn?t that a little unusual?" asked the caller.

"No, I don?t think so," came the response. The spokesperson declared that nobody presently on-duty at the FAA control tower has any knowledge of the event.

After retrieval of the dispatch tapes from the Trumbull County incident in May of 1998, a new inquiry was placed with the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport FAA Air Traffic Control Tower regarding the UFO incident on December 14, 1994. The inquiry was placed in writing through the Freedom of Information Act to the control tower in Youngstown, Ohio, which was subsequently deferred to the Great Lakes Regional Air Traffic Division..

In May of 1996, a telephone call placed by this writer to the Youngstown Air Force Base regarding the UFO pursuit was directed to the public information officer, who laughed bitterly upon being advised the nature of the call.

"I can assure you," he bellowed with a distrustful spirit while going on to say that he would have been "awoken" if anything like this had been true.

"Nothing like that has EVER happened here. I don?t know who your sources for this information is... and I?m not looking to know... but REST ASSURED, your info is COMPLETELY BOGUS. You have been blasted with WRONG INFORMATION."

This writer had the extreme desire to correct the base officer by invoking the details of the multiple witness event and the phone calls placed to his air base requesting assistance, but elected to allow the gentleman to continue on his incorrect path of sincere ignorance or deliberate concealment.

The account of the UFO disturbance over Trumbull County has been strangely blacked-out after the drama, as none of the departments involved notified the news media of the event.

There has been no press reportage of the occurrence. After review of the 9-1-1 tapes, it is now known that a news reporter with Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio, was completely aware of this incident, and even received a phone call from a distressed resident near Samson Road. The citizenry was never apprised.

After a recent traffic accident generated local headlines, one police official being interviewed by an area reporter complained that the news media should have been just as interested in the big UFO event as much as they were about the traffic accident. "The reporter just laughed," observed the officer.

The Trumbull County disturbance remains a volatile mystery. Flaming the drama is the reshuffling of the staff at the FAA tower and the heated denials by the Youngstown Air base public relations officer, who stated that "the event never happened to begin with." Also of great interest is the comment made by the FAA tower operator who said that 'nothing could be visually observed' while a security guard outside the very facility in question, accompanied by a Howland Township police officer, watched the UFO. At one point, a second object appeared 'over the airbase.' The disruption of the electronic instrumentation of the Liberty Township patrol cruiser offers viable evidence that should demand this case attain more widespread attention and scrutiny, at which time, the skeptical communities and debunking celebrities would have a quality UFO case to thoroughly investigate; a case complete with numerous witnesses, including police officials, reporting a massive, rotating saucer-shaped red light which resulted in later Air Force denials and the appearance of a conspiracy. 


1. Air Force Colonel Mack McLaurin stated in USA TODAY, July 8, 1996: "Our policy is that if someone sights an unknown aircraft, their first action should be to call the police." Such responses rendered from an agency whose responsibility it is to protect and defend the airspace of the country seems somewhat inept, yet is an official policy directive simply due to the fact that the agency no longer officially investigates the UFO situation after the closure of PROJECT BLUE BOOK, and any such responsive action would be perceived as contrary to their supposed policy.

2. January, 1997 telephone interview with Sgt. Atkeson of the Ohio State Patrol, who stated that the only written instructions available which are given to the officer using the code word is that they are to 'acquire a flight path, make and registration number of the aircraft in question.' However, what is not explained is that when such information is obtained, the object is no longer UNIDENTIFIED, and therefore not to be categorized as a SIGNAL-50 report.

3. "SIGNAL 50" code term utilized by O.S.P., source: Police Call Plus, Volume 3, Publisher, Gene Hughes.

4. Report On Incident At LeCI, published February 1996 by Kenny Young, TASK; also reported in April 9, 1993 Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati Enquirer, and April 17 Western Star newspapers. O.S.P. reports and documentation obtained by Dale Farmer, TASK

5. Telephone interview with Captain H. Lake, Shift Commander at WCI, January 26, 1993

6. Telephone interview with Paul E. Cassidy, Wright-Patt Acting FOIA Manager, November 1995. Cassidy stated during this interview that "all UFO-related FOIA requests are simply 'thrown out.'"

7. Report from WCCC Director of Communications, Frank Young, February 6, 1996, and also separate telephone discussion with O.S.P. dispatcher on December 28, 1995

8. Mysteries Of The Unknown: The UFO Phenomenon, Time-Life Books, 1987

9. UFO Crash Retrievals: The Inner Sanctum, Leonard Stringfield, 1992

10. Telephone interview with Liberty TWP dispatcher, April 1996

11. It was learned that the "wrong" Liberty had been contacted after clarification from Liberty TWP Police Chief Gerald Wardrop during a May 1996 telephone interview.

12. Telephone with Liberty TWP Police Officer Tobe Melero, May 1996

13. Fax transmission memo from Robert J. Caffro, Operations Manager of Trumbull County 911, dated June 25, 1996

14. Telephone call placed to Youngstown FAA Tower, June 1996 

This article, originally prepared in June of 1996, was updated and revised in JUNE of 1998 to reflect the acquisition of AUDIO DISPATCH TAPES of 9-1-1 correspondence from the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department, after a date of the event was acquired by two telecommunicators from the center who conducted their own private inquiry, acting as citizens. Their investigations were unofficial, and not on behalf of the department in any capacity, and were inspired by the original report which was posted on the internet. The revised version reflects the discovery of the DATE of this event, and omits previous speculation that the incident was within the time-frame of the Pittsburgh jetliner calamity in September of 1994. The Trumbull County event, happening in December, is not known to have any correlation with the Pennsylvania jetliner tragedy.

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