The Grass Lake Encounter
An Investigator Confronts the Unknown
by Dennis William Hauck
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Out of the hundreds of cases of paranormal activity I have investigated in the last twenty-five years, only a handful exhibited what I would consider to be incontrovertible evidence for the existence of otherworldly phenomena. One such case took place in Grass Lake, Illinois, a small farming community on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. It is also the scariest case I ever investigated!
Starting in July 1973, three separate families (eleven individuals) from around the tiny lake were calling the police and fire departments reporting strange orange lights in the sky. The authorities responded over a dozen times, and on several occasions officers witnessed the lights, but realizing there was not much they could do to keep them away, they stopped responding to UFO sightings at the lake in 1975. At that point, the families banded together and contacted a number of private research organizations. Two of these organizations, the Center for UFO Studies and the International UFO Registry, asked me to investigate the case for them. I spent several days at the lake interviewing the various families and trying to sort through their bizarre experiences.
One of the witnesses, Nancy Hansen, kept a logbook of everything that happened. A few assorted entries from her journal describe how innocently things began:
July 1-3, 1973. We went to the other side of the lake and talked to a witness who said it looked like a white light with a red rim. He had a lot of close sightings of the UFOs. He lives on the highest hill in that area.
August 3, 1974. We now have one right over the lake. On closer inspection with binoculars, it resembles a fried egg ¾ a dark dome with solid light rim, bordered with red and green lights. Five witnesses watched it. It showed up every night and stayed until unknown time. Another family that lived on the lake got a close view each night from their yard.
July 21, 1975. My daughter Kathy called me to the front room door to look at the orange light in the sky. I took my time because I thought it was Venus reflecting the sun. But it wasn't. It was the size of a tennis ball at arm's length and started pulsating orange and white very fast. Then after a few minutes it started northwest and faded just before it got to the trees.
Before long, the sightings of the orange UFOs became a nightly occurrence. About that time, a local New Age group the families had asked for help suggested they try group psychic communication with the unidentifiable lights. These efforts were deemed successful when some of the objects started blinking on and off in apparent response to group concentration efforts and later even blinked some messages back in International Morse Code, which the group had taught them telepathically. However, with the escalation in contact and communication, a lot of very strange things began to happen in the homes of witnesses.
Eerie poltergeist effects started immediately. They included loud knocking and clawing sounds, sounds of things falling but nothing dropping, sudden foul odors such as sulfur and fish, lights and radios turning on by themselves, clocks turning ahead, furniture falling over, unexplainable variations in room temperature, and the disappearance and later return of common personal objects such as pens, flashlights, house-slippers, and purses. One family reported that a bedroom pillow had suddenly began taking moisture out of the air until it became totally saturated and began soaking the bed. They then took the pillow into the front room and removed the pillowcase, at which time the pillowcase started drying but the whole room turned ice cold.
All three families reported instances when their houses would “bounce” up and down, shaking from the foundation up for no apparent reason; and one house had deep, claw-like indentations made over one whole side of its cedar siding. At that same address on Thanksgiving Day 1973, a resident had fired a full round of bullets at a hairy, humanoid creature he had seen prowling near the house.
Other elusive humanoid shapes were reported actually roaming through the homes of those who saw the UFOs. Again I quote from Nancy’s journal:
November 17, 1973, 10:00 p.m. I mistook a dark shadow for my husband. It was standing at the foot of my bed. I called out my husband's name and it walked around to his side of the bed. I called his name again and reached up to turn on the light, but when I did he was gone. My husband says that he did not come in or even go near the bedroom at that time.
February 8, 1974. While my daughter Pam was in bed, something pulled the covers down to her knees and gently pinched her toes like it had a claw instead of a hand. She thought it was trying to pull her out of bed. She said it got real cold just before and while this happened. She was so scared she stayed up the rest of the night.
August 5, 1974. Jo called from her new house to say that invisible chains were dragged up and down her stairs. Later a small, gold-metallic suited blond walked through her bedroom, stopped a minute, and then went through some invisible door.
May 2, 1975. Sue followed a woman into Kathy's room thinking she was following Pam to ask her a question. When she got inside she was the only one in the room. She was really upset by it.
May l2, 1975. A pen and pack of gum was taken right in front of my husband's eyes in the bedroom as he was getting ready for work. Did he get mad! He yelled so much at them that when he went into the front room to go, they were by the front door where he couldn't miss them. It wasn't the pen or gum; it was frustration that finally made him get so mad. He is a nervous wreck from them forever taking his stuff.
August 26, 1975. Pam got up last night and as she came up the hallway, she saw a man standing outside our front room window. At first she said she thought it was a gorilla but then she could see it was a man with pincer-like hands. She ducked into the bathroom and when she came out it was gone.
Not long afterwards, the families started discerning what the elusive humanoid shapes invading their homes looked like. At first they could see them clearly only in mirrors, but eventually were able to look at them directly. There seemed to be three basic types of these alien entities. The scariest were the wild Bigfoot types, which seemed to be under the control of the most sinister of the beings: tall, reptilian creatures with greenish scales and six-fingered claws. The other type short, gray-skinned creatures with fat heads and bright, wide eyes that elongated along the sides of their heads. Once they were able to see the creatures, the reptilian entities started chasing them even more frequently, and all the homes had examples of horrible scratch marks on the walls and furniture. The New Age group proposed that the aliens represented two opposing forces battling to gain control over their lives. This seemed comforting to offer the witnesses, who now at least saw some purpose in the demonic activity into which they had been thrown.
Of course, I was taking all this with a grain of salt. After all, this was twenty-five years ago, long before abduction reports became common and Harvard professors were staking their reputations that they were really happening. At the time, most researchers, who were desperately searching for scientific credibility wanted to downplay such incidents.
One evening, I was sitting at the kitchen table going over Nancy’s journals with her. Her husband sat staring at the television in the living room, so confused or terrified that he just stopped talking about the goings-on in his home. With her husband’s condition rapidly deteriorating and both her daughters terrified to go to bed at night, I asked Nancy why they just did not pack up and move away. In a moment of personal honesty, she admitted that none of the families had enough money to leave the lake. Their homes were over a hundred years old and had been passed down from generation to generation. They were originally simple farmers and now had to work menial jobs just to make ends meet.
As if confirming its age, the house seemed to settle a little. I assumed it must have been a fault in the foundation, but seconds later there was a loud thump on the on the outside wall. Thinking something had hit the side of the house, I jumped up, ran over to a half-open dining room window, and stuck my head out. I turned my head to my right and could see these claw marks actually forming on the wood siding outside! It was cedar siding and six invisible claws were digging in about an eighth of an inch, revealing the fresh red wood underneath. Before I glanced out, approximately three inches had formed, but when I started watching, the claws seemed to dig in deeper and went on for at another four inches.
Well, there was no way anyone could have faked that, and quite honestly, I was a little scared. There were no trees anywhere, the long driveway was empty, and the pitch of the roof was too steep for anyone to hide there. It was simply too much for my mind to grasp at the moment and all I wanted to do was be alone and think about it. I did not exactly run screaming from the house, but I quickly excused myself without telling anyone what I saw and headed for my car, which I had parked at the side of the road.
Once in my car, I felt as if my brain was on fire trying to figure out explanations for what I saw. Then, as I started down the dark blacktop road, my headlights started blinking on and off in Morse code fashion. I pulled to the side of the road and watched in amazement as the lights danced on and off with my ammeter remaining dead center steady, as if my lights were drawing their power from another source. Even after I turned off the switch, they continued flashing. Finally, after about five minutes, they stopped, and I pulled the switch on, after which they worked correctly all the way back to Chicago.
The next day, when I took the car in to be checked by a mechanic, he could find nothing wrong with the wiring, but did discover that the left-hand side of the car had been magnetized. One of his screwdrivers stuck to one side but not the other. Furthermore, a Geiger counter I had in the trunk was pegged out full scale and ruined, even though it was turned off.
I returned to Grass Lake a week later with a team of investigators ready to stake out the lake, but by that time the families were in real crisis and had already contacted a local church group. Church leaders told the witnesses that they were brought demons into their homes by their “sinful” acts and started performing exorcisms in the houses. We were asked not to come back. I took photos and wrote up the case in the Journal of UFOlogy, but the Grass Lake incidents were simply too far out to be taken seriously.
I visited Nancy about three years later, and we sat together at the same kitchen table where my encounter with the Other Side had begun. I looked at her temples and noticed the dime-sized scars of electroshock therapy; she had suffered a nervous breakdown. Her husband had left her, and her family had disowned her, and I could offer her no real comfort.
From cases like these, the organizations have learned that experiencers of paranormal events need and deserve all the investigative and psychological help we can give them. We cannot behave like parasites living off their experiences anymore. We have to realize that by entering into their innermost feelings, we have genuine responsibilities to treat them fairly and help them work through these belief-shattering encounters.
I never saw any UFOs or creatures at Grass Lake, but what I did see has left an indelible mark on me too. I am no longer a “hardware man,” nor do I believe earth is being invaded from outer space. Instead, we are being invaded from inner space, from realms in our own minds which lie waiting, ignored for too long. I am convinced there is an unsuspected connection between human consciousness and reality, a connection which the longer we fail to acknowledge, the more forcibly it will intrude into our everyday existence. Back to Paranormal Travel Guide