What You Can't See
In reading your article "The Derrel Files" [by Randall Patterson, May 30], I found it interesting that there seemed to be a lack of sympathy for people who believe that they have been abducted by aliens. These people are frightened and don't know what is happening to them. Their problems are as real to them as getting in a car accident would be to anyone else. How dare Mr. Patterson make light of an emotional situation that he himself has not been through and therefore cannot understand?
Unfortunately, Mr. Patterson has chosen to play up the more unusual aspects of Derrel Sims' story (i.e., naming the alien and the December mass abduction of HUFON members) instead of the real story, which is how people are dealing with these situations and the complex religious ramifications they may be facing. In case no one has been watching the TV, the media coverage for UFOs and unexplained happenings has quadrupled in the past six months. I, too, have seen the $30 implant video. I have seen markings on people that are unexplainable. I have heard stories that would make you afraid to go into a darkened room alone. I even saw Larry King Live from Area 51. Why are these stories being treated as new? People all over the world have been documenting sightings and abductions since before the 15th century. It becomes even more terrifying when it is happening in your very own back yard. Unfor-tunately, there are people out there who are using this as an excuse for quick cash, which makes the people who are telling the truth not want to come forward. It is time for us to stop denying what is going on. Mr. Patterson, you can call me crazy if that will make you happy, but don't discount the fact that this is real. It is happening ... maybe even to you, but you just don't know it. After all, you can't stop what you can't (or won't) see.
Name withheld by request
When I first saw your cover for the May 30 issue, I knew what the article had to be about. At one point about six years ago, I attended several HUFON meetings (before the split). As someone interested in the subjects of secret aircraft and secret government bases and operations as well as UFOs, I was turned off of the organization by the emphasis that Derrel Sims placed upon "alleged" abductions. Both myself and friends at the meeting felt that we were not welcomed by him and his followers, since we were not willing to follow lock step his belief in the validity of abductions. To suggest to them that even some of these abductions are false memories, or just out and out falsehoods, was looked upon as blasphemy. The fact that we (I especially) looked upon all abductions as hogwash was viewed as treason, and we were persona non grata.
I personally believe that there is evidence to suggest a reality to some of the sightings -- such as the Cash-Landrum case in Huffman in 1979 -- but I do not accept the viewpoint that every strange object in the sky is a visitor from another world, and I certainly do not believe in the abductions that Sims and most all others claim. I hope they don't think that the vast majority of people are stupid enough to fall in behind them and agree to everything they say, no matter how bizarre it is.
One last thing on Derrel Sims: at one of the last meetings I attended, he was going on and on about his and his family's numerous abductions, and the alleged implants people had in their skulls. My friend asked if he had gotten a CAT scan to find out if he had anything in his head, and Sims replied, and I quote, "I didn't get a CAT scan because I was afraid they wouldn't find anything up there." For once, I agreed with him.
The Betti Side
All in all, I think you did a very thorough and professional job in reporting on the FBI sting against City Council and in particular the mistreatment by the FBI of Betti Maldonado ["Coffee with Betti and the FBI," by Steve McVicker and Brian Wallstin, May 16]. However, there are several details in your stories that are incorrect, and I would like to correct them. They are:
1. Betti was hired by Carlos Montero on behalf of the Cayman Group, not to lobby members of Houston City Council, but as a public relations consultant to generate community support for the Wayne Duddlesten hotel contract and for the inclusion of minority subcontractors and investors in that project.
2. Betti did not "reach into her purse and pull out an unmarked envelope" with cash. To the contrary, on each occasion the envelope was provided or produced by Carlos Montero. Betti was present when that happened and the envelope was handed by Montero to Betti to hand to the councilmember, but the envelope always came from Montero.
3. Regarding Felix Fraga, Betti offered a perfectly legitimate contribution on behalf of the Cayman Group to a newly established foundation Felix Fraga was developing for projects in his Council district. This foundation, Betti believed, was established by Fraga for development of his district. When Felix Fraga refused the money because his foundation had not been formalized yet and no bank account had been set up, the agent suggested that Betti hold the money until such time as the foundation was operating. Betti felt the agent wanted her to give the money to Fraga anyway, but she did not. Shortly after the agents identified themselves to Betti as agents, she returned the money back to the agents. She had intended to hold it only until Felix Fraga's foundation was able to accept it.
4. Regarding John Peavy, he handed the envelope back to Montero, rather than to Betti, and addressed his comments to Montero.
5. Regarding Betti's cooperation with the FBI agents, it is important to explain the circumstances that led to her brief period of cooperation. It was only after the agents coerced, isolated and threatened Betti with a jail sentence that she reluctantly agreed to cooperate with their entrapment efforts; her agreement was short-lived and she soon refused to have anything further to do with the agents.
6. In your most recent story, "Roots of the Sting" [#by Brian Wallstin, May 23], you incorrectly stated that Betti offered councilmembers cash payments in exchange for their support of two clauses the Cayman Group investors wanted added to the city contract. Betti did not offer cash payments in exchange for any type of support. That is obviously what the FBI wanted to occur, but Betti did not make such a suggestion to the councilmembers nor did she say anything that could be construed as offering money for support.
The tragedy of this ill directed "sting" operation is not just the damage it has done to Betti's reputation and the trust she enjoyed with public officeholders, but the jeopardizing of a worthwhile and much needed civic revitalization of the downtown area, assisted in large part by the minority community. Thanks for your sensitive treatment of this issue.
Editor's note: DeGuerin is an attorney for Maldonado, who has not been charged with any crime in the FBI sting. The Press stands by its stories.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- Cougars Easily Dismantle Navy, Win 52-31
- Legendary UH Coach Guy V. Lewis Dies at Age 93
- Saints-Texans — Four Things to Watch For