Crash Story File: Looking for a Payday

Crash Story File: Looking for a Payday

By Douglas Dean Johnson

@ddeanjohnson on X/Twitter

Original publication: May 1, 2023. Later updates are noted in a dated log that appears at the end of the article.

You are in the Crash Story Files, a series of investigative reports examining claims that a UFO crashed and was recovered near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August 1945. To go back to the Crash Story hub story and index, click here.

There is abundant evidence that Reme Baca thought that the hoax could be a money-maker, and there is no doubt that he and Jose Padilla repeatedly made efforts to turn it into a money-maker.

However, I have as yet encountered little evidence that they were terribly successful in that regard.

In 2013, Paola Harris said, “In that time, about 2012 or so, I could not go down to the crash site because Remy Baca [Remigio Baca] did not want me to and he basically was looking for funding to do the story big-time.” (“Mystery at San Antonio, New Mexico crash site,” by Paola Harris, MUFON UFO Journal, June 2016.)

[UPDATE: In an internet presentation on September 16, 2023, Paola Harris said, “Reme Bacca was pretty greedy. He wanted $250,000 for the piece [the aluminum bracket that Baca and Padilla claimed that Padilla had pried off the inner panel of the alien space craft], and he wanted $250,000 for the story. And he doesn't know you can't copyright a story when it's in the public domain.” She also said that she was not allowed to visit the "crash site" until after Reme Baca died in 2013. (“Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity,” presentation by Paola Harris, September 16, 2023) A video clip containing this statement is embedded below.]


Paola Harris explains that Trinity UFO crash "witness" Reme Baca "was pretty greedy." From presentation Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity, September 16, 2023. (Fair Use for purposes of journalism, commentary, education, and education.)


One money-making angle was what I will call the “excavation scheme.” The hoaxers claimed that they had seen young soldiers kicking metal debris from the alien craft into a “crevice,” and that with sufficient funds, the area could be excavated and alien metals recovered. In 2010, Reme Baca even introduced into the narrative a claim that the boys themselves had visited the site on the day after the crash, and – ignoring the unattended alien craft —threw some alien metal into the crevice “so that we could come back and get them later on.” (Harris interview of July 5, 2010, pages 10-11, 16, 25-26). This second-day visit was edited out of the narrative as it is presented in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, as I discuss in detail in Crash Story File: The Shifting Narratives of the Trinity UFO Crash and Recovery.

Alejandro Rojas, UFO researcher and editor at, told me:

In August or September 2009, the owner of Open Minds, John Rao, asked me to look into what is now called the 'Trinity' case. I ended up speaking to Reme Baca and Jose Padilla at the same time, a telephone conference call. I think Reme Baca did most of the talking. Right from the beginning, they asked for money. They didn't want to talk about anything unless we promised to give them thousands of dollars to excavate the alleged crash site, but they apparently did not even have rights to the site. I was already aware of the piece they claimed to have recovered, and it did not have any indication of being anomalous. Without a compelling reason to consider their offer, we dropped it.

In 2019, Jacques Vallee concluded that excavation of the site would be impractical.

But when I was told, “All it would take is a bulldozer digging 20 feet down beneath the ground...” I had to laugh. To me, the idea of digging was unrealistic for several reasons, including the plain requirement to maintain slope stability in the area, and also because that would take a Federal permit, and formal clearance from BLM [the Bureau of Land Management]. Another blind alley. There would be others. We gave up on the idea of recovering artifacts at the site. (Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Second Edition, p. 79)


Reme Baca felt that one big payday would come through sale of the artifact – the bracket that Jose Padilla claimed to have pried off an interior wall panel of the alien spacecraft with a crowbar. Although Jacques Vallee has written that he believes that artifact is of human origin, Paola Harris has continued to defend the position that the bracket itself is of non-human origin and was an integral part of the alien craft. During a virtual "master class" presentation on September 16, 2023, Harris said, "Jose went inside the craft, took a cheater bar or what do you call it, a crowbar, pulled the piece off. They will never mention... that it was on a plaque that looked like this, that it had a silver circle and a copper circle, and it revolved, it revolved. I wanted this to be the cover of our book, because if you just talk about the piece, [some people say] 'oh, it's an Army piece, they used it to wrap a cable.' No, no, no, no, no. If they did, why in the world did they put it up against a plaque like that?" [At 43:00 minutes. The illustration that Harris displayed during this part of her presentation appears below.]

Illustration of the manner in which the artifact was supposedly mounted on the wall panel of the alien craft. From internet presentation by Paola Harris, September 16, 2023. (Fair Use for purposes of commentary, criticism, scientific research, and investigative journalism.)

In 2014, the year after Baca's death, Mexican ufologist Jaime Maussan visited San Antonio. There exists a video clip of Maussan, holding the artifact and remarking to Jose Padilla, "This is very important. You took this from a UFO. I think it is very valuable." Maussan asked Padilla what he intended to do with the artifact, to which Padilla responded that he thought he would place it with a museum. Maussan then said to Padilla, "Reme wanted a lot of money to present this [artifact], but you don't -- why?" Padilla answered, "Money is not important to me. It's just the principle."


Mexican ufologist Jaime Maussan to Jose Padilla in 2014: "Reme [Baca] wanted a lot of money to present this [artifact], but you don't -- why?"

(I have the impression that Padilla's continued participation in the hoax after Baca's death in 2013 may have been more motivated by the gratification he has obtained in receiving attention, and by his perception of his expanding fame, than by expectation of riches, although the matter is hardly free from doubt.)

In an email on April 17, 2023, I asked Jacques Vallee who now owns the artifact, and who possesses it. Although Vallee responded to my email, he did not respond to those questions.

In Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition, August 2022, p. 315), the authors wrote, “[Jose Padilla] entrusted us with the unique object he retrieved from inside the craft, which we had the opportunity to analyze. It has now been donated to a University as part of our records of the case, according to his wishes.”

[UPDATE (September 30, 2023): In a "master class" presented on the internet on September 16, 2023 (ticket price $30), Paola Harris said that she had attempted to donate the artifact to Rice University, but "they didn't have a safe deposit box and they had no security, and they did not want it." So, she said, "the piece is now in Mexico City, and it will be at the University of Mexico City...they can analyze it, they can keep it. And I don't care if I receive it again, because for me, it's not about the piece." Ms. Harris also spoke to various disputed issues regarding the artifact. Under Fair Use, for purposes of commentary, scientific research, journalism, and education, I have embedded below a 7-minute excerpt from Ms. Harris's 99-minute presentation.]


Paola Harris discusses the purported origins and attributes of the artifact, disputes about the artifact, and the current location of the artifact (the University of Mexico City), during 99-minute September 16, 2023 internet "master class." (Seven-minute excerpt about the artifact presented under Fair Use for purposes of scientific research, investigative journalism, commentary, and education.)

Clockwise from 1 o'clock: Remigio (Reme) Baca, Paola Harris, William P. "Billy" Brophy, Jacques Vallee, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla. To return to the Crash Story hub story, click here.


(1) September 25-30, 2023: I added text quotes and a video clip of Paola Harris in a September 16, 2023, presentation, stating that Reme Baca wanted $250,000 for the alien bracket and $250,000 for the story rights, and that she was unable to visit the "crash site" until after Baca died in 2013. I made minor modifications in other text to reflect these new and explicit statements by Harris.

(2) September 25, 2023: I tweaked a paragraph in which I speculate on Jose Padilla's motivations for continuing the hoax after Reme Baca's death in 2013.

(3) September 30, 2023: I added a single still image and a short clip from the 99-minute internet presentation given by Paola Harris on September 16, 2023, in which she provided details and commentary on the purported origin and attribute of the artifact, responded to certain criticisms, addressed certain disputed issues, and revealed that the artifact currently resides at "the University of Mexico City." I added a one-paragraph UPDATE and removed a sentence of original text from the article to reflect this new information.

(4) December 30, 2023: I added a quotation from Paola Harris's September 16, 2023, in which she defended the position that the artifact was an original part of the alien craft because it was mounted on a "plaque," as depicted in an illustration that she displayed.