Crash Story File: "My dad is a pathological liar"

Crash Story File: "My dad is a pathological liar"
Sammy Padilla, son of Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla, speaks to a New Mexico State Police officer about his father's widely publicized UFO crash story and other matters (July 23, 2022). (New Mexico Department of Public Safety public record)

By Douglas Dean Johnson

@ddeanjohnson on X/Twitter

[Regarding controversy over the book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, the story of purported UFO-crash witnesses Reme Baca and Jose Padilla:] "We recognized this appetite for fame on the part of Mr. Baca, and as a result I wrote the book very much from the point of view of Mr. Padilla who was our primary source of information...." – Jacques Vallee, "Trinity: The Inconvenient Reality: A response to Douglas Dean Johnson’s 'Crash Story'" (May 15th, 2023)

"Reme Baca was pretty greedy. He wanted $250,000 for the piece [a metal bracket supposedly removed from a crashed alien craft], and $250,000 for the story....[But Jose Padilla] is one of the most honest people I've ever met." – Paola Harris, co-author of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, in a presentation titled "Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity" (September 16, 2023)

"This [Jose Padilla] is the best witness you could have...He is really an excellent observer." – Jacques Vallee on Into the Vortex with Jimmy Church (S1, Ep8), December 25, 2022, excerpt posted on Facebook by Unexplained on Gaia on October 1, 2023

"It was Jose's son [Sammy Padilla], an Internet-savvy young man, who managed to reconnect communication between them [i.e., between Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, in about 2002]." – Jacques Vallee, "A Tale of Two Urchins: Truth and Consequences in New Mexico Ufology" (September 23, 2023)

Original publication date: September 29, 2023. Any later updates or revisions to the original article are noted in a log 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.

On July 23, 2022-- many months before I published a word about the Trinity UFO-crash story or even thought about doing so-- Sammy Padilla told a New Mexico State Police officer that "my dad is a pathological liar," and expressed the belief that the Trinity UFO story was untrue.

Sammy Padilla, now age 61, is the son of Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla, age 86. The two men share a single dwelling place in La Joya, New Mexico. In recent months, Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris have pointed to Jose Padilla as their primary and most trustworthy witness to the Trinity UFO crash of 1945 (which I believe to be a non-existent event, a sloppy hoax). The other claimed 1945 eyewitness, Remigio (Reme) Baca, died in 2013.

Sammy Padilla's statements to the New Mexico State Police (NMSP) were recorded in video and audio by the body cam of a NMSP officer who was dispatched in response to a request from Sammy Padilla, who wished to discuss certain alleged behavior by his father Jose, and who also seemed to have some things he wanted to get off his chest about the UFO story.

Sammy Padilla told the NMSP officer, "My dad claims he saw a UFO when he was small. Well, there's these people from Europe. There's a woman especially named Paola Harris, and she has gotten him to back things up. And now they wrote a book about it, and now she's writing a life story about him, and it's going to be made into a movie, supposedly, and all this stuff. A lot of people knew it was bullshit what he's saying."

In an audio-recorded conversation with the NMSP dispatcher earlier the same day, Sammy Padilla said, "There's some people that my dad got involved with, because he claimed to see a UFO. And now this woman– it's not my cousin, but this other woman, who is writing a book about him, and telling him that this book is going to become a movie, and he's going to be famous. And so he's going on this stuff. And I can tell you, from what I have heard from what he has told other people, they're not true."

Additional statements by Sammy Padilla pertaining to certain public claims by Jose Padilla are found in transcripts below, and in the body-cam recording.

New Mexico law requires law enforcement officers to activate their body-cams during such interactions with members of the public. Such recordings (with certain redactions specified by law) are public records under the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), which is a state law that is in some ways similar to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but with fewer exclusions and exceptions. In New Mexico, many interactions between law enforcement officers and members of the general public are accessible to anyone who submits a properly formulated request, which is what I did. I received the body-cam recording on May 24, 2023, along with an audio recording of an earlier conversation between Sammy Padilla and a NMSP dispatcher, and also a written report ("Event Information") summarizing some of that day's communications between Sammy Padilla and the agency personnel. All of these records were generated by interactions between Sammy Padilla and NMSP personnel on July 23, 2022.

The Event Information report attributes to Sammy Padilla the additional statement that his father "is a very good liar."


The Baca-Padilla tale of a 1945 UFO crash, followed by military recovery of the craft, has been carried across much of the world by Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris in two editions of their book, Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (2021, 2022), in their many related interviews and podcasts, and in mainstream media articles generated mostly by Vallee and by a professional publicist hired by Vallee, including a respectful article in the New York Times on January 13, 2023.

In my view, it is a positive development that the subject of UFOs (or "unidentified anomalous phenomena") is increasingly recognized as worthy of serious attention from scientists, Members of Congess, and certain government agencies. Given this progress, the continued pollution of the field by those who originate or perpetrate hoaxes, or who indulge in and propagate evidence-deficient fantasy excursions, is regrettable. Beginning May 1, 2023, I have published a series of investigative reports, which I believe demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the Trinity UFO crash story is a shoddy hoax, concocted by Baca and Padilla men in 2002-2003. Their original shaky tale has now been overlaid by others with multiple layers of fantasy enhancements and exercises in self-deception. My articles on this subject are indexed in the "hub article," found here.

Based on their recent statements, it appears to me that Vallee and Harris may aspire to reach still larger audiences with the Trinity-crash tale. In a presentation on September 16, 2023, titled Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity, Harris claimed, "Two Disney guys came to us that want to make the movie...Do I think it'll happen in the future? Yes." However, Harris also spoke of a couple of possible impediments. Moreover, in an email to me dated September 26, 2023, Harris asserted, "Disney has not expressed interest in making any production based on Trinity." I have not yet had opportunity to explore the apparent contradiction between Harris's September 16 and September 26 statements, but perhaps I will later find time for further investigative journalism on the matter. It may be noteworthy that Sammy Padilla mentioned "a movie" both in his phone conversation and in his face-to-face conversation with NMSP personnel on July 23, 2022.

Also, in a phone interview on September 18, 2023, with Sabrina Padilla, she told me, "They're trying to make a movie. It just takes some time to establish everything with Disney." Sabrina Padilla is a niece of Jose Padilla; Paola Harris has classified her as an important "witness" in the UFO saga, although Sabrina says she was born in 1953. (See end note B.)

Vallee and Harris also appear to have participated in the production of an alien-themed film titled We Are Not Alone. A trailer for the film released on September 8, 2023, included clips of Vallee and Harris and an animated depiction of the Trinity crash. The 90-minute film is scheduled for release on October 3, 2023. I wrote an advance piece based in part on the trailer, here.

In addition, both Vallee and Harris have recently spoken of publication of a forthcoming revision of their book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. Harris even displayed a photo of the planned cover during her September 16 presentation.

The planned cover for a forthcoming revised edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, as displayed by Paola Harris during her September 16, 2023 presentation Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity. (Fair Use for journalistic and critical purposes.)

Yet incrementally over the past four months, Jacques Vallee has acknowledged publicly that Reme Baca made multiple false statements on highly pertinent matters, most recently acknowledging that Baca once pitched a different UFO-crash childhood-memory tale to journalists-- that is, Baca presented as fact a UFO story that Vallee now concedes to have been "fiction." [I discovered and reported on Reme Baca's multiple "drafts" for a Baca-Padilla boyhood UFO adventure tale in Crash Story File: The Reme Baca Smoking-Gun Interview (May 20, 2023).] In a public memorandum published May 15, 2023, Vallee characterized as Baca as “boastful," with "an appetite for fame," who saw the Trinity story "as a personal opportunity." Vallee also wrote, "As the primary author [of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret], I only used the recorded data originating from Reme Baca when it could be compared and verified against other statements of fact." It context, it seems that by "other statements of fact," Vallee mostly meant statements by Jose Padilla.

For her part, Paola Harris said in her September 16, 2023 presentation, "Reme Baca was pretty greedy. He wanted $250,oo0 for the piece [alleged alien artifact], and $250,000 for the story."

Such disparaging characterizations of "eyewitness" Reme Baca are in marked contrast with the manner in which Harris and Vallee talked about Baca for years, prior to the publication of my initial investigative reports on May 1, 2023. On a June 3, 2021 Coast to Coast AM interview, Vallee publicly referred to the two men as "the best possible witnesses." In both the first and second editions of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Vallee-Harris designated a 2011 memoir book, Born on the Edge of Ground Zero, written/assembled and copyrighted by Baca, to be "the primary reference to the events described here." (See page 317 in the First Edition and page 337 in the Second Edition.) Nowhere in either edition of the Vallee-Harris book did the authors acknowledge that from the start, Baca had demanded $250,000 for the rights to the UFO-crash story, and another $250,000 for the purported alien artifact. This is representative of many ways in which the narrative found in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret was sculpted and polished to obscure many unpalatable facts, contradictions, and disconfirmations.

Now, in what appear to me to be increasingly desperate efforts by Vallee and Harris to salvage the 1945 UFO crash story, in the face of ever-expanding proofs of Baca's proclivity for gross fabrication and monetary motivation, the co-authors are bending over backwards to paint Jose Padilla as a paragon of candor and the font of authentic information about the purported 1945 event. In her September 16, 2023 talk, Harris called Jose Padilla "one of the most honest people I've ever met."

In my opinion, such assessments cannot be squared with the documentation that I have published elsewhere that Jose Padilla has told multiple substantial lies about his background. See Crash Story File: Jose Padilla's "Stolen Valor" Claims to Service in the California Highway Patrol, and Crash Story File: Jose Padilla's "Stolen Valor" Military Claims, both published May 1, 2023. In response to those articles, Jose Padilla has provided Vallee and Harris with dubious new claims as "explanations" for the previous misrepresentations– explanations that I believe are implausible on their face, and that would probably collapse under a modest amount of proper independent investigation. (See end note C.)

Vallee and Harris have also ignored my findings that Jose Padilla has made many blatantly contradictory statements even regarding the purported crash-related events of 1945. See Crash Story File: The Shifting Narratives of the Trinity UFO Crash and Recovery (May 1, 2023), particularly the section describing what I have dubbed "Padilla's Bungled Interview" with Mel Fabregas on November 24, 2010.

Vallee is now trying to brush off as mere memory errors some of Padilla's past claims (made over a period of many years) that I have proven to be false. But when one examines the details, this explanation is implausible in nearly every instance, besides flying in the face of Vallee's previous assurances, in writings and interviews, that Padilla possesses a "photographic memory," "an eidetic memory." As for Harris, as recently as her September 16, 2023 presentation, she insisted that Padilla "has a photographic memory....Jose is a walking encyclopedia. He remembers everything....He remembers the whole thing. So he doesn't change his story no matter who's gone down there, because it really happened."


With all that I have written above as context, I now assess that, taken as a whole, the Sammy Padilla police recordings of July 23, 2022 contain information pertinent to evaluating the credibility of Joseph Lopez Padilla, both in general and with respect to certain specific claims related to the UFO crash tale. The validity of Jose Padilla's UFO-related claims constitute no trivial or private matter: It has important implications with respect to both scientific questions and major matters of public policy. Remember, the story involves the claims that the federal government seized and has had possession of the crashed alien craft since 1945. Vallee has publicly asserted that a component of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act was altered based on his promotion of the 1945 crash story, prior to the bill's enactment in late 2022. These factors mitigate towards bringing to bear all credible sources of data regarding Jose Padilla's credibility and the truthfulness of his shifting claims. [See also end notes A and B.]

Given Sammy Padilla's many years of close proximity to Jose Padilla– observational exposure vastly exceeding the occasional visits by Vallee and Harris-- and the fact that Sammy Padilla of his own accord volunteered to the New Mexico State Police his unsolicited assessments of some other key figures in the Trinity UFO-crash saga, I judge that his July 2022 statements to New Mexico State Police officials constitute important data for any researcher or policy maker who seeks to assess the likelihood that the claimed 1945 UFO crash actually occurred.

Vallee has cited statements supportive of Jose Padilla's credibility by family members more remotely situated, so he apparently finds family member testimony relevant in principle. (See end notes B and D.)

But what about "privacy"? Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla has made himself a public figure, in promulgating claims to have witnessed the U.S. military load up and haul off an alien craft, in August 1945– claims that, over a 20-year period, have been widely disseminated with Jose Padilla's active cooperation– including, in earlier years, multiple extended radio interviews. Moreover, according to Jacques Vallee, in 2022 those claims even resulted in revision of a provision of legislation pending in Congress, a change that was subsequently enacted into law.

At the same time, at least as Sammy Padilla viewed the matter and narrated it to the State Police in July 2022, Jose Padilla's involvement in the UFO affair was a major contributing factor to inter-family problems--problems that led Sammy Padilla to seek assistance from various public agencies, including the New Mexico State Police. This resulted in observations and opinions that otherwise probably would have remained private instead becoming matters of public record. The situation is somewhat similar to what occurs when inter-family disagreements come before a court of law – previously private matters thereby become matters of public record, in many cases.


In the body-cam recording, Sammy Padilla tells the NMSP officer, within the first minute of the conversation, "My dad is a pathological liar."

At timestamp 2:55, Sammy Padilla said:

My dad claims he saw a UFO when he was small. Well, there's these people from Europe. There's a woman especially named Paola Harris, and she has gotten him to back things up. And now they wrote a book about it, and now she's writing a life story about him, and it's going to be made into a movie, supposedly, and all this stuff. A lot of people knew it was bullshit what he's saying. But my cousin, Sabrina, who's an instigator [says]: "Oh, really? Really?" And started supporting him and pushing him on.

Sammy Padilla made similar remarks to the NMSP dispatcher in the earlier phone conversation (at timestamp 6:31):

Dispatcher: You said that the death threats started last year in February, correct?

Sammy Padilla: Some have been death threats. Others have been threatening to hurt me, but they weren't death threats. And it started in February of last year [2021]. This is when--okay, go ahead, you want to...? Can I tell you what happened at that time period?

Dispatcher: Yes, of course.

Sammy Padilla: Okay. That is when a cousin of mine got involved with this situation, and she's been egging him on and things. And I told you that my dad has, I would say, a form of narcissism. He builds himself bigger and bigger. Well, the cousin who got involved loves to instigate things and is always looking for a handout. So she started getting involved and started feeding him garbage. But how she got involved, is my dad– oh, it really doesn't– there's some people that my dad got involved with, because he claimed to see a UFO. And now this woman– it's not my cousin, but this other woman, who is writing a book about him, and telling him that this book is going to become a movie, and he's going to be famous. And so he's going on this stuff. And I can tell you, that from what I have heard from he has told other people, they're not true.

In the body-cam video, Sammy Padilla also said (at timestamp 5:07):

But he's also been telling people he was a police officer in California, which he never was. He's talking to people about, he's a war veteran. He was never in the-- because he's deaf in one ear. Oh, he's telling people-- do you know, when the atomic bomb went off? My dad's claiming--because my dad grew up in San Antonio--he's claiming now that the bomb made him go deaf in one ear, which I know he was three years old, a doctor was drunk, trying to get something out of his ear, punctured it. And my brothers can verify this. I mean, family can verify. He's just saying a lot of stuff that's not true. But my dad, after looking back on things, narcissism, because he's always the victim.

Pertinent to the quotation just above: In the Second Edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, co-authors Vallee and Harris reported that Jose Padilla made this statement on October 16, 2020:

My mother told me about the big light, and we both got blinded in one eye when we stared at it. She never regained sight in that eye. I was luckier than her, I recovered my vision, but when the terrific sound wave came, my right eardrum ruptured. Blood rang down my neck. When Faustino [Jose's father] saw that, he thought I'd been shot.

In an presentation on September 16, 2023, Harris repeated the claim that when the first atomic blast went off, on July 16, 1945, "Jose, who was then 9 years old [actually 8], his eardrum was blown out."

The entire public record body-cam recording runs between 14 and 15 minutes. I have embedded below a 7-minute clip, which includes the material most relevant to Jose Padilla's UFO crash story. A link to the entire public record recording appears farther down the page.

Sammy Padilla, son of Joseph (Jose) Padilla, speaks to a New Mexico State Police officer on July 23, 2022.

[If you have difficulty playing this video clip, it can also be downloaded from this link– but be advised, it is a large file, nearly 300 mb.]


When I first reviewed these police recordings on May 24, 2023, it was of special interest to me to see that Jose Padilla's son had told a law enforcement officer that Jose Padilla had been lying about having been a police officer in California, and had been lying about being a war veteran. I found Sammy Padilla's statements on those points to be of special interest because they were consistent with conclusions that I had already reached entirely independently, after investigating public records– conclusions that I had made public, with abundant documentation, in several of the investigative articles that I had published on May 1, 2023. [See end note C.]

However, I do not have independent knowledge of the accuracy of any the other statements made by Sammy Padilla to the police representatives regarding his father's alleged behavior. Moreover, I do not express any opinion here on the accuracy of Sammy Padilla's characterizations of alleged actions by or motivations of the other individuals to whom he referred. In my personal opinion, one must allow for the possibility that, even if one assumes that Sammy Padilla believed everything he said in both the telephone conversation with the NMSP dispatcher and in the face-to-face conversation with the NMSP officer, it is possible that Sammy Padilla might have been mistaken or imprecise in one or more of his beliefs, assessments, or recollections, or he may have expressed some of his assessments in exaggerated language. Moreover, in the 14 months that have passed since these recordings were made on July 23, 2022, the circumstances and relationships that Sammy Padilla described might have changed, or he might have altered his assessments. In short, what we have here is a public record of the assessments of one well-situated observer at a certain moment in time.

It should also be noted that none of the statements made by Sammy Padilla in the police video or the prior phone call were made under oath. However, in New Mexico it is a criminal offense (usually a misdemeanor) "to intentionally make a report to a law enforcement agency or official, which report he knows to be false at the time of making it, alleging a violation by another person of the provisions of the Criminal Code." (Section 30-39-1)

The New Mexico State Police officer who made the body cam recording listened to what Sammy Padilla had to say, then advised, "He [Jose Padilla] hasn't committed a crime." The officer observed that some of the past behavior that Sammy alleged would be appropriate for police intervention but only if it occurred in the future and was promptly reported. The officer advised that some of Sammy's other complaints, as stated, were not matters for the police at all: "The guns, it's not illegal to have guns. It's not illegal to say that you're a war veteran. It's not illegal to say that you're a police officer, okay?...I don't think there's anything I can do for you."

[Actually, it is generally illegal to falsely present oneself as a current law enforcement officer, but nobody claims that Jose Padilla has done that. I believe that the NMSP officer was correct in concluding that making up a fiction about having been a cop in the past, which is what Jose Padilla did, by itself is not a criminal matter. As to bogus claims about military service, in its 2012 ruling in United States v. Alvarez, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a federal law, the Stolen Valor Act, that made it a criminal misdemeanor to falsely claim receipt of certain U.S. military decorations. In my opinion, this ruling implies that in general, lies about military service, war wounds, and the like, are deemed to be protected under the First Amendment. Subsequently, Congress enacted a revised version of the Stolen Valor Act that makes it a misdemeanor to falsely claim to have been awarded certain military decorations, but only if this is done "with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit." 18 U.S.C. § 704]

[UPDATE (October 5, 2023): On October 1, 2023, the Facebook account Unexplained on Gaia posted a sample from an interview with Jacques Vallee (from Season 1, Episode 8 of Into the Vortex with Jimmy Church), in which Vallee set forth claims that Jose Padilla had combat service in Korea, service as a California Highway Patrol officer "for many years," "had two bullets in his body," "is the best witness you could have," and "is really an excellent observer." A 55-second clip is embedded here under Fair Use for purposes of investigative journalism, criticism, commentary, and education.]


Jacques Vallee expounds on the purported credibility credentials of Jose Padilla, on Into the Vortex with Jimmy Church (Season 1, Episode 8), December 25, 2022. Video clip presented under Fair Use for purposes of investigative journalism, commentary, criticism, and education.


It appears that the sequence of events on July 23, 2022, was as follows:

(1) Sammy Padilla drove to a New Mexico State Police district station at Socorro, and expressed concern about certain alleged behavior by his father, Jose Padilla. There is no audio or video record of that conversation. However, through a IPRA request, I obtained an "Event Information" report that contained brief notes on the conversation, including a notation that Sammy told the NMSP staffer that "his father is a very good liar."

(2) Sammy Padilla left the station, but then received a phone call from a NMSP dispatcher, who questioned him for about 11 minutes about his concerns. The Event Information report contains notes summarizing this conversation. However, it is not necessary to rely on those notes, because through an IPRA request, I obtained the actual audio recording of the dispatcher's calls to Sammy Padilla and then to the officer who was sent to talk to Sammy Padilla face-to-face. During the recorded phone conversation with the dispatcher, Sammy Padilla volunteered several statements pertinent to his father's UFO-crash story, which I quoted above. Below, I have embedded the entire audio file just as I obtained it from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

(3) Based on the telephone conversation, the dispatcher sent an officer to talk to Sammy face-to-face at a highway rest stop, which is where the body-cam recording was made. The rest-stop conversation occurred from about 1:20 PM to about 1:59 PM, local time.


In addition to the body-cam public-record video excerpt embedded above, the entire body-cam public-record video, as provided by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, can be downloaded from this link. Be warned that it is a large file, about 353 mb.

The audio file (.wav) of the July 23, 2022 conversations between Sammy Padilla and the NMSP dispatcher, and between the dispatcher and the responding officer, is embedded below, or may be downloaded from this link. This file is about 10 mb.

New Mexico State Police Sammy Padilla phone 7 23 22

The printed NMSP Event Information report summarizing all three interactions between Sammy Padilla and NMSP personnel on July 23, 2022, with appropriate redactions, is embedded below, or may be downloaded from this link. It is a small PDF document.

A transcript of the entire body-cam video is embedded below (PDF file, 93 kb). Take note that this transcript is not a government document; it was made at my request by a professional transcribing service. I corrected some errors but it likely contains other errors. The transcript is helpful to find specific passages in the recordings, but should not be relied upon without direct reference to the recordings. Only the NMSP recordings and Event Information report constitute official public records, not the transcript.


(A) In a "declaration" dated September 23, 2023, titled "A Tale of Two Urchins: Truth and Consequences in New Mexico Ufology," Jacques Vallee enumerated a number of criticisms of my reporting on the Trinity story (which he attributed to "Mr. Dale Johnson"), among these, "He [Johnson] has not met the witnesses or their relatives, except as reported by our elderly witness [Jose Padilla], in phone calls that Mr. Padilla justly perceived as harassment." For the record, to date I have called Jose Padilla twice. The first time, on May 9, 2023, as I have reported elsewhere, we had a civil 7-minute conversation ("mister" and "sir" in both directions), mostly about Eddie Apodaca. Padilla did bring the conversation to an end somewhat abruptly after I contradicted him for a second time about Apodaca– he said, “Excuse me, sir, I am going to have to hang up now and call my manager.” I said, "Your manager? Who is that?" He responded, "Good-bye," and hung up. (I still don't know who Jose Padilla's "manager" is.) He did not instruct me not to call again. On the second call, on May 12, 2023, the conversation was short: I began to pose a question, but Jose Padilla merely suggested twice, "Why don't you go to hell?," and then hung up. I find it incongruous that Vallee criticized me for not talking to "witnesses," but in the very same sentence characterized these two calls (polite from my end) as constituting "harassment." But of course, Vallee never asked me about the calls – true to habit, he simply repeated what Jose Padilla told him. Anyway, given Vallee's stated interest in the testimony of relatives, I hope that he will give careful consideration to the perspective expressed by Sammy Padilla in the 2022 police recordings.

(B) In a December 2010 interview, broadcaster Richard Syrett asked Jose Padilla directly whether Padilla had ever even mentioned the UFO crash, even to his wife or other family members, prior to the publication of the story by Ben Moffett in late 2003. Padilla responded, "No, not until 2003, when we got discovered, when my wife heard about it." Nevertheless, in the Second Edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Vallee and Harris devoted many pages to interviews with Sabrina Padilla, a niece of Jose Padilla, who in a phone interview on September 18, 2023, told me that she was born in 1953-- more than eight years after the purported UFO crash. Sabrina told me that she had never met Reme Baca. In the book, Sabrina recalled once seeing a burned area in the scrub land when a little girl. She also recalled playing with stringy material called "angel hair" that they used to decorate Christmas trees, material that irritated her skin Harris has declared that this material must have been something akin to "fiber-optic cable," a good example of her practice of "connecting the dots" in an evidence-free fashion. In the 1950s a stringy material called "angel hair" was sold as a Christmas tree decoration. It was made of fiberglass or spun glass, which irritates the skin when handled. Sabrina's other "evidence" claims, as set forth in the book, were even more attenuated.

I asked Sabrina what she knew about a possible Disney movie based on the story. She said, "There's just a lot of things going on right now. They're trying to make a movie. It just takes some time to establish everything with Disney." (She provided no specifics, and it was not clear to me if Sabrina was really in any applicable loop.) I asked, "Would you be a part of that enterprise, if it comes together?" She said, "Well, I understand that I was supposed to be, since they've got to get somebody to play me in the movie." I asked if she had any suggestion as to who she would like to see play her part in such a movie, and she said she did not, but "I'm thinking it would have to be a child, of course, because I was a child when that happened."

(C) In an interview with George Knapp posted on October 21, 2021, Jacques Vallee said, "Mr. Padilla went on to be a highway patrolman after being at war in Korea. He has two bullets in his body, one from the war, and one from someone that he was arresting as a cop in California as a highway patrol officer. These are serious people, this is not a joke."

However, in a public memo published on May 15, 2023, under "5. Why The Trinity Case Still Stands," Vallee abandoned previous oft-repeated claims that Padilla had served for decades as a law enforcement officer with the California Highway Patrol, which I had proven false in one of my May 1, 2023 articles. It its place, Vallee passed on a new account in which Padilla carries a bullet in his body dating from an encounter with a malefactor while working as a truck inspector, for an unnamed contractor for the California Highway Patrol, at an undisclosed date and place, with no documentation provided and no details provided that would allow any independent investigator to confirm or disprove the claim. (Such a shooting would have left records both in the press and in state agency records, but looking for such records would require details such as a place and date– which ought to be no problem if the story were true, since both Vallee and Harris have repeatedly asserted that Jose Padilla possesses a "photographic memory.") However, Harris did reveal, in her September 16, 2023 internet presentation, that she now has what she considers evidence of the new version – a photograph of the overalls that Padilla reportedly wore on the job as "a subcontractor" who crawled under trucks on behalf of the California Highway Patrol. I suppose we can look forward to seeing that photo in the next revision of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret.

Vallee and Harris have offered no real explanation for the years of previous misrepresentations regarding Padilla's fictional career as a California Highway Patrol officer, mentioned cited six times as a credibility credential in the second edition of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (the lead dedication of the book is to "Officer Jose Padilla"), and never corrected by Padilla until my article appeared.

Vallee also now asserts, again without providing any documentation or any checkable details, that Padilla had been wounded in military service not during the Korean War – I had debunked that claim in another article – but during post-war "mop up operations" in Korea, a tale even more implausible than the earlier version.

Based on investigative findings published and unpublished, I believe that Joseph Lopez Padilla never served in the military. The truth or falsity of Padilla's morphing military claims could be settled definitively by Padilla signing a Standard Form 180, authorizing the release of military records to a third party. The signed form could be turned over to some competent journalist or researcher with no stake in the controversy, to file with the government, with the prior understanding that whatever comes back will be published in total. (I believe such an official search would come up empty.)

It is possible that Jose Padilla carries a bullet in his body from some source, but Vallee has failed to provide any evidence whatever in support of even the existence of either bullet-in-body – no affidavit from a doctor, no X-rays, etc.

In my opinion, Vallee is being negligent and evasive in continuing to transmit to the public successive implausible claims originating with his single star "eyewitness," claims that bear heavily on the credibility of the "witness," without providing independent documentation worthy of being called such, and without obtaining and providing the details and/or authorizations that would allow independent researchers to confirm or disconfirm Padilla's claims by reference to sources of authoritative documentation (e.g., authorization for release of military records to a third party, date and place of allegedly being shot while a contractor for the state of California, et cetera).

(D) In some past narratives by Jose Padilla, it was an internet research by Sammy Padilla that re-connected Reme Baca and Jose Padilla in 2002, after decades without contact (although in some other accounts, the reconnection occurred in a different way). Vallee himself mentioned Sammy Padilla's role (although not his name) in a September 23, 2023 declaration, as quoted at the top of this article.

-- Douglas Dean Johnson

[my gmail address is my full name]


(1) October 5, 2023: From an interview of Jacques Vallee conducted by Jimmy Church, originally published December 25, 2022, a sample of which was posted on Facebook on October 1, 2023, I added a quote at the beginning of the article, and a short video clip in which Vallee attributed to Jose Padilla combat service in Korea, service as a California Highway Patrol officer "for many years," "two bullets in his body," etc.

(2) October 5, 2023: I refined the short explanation of federal constitutional and statutory law applicable to different types of false claims regarding military service.

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 and index, click here.

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.