Crash Story File: The Shifting Narratives of the Trinity UFO Crash and Recovery

Crash Story File: The Shifting Narratives of the Trinity UFO Crash and Recovery
Asked how close this illustration by James Neff was to what he saw in August 1945, Reme Baca said, "Almost as if you were there... It doesn't get any better." (Credit: James Neff, Jeff Rense.)

By Douglas Dean Johnson

Original publication: May 1, 2023

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.

Beginning in 2003, Remigio (Reme) Baca and Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla publicly told a story of extraordinary events that they said occurred in August, 1945, on land leased from the government by Padilla’s father, near San Antonio, New Mexico. They claimed that as boys they had heard something crash loudly nearby, reached the scene soon thereafter, and saw strange humanoid creatures darting about within a partly buried craft shaped like an avocado. Over a period of days, they said, two of their elders briefly entered the craft, and one of the boys later also entered and retrieved a metallic artifact. The military then carried the craft away on a flatbed truck in the dead of night.

This story has become known to a wide audience mostly because of the publication and promotion of a book about the claims, Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, by Jacques F. Vallee and Paola Leoppizzi Harris (First Edition June 2021, Second Edition August 2022). The location of the crash was later described by Vallee-Harris as “only 25 miles or so from Ground Zero,” the site of the first-ever atomic blast, the “Trinity” test of July 16, 1945. [On February 26, 2024, James Price published an article presenting evidence that the site chosen by the hoaxers as their "crash site" is actually 39 statutory miles from Ground Zero.]

It is difficult to provide even a summary timeline of the purported events involved in this tale, because after reading or listening to well over a dozen interviews with or narratives by the three men who are claimed as sources of first-hand witness testimony (Reme Baca, Jose Padilla, and William P. “Billy” Brophy, the son of a long-deceased military pilot), it would be difficult for me to come up with any significant aspect or incident on which the sources of "eyewitness" testimony have not contradicted themselves, and/or each other. Even on major basic narrative components – the order in which major events occurred, who did what, and so forth – the “witnesses” have made numerous statements that are utterly irreconcilable.

I will give some examples of some such blatant contradictions, but it would be tiresome to even begin to catalog them—tiresome, and superfluous. If someone is so attached to this entire tale that they can rationalize the two “eyewitnesses," Baca and Padilla, both making Officer Eddie Apodaca, “a friend of the family,” into a prime character in their tale— a proven lie -- then that True Believer is not going to be persuaded by any number of conflicting statements about the order in which major incidents occurred, the appearances of the aliens, or other details.

My research has documented beyond reasonable doubt that the “eyewitnesses” engaged in multiple gross fabrications about their own backgrounds and about documentable past events. Since the credibility of each purported source of “eyewitness” testimony utterly dissolved under a modicum of sustained scrutiny, why should should anyone become overly wrapped up in dissecting inconsistencies in what are clearly just made-up stories?

[UPDATE (Sept. 25, 2023): This article was written before I discovered a 30-minute recording of Reme Baca describing an entirely different boyhood UFO-crash adventure that he claimed he and Jose Padilla shared. The recording, made less than a year before the first publication of the tale told in the Vallee-Harris book, told of encountering a downed alien craft in 1946 (not 1945), and differed in every other significant aspect from the later public story, other than the identity of the protagonists and the general geographical region. This discovery– absolutely fatal to the entire Trinity-crash edifice– is described in my article "Crash Story File: The Reme Baca Smoking Gun Interview" (May 20, 2023), which includes the entire unedited 30-minute audio file of Baca telling his original tale, which he later abandoned in favor of the new story that Harris and Vallee later swallowed whole.]

To my eye, neither Baca nor Padilla have ever been terribly accomplished liars. They started out rather tentative and clumsy. Baca, undoubtedly the primary architect of the hoax, was much more loquacious than Padilla—indeed, he would sometimes frustrate friendly podcast interviewers (and the interviewers were all unskeptical ), going off on long digressions, loving the sound of his own voice. Padilla has never become a very fluid storyteller, although in time he mastered some routines, and apparently he has been able to come across as affable and earnest enough to be persuasive to many listeners who already predisposed to believe the story.

Over time, I believe that the two men learned that they could elaborate and improvise new riffs on their original story, without anybody subjecting their innovations and alterations to truly skeptical scrutiny, or checking them against external sources of documentation, as I have now done. And so, their stories grew. Flourishes and enhancements were added over the years. I wonder if Baca (prior to his death in 2013) and Padilla were not amazed at times at how much they could get away with.

They got away with quite a lot.


For those unwilling to listen to or read a dozen interviews as I did, I would recommend reading the document that Reme Baca submitted to Ryan S. Wood, prepared in March 2005 (according to the Word document properties). Much of the piece was simply copy-and-pasted from the first public presentation of the story that had appeared in the Mountain Mail of October 30 and November 6, 2003, which were written by Ben Moffett based entirely on what the two men told him. But it also contained several pages in which Baca recites elements of the story in his own words.

Then, compare that narrative to the hour-long interview of Jose Padilla by Mel Fabregas, recorded on November 24, 2010, and broadcast on Veritas Radio on December 10, 2010 – an appearance that for convenience I have come to refer to as Padilla’s Bungled Interview (PBI).

The plan that day had been for Padilla and Baca to phone in to Fabregas simultaneously, as was their usual practice, but (as Fabregas explained at the beginning of the broadcast) a snowstorm in Washington State had disrupted local phone lines, making Baca’s participation impossible. (There really was a huge snowstorm in Washington State on that date—I checked!) As a result, Padilla unexpectedly was required to carry the entire hour-long interview himself, rather than simply giving canned short answers between longer discourses by Baca or Paola Harris, which was his usual role in those days.

Fabregas made his enthusiastic belief in the UFO-crash story plain, but he also kept pressing Padilla for more details, both on the order of events and on the details of each component event. Without Baca or Harris there to keep things on track, Padilla was soon at sea, floundering and contradicting the official narrative and timeline on numerous points.

For example, asked if there was fire at the crash site, Padilla said, “No, no fire at all. Just smoke.” That contradicted numerous statements made before and since by both “eyewitnesses,” e.g., Baca, in his first recorded interview with Harris on July 5, 2010, said, “...that oily brush is burning so the smoke’s coming into your eyes...” (Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Second Edition, p. 21). In a video interview with Paola Harris conducted at the "crash site" after Baca's death in 2013, Padilla said, "It was like a forest fire here, because these trees over here, and cactuses, they were grown, and you know, with the heat and everything like that, it makes a lot of smoke." In a 2019 interview with Vallee-Harris, Padilla said, “I tell you, that thing was so hot when it hit the ground, that it started a fire!” (Trinity, p. 105.) Vallee has said, “There was fire. The vegetation was on fire.” (A Different Perspective, June 3, 2021, at 19:40)

In PBI, Padilla also insisted that the boys had not returned to the crash site until the third day after the crash, and then were accompanied by two adults. Yet less than five months earlier, in his first recorded interview with Paola Harris, Reme Baca had repeatedly insisted that the two boys returned to the site on the day after the crash, in order to throw alien metal down into a crevice, for purposes of retrieving it at a later date. (Further on, I discuss how Vallee and Harris “erased” this second-day visit in their chronology of events in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret.)

In PBI, Padilla improvised at times – for example, throwing in a new detail that Officer Eddie Apodaca had seen other strange things while on nighttime police patrols around Socorro County (which, for reasons I have explained elsewhere, was impossible, since Eddie Apodaca was in the Army Air Corps in Europe in August 1945, and did not become a New Mexico State Police officer until August 1951).

Also in PBI, Padilla said that the boys could only visit the crash site late in the day during the military-recovery period, because they had to go to school (in August, in 1945?). He said that on the last day, when the craft was secured tilted on the truck bed, they could not see the bottom of the craft, yet in a 2003 interview with Jeff Rense, both Baca and Padilla went on for some minutes describing in great detail three orifices they had seen on the bottom of the craft that day. Padilla described Baca’s discovery of a piece of memory-metal as occurring on the last day that the craft was present, rather than on the first day as in all other narratives. And there were other deviations and implausible innovations as well.

By the end of listening to Padilla’s Bungled Interview, I was actually feeling just a little bit sorry for the old prevaricator.

"Crash site" as shown in a video shot circa 2013 by a crew affiliated with filmmaker James Fox.


Now, allow me to take a step back, and present the growth of the Baca-Padilla tale in a more chronological manner.

The Baca-Padilla story was first presented to the public by Ben Moffett, a writer for a small newspaper called the Mountain Mail, published in Socorro County, New Mexico. The paper, now defunct, had a circulation of about 1,000. Baca and Padilla approached Moffett because they had gone to grade school with him, although they had not been in contact since the 1950s. Moffett wrote up their tale in a two-part article, “Aliens Among Us?” and “Witnesses Still Wonder About Crash Operation,” published in the October 30 and November 5, 2003 editions, respectively. Moffett included short biographical sidebars on his two sources. A re-publication, easier to read than the PDF images of the original articles, was posted by Jeff Rense here and here.

In 2015, Moffett wrote an Amazon book review in which he distanced himself from the claims made in the two articles, stating that he had merely recorded what the two men told him, had investigated nothing, and that “I was never comfortable with many of Baca’s assertions.”

In Paola Harris’s first recorded interview with Baca, conducted in person on July 5, 2010, Baca said, “I was age 7 and Jose was 9.” Harris and Vallee have usually repeated those ages in their narratives. But, as can easily be ascertained by reference to the actual validated birth dates of the two men (10-26-38 and 11-24-36, respectively), their actual ages at the time of the purported events would have been 8 (Padilla) and 6 (Baca).

The dates and durations of the various component events have varied in different recitations. In her first recorded interview with Baca on July 5, 2010, Baca told Harris that the crash itself occurred on “1945 August...And it was like the 15th.” Jose Padilla, whom Vallee and Harris have repeatedly asserted has a “photographic memory,” has affirmed conflicting dates for the crash (August 15 or August 16). In an article on the case featured in MUFON UFO Journal, June 2016, Harris repeatedly cited a crash date of August 18: “Jose and Remy were two children who happened to see a UFO crash on August 18, 1945, one month after the atomic bomb blast.” (p. 11) “...there was first a crash at San Antonio around August 18...” (p. 14)

In Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition, page 16), Vallee-Harris wrote that “we’ve verified” August 16 (exactly one month after the Trinity atomic test) as the crash date, but they did not say how.

Padilla has variously claimed that a return visit with two adults occurred on the second or third day following the crash. In different interviews, Padilla has confidently asserted that he removed an artifact from the downed spacecraft on Saturday, August 25, and on Sunday, August 26. “It was a Saturday, the last was the 25th, I believe," said Jose Padilla, on The Conspiracy Show with Richard Syrett, December 12, 2010. But in a video a few years later, Padilla said of Sunday, August 26, “That’s when I took that part." (video presented at 2013 MUFON event)


The coordinates of the location of the purported crash site have not been published, as far as I know. The location has been described in conflicting manner in different sources. In Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Vallee-Harris wrote that it is “only 25 miles or so from Ground Zero,” the site of the first atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945. An article by Harris in the MUFON UFO Journal of June, 2016, put the location at both “12 miles from Trinity Bomb site” and “13 miles from Trinity Bomb site.” The purported site has been visited by a number of UFO researchers, a film crew, and others.


The very first radio interview by Baca and Padilla following the initial publication of their story by Ben Moffett was their joint appearance on The Jeff Rense Program on November 18, 2003, Rense, although entirely unskeptical about the story, asked numerous questions, trying hard to elicit interesting details regarding the scene, the craft, the aliens.

This was a new experience for the two story-tellers, who were phoning in from two different places. Their responses were often tentative, halting. There were awkward pauses. Padilla was especially minimalistic in his replies, sometimes offering minor elaborations but often simply affirming things Baca said, or giving short answers followed by phrases such as “That’s about it.” Rense seemed a bit frustrated both by Baca’s frequent rambling digressions and by Padilla’s often unilluminating responses.

The December 2003 Rense interview is a good baseline for seeing how the story grew. Although Rense pumped the two “witnesses” for details for well over an hour, the aliens were described only in sketchy terms. There was nothing about receiving telepathic visions from the aliens, nothing about “angel hair” (“fiber-optic cables”), nothing about a second-day visit to throw metal in a crevice, and certainly nothing about a military plane circling overhead. These and many other enhancements came years later.

After more than an hour, Rense said, “Was there anything else that happened that you wanted to [talk about]--we have about five or six minutes left. I don’t want to miss anything important.” In response, Reme told a story about using folding metal he had picked up after the crash to repair a windmill in the 1950s. At no time during this 2003 interview was anything said about Padilla entering the craft and prying loose an artifact.

Also missing were various later manufactured side stories, such as the tale of Pedro the shepherd being visited one night by three ghostly aliens were looking for the piece that Padilla had pried loose from inside their craft (the aliens apparently being unaware, as Jacques Vallee surmised in a 2021 interview with George Knapp, that the artifact probably had been manufactured in Mexico). (See Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, pages 42-44.)

The answers provided to Rense were, on some matters, in striking contrast to the fully developed story presented to the world under the guidance of Paola Harris beginning in 2010. For example: On the crash day, Padilla claimed to have watched the aliens from about 200 feet away and through military-grade binoculars (which presumably would have been 6-power or 7-power), yet he was unable to provide Rense with any clear details. Nevertheless:

Rense: [to Padilla] But you didn’t see eyes at that distance?

Padilla: No.

Yet, at a MUFON conference in 2013, Paula Harris presented a video interview of Padilla, conducted not long before at the “crash site” by a crew associated with James Fox. In this interview, the now well-practiced Padilla gave an elaborate, detailed description of the aliens, from which I quote in part:

They were bald headed. Slanted eyes, tear-drop eyes. No ears, unless they had a coating of something on it. I noticed that their shoulders were kind of narrow, but had long arms. But it surprised me that they had four fingers. Only four fingers. Long arms. Probably longer than what a monkey would have...the mouth was open, round... [Padilla interview presented by Harris at 2013 MUFON conference, at 18 minutes. Boldface added for emphasis.]



In the original Ben Moffett account published October 30 and November 6, 2003, the boys, out looking for a cow who is expected to give birth, hear a loud sound, described as “a crunching sound [that] shook the ground around them. It was not at all like thunder.” However, in their first-ever radio interview after those articles appeared, on the Jeff Rense Program broadcast November 19, 2003, the two men mentioned no sound at all—instead, Padilla said that they were alerted by a bright flash of light (“all of a sudden we see a streak of light over the ridge...”).

The sound was back in Paola Harris’s first recorded interview with Baca on July 5, 2005, but the description of the sound had changed considerably.

BACA: ...we heard this loud bang.

HARRIS: You heard the actual crash.

BACA: We didn’t know it was a crash at that time. We heard this sound, like when the [atomic] bomb went off.

HARRIS: The same sound as like when the bomb went off.

BACA: Similar to same sound as when the bomb went off and it was still fresh in our minds....We heard this sound and the ground shook, and so memories came back of the atomic bomb explosion. Are they testing again or what?

After the flash, and/or the sound, the boys crossed a ridge and saw “a gouge in the earth as long as a football field, and a circular object at the end of it.” (But, in her June 2016 MUFON article, Harris wrote, “It crashed in a half-mile kind of stretch on the ground.”) Much debris was scattered about. In the standard narrative, on the day of the crash Reme picked up a piece of “thin, shiny material” that, when folded, unfolded itself; he put this foil in his pocket; in PBI, this occurred about 10 days later.

The boys approached the downed craft – to within 200 feet, about 360 feet (Padilla, PBI, Dec. 10, 2020), “about 500 feet” (in a 2016 Harris MUFON UFO Journal article), "a couple hundred yards" (Harris, 2022), or “to within yards,” depending on which interview you prefer. Through there was an opening in craft – caused by either an intact panel being knocked off or a “gash,” depending on the interview-- they observed “strange looking creatures moving around inside.” They were able to observe these creatures through binoculars– which Jacques Vallee said in a June 3, 2021 interview with Kevin Randle were military-grade binoculars, presumably 6- or 7-power magnification. (Yes, a dirt-poor rural kid in 1945, who lived in a house with no indoor plumbing or electricity, possessed military-grade binoculars, in this tale.)

Over time the two men apparently attempted to incorporate elements from other UFO crash stories, the descriptions of the aliens by the two “witnesses” became so divergent that even Harris and Vallee remarked mildly on it in their book.


"Preview" clip of appearance by Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris on Open Minds with Regina Meredith (Gaia), S20 Ep2. Date unknown but probably late 2022.

There are also serious timeline conflicts when different interviews are compared. In Padilla’s Bungled Interview of December 10, 2010, Padilla said that the crash occurred at “1:40 or 1:50 in the afternoon.” This was apparently one of Padilla’s on-the-fly innovations during that memorable solo appearance. Padilla’s specificity created serious time-line problems with respect to the standard narrative. In the November 18, 2003 Jeff Rense interview, Padilla said that the boys observed the craft and occupants for “probably less than 30 minutes.” On another occasion, Baca said that the two boys observed the craft and occupants for “probably a half-hour to 45 minutes” (July 5, 2010 Harris interview). Vallee wrote, citing no source, that the boys observed the aliens “for an hour and a half” (Trinity, p. 82). In multiple accounts, the boys watched until “it was starting to get dark,” as Baca told Harris in 2010 (Trinity, page 23), at which point they headed home.

On August 16, 1945, sundown in San Antonio, New Mexico occurred at 7:54 PM Mountain War Time (-6 GMT/UTC), and there is still substantial daylight for a half hour or more after sundown. However, for sake of discussion let us say that the light is “starting” to fail a half hour before sundown, or around 7:30 PM on this day. So if the crash occurred before 2 PM, as “photographic-memory” Padilla said in PBI, and the boys watched the craft and occupants 30 or 60 or 90 minutes, then there still would be four hours unaccounted for before the boys started for home.

Hey! It is a missing time case! Has anybody done a hypnotic regression on Jose Padilla yet?

I jest.


Is William P. “Billy” Brophy as a credible source of information? I do not think so, but Vallee and Harris do, as is clear from the Second Edition (August 2022) of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret and from multiple interviews that they have given. If one believes that Billy Brophy is a credible source, then one must believe that on the day after the crash, Billy’s long-deceased father, officer William J. Brophy of the Army Air Corps, was on the scene, directing the initial recovery effort; that a live alien was taken into custody; that either two or three alien cadavers were recovered; and that Brophy himself flew the alien cadavers to their designated destination.

As I discuss in detail in another Crash Story File: The Suppressed Story of the Captured Alien, none of these elements of Brophy’s testimony were shared with the readers of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. Paola Harris referred in quick passing to the claim of transported alien cadavers in only one of the many Harris interviews that I have reviewed, in December 2010.

A further difficulty arises, however, in his first recorded interview with Harris on July 5, 2010, Reme Baca described at length a visit to the crash site by the two boys on the day following the crash. He said nothing about observing any officers, or the recovery of aliens living or dead, or any vehicles except for two jeeps. Baca claimed that the boys saw some enlisted men picking up debris, some of which they threw into a crevice, before departing in their two jeeps, leaving the craft unattended, after which the boys threw some metal down a crevice for later recovery.

Yet in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret (Second Edition), Vallee and Harris have erased the second-day visit by the boys. The reader is told (page 25), “Nothing much had happened on Friday [August 17th, the day after the crash], because the kids had been kept away by Jose’s father, Faustino, who needed help with gardening chores, so Jose and Reme only drove back to the site on Saturday [August 18], using the family truck, guiding Faustino and the officer to the actual spot.”

How curious! Let’s take a closer look at what Reme Baca told Paola Harris on July 5, 2010, about that visit by the boys on the day after the crash, which was the day before the boys took the two adults to the crash site.

HARRIS: Had both of you talked about going inside yourselves? Is that why you guys were going back there?

BACA: Yes. And we went there the second day, we were curious.

HARRIS: Okay. You were going to go in there.

BACA: Then we were going in there, and we were going to go and see what we could find. We went there on a workday, before Faustino and Apodaca went with us. It was in the afternoon, after we had gotten done with our work.

HARRIS: Before Apodaca and Faustino went with you?

BACA: That’s right.

HARRIS: You went back on your own on the second day.

BACA: Not on our own, we were working in that area. We checked that fence too. We had some fences to fix and fence poles to replace. There were cattle with calves around there also.

HARRIS: So what happened?

BACA: Finally, we got there in the late afternoon, we were on horseback and came in from a different direction looking from the opposite side of the ridge, we saw some military people picking up stuff.

HARRIS: Okay. Well, that’s what I had just asked you before. How did you know the military was there before, you said the creatures weren’t there

BACA: The military wasn’t there all the time.

HARRIS: But the creatures were gone and I was wondering, the military must have been there to take them?

BACA: We did not see the military take them. If they did, it was before we arrived. But we never got to check the craft, all we got to do was go down and get some of the debris and threw it in this crevice and we tried to cover it with dirt and rocks. After the two jeeps left, it was already getting dark and we had to get home.

HARRIS: And that’s the dig that you ultimately someday want to do.

BACA: Yes, that’s the one.

HARRIS: What did that material feel like, the material that you threw into the trench? Was it like, you know, like lead or was it soft or like aluminum, or how was it? Do you have a piece of it? Was it like stone?

BACA: Kind of like this piece that I’m holding in my hand.

HARRIS: It was like this?

BACA: It was hard. On the first day, I had gotten a piece of that aluminum foil type, and showed it to Jose. It reminded me of the aluminum foil that came in the Philip Morris cigarettes that my mother smoked. I took that and put it in my pocket…

HARRIS: Whatever happened to that?

BACA: I used it to repair the windmill cylinder.

HARRIS: So the second day basically you waited until the military went away. And you got more pieces, dragged them into the trench, but you didn’t see the beings then.

BACA: Too far from the crevice and it was getting dark. The military had been there, we saw them, but I don’t think they saw us.

HARRIS: The thing was left there and then the next day Jose’s father and Apodaca went.

BACA: Right.
[extraneous material omitted]
BACA: We’d like to have a dig. You know, go over and dig. Either call it a trench or whatever, where some of the soldiers threw some of the pieces and we threw some pieces in there. And that’s been covered over, over time, and we’d like to dig that up and see if there’s any pieces remaining. We think there are.

HARRIS: Okay now. When you were throwing the pieces, what was going through your mind? Were you throwing them there so you could come back and get them?

BACA: We were throwing them so we could come back and get them later on.

It seems quite plain that Bara inserted this second-day visit element, very awkwardly, into the original tale, just to make damn sure that Harris understood that there was alien metal down in that crevice, so it was very important to raise money to excavate the area! Why, not only had the boys seen the solders throw metal in there, but the boys (ages 8 and 6) had snuck down and thrown some more alien metal in the crevice themselves, “so we could come back and get them later on.”

This claim of buried metal was essential to the repeated later attempts by the two men to raise substantial sums of money for the stated purpose of excavation, an enterprise that Vallee only reluctantly concluded in 2019 was logistically impractical. (Trinity, page 79). [For more details on the attempts to extract large sums for access to the "crash site" and for a purported alien artifact recovered by Padilla, see Crash Story: Looking for a PayDay.]

For reasons unknown, in Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Vallee and Harris, although they quote extensively from the July 5, 2010 Harris interview of Baca, presented a blatantly contradictory assertion that “nothing much had happened” on the day after the crash “because the kids had been kept away for Jose’s father, Faustino...” (p. 25) Small portions of the interview passages that I have reproduced above were included in the book, but they were edited and presented to the reader in such a fashion as to make it appear that the visit described by Baca had occurred after the Faustino-Apodaca visit-- despite the repeated, explicit statements by Baca to the contrary in 2010. (See Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Second Edition, page 27.) The reader is again misled on page 135, where the authors assert that the boys “had covert access to the scene every day except Day Two, until the craft was removed,” and again by a similar statement on page 144.

In a lecture titled "The New Extraterrestrial Paradigm," presented August 27, 2016, Paola Harris herself showed a video clip in which Reme Baca described this second-day visit (preceded by a placard reading, "Day After," meaning the day after the crash), at minutes 22-24 in the YouTube video (but the audio quality is very poor)– making it even odder that it was erased from the narrative found in the book.


In all versions of the story, the boys returned two days after the crash, now accompanied by Jose’s father, Faustino Padilla, and a New Mexico State police officer, Eddie Apodaca. Apodaca was described not as a random police officer sent in, but as a friend of the family. (“We met Eddie Apodaca who was a State Policeman and a friend of the family,” Baca told Harris on July 5, 2010. Apodaca was “a friend of ours who was a highway patrolman,” Padilla told Richard Syrett in December 2010.)

In these accounts, both Faustino and Eddie entered the craft, spent 10 or 12 minutes there (Rense), emerging with a great change in attitude, somber. Faustino (or in some versions, both men) put the boys under “oath” never to speak of the matter.

As the general story goes, a day or two later, Army personnel showed up, and with the permission of Faustino, built a road to the crash site. Over a period (ranging from several days to a week or so), as the boys periodically observed, youthful military personnel used a crane to lift the craft onto a flat bed truck, and generally cleaned up the site.


The sub-story of Padilla entering the craft and ripping off an artifact by brute force was not spelled out in the October-November 2003 Ben Moffett stories in the Mountain Mail, although Moffett did write that “the two men...still have a piece of craft,” and quoted Baca as referring to “the piece we have.”

Not long after that, in the first radio interview by the “witnesses” on The Jeff Rense Program (November 18, 2003), the entire episode of Padilla entering the craft and procuring the artifact went entirely unmentioned during Rense’s friendly but extended probing for details – to my ear, it was glaringly conspicuous by its absence.

However, the sub-story soon became an integral part of the public tale. As the story goes, on the final day, with the craft loaded up and under a tarp, the soldiers left the craft entirely unattended on the truck bed and went to town. According to one account by Baca, this occurred “at night,” while Padilla described the event as occurring with the sun shining through the opening in the craft, allowing him to see while he was inside the otherwise-unlit craft. Even Vallee and Harris observed that this was “a discrepancy” (Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Second Edition, p. 93).

The reader should pause for a moment to consider the plausibility of the picture. Around 20 miles from the site of the nation’s first atomic test, and mere weeks after that event, a craft of unknown origin and nature crashes, containing occupants. After ostensibly moving quickly to clean up debris, and after transporting away both a live captured alien and two or three alien cadavers (according to the accounts of Vallee-Harris “corroborating” source Billy Brophy, although unmentioned by Vallee-Harris in their book), the military hierarchy leaves the device entirely in the hands of a small group of young enlisted men (Baca: “These soldiers were kids”). Baca and Padilla never describe seeing any officers directing any aspect of the multi-day clean up. These young men who were ostensibly left in charge of a crashed flying device of unknown origin then leave the mysterious device entirely unattended on at least two different days (on the second day and the last day).

However, just as Baca’s claim of a second-day visit to an unattended crash scene was clearly intended to reinforce his buried-alien-metal claim, the story of the last-day visit to an unattended craft was required to explain the recovered-alien-artifact claim. As I discuss elsewhere, Baca and Padilla made repeated attempts to cash in on both of these claims.

Anyway, in the tale, Padilla, seeking a “souvenir,” entered the unguarded craft. He used “a pipe” (Baca paper prepared March 2005) or a tool variously referred to as a “prybar,” “cheater bar,” or “crowbar” (later accounts), fetched by Reme in some accounts (Trinity, p. 64) but by Padilla in others, to pry off the wall a metallic object that he said had been “pinned” to an inner wall panel of the alien craft.

As Padilla described it to Richard Syrett in December 2010, “There was a piece of material there, you could turn it around in circles...I got a cheater bar, and I went back in there and pried it off, I ripped it right me it looked like a boomerang.”

“I had to put all my one hundred pounds that I weighed to get it off,” Padilla said in 2010 (Veritas interview at 30:10). Striving to explain the purported workings of his eight-year-old mind, Padilla added, “I had to get something out of evidence, that will some day, you know, we’ll come up with something, you know.” (Veritas at 30:30)

I will refer to this object as “the artifact,” and I discuss its tortured history elsewhere.


Starting in 2009 or so, the Baca-Padilla narrative was further expanded with evidence-free, carefully edited, morphing claims provided by a serial fabulist named William Paul (“Billy”) Brophy—accounts attributed to his long-deceased father, William J. Brophy, a military pilot.

It was Billy Brophy who first contacted Paola Harris about the Trinity crash story, on May 4, 2009, according to Harris. Brophy told Harris that “his father [the airman] had flown the [alien] bodies out of San Antonio.” (December 10, 2010 Veritas interview with Harris, at 24 minutes)

For reasons that I explain in detail in another Crash Story File, I think it very doubtful that William J. Brophy, the airman, bears responsibility for any of the multiple UFO-crash involvements that son Billy has attributed to him over the last 20 years. Before Billy Brophy ever heard of the Baca-Padilla story, he had already linked his deceased father to at least two other UFO crashes (in 1947 and 1950), but never mentioned involvement in a 1945 incident. After the Baca-Padilla story came to his attention, however, Billy quickly linked his dead father to the new 1945 story, big time.

Billy has told at least two very different and incompatible versions of his father’s involvement in the Trinity crash; the more recent version (the “fly-over” story) is clearly contradictory to both to the earlier Billy version and to the long-told Baca-Padilla narrative-- and yet it has been enthusiastically embraced and propagated by Vallee and Harris. I explore the contributions of Billy Brophy in Crash Story File: The Morphing Fantasies of Bill Brophy About His Airman Father and in Crash Story File: The Suppressed Tale of the Captured Alien.

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. May 3, 2023: Removed statement that inadvertently exaggerated the image size of a child-sized head at 200 or 300 feet through 6-power or 7-power binoculars. Suffice to say that through 6-power or 7-power binoculars at that distance, facial features should have been clearly visible.
  2. May 22, 2023: Corrected typos that had Jose Padilla removing artifact on alternate dates in "April" instead of "August."
  3. September 25, 2023: I added a cross-reference to my May 20, 2023 article, "The Reme Baca Smoking Gun Interview," describing the discovery of a recording of Reme Baca telling an entirely incompatible boyhood UFO-crash story.
  4. September 25, 2023: I added a cross-reference to my article Crash Story File: Looking for a Payday.
  5. January 25, 2024: I added a quote from a video interview with Jose Padilla conducted by Paola Harris at the "crash site" after Reme Baca's death in 2013 (the "EMN interview"), in which Padilla said, "It was like a forest fire here, because these trees over here, and cactuses, they were grown, and you know, with the heat and everything like that, it makes a lot of smoke."
  6. March 3, 2024: Added a notation that an article by James Price, published February 26, 2024, presents evidence that the site designated by the hoaxers as their "crash site" is 39 statutory miles from Ground Zero.