The Messenger

Colorado's Stan Romanek claims to have been abducted by aliens multiple times, and his experiences have garnered more attention than any other modern-day case of alleged E.T. encounters. But is he telling the truth, or is it all an elaborate hoax?

July 2008

On an unseasonably warm fall evening seven years ago, Stan Romanek was closing up Lakewood's Bicycle Village. Aside from the balmy air, it was an ordinary night— until several panicked people ran through the shop's front door. Something, they said, was hovering in the night sky.

Romanek, along with the others, went outside to take a look. What they saw—a large blinking light—could only be described as an unidentified flying object: It made no sound and clearly wasn't an airplane or a helicopter. The UFO hovered for a few seemingly interminable minutes as Romanek and the others looked on, and then it simply flew away into the darkening sky.

Minutes later, as a shaken Romanek climbed into his car to drive home, the UFO returned. Romanek wound his way through Lakewood's streets, and, for the entire 20-minute drive, the UFO shadowed his car. When Romanek arrived at his apartment building, the large blinking light still hovered above him. He ran into his home to get a camcorder, but by the time he came back outside the UFO was again disappearing into the dark, as if it were playing some extraterrestrial game of cat and mouse.

It became clear later that night that Romanek was the mouse in this particular scenario: In the early hours of the morning, Romanek found three aliens standing in the hallway of his apartment. Except for their pale skin, they looked like the kind of aliens you'd see in a Hollywood movie: Each was about four and a half feet tall, had an oversized head with roughly human features, and was skinny to the point of emaciation. Romanek recalls seeing blue veins running under their skin.

One of the beings grabbed Romanek by the wrist and led him to the balcony of the second-floor apartment; then he felt a light tap on the back of his head and fell unconscious. Romanek came to pinned against the wall of a room that contained a bright light. After that, Romanek says, things start to get fuzzy.

They used to call them "star people." Dating back centuries, Navajo and Ute tribes in Colorado described UFO sightings and alien encounters using this gentle, almost mystical descriptor in their legends. The earliest documented Colorado sighting occurred sometime around 1777, when Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spanish governor of New Mexico, chased a Comanche chief north into the San Luis Valley and reported seeing strange lights flying around 14,345-foot Blanca Peak.

Since de Anza's sighting, people have continued to report strange aerial phenomena around the state, but the San Luis Valley has become the de facto ground zero for all things alien in Colorado. This month, dozens of people gather in the blink-or-you'll-miss-it valley town of Hooper to attend the UFOlympics conference at the UFO Watchtower, a tourist trap erected by a onetime rancher named Judy Messoline.