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*Holy crap, a Creature Feature out on an actual Friday!?*
Here we have a strange case out of Italy of what may very well be the first recorded encounter with what people commonly refer to as “reptilian” aliens. (If not the first, then the most widely known at the time)
It all started one night in 1978 at the village of Torriglia. Pier Zanfretta was simply making the rounds on his security route when he made to the currently empty home of one of his clients. All of a sudden the lights and engine of his car died. As he was looking around he noticed lights coming from the house and assumed that the home was being burgled. So Zanfretta, with gun and flashlight in hand, decided to sneak around to try and surprise the criminals. However, it was him that would be surprised that night and the shock would change his life forever.
Something touched him on the shoulder and he spun around to meet “An enormous green, ugly and frightful creature, with undulating skin..as though he were very fat or dressed in a loose gray tunic…” Was his original description of the creatures. He would go on to describe them as having large yellow triangles for eyes and points on either side of their faces. He sprinted away and as he made it back to his car, a massive UFO rose up from behind the house. It began to glow and blasted him with a wave of heat before it disappeared completely.
Zanfretta radioed his dispatcher for help. He was rambling and in shock when the found him, saying of his attackers “No, they aren’t men, they aren’t men…my God are they ugly.” He brandished his gun at his comrades, he seemed to not know them and they were forced to knock him to the ground. They were shocked to find how warm his clothes were since it was so cold and icy out.
The Italian Military police were sent out to the area that night after Zanfretta was rescued. The found huge prints possibly created by the UFO’s landing gear that was 9 feet in diameter and horseshoe-shaped. A staggering 52 citizens reported seeing the large UFO around the area of the home at the same time Zanfretta claimed to have seen it.
During the course of the investigation, Zanfretta’s credibility was further increased by a number of people who came forward in defense of his character. A member of the press found it hard to believe a family man, with a stable career and obvious hate for his newfound fame, would willingly make up a story that could cost him so much. However public opinion was against him, he would go on to say to a reporter named Di Stefano “People call me on the phone at all hours to play jokes on me. I don’t know what it was that I saw, but I saw it. I am not a liar…if I could have, I wouldn’t have reported my experiences, now that I see the consequences.” Those words echo modern-day sentiments from many abductees. They often lament talking about what happened to them because of the backlash they received from not only strangers but their own family at times.
So in an attempt to shed some light on what happened, On December 23rd Zanfretta agreed to be hypnotized. Dr. Mauro Moretti, a member of the Italian Association for Medical Hypnosis put him under. Under hypnosis, Zanfretta revealed that the aliens had also abducted him and had taken him to a strange hot room filled with light. There they communicated with him through a glowing device. He found that the strange mouthpieces they wore allowed them to breathe while on earth and that they were from a planet called “Teetonia” somewhere in the “Third galaxy”. The interrogation lasted some time and the creatures revealed that they wanted to speak more and would soon arrive in greater numbers.
Three days after his session with Dr. Moretti, Zanfretta claimed to have been abducted again. This time he said that his car was overtaken and controlled remotely. He was driven through a tunnel before a bright white light flooded the car. His dispatch claimed that he called in at the time in a very controlled voice saying “The car has stopped. I saw a bright light. Now I am getting out.” Hours later he was found by two other guards out in a field by his car in a heavy rain. Zanfretta was weeping, crying out “They say I must leave with them. What about my children? I don’t want to…I don’t want to.” The military police were called and found to their confusion that Zanfretta’s clothes were completely dry despite the rain and that the roof of his car was “as hot as an oven.” Shocking them as well was the 20-inch boot prints that surrounded the car.
A full report was filed on January 3, 1979, and labeled “Report on the Sighting of Unidentified Flying Objects by Fortunato Zanfretta.” The military police later went on to say that the reliability of these events actually occurring was “good”. After this Zanfretta began to receive even more attention and scrutiny. He was examined by neurologist Dr. Giorgio Gianniotti who found that “…The man is in a state of shock, but he is perfectly sane.” This, however, did little to stop the harassment so he once again agreed to undergo hypnosis but this time he allowed it to be televised.
In this session, Zanfretta claimed that the device they used to speak with him was a glowing helmet and it caused him a great deal of pain. They took his gun and fired it, some would speculate in an effort to see if human weaponry could hurt them. They expressed an interest in taking him with them to which he responded with “I know that you need me, but I don’t want to. I like to be alone. I have two children. I feel good this way…and after all, you are not human beings. You are horrible.” Hundreds watched but the scrutiny only increased further. Eventually, things died down, until he was abducted yet again.
Zanfretta and his motorcycle were found on the summit of Mount Fasce. None of the locals had seen him drive up the only road that led to the top. This time Zanretta insisted that he be given sodium penathol, the “truth serum”. Under it, he claimed that he had been picked up by a green light. The doctor who administered the drug confirmed to the press “No human being can knowingly lie while he is under treatment, so I think it’s very probable Zanfretta had these encounters.” (It was not known at the time just how malleable a person’s perception becomes while under sodium penathol, even allowing for the implantation of false memories. One of the reasons it is no longer used as a truth serum.”)
His forth abduction was not an encounter he would have alone. After he disappeared in December of 1979, four members of his security company were sent to find him. They found instead a strange glowing “cloud” which shot out two beams of light at their cars, killing the engines. One of them shot at the UFO, which then went dark and faded out of sight. The encounter proved too much for another, who later ended his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Now for some crazy stuff.
As if it weren’t off the wall enough. Zanfretta says that while filling up his car with gas after the last encounter a strange man came up to him. The man supposedly was bald with an egg-shaped head and wearing a checkered suit with a chest-plate made of steel. The man’s voice compelled him to follow and he was shown a ship filled with strange beings in jars. Some “frog-shaped” others more birdlike or even similar to a “caveman”. The being tried to give him a sphere that would humanity to know who they were and how they lived. He was instructed to give the gift to Dr. J. Allen Hynek in America, who as a premier UFO researcher at the time. Zanfretta did not do this however and instead claimed to have buried the object somewhere.
His last hypnosis session with Dr. Moretti was the oddest session of all. He made strange sounds, spoke in an unknown language and said things like “Question with negative answer, tixel…you can’t work out anything in a case like this. To believe or not to believe doesn’t mean anything: each thing in its own time.”
That was the last encounter Zanfretta would have with the beings but his description of the man in the checkered suit echoes a being encountered by others. In November of 1966, in West Virginia, A Woodrow Derenberger had an encounter with a strange vehicle pouring flames from both ends and shaped like a lamp. A smiling man stepped out and spoke to him without moving his lips. Claimed his name was “Indrid Cold.” He was baled with an egg like head and wanted to know more about UFO sightings in the area. The same man was spotted by two boys behind a fence, where he was dubbed the Grinning Man and was seen in Point Pleasant around the same time as the Mothman sightings.
I have a theory that this Grinning Man may, in fact, be a Man in Black. Reports of them indicate that they seem shockingly similar. Bald, fancy suits, asking and talking about UFO encounters. Always giving off an otherworldly feel and disappearing as quickly as the arrived.
(If you enjoyed the Zanfretta Aliens, please feel free to check out other fascinating cryptids under the Creature Feature category.)
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Stay frosty out there.