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Talk show taps local UFO expert

| Monday, April 23, 2012, 11:56 p.m.
Slug: Ventre0424Caption: John Ventre

Alongside three witnesses to strange encounters, a local UFO expert will appear on Anderson Cooper's talk show at 11 a.m. today on WPXI-TV.

John Ventre of Hempfield, state director of the Mutual UFO Network, was contacted by producers of the show to spar with a skeptic and discuss the experiences of three women, including one from Bucks County.

Ventre said that during the taping in New York City on April 13, Cooper broached the possibility of life beyond Earth, although the CNN broadcast journalist was unsure of any encounters.

"He said in the opening of the show he believed in life in space, based on the number of planets and stars out there," Ventre said.

The discussion will include Joe Nickell, a senior research fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, during about 20 to 30 minutes of the show, Ventre said.

Ventre said he appeared with the hope that more people will feel comfortable relaying their own stories of unexplained encounters.

"I even tell people, 'You've got to Google before you giggle' because when you talk about UFOs people laugh," Ventre said. "My goal is to make it comfortable for people to come forward and report what they've seen."

Cooper and his audience heard from Denise Murter of Levittown, who recalled her sighting in 2008, when "metallic sprinkles" were left in a tree near her home, Ventre said.

MUFON tested the leaves from the tree as well as others nearby and found high levels of boron, magnesium and anthocyanin only on Murter's tree.

"Her leaves had those three elements, which leads us to believe something strange happened," Ventre said. "She had what we would call 'trace evidence' on the tree."

The other two women talked about an encounter in Kentucky April 2011 when they followed mysterious lights, he said.

"They were out on a country drive in Kentucky and they saw a UFO that they tried to follow" and could not account for more than four hours after the encounter, Ventre said.

MUFON hired a hypnotherapist to use regressive hypnosis to draw their encounter out from their subconscious, he said.

Nickell believes there has to be another explanation for each woman's experience.

"In his mind, it couldn't have taken place, you would look up and see stars or have to be sleepwalking, drinking or on drugs," Ventre said.

About 300 UFO sightings are reported in Pennsylvania each year to MUFON, which has 105 members throughout the state, he said.

For the past four years, MUFON has held a conference at Westmoreland County Community College, which attracted 500 people over the course of two days in October, Ventre said.

Ventre said that during the taping in New York he was able to meet comedienne Fran Drescher.

"She shook our hands. She was very nice," Ventre said.

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