Hidden within the confines of this region’s seemingly idyllic landscapes are a cluster of Long Island mysteries that defy explanation and ignite the imagination. From the eerie echoes of the “Stranger Things” lore to the cryptic histories of covert nuclear bases and the enigmatic whispers of Camp Hero, this slender stretch of land just east of New York City harbours a myriad of secrets that continue to captivate, perplex, and beckon those intrigued by the unknown.
The Nuclear Age and Cold War Jitters
World War II ended in 1945 when America dropped its most secret weapon, the nuclear bomb, on Japan. This horrified the Russians, who immediately dropped any thoughts of pushing on through Europe and expanding their communist ideals. So, by 1946 there was peace and the start of the cold war arms race.
Between 1946 and 1952, the USSR, under the charismatic, tyrannical, and sometimes erratic leadership of Joseph Stalin and his associates, made significant technological advances that seriously concerned Western leaders. The historical record shows that the USA became deeply worried about the global spread of military-enforced communism and invested heavily in all forms of defensive sciences.
A Secret Military Playground
According to researchers, the Philadelphia Experiment scientist resubmitted their proposal directly to the US Department of Defence and promised the development of a new and powerful weapon that could create severe mental disorders at the flick-of-a-switch using a combination of radar and magnetic energy.
Given that in 1954, the moratorium against nuclear testing had not been enacted, and to the Americans, it appeared as if the USSR was overtaking them in the nuclear arms race, it is not surprising that the Department of Defence may have approved the scheme.
Project “Phoenix” (meaning: Reborn from the Ashes) was given the go-ahead. The problem was how to fund it without Congress knowing. Some claim that as part of Operation Paperclip, US military intelligence had not only smuggled Germany’s rocket scientists into America but had also brought with them some looted treasure in the form of gold bars that could be used to fund black ops.
Nevertheless, the money came from somewhere and the group was allegedly set up at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1954. The same centre that would specialise in nuclear sciences.
It is during this period that many secret military installations were revitalised or created – some of these on, or near, Long Island. These included Mitchel Air Force Base, Fort Terry – Plum Island (Biowarfare), Camp Hero – Montauk (Radar and magnetics), Brookhaven National Laboratories (Nuclear), and the selection of Brookhaven for the future Nike battery NY-25R, Brookhaven, Rocky Point which would eventually be used as a missile launch centre for Nike Ajax / 30 and Nike Hercules / 18 surface-to air-units (Rockets).
The use of Long Island as a Strategic Defence Area (US-SDA-A1-MS-LI-NY) did not end in 1952. In 1957 a new and very secret missile base was established in Westhampton and equipped with 56 nuclear-tipped surface-to-air BOMARC missiles. It seems the US military really liked Long Island!
Long Island Mysteries – Mad Scientists MKII
Now, back to the Philadelphia Experiment and the scientists allegedly located at Brookhaven. It appears that their preliminary work was seriously hampered by financing issues, peer scepticism and a lack of results that suggested that the project might not be worth the effort.
It seems that serious support for the project only started in December 1957 as a result of US concerns relating to the successful launch of the USSR Sputnik space probe in October 1957. Understandably, information and records from this period start to become vague. However, the story claims that while the scientists were less than successful in their attempts to recreate the Philadelphia Experiment Phenomenon. It seems that they could recreate a short range “bloom effect” but any attempts to direct the EMR (Electro Magnetic Radiation) failed. Size did matter after all and now it was apparent that success depended on the dimensions of the radar unit (array) that was used.
Suddenly in 1958, a “new” Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) radar system was installed at Camp Hero. (MAFB) The equipment included a huge AN/FPS-35 radar antenna. The reflector was 126 feet (38 m) long and 38 feet (12 m) tall and weighed about 40 tons. It was supposedly only the second ever built. It also used “frequency diversity” technology making it resistant to electronic countermeasures. (This unit is still visible today)
What happened to the team still located at Brookhaven over the following years is unknown but apparently a series of “breakthroughs” happened in 1965/6. As a result, the entire project was relocated 54 miles further down the Island to the still remote area of Montauk and specifically to Camp Hero where the project could enter its fully operational phase.
Whether or not the “Montauk Project” ever really did take place is clearly debatable, but it does appear as if Camp Hero / Montauk Air force Base was state-of-the-art for the time. Many new systems were developed or tested there including magnetic memory for storage, light pens, keyboards, WANs (Wide Area Networks) and modular circuit packaging. It was also a major part of the NORAD defence system, so naturally security would have been strictly enforced.
This is where the mystery expands and becomes increasingly unpleasant. According to various people that claim to have been involved, many of the scientists and staff began to display the symptoms of advanced paranoia and obsessive introspection.
The Amityville Horror – One of the Best Long Island Mysteries
Just 30 miles down the Montauk highway from Brookhaven is the seaside town of Amityville on the south side of Long Island. It was here on 13th November 1974, that Mr Ronald DeFeo Jr. apparently killed all six members of his family at their home located at 112 Ocean Avenue. DeFeo’s defence was that he had started hearing voices and had become clinically paranoid.
The Jury ignored this plea and convicted DeFeo who was imprisoned for life. He died in jail on 12 March 2021 aged 69. Many aspects of the murders were mired in controversy and all six people murdered showed no signs of struggle or external violence before their deaths. Defeo changed his story several times over the years but he always claimed that paranormal pressures had driven him to commit the murders.
The house was put up for sale and bought by George and Kathleen Lutz for the reduced price of $80,000. The were aware of what had happened but felt that this would not be a problem. They moved in on 19 December 1975. Allegedly, they immediately started to experience terrifying paranormal incidents and, after just 28 days, they abandoned the house.
Several books and two horror films have been made about the events that happened. One of the films has become a cult classic. At the heart of the stories is the premise that the house had become the portal to a new and terrifying dimension – probably Hell.
After many controversies and legal cases, the Lutz’s took a polygraph test in 1979 that indicated they were unlikely to be lying. In 1977 the house was bought by the Cromarty family who lived there happily for 10 years and claim they did not experience anything out of the ordinary.
Widescale public awareness of the Montauk secrets were brought to public attention when Preston B. Nichols detailed what allegedly happened at Camp Hero in a series of books. In ‘The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time (1982)’, Nichols recalled repressed memories about participation as an experimental subject for the project. Pretty soon many other people came forward to support his claims.
It’s also around this time that rumours spread that there were children being kept at the base and being used for mind control experiments. This may sound just too bizarre, but we do know from declassified documents that the CIA was investigating the use of paranormal abilities and telepathy at this time as part of the MK Ultra experiments. (Watch the film – The Men Who Stare at Goats)
What apparently went on at Camp Hero seems to have leaked out into public perception. According to researchers, between 1958 and 1976 the clever scientists found ways to distort space and time. This allowed them access to forms of time travel and even gain access to parallel dimensions – many of them extremely unpleasant. In fact, the incredibly successful Netflix series ‘Stanger Things’ was originally based on Camp Hero and the Duffer Brother’s TV project was called ‘Montauk’ before being changed to Stranger Things’.
The Montauk Project was supposedly fully shut down in 1982 after an experiment went catastrophically wrong and opened a gateway to a reality so dangerous that it could never be allowed to happen again. However, many military watchers and investigators believe the project was never closed and is ongoing to this day – just hidden better.
Flight TWA 800
On 17th July 1996, TWA Flight 800 lifted off from JFK Airport New York en route for Paris. Tragically, the plane suddenly exploded just 12 minutes after take-off over the eastern shores of Long Island. Eyewitnesses state that they saw something heading toward the airplane just before it blew up. All 230 people onboard died almost instantly.
As a result, the aviation authorities were quick to launch what would become the largest investigation of an aircraft crash. After four years, 755 interviews and over three million dollars spent on the case the NTSB authorities concluded that a spark in the fuel tank was the cause of the disaster. This has left many people significantly dissatisfied as the NTSB openly admitted they could not conclusively say where the spark came from.
There have been many theories surrounding the crash including the possibility that the aircraft was accidentally shot down by a rogue US missile from the Long Island Air Defence Network. Much more interesting is the consideration by Professor E. Scarry of Harvard University that the plane was brought down by “High Intensity Radiated Fields” (HIRF), otherwise known as Massive Electromagnetic Interference, directed at the plane from another plane or ship in the area. This was published in 1988 under the title: The Fall of TWA 800: The Possibility of Electromagnetic Interference”. Just a coincidence?
Long Island Mysteries – The Serial Killer
One of the Lesser known Long Island mysteries is the case of the Long Island Serial Killer. Between 2010 and 2011 the police discovered the bodies of ten people, all women, who they believe had been killed over a 20-year period. Their remains were hidden on the remote beaches of Giglo and Oak just 4.4 miles from Amityville. Although the authorities have a number of suspects no arrests have been made specifically for this case. As with ‘Stranger Things’, Netflix released a movie in 2020 about these murders entitled ‘Lost Girls”.
So, what’s going on around Montauk?
Could all of this be completely true? Are there really so many Long Island Mysteries? Certainly, quite a lot is now just historical record and facts that are fully verifiable. Plum Island Animal Disease Centre still exists (for now), Fort Terry, now part of PIADC, was once a bio-weapons facility and is fully listed. The US did seem to have an obsession with military bases on Long Island. Over 20 can be found in the records. Camp Hero / Montauk Air Force Base was – for a time – a state-of-the-art top-secret facility and part of the NORAD defence network. There were nuclear tipped missiles based in Westhampton that people did not know about and Brookhaven National Laboratories was once involved in all forms of nuclear and other innovative research. Electromagnetism was being used in warships during WWII. TWA flight 800 did mysteriously crash in 1996 and a strange creature did wash up at Ditch Plains Beach near Montauk in 2008. And, now there’s a mysterious serial killer.
It certainly seems that plenty of secret activities have taken place in the region and probably still do. True or false it should certainly make a person think long and hard.