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Brit Couple Fed to Alligators after Interview



A British couple was killed and fed to crocodiles just hours after being interviewed by the BBC.

It is thought that Rod Saunders and his wife Rachel were beaten to death with a blunt weapon after being abducted in South Africa, and then their bodies were thrown from a bridge into a river.

Rod and Rachel Saunders on one of their several mountainous South African treks.

The court heard that a British couple was brutally killed by a group that dumped their bodies to crocodiles in South Africa after being interviewed by the BBC for Gardeners’ World.

Respected botanists Rod Saunders, 74, and his wife Rachel, 63, spent six months a year searching for rare seeds for their booming internet company in remote highlands and forests.

A group beat them to death, placed them in sleeping bags, and threw them into a river filled with predators.

When their horribly decayed carcasses were recovered from the water by fishermen days later, they had been consumed by river monsters.

On February 5, 2018, they left their Cape Town home in their Toyota Land Cruiser with a BBC TV documentary film team.

Rod and Rachel Saunders were murdered while backpacking in the South African wilderness.

Nick Bailey interviewed them for an edition of Gardeners’ World as they sought rare Gladioli flower seeds in the Drakensberg Mountain region.

Mr. Bailey’s selfie, which he posted to Twitter, is believed to be the final photograph of the couple alive.

After filming, Rod, an accomplished gardener, and Rachel, a microbiologist, camped beside a secluded forest dam.

The couple was unrecognizable, and it was not until months later when the police could locate no trace of them, that they ordered DNA testing on all unidentified or unclaimed bodies in morgues.

Rachel was the treasurer and editor of the Pacific Bulb Society’s yearly newsletter.

Three individuals have been charged with the couple’s murder, kidnapping, robbery, and theft.

Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, and their lodger at the time, Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35, all denied charges of kidnapping, murder, robbery, and theft before the Durban High Court.

The fourth suspect was discovered to have purchased cell phones belonging to the Saunders but was not engaged in their abduction or murder. In exchange for crucial evidence, they received a suspended sentence.

Nick Bailey conducted an interview with them for an edition of Gardeners World.

They had their last interaction with a Silverhill Seeds employee, which they ran from their home in Cape Town, on February 8, just three days before they were to see the BBC.

Dr. Saunders and her husband, Rod, were last heard from 90 miles north of Durban in the Ngoye Forest Reserve.

The judge was informed: “The investigating officer learned around February 10 that Rodney Saunders and his wife, Dr. Rachel Saunders, both of Cape Town, had been kidnapped in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region.

“On February 13, it was determined that the defendants stole R734,000 (£37,000) by withdrawing cash from multiple ATMs, in addition to stealing their Land Cruiser and camping equipment.


Dr. Saunders and her husband Rod stated that they were traveling 90 kilometers north of Durban to the Ngoye Forest Reserve.

“It is alleged that between 10 and 15 February in the Ngoye Forest, the defendant unlawfully and willfully murdered Rachel Saunders and Rodney Sanders.”

It was reported that receipts for products purchased using Dr. Saunders’s credit card were discovered in Bibi Patel’s purse.

After being kidnapped, it is thought the couple was beaten to death with a blunt weapon, then their bodies were thrown from a bridge into a river.

Rod and Rachel Saunders were driving a Toyota Landcruiser 4×4 when the accident occurred.

On February 10, Del Vecchio sent a message to his wife and their lodger stating that there was an old couple in the forest and that he had the “target.”

Rachel, a native of South Africa, obtained dual citizenship after marrying Rod, a native of the United Kingdom, and the couple traveled the world giving talks on their skill and passion for South African gladioli.

The pair founded Silverhill Seeds in 1995, naming it after their home on Silverhill Crescent, and grew it into a profitable home-based enterprise hiring people to sell seeds around the world.

The proceeding continues.


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‘Queen’ Founding Member Shares Crop Circle Picture



On May 24th, Brian May, a founding member of the rock band Queen who later earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics, posted several images to Instagram of a crop circle seen near Marlborough, England.

“Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary here in the English countryside?” The photos were captioned by May. “I’d never seen a crop circle before. As a result, I’m always skeptical of them. But yesterday, as we flew back from our production rehearsal space, over a location near Marlborough, there was this. […] Who creates these fascinating works of mathematical art? Is it a hoax? Are they created by extraterrestrials? And… how…? And what is their goal?”
Responses to May’s post have been mixed, with some claiming that the phenomenon is paranormal, while others believe that hoaxers are to blame.

Crop circles have sparked speculation in the modern era since at least the mid-1970s, with theories ranging from hoaxers to otherworldly beings to “earth energies.”

Despite the fact that people have claimed responsibility for certain crop circle formations, mysterious circles of flattened plants discovered in fields date back much further than modern-day hoaxers.

W.Y. Evans-Wentz recorded folktales of faeries coming in the night to thresh farmers’ grain in his 1911 book The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. Similarly, in 1678, an English woodcut pamphlet depicts ‘The Mowing-Devil,’ who is shown mowing crops in a circular pattern.

While some dismiss these as folkloric inspiration for modern-day hoaxers, others see them as proof of a phenomenon that predates man-made imitation.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the crop circle photographed by May.


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DoD Announces Expanded Effort to Investigate UFOs



According to a press release issued by the Department of Defense (DoD):

Due to the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2022, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), amended her original directive to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security on July 15, 2022, by renaming and expanding the scope of the Airborne Object Identification and Management Group (AOIMSG) to the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

USD(I&S) Hon. Ronald S. Moultrie informed the department today of the establishment of AARO within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, and named Dr. Sean M. Kirkpatrick, most recently the chief scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center, as its director.

The AARO’s mission will be to coordinate efforts across the Department of Defense and other federal departments and agencies in the United States to detect, identify, and attribute objects of interest in, on, or near military installations, operating areas, training areas, special use airspace, and other areas of interest, and, as needed, to mitigate any associated threats to operational safety and national security. Anomaly, unidentified space, airborne, submerged, and transmedium objects are included.

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security (USD(I&S)) Ronald Moultrie will lead the AARO Executive Council (AAROEXEC), which will provide oversight and direction to the AARO along the following primary lines of effort:

1. Surveillance, Collection and Reporting
2. System Capabilities and Design
3. Intelligence Operations and Analysis
4. Mitigation and Defeat
5. Governance
6. Science and Technology

This newly reported expansion of the Pentagon’s UFO investigation program follows low congressional trust in their investigative efforts.

Following the release of the much-anticipated preliminary assessment report on UFOs by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last year, many in the intelligence community were critical of what they saw as the report’s failure to offer any concrete explanations for most of the incidents examined, particularly in light of concerns about secret Russian or Chinese technology.

The Pentagon then promised to revamp the task force in charge of investigating UFOs, which resulted in the formation of the AOIMSG, which has since been renamed the AARO.

This reflects Congress’ growing interest in UFOs, which was most recently demonstrated during a House Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on the subject last May—the first of its kind in more than 50 years.

The congressional hearing allowed lawmakers to question the Pentagon about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP)—the current government term for UFOs—and for government officials to explain their current position and outline plans to investigate the issue further.

During the hearing, there were few mentions of extraterrestrials, though the Pentagon did express a particular interest in reports containing unusual flight characteristics such as incredible speed, transmedium capabilities, and undetectable means of propulsion.

Since the existence of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which reportedly ran from 2007 to 2012, was made public in 2017, congressional interest in UFOs has skyrocketed.

Interest in the encounters between Navy pilots and UFOs grew, and in 2019, several senators, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), then vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were briefed on them.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, led at the time by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), then included a directive in their Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 ordering the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to create a report on “unidentified aerial phenomena” in consultation with the Secretary of Defense.

That bill resulted in the formation of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF), which was in charge of producing the aforementioned preliminary assessment report.


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The Marlborough Monkey is a Cryptid Fans Classic



The latest documentary by researcher and filmmaker Karac St. Laurent, The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey, takes a fresh look at an older and often overlooked series of cryptid sightings in New Hampshire.

Most people don’t think of Bigfoot sightings in the northeastern United States, but St. Laurent has made a compelling case for taking the subject seriously while still having fun along the way.

The film is a tribute to the classic cryptid documentaries of the 1970s, and it was shot to look like an 8mm film being watched on a VHS tape. With thematic music and Robert Ready’s absolutely perfect deadpan narration, viewers could be forgiven for not immediately recognizing this as a documentary shot in 2021.

Despite its aesthetic, the film is very much a product of modern investigation, and St. Laurent conducts field investigations using equipment anachronistic to the 1970s, both solo and in collaboration with Small Town Monsters alum Aleksandar Petakov.

When some filmmakers might have been content to show only the interviews with researchers and witnesses included in the documentary, the field investigations were a nice touch. Folklorist John Horrigan is an especially bright addition to an already entertaining documentary, and his unique blend of wit and historical storytelling could have carried the film on its own.

Horrigan, interestingly, coined the term “The Marlborough Monkey” to describe the hairy humanoid being reported by New Hampshire residents in the 1990s, based on one account in which the witness said the creature looked like an orangutan. Those reports never stopped, and sightings of ‘The Marlborough Monkey’ are still being reported today.

St. Laurent, however, does not stop with stories; similarly to his first documentary, Release the Bodette Film, a variety of evidence is presented for the viewers to peruse. Much like that film, the viewer is ultimately left to decide what to believe, despite the fact that the vast majority of the film approaches the subject from a staunchly materialistic standpoint. Petakov makes a passing reference to high strangeness during an interview late in the film, but otherwise the assumption is that if something strange is going on, it’s most likely an undiscovered primate. This isn’t necessarily a negative, depending on your point of view, and those who prefer materialist science in the hunt for cryptids will appreciate the film’s mainstream take on the phenomenon.

That viewpoint is consistent with the 1970s-era documentaries to which it pays homage, and given the evidence presented, there’s never any sense that the investigation should be taking a different path. If The Legend of Boggy Creek is one of your favorite documentaries, check out The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey.

The Legend of the Marlborough Monkey has a run time of 43:14 and will be available to watch for free on the Crash-Course Cryptozoology YouTube channel starting at noon on September 12th. Expect it to be available on DVD around Thanksgiving.


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