For the past six weeks I've been corresponding with Steve Pierce, one of the witnesses to the Travis Walton incident in 1975. At the time he was a 17-year-old "new kid" in town, whose mother made him take the job on Mike Rogers' team even though his uncles and cousin had just quit because Mike hadn't paid on time.
I've updated my Consequences page with some information Steve gave (with his permission). While he didn't believe the sighting was a hoax, he has always maintained that Travis was not abducted by aliens but that the government used mind control to get him out of the truck and take him to Area 51.
Over the course of our discussion, in which he shared some personal stories about his journey with this defining event in his life, it seems he's been able to resolve a little of his cognitive dissonance with these statements:
"I never never really believed it happened the way Travis said it happened. I don't believe we went back to the same spot where Travis was zapped."
"I always knew something wasn't right about that night the night it happened."
Steve told me he has talked to Travis about certain aspects of that night, and events leading up to it, resulting in an angry response from Travis and a refusal to correct errors in his book. Steve claims Travis blackballed him from conferences for a time (by saying he, Travis, would not appear if Steve was scheduled to appear).
This incident has manifested in toxic relationships between the men involved. Travis and Mike are stuck with each other, despite a strong mutual dislike and disrespect, locked in the lie that neither can reveal without implicating themselves in defrauding the UFO community for decades.
There is a heartwarming scene in the movie Travis where Ken Peterson gets emotional upon returning to the "site" with Travis. Knowing as I do just a small fraction of how the hoax affected the lives of the innocent witnesses in the truck that night, this scene makes me sick. Travis Walton, who should've come clean the moment he handed over those National Enquirer checks 45 years ago, makes me sick.
Will he ever grow up and be man enough to admit what he did and to withstand the backlash? He has reframed his abduction as a resurrection story. I live in hope he can reframe it as a redemption story.