Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
Here, far from the bright lights of his native Las Vegas, the real estate magnate hopes his team of scientists can unearth the roots of UFO folklore prevalent in this region since the 1950s.
Bigelow, easily the most prominent American financier in the paranormal research field, is convinced there is something to the weird stories told by the family of Terry Sherman.
Last July, the Shermans broke years of silence and went public with bizarre tales of strange lights and UFOs on their 480-acre ranch.
Sherman said he and other members of his family had seen lights emerging from circular "doorways" that seemed to appear in mid-air, had three cows strangely mutilated and several others disappear. The rancher also reported unusual impressions in the soil and circles of flattened grass in a pasture.
The Shermans' story appeared in the Deseret News and on a national radio broadcast. Several weeks later, Bigelow met with the Shermans and negotiated to buy the ranch for about $200,000.
The Sherman family has relocated to a smaller ranch 15 miles away - far removed, they hope, from the disturbing occurrences they endured for 18 months.
Bigelow has erected an observation building and moved in a pair of scientists and a veterinarian. He has someone on the property 24 hours a day, recording anything out of the ordinary.
Officially, the research is being conducted by the National Institute for Discovery Science, which Bigelow formed last October. Among the scientists involved is John B. Alexander, former director of non-lethal weapons testing at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico.
"Our approach is to do good, high-quality research using a standard scientific approach and do what we can to get hard data," Alexander said from the institute's Las Vegas offices. "One of the missions of the institute is to make information widely available."
Bigelow himself declined an interview. Alexander would not provide details of how or why the research is being conducted.
Sherman, now employed by Bigelow to maintain the ranch, said he can no longer discuss the activity because of a nondisclosure agreement Bigelow had him sign.
Alexander said results of the study would be published in scientific journals and on the institute's Web page. Other research documents and information about the institute is available on the Internet at (http://www.accessnv.com/nids).
The secretive behavior concerns other UFO researchers, including Ryan Layton of Utah and Chris O'Brien of Crestone, Colo. Both visited the ranch in July before Bigelow became involved.
"It's the most impressive case I've ever personally investigated," said O'Brien, author of "The Mysterious Valley" about UFOs in Colorado's San Luis Valley. "It should be public knowledge, and the public should be allowed some sort of involvement in any investigation."
Roosevelt, Utah, veterinarian Dan Dennis said Bigelow met with him Oct. 15 to ask for his assistance in performing necropsies on any animals whose deaths or mutilations might be tied to UFO or paranormal phenomena.
Such cattle mutilations have been the stuff of folklore and stories in the area for decades.
Dennis said Bigelow plans to write area ranchers requesting that they notify him of any unusual animal deaths or mutilations.
The whole ordeal has been difficult for the Shermans, who say they lost money on the sale. Sherman said he was offered more money by a Colorado family and a local hunting club but did not want to put anyone at risk.
"It's just been a bad deal all the way around," Terry Sherman said. "All that's really redeeming is that you have some knowledge that a lot of people don't have, for what it's worth."