Witness: Frank Gattuso
Location: Route 10, near El Paso, Texas
Date of Encounter: Early Spring, 3:10 AM
I don’t know what it is with 3 a.m. and ghosts, but 99.9% of the paranormal experiences I’ve had happen at either 3 a.m. or 3:10 a.m. or 3:23 a.m. you get the picture. This excerpt from Crimelibrary.com will help paint the picture of this next story which just so happened to occur at or around 3 a.m. in March of 1989 on a desolate stretch of Route 10 outside of El Paso alongside the Rio Grande where the US-Mexican border is the winding Rio Grande river.
Matamoros, Mexico — an easy drive or stroll across the Rio Grande River from Brownsville, Texas–has been a popular hangout for vacationing college students since the 1930s. It is a typical border town, with all that implies: prostitution and sex shows, abundant alcohol and drugs, rampant poverty and crime. Each spring, some 250,000 students descend on Brownsville and Matamoros en masse, cutting loose after finals, relishing the extra kick of sowing wild oats on foreign soil. Those who came to celebrate in March 1989 didn’t know that Matamoros had logged 60 unsolved disappearances since New Year’s Day. If they had known, few would have cared. A grisly list of cult-related crimes remains unsolved in Mexico. From prison, Sara Aldrete told reporters, “I don’t think the religion will end with us, because it has a lot of people in it. They have found a temple in Monterrey that isn’t even related to us. It will continue.” Between 1987 and 1989, police in Mexico City recorded 74 unsolved ritual murders, 14 of them involving infant victims. Constanzo’s cult is suspected in at least 16 of those cases, all involving children or teenagers, but authorities lack sufficient evidence to press charges.
Early spring 1989 I was 18 going on 19 and I didn’t have a care in the world. Dave and me, a friend at that time were unemployed and hanging out in the park, when a mutual friend approached us. He knew we were not working at that the time and back in the 80s Los Angeles was the place to be for aspiring musicians which we were. This mutual friend had a friend of a friend, who just got a huge cash settlement for a law suit and was packing it in and moving to Los Angeles, CA. The only problem was, he didn’t drive anymore because he suffered a major head injury, when a pallet fell on his head, hence the cash settlement.
He needed two drivers to help him move, me and Dave agreed. The agreement was we could stay with him as long as we wanted and he would pay for all the food and when we were ready to leave he would fly us back to New Jersey. So just like that we were loading up a 15 foot Ryder rent a truck and before we knew it we were heading west. Actually southwest, we took 95 south to 20 west which turns into 10 west, if we drove strait thru we could be in Cali in three days!
The trip was uneventful until we hit Texas. Outside of Dallas we saw hail the size of softballs that fell so hard it broke windshields and dented hoods and roofs. There were stretches when we saw nothing but cows on either side of the road for hours. There were flatlands, grasslands, then mountains, and then the desert. It just so happened we hit the desert at sunset, and it was one of the most awesome sunsets I have ever seen, blood red with the mountains silhouetted in front. As the sun sank the desert came alive and before it was dark we saw what we believe was a UFO.
Luckily we had a camcorder and we got it on film, it was cigar shaped and moved at an awesome speed we were literally speechless. We filmed this UFO for about 45 minutes until the battery on the camera died. The desert at night is truly an awesome sight, the sky is filled with stars and you could probably set your watch by the shooting stars that seem to be everywhere. Back on the ground there’s nothing but cactus and pairs of glowing eyes everywhere from the coyotes and as the head lights catch there eyes they light up. Route 10 outside of El Paso, is a two lane stretch of desolation that seems to go on forever. On one side sits Mexico and you can see the dimly lit ramshackle shacks, the abject poverty is heartbreaking. On the U.S. side there is a hill overlooking this squalor and there is a huge towering statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched it looks exactly like the one in Brazil just not as big, but still its size is impressive. It was a few miles past this huge statue that we had one of the most terrifying experiences of our lives.
It was about 3:10 am on this desolate stretch of Rt. 10, 100 miles from the nearest gas station that we saw a full bodied apparition. It was my turn to drive and Dave was fast asleep across from me on the bench seat of the truck. I must admit I was starting to get hypnotized after driving for almost 3 days strait at this point. The hum of the engine combined with being surrounded by the complete darkness of the desert, it was lulling me to sleep, and even the glowing eyes of the coyote that had me fascinated hours earlier had become passé. With my eyes getting heavier off in the distance I began to see a little orange yellow dot off to the left. As we got closer the light began to wave from right to left and I could make out the form of a veiled woman. I quickly woke up Dave and as he came to, I said “Dave there’s a woman up ahead in the road, look”, as he rubbed his eyes to see more clearly, his eyes got bigger and as we got closer he shouted “slow down.” As I slowed down and we got closer the figure came into focus.
It gives me chills remembering that early morning on that lonely stretch of two lane highway out in the middle of the desert. I brought the truck down to a 5 mph crawl about 100 yards from the object in the road. Not a word was spoken between us as she came into view. I will do my best to describe what we saw standing in the eastbound lane of route 10, 100 miles from anywhere was what appeared to be a Mexican woman in a red peasant type dress, with a reddish-orange shawl draped over her head. In her hand was this old fashioned lantern with a glowing light inside it, it looked like a golden orb and it was so bright it made us squint our eyes. The other arm was pointing out toward the blackness of the desert, she was pointing south toward the Mexican border, and it was almost as if she wanted us to go that way. From that distance combined with the brightness of her lantern to our eyes she appeared to be a real person, I said to Dave “I think she needs help, do you think she broke down or something?” Dave said “there’s no road over there, that’s the Rio Grande and the border over there, there’s no way.”
It wasn’t until we got within about 20 feet from her we could make out the most frightening features, you see, from a distance she appeared to be a young woman, I can’t explain it but I didn’t have a bad feeling it was almost a pleasant feeling when we were further away from her but when got close enough to really see her, she looked old and decrepit, her face was wrinkled and sunken in like a typical Halloween witch, and her eyes seemed to be hollow and glowing with a yellowish pale light.
As this came into view, I brought the truck to a complete stop about 10 feet away, I will never forget the feeling of dread that came over us as she stood there motionless pointing toward the river, and as she stood there we could see right through her — she was transparent. I can still see the fabric of her dress hanging from her out stretched arm blowing in the desert wind and clearly seeing this huge cactus behind her, it was like time stood still as we stared bewildered at the site in front of us. It was almost as if I was hypnotized, frozen in time for the moment but then it happened, as fast as lightening, the woman floated right at us in the blink of an eye, before I knew it she was at my window at that instant Dave screamed “GO!” and I screamed “AHHH!” and I put the pedal to the floor. As we drove away we could clearly hear in the eeriest voice almost like a whisper say “Help me.”
Needless to say we got out of there as fast as we could. All I could say was, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” over and over. Dave kept saying, “What the hell was that? We didn’t just see that, there’s no way!” We drove on until we reached the next gas station, we had to stop because we needed gas, but the station didn’t open until 6 a.m. this meant we had to wait about 2 hours in the darkness until they opened. Neither one of us got any sleep as we sat in the cab of that truck waiting for dawn to come, and it couldn’t come soon enough, we were only about half hour away from where we had the seen the apparition and it was too close for comfort. Fortunately we made it through the night, got our gas, and headed back out on the road in the daylight.
It wasn’t until around noon that day at a restaurant in New Mexico, where we overheard the news about the Santeria murders along Route 10 the night before. We sat stunned as we listened to the two cowboys sitting at the table next to us; we went and bought the local newspaper. It was true, there had been some type of ritual slaying in the desert along the border, and we had passed right by it.
To this day, I wonder if the apparition we saw, was trying to warn us, or lure us, or trying to get us to help her. Was she the spirit of one of the people murdered that night or was she one of the demons the Santeria priest was sacrificing these innocent people for? At the time the press didn’t mention Adolpho de Jesus Constanzo, a master practitioner of the African magic called “palo mayombe.” The Mexican authorities have some 74 unsolved ritual murders that occurred along the border between 1987 to 1989 they believe Adolpho to be involved in at least 16 of them, he was a very scary person, if you clicked on the link you already know about him, if not check it out when you get a chance.
For me I consider myself lucky to have made it through that night alive. I think if either me or Dave had be alone on that highway that night we wouldn’t have made it back. I believe the only thing that got us out of there that night was there was two of us. I believe the power this apparition had could only hold sway on one person at a time, and in that moment she had me frozen, calling me like a siren, if Dave didn’t shout to me “GO” I really don’t think I would have lived to tell this story. I am also grateful there was two of us, because seeing this alone could really make someone doubt there sanity. I see Dave on occasion and we never mention what we saw that night. I’ve only ever shared this experience with a few people because I don’t like to remember it because when I think of that face it still scares the hell out of me. I would really like to go out and do some investigating in the American desert someday; there really is a treasure trove for the paranormal out there.