Monday, November 23, 2015

THE FOURTH KIND: The Real Story Behind Nome Alaska Missing People

In 2009, Universal Pictures released The Fourth Kind, a thriller that follows the life of psychologist Dr. Abigail Emily “Abby” Tyler, who lives in Nome, Alaska with her husband. After he mysteriously passes away, she resolves to continue his clinical research with clients suffering from insomnia.

She begins to use hypnosis on select patients as part of their treatment. The hypnosis reveals that several of them have had very similar experiences. They each report waking up at 333 a.m. and seeing a white owl outside their window. Shortly after that, they hear violent sounds outside their room followed by someone, or something, dragging them out of their bed against their will as they scream and howl in protest. Then they black out.

These occurrences follow similar descriptions from alien abductees around the world. Many abductees report seeing animals such as owls, monkeys or raccoons outside their windows at or around 330am right before their abduction.

Charlotte Milchard plays Dr. Abigail Tyler in The Fourth Kind.

Charlotte Milchard plays Dr. Abigail Tyler in The Fourth Kind.

Marie D. Jones, a paranormal researcher, was interviewed in a video featurette provided by the film’s producer, Universal Pictures. She calls the appearance of owls a “trigger object.” She said it is a way of calming the abductees before they are taken.

She also explained the time phenomenon. “Time prompts are number sequences that show up over and over again in a person’s life, usually in the form of time,” she explained.  “333am is one of the most common time prompts. It is a ‘trigger time’ for abductions to take place.”

In the film, Tyler begins to believe that these episodes are actually close encounters of the fourth kind. Alien encounters are measured on a scale developed in 1972 by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a noted astronomer and famous ufologist. He researched UFOs with the US government, working with various Air Force sponsored studies including Project Sign (1947-49), Project Grudge (1949-52) and Project Bluebook (1952-69). The levels of close encounters are:

First Kind: Sighting- visual sightings of flying saucers, unknown aerial objects, and odd lights.
Second Kind: Evidence- observations of UFOs and the physical evidence of them including heat, damage to train, scared and skittish animals, lost time (gaps in memory), crop circles, and paralysis.
Third Kind: Contact- there are six levels of contact described by Hynek, from observing inside a UFO, to experiencing “intelligent communication” with aliens.

Fourth Kind: Abduction- a human is taken aboard a UFO.

A New ‘Blair Witch’ Ruse?

Is The Fourth Kind real? In the beginning of movie, Milla Jovovich says, “I am actress Milla Jovovich, and I will be portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler.  This film is a dramatization of events that occurred October 2000.  Everything in this movie is supported by archive footage. Some of what you are about to see is extremely disturbing.”

The movie studio said the film was based on “archival footage” of a therapist who discovered “the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented” while conducting her hypnosis and therapy sessions. It sounds legitimate, except no one in Alaska has ever heard of Dr. Abigail Tyler. She does not appear in any records of the state Psychologist’s Association or Licensing Board.

However, there actually had been a disturbing number of disappearances in and around Nome, mostly travelers coming to and from surrounding native Inupiat and Siberian Yupik areas. Distraught friends and family were frustrated by the lack of attention from police, believing that there may be one or a group of serial killers at work.

Mysterious Disappearances

In 2006, the Anchorage Daily News reported on the disappearances, saying, “A string of disappearances and mysterious deaths of native villagers visiting Nome was not the work of a serial killer… An FBI study of 24 missing persons and suspicious death cases assembled by Nome police said excessive alcohol consumption and the harsh winter climate were common ties in many of the cases. In 9 of the cases, where no bodies were ever found, state and local investigators said they will continue to search for new leads.”

The article began after a native named Eric Apatiki, 21, disappeared. A tribal council leader, Delbert Pungowiyi, for years had been trying to get an investigation going about various disappearances. “People disappear over there and where are the bodies going? Where are the remains going?” Pungowiyi asked the newspaper. He called Nome “a boneyard for the region because there are so many remains there that have never been found.” The FBI began their investigation in response to the growing frustrations of the native population.

The Daily News concluded that there were no abductions, and the number of missing persons and unresolved deaths is what a small town of Nome’s size would see on average. The newspaper pointed to the FBI investigation, again citing the high incidence of alcoholism and extremely rugged weather conditions.

The nonprofit group that brought the cases to the attention of the general public is not happy about the movie. They claim that it takes away from any real investigation into the disappearances. “The movie looks ridiculous,” said Kawarak, Inc. vice president Melanie Edward told the Daily News. “It’s insensitive to family members of people who have gone missing in gnome over the years.”

A few of the deaths were caused by people suffering from exposure to the cold, or from falling into the freezing waters of the Snake River. Pungowiyi told the paper that he is still under the belief that his uncle disappeared due to some criminal activity. His uncle had arrived in Nome in 1998 to buy a snowmobile. He never returned to his village of Savoonga. He said he believes that some of the deaths, including his uncle, were racially motivated, and believes that one or two people were murdering natives.

Fake News Site

Putting further doubt about the movie’s veracity is the fact that Universal Pictures was sued successfully after they created a fake news site called They had a fake story that was reportedly from the real-life Nome Nugget newspaper. The “news story” actually used the name of the Nome Nugget Editor, Nancy Maguire, in the byline. The Alaska Press Club, on behalf of the newspaper and Maguire, sued Universal and settled out-of-court for $20,000.

Alien posession footage from the film

Alien posession footage from the film

Universal admitted creating the fake online news archive. They said it was part of a “viral marketing campaign.” They even went so far as to create a fake site called, which listed a bio for Dr. Abigail Tyler and exhibited several scholarly articles she had supposedly written in medical journals on hypnotherapy, hypnotic regression and sleep problems. It was later discovered that Universal Pictures had registered the domain name a month before the movie was released. Both sites are gone now.

Nome residents are also entertained by the obvious difference between the film version of their town and reality. The film was shot in the mountainous areas of Bulgaria, New Zealand, and parts of Alaska. The town of Nome is shown nestled in among mountainous terrain. In reality, Nome is on the edge of a treeless flat expanse up against the Bering Sea in the middle of Alaska’s West Coast.

A Fib On Top of Fabrication

In the final analysis, The Fourth Kind features a therapist, who has a high probability of being fictional, and “archived footage” that is in actuality reenactments with professional actors. In addition, no one seems to be able to find any record of an Abigail Tyler having lived or worked in the Nome area.

Couldn’t they have just checked her Facebook profile?

Many people just brush the movie off as a complete fabrication. However, the producers were not interested in clear cut facts as much as profitable entertainment.  It succeeded on the profit scale, pulling in $25.4 million dollars domestically on a $10 million investment.  On the entertainment side, it fell a little short. raters peg it at 5.9 out of 10, and gave it a 25% rating.

The film’s tagline says, “It’s Up to You to Decide.” Abduction skeptics say that no abduction episode has ever proven true. However, no one knows for sure. As you watch The Fourth Kind while gripping the arm of your chair as tight as you can, you realize you aren’t sure yourself.

“The Fourth Kind” is an American science fiction thriller that was released in 2009. Set in Nome, Alaska, the story is based on the mysterious disappearances of 24 people in Nome from the 1960s through to 2004.

According to “Box Office Mojo”, The Fourth Kind was a box office hit, making $47.46 million worldwide, from an estimated $10 million budget. (1)

Despite enjoying considerable box office success, The Fourth Kind was panned by critics with some deeming it has being insensitive to the families of the missing victims. (2).

In an analysis of The Fourth Kind, Rotten Tomatoes, a website devoted to reviews, information and film news, summed the film up as follows:

“While it boasts a handful of shocks, The Fourth Kind is hokey and clumsy and makes its close encounters seem eerily mundane.” (3)

Nome Alaska Missing People – Truth vs. Fiction

The true part of the story is as follows.

In 2005, FBI homicide detectives did in fact investigate the mysterious disappearance of 24 people that had taken place in Nome between the 1960s and 2004, which caused locals to initially think there was a serial killer involved.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, most of the victims were native men who had travelled to Nome from surrounding villages. The FBI determined there was no real reason to suspect a serial killer and instead came up with the explanation that, “Excessive alcohol consumption and a harsh winter climate,” were to blame for the disappearances. (4)

However, The Fourth Kind is based on a conspiracy theory from the movie producers as to why those people went missing from Nome, and that they were actually abducted by aliens.


The footage in the film that shows hypnotherapy sessions taking place between “Dr. Abigail Tyler”, played by Milla Jovovich, and the patients who claimed they had been abducted. The movie was dubbed as being, “the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented.” (5)

Between the FBI dismissing the Nome missing people’s case as being due to “excessive alcohol and a harsh winter climate”, and movie producers ‘cashing in’ on the story by producing a fabricated tale about alien abduction, it is hardly surprising that the families of those who disappeared are upset about the lack of case closure.

nome alaska missing people

UFO Sightings in Nome Alaska

Being located on the very edge of the continent, local UFO “watchers” feel a special kinship with Nome. And according to, there are “regular UFO sightings in the Nome region throughout the year, with ufologists thinking this may be a region for a sort of command centre for alien life on Earth.” (6)

Despite the so-called “UFO sightings” that regularly take place in Nome, proof that the alien “explanation” behind the Nome missing people was fabricated was made in 2009 when Universal Pictures, the company that made The Fourth Kind, had to pay a settlement for creating fake news accounts to promote the so-called “documentary” film.

A report made by Fox News stated that Universal Pictures agreed to $20,000 to the Alaska Press Club to settle complaints that fake news archives were used to promote the movie. (7)

According to the report, Universal Pictures had created a series of fabricated online news articles to promote the alien-abduction movie, and the articles posted had the appearance of coming from real Alaska newspapers.

Nome, Alaska › Page 1 -

Nome, Alaska › Page 2 -

Nome, Alaska › Page 3 -

Nome, Alaska › Page 4 -

Project Blue Book, 1947-1969 
Short Description:NARA T1206. Records and case files relating to investigations of sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). 
Month Season Number:06 
Location:North Park, Colorado 

She is challenged there to remove her jewellery, girdles, and royal regalia that bind her spirit to the material world. Only thus, ‘naked’ may we gain entry to the halls of eternity.

These fake news reports included an obituary and news story allegedly taken from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, about the death of one of the movie’s leading characters, Dr. William Tyler. Besides being forced to pay $20,000 in compensation, Universal was also required to remove the fake news articles from the Internet. (8)

The problem at that point is that the damage had already been done. The originals had gone viral, and there were many thousands of “believers” that continued to believe the story was real, even though the fake evidence had been removed from the Internet.

nome alaska missing people

The Real Nome Alaska Missing Persons Cases

So with the alien abduction story behind disappearances being a proved fabrication, what is the real story behind the missing people of Nome?

In an article published in the LA Times, titled, “Alaska, Land of the Lost,” Alaska is described as follows:

“In its rugged, lonely vastness, there are so many ways and places for people to disappear, so many reasons the missing are never found.” (8)

According to the article in 2004, 3,323 people were reported missing in the state of Alaska, far higher than anywhere else in the country. Since police began recording numbers in 1988, they have received at least 60,700 reports of missing people in Alaska. (9)

Comprised of 39 mountain ranges, Alaska has 3,000 rivers, 5,000 glaciers and more than 3 million lakes, all of which, according to the LA Times, “offer nooks and envelopes for bodies to slip in and remain hidden forever.”

In Alaska, there are many ways to get lost and never found.

nome alaska the fourth kind fact or fiction

Getting Lost in Nome

As the Alaska, "Land of the Lost" article states:

“People vanish by accident and by design, by fluke of nature or quirk of circumstances, by foul play, misstep and bad luck.” (10)

As states, Nome is located about 2,000 miles north of Bray’s Point, sitting on the ‘very edge of the continent’. (11) erroneously implied that it is because of Nome’s isolation, wilderness and vastness that it has experienced a “rash of alien abductions”. This was a theory that was grossly exploited by Universal pictures for the movie The Fourth Kind.

However, a more logical explanation behind the mysterious disappearances in Nome between the 1960s and 2004 is that Nome, being situated on a particularly remote edge of a state that is defined by its “rugged, lonely vastness”, is a place where there are many ways for people to disappear.

Because of that, there are many reasons the missing are never found. The odds are very good that none of those reasons have to do with aliens.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Box Office Mojo
(3) Wikipedia
(5) Examiner
(7) Fox News
(8) Fox News
(9)(10) LA Times