In 1996, the city of Varginha in Brazil became the focal point of UFO enthusiasts and investigators worldwide. Residents claimed to have witnessed unidentified flying objects and strange creatures, leading to extensive media coverage. The incident has had a lasting impact on the city, even influencing its tourism and local culture.
The Initial Sighting
On the afternoon of January 20, 1996, three women aged between 14 and 22 reported seeing a creature with a large head and red eyes. Described as a biped with “spots like veins on the skin and some bumps on the head,” the creature appeared to be wobbly or unsteady. The women fled the scene, telling their mother they had seen the “devil.”
Subsequent Reports and Rumors
Following the initial sighting, rumors spread throughout Varginha. Claims emerged of additional unidentified creatures being observed at a hospital, increased military and police activity, and unexplained animal deaths at the local zoo. Some even claimed that one of the initial witnesses was impregnated by the creature.
An official inquiry conducted by the Brazilian military concluded in 2010 that the women had likely encountered a homeless, mentally unstable man nicknamed “Mudinho.” The authorities also clarified that the alleged extraterrestrials seen in a hospital were actually an expectant couple with dwarfism.
Skepticism and Criticism
Skeptics have criticized the sensational media accounts and ufologists' claims surrounding the incident. Brian Dunning, a skeptic, stated that the case is an example where “literally nothing at all happened that was remotely unusual.”
Impact on Varginha
The incident has notably affected tourism in Varginha. Grey alien dolls in football uniforms are sold at the location, and bus stops have been built in the shape of spaceships. Despite the skepticism and official explanations, the incident continues to intrigue many.
The event has inspired various media adaptations, including a 2020 film by director Rodrigo Brandão and a 2022 documentary by James Fox. A video game and a comic book in French have also been created based on these events.