At times, John and Joyce Edmonds’ life sounds like the plot of a sci-fi horror movie. Or maybe a sitcom. Certainly, a graphic novel.
At the moment, the owners of Rainbow Valley’s Stardust Ranch – also known among followers of the paranormal as “Alien Ranch” – are weighing their options.
“I’ve been getting between 100 and 200 calls and texts a day about the ranch,” said John Edmonds, a 60-something Chicago transplant who, with his receding, perpetually unkempt hair and David Crosby mustache, looks the part of the good-natured backcountry boomer.
“I’ve been getting offers for movies, books – I mean, this is insane!”
The tidal wave of interest stems from a small local news item about the Edmonds’ decision to sell the 9.67-acre property they’ve lived on for the past 21 years – for a headline-grabbing $5 million. From the looks of the 40-year-old, five-bedroom ranch home, sitting on acres of untended desert, there seems little to justify the exorbitant asking price (the Maricopa County Assessor places the current cash value of the house at $356,100, and the website Zillow estimates the value of the entire ranch at about $873,000).
What’s worth millions, perhaps, is the story attached to the place: Edmonds insists the reason the couple wants to move is because extraterrestrials have been trying to abduct his wife – and he’s tired of having to slay them with the samurai sword he keeps above his fireplace. He said he’s killed 18 of them so far (Edmonds calls the extraterrestrial beings “grays,” as in little gray men), and said that, frankly, he’s had enough of the pests.
“We never signed up for this,” he complained, sounding for a moment like a beleaguered Larry David.
“If we’d known about the aliens, we never would have bought the ranch. This just kind of fell in our laps. You know, it’s like a big pile of dog poop I stepped in, and now I just want to clean my shoes off and keep walking!”
Edmunds’ regular-Joe personality and down-to-earth way of describing his otherworldly dilemma – that of a laid-back former musician, concert promoter and social worker who’s simply trying to run his ranch, where he tends to a small herd of abandoned horses under a nonprofit business called Hopeful Hooves, while constantly battling evil ETs – is undoubtedly one reason eager screenwriters are purportedly itching to tell his story. Already Edmonds and his ranch have been the subject of innumerable sci-fi podcasts, several YouTube documentaries and, most notably, a 2016 episode of the popular Travel Channel paranormal investigation series Ghost Adventures, now in its 13th season, which really put the place on the map (the Edmonds’ original asking price of $1.5 million skyrocketed to $5 million after the episode’s airing).
For the most part, news reporters have been covering Edmonds’ tall tales with a bemused shrug and a wink, and little attempt at fact-checking (who ya gonna call, after all? No one but Edmonds claims to have seen the ghostly specters). He’s frustratingly short on evidence – despite claiming he’s worked on and off as a professional photographer for 40 years, Edmonds has never managed to take a photo of any of the aliens himself, and said their corpses “disappear if you don’t get their heads.”
In a sparse community with only about 34 residents per square mile, it’s hard to find neighbors to vouch for him. A quick check with the Buckeye Police and the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office, which actually oversees Rainbow Valley, confirms that Edmonds has no record of trouble-making, even though he reportedly keeps an arsenal of swords, handguns, shotguns and even an AK-47 assault rifle to ward off the aliens.
But lately, at least a couple of podcasters, Brian Frange and Phoebe Tyers, have called Edmonds’ sanity into question. On their sci-fi-oriented Unbelievable Podcast, the bicoastal writer/comedians (Frange lives in L.A., Tyers in New York) have floated the conspiracy theory that Edmonds may actually be hiding something darker than even alien corpses at Stardust Ranch.
On one episode, they played an audio clip from the Ghost Adventures episode of Joyce Edmonds speaking – one of the few times she’s agreed to an interview, although only with her voice disguised and her face not shown. After admitting she’s never seen the aliens themselves, Joyce claims she’s been sexually abused by them. “There have been multiple times of waking up,” she said, “and having my inner thighs being so raw that they were bleeding.” Frange doesn’t mince words: “Is John Edmonds abusing his wife in her sleep and then blaming it on the aliens?”
“I’m not saying he’s a sociopath, but he does display traits that could be classified as sociopathic,” said Frange, who admitted he’s a bit of an “armchair hobbyist in personality disorders” and has studied other people who’ve claimed to have been abducted by aliens, including Stan Romanek, the noted UFO proponent who last August was found guilty of felony possession of child pornography.
“It might not even be that he just cooked up a story about aliens in order to cover up the fact that he’s beating his wife. There’s a distinct possibility that he honestly believes aliens are abducting his wife and causing the bruises because subconsciously he needs to create a defense mechanism to allow him to view himself as a good person.”
Edmonds himself is casually dismissive of Frange’s speculation when it’s relayed back to him. “People have a tendency to always think the worst, but that’s a reflection of them, not of us,” he said. “Everybody has a right to their opinion. It doesn’t mean that it has any legitimacy.”
As for finding buyers for Stardust Ranch, Edmonds’ Realtor, Kim Gero, said the dark mysteries surrounding the place have actually been its biggest selling point.
“We’ve already got three interested parties, and the thing at least two out of the three of them have in common is they’re all true believers in UFOs and aliens,” said Gero, who admits to being a believer herself. “One potential buyer up in Iowa even told me she also had a personal experience with aliens and knows this kind of thing to be true. So those seem to be the type of people that are drawn to the property.”
Frange is not surprised. “On our show, we always get some people who just want to believe in aliens so badly that, no matter what information is presented to them, they will emotionally defend the idea that the person claiming they’ve seen aliens is telling the truth,” he said.
In John Edmonds’ case, that person may be his wife. On their podcast, Frange and Tyers played an audio clip from another interview with Edmonds, where he basically set the stage for what could be a bad outcome. “My wife and I have had discussions about what she would want me to do if she was ever abducted,” Edmonds said. “And she told me she’d rather be dead than be abducted. She told me, ‘If you end up having to shoot me in order to prevent me from being abducted, I want you to do it.’”
“I don’t think John Edmonds is lying,” Frange adds. “I think he’s telling the truth as he thinks it is. But the real truth might be something else.”