Horror In The Mojave Desert: The Disturbing Alien Abduction Of Steve And Dawn Hess

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
July 27, 2023
Estimated Reading Time
14 min read
Posted in
Aliens, Abductions

Although it isn’t a widely known incident, the apparent alien abduction encounter of husband and wife, Steve and Dawn Hess, is one of the most disturbing, if thought-provoking of, relatively speaking, recent times. And of more importance, the encounter contains several intriguing details that not only show up in other alien abduction encounters but also resonate with the overall picture of what we know about the alien abduction phenomenon, both in terms of the abductions themselves, as well as why they are happening in the first place.

Furthermore, the location itself, both the Mojave Desert and the wider state of California, is a part of the United States that is no stranger to UFO encounters, with the Golden State having more sightings than many other parts of America. This detail might force us to ask if the reason for this higher-than-average number of UFO and alien encounters is down to an alien base somewhere near the area, or might we instead turn our attention to the many military facilities in the region to find explanations.

Ultimately, the alien abduction encounter of Steve and Dawn Hess is as compelling as it is terrifying and is one that adds more proof that something, whatever it might be, very strange is taking place in our world. While many media platforms have documented and examined this fascinating if unsettling encounter, it was explored in full by author, Ron Felber, in the book The Mojave Incident.

A Secluded Spot In The Valley

The story begins on October 20th, 1989, when Steve and Dawn Hess were heading out to the foothills in the Mojave Desert after having left their two children with Steve’s parents, before borrowing his father’s truck to make the journey in. [1] They were heading to the Midhills camping ground just inside the state limits of Nevada. However, the weather turned unusually unsettled so they opted to pull to the side of the road and remain there for the evening.

A depiction of a couple standing outside their motorhome

Just what did Steve and Dawn Hess witness in the Mojave Desert

The following morning, with the heavy fog now clear, the pair set off once more toward the Midhills camping ground – a location, incidentally, that was in the middle of nowhere. When they eventually arrived early in the evening, however, they were a little shocked and disappointed to find the camp was completely full – unusually so, in fact. With nowhere for them to stay for the night, the couple decided to head to a secluded valley in between Tabletop and Woods Mountain where they could camp for the night.

Steve eventually brought the vehicle to a stop in a particularly secluded location, with the monstrous dimensions of Tabletop Mountain towering over them. Although Steve was perfectly relaxed with their surroundings, as he began to start a fire a short distance from the truck, to Dawn, something didn’t feel quite right. Although she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something untoward was heading their way.

As Steve began to cook steak and beans over the open fire, Dawn pushed the feelings from her mind.

A Strange Light Over The Mountain Top

As the food cooked, the pair marveled at how clear the night sky was – a crystal-clear blackness with multiple stars twinkling overhead. However, as Steve went to turn the steaks, he noticed something unusual. What he at first thought was a star he realized was an unusual light moving over Woods Mountain.

It was, though, his reaction to seeing the light that was of most intrigue. Almost immediately after noticing it, Steve seemed to go into some kind of strange trance, as if he his subconscious mind was attempting to reveal a forgotten memory to him. He wasn’t sure how long he was locked in this seemingly trance-like state, but it wasn’t until he heard Dawn calling his name that he came out of it.

A depiction of a couple watching strange orbs of light overhead

The couple witnessed strange orbs of light moving in the sky

Although he was more than a little unnerved by the episode, like Dawn earlier, he pushed it from his mind, and the couple ate their meal before sharing a bottle of wine as they looked up at the stars once more.

However, like earlier, Steve’s attention was drawn toward a star that appeared to be out of place in the sky. And like before, when the star began to move, Steve realized it wasn’t a star at all. This time, he didn’t sink into a catatonic-like state, and what’s more, Dawn could see this cosmic anomaly too.

Even more remarkable, the couple soon noticed multiple other lights also moving in the sky – eventually counting nine in total. As these lights moved, they appeared to have navigated into a strange M-formation.

Then, things turned even stranger.

Strange Glowing Red Eyes Watching Them!

To begin with, the couple believed they were witnessing a strange aircraft experiment from the nearby Nulles Air Force Base. However, when the light came to a stop before smaller, red lights emerged from them and headed in their direction across the desert, they realized they were witnessing something truly out of the ordinary unfolding.

As these lights moved, they appeared to pulsate and glow temporarily brighter each time they did. Of more concern, there appeared to be so many of them that the couple couldn’t count them all. Bizarrely, despite the surreal nature of the moment, Steve and Dawn also both later recalled they were aware that the usual nighttime sounds of the desert could not be heard – as if everything had suddenly stopped.

Before they knew it, the lights were above and all around them, seemingly dancing in and around each other as the flashing pulsating continued. This flashing and movements began to increase in intensity for several seconds before they suddenly seemed to just go out, as if someone had flicked the off switch.

A depiction of strange creatures with red eyes and large heads

Just what were the strange creatures?

Steve and Dawn took a moment to briefly comprehend what had just happened. Before they could fully do so, though, each could hear the sound of scampering feet nearby. And what’s more, it wasn’t just one pair of feet, but many.

These sounds snapped both of them back to attention, and each scrambled back to the truck. As soon as they were inside, Steve reached for the rifle they had brought with them. When he looked out of the window of the truck’s cabin, he could see not one pair, but many pairs of what appeared to be “glowing red eyes” that seemed to be watching and circling around them. At one point, a sudden jolting of the cabin appeared to suggest one of these strange creatures had jumped onto their vehicle.

As this was happening, Steve raised the rifle and was about to take a shot in the direction the creature appeared to have headed. Dawn, though, urged him not to shoot, stating that it “wouldn’t be a good idea”. Even as she said it, she questioned if these were her thoughts or whether she was somehow being manipulated.

They remained still for several moments. Then, two of these strange creatures came closer.

“Small, Red-Eyed Gremlins!”

The couple looked on, horrified, as these strange entities approached their parked truck. They were so strange and unlike anything either of them had ever seen, that they only way they could describe them was as “small, red-eyed gremlins”. [2]

At this point, the already terrifying encounter turned even more so.

The creatures, almost as if they could sense the couple’s fear and terror, began to approach the truck closer and closer, until eventually they jumped on to it, or banged several times on it as they rushed by – actions that Steve and Dawn were convinced to increase their fear even more. As this was happening, the pair could also hear the creatures seemingly speaking to each other, although it was a language they were not at all familiar with.

Before they could contemplate these menacing tormentors much further, however, they noticed further entities approaching them. These, though, were different from the gremlin-like creatures.

Seemingly coming out of the darkness were nine tall beings with overly thin frames and with particularly large black eyes. These entities continued to approach until they completely surrounded the truck, looking straight into the truck at the now horrified couple.

A depiction of aliens surrounding a motorhome

Steve and Dawn’s motorhome was surrounded

As this was happening, each of them experienced a sudden surge of thoughts, images, and emotions that flowed through their minds. And each of them was convinced that these were placed there telepathically by these strange entities.

Even stranger, in the distance behind the tall beings, a bizarre disc-shaped object descended out of the night sky before coming to a stop a short distance from the ground, overhead, and in front of them. As it hovered, various vegetation was drawn toward it and seemingly disappeared into it on the underside.

Then, before they could contemplate what was happening, a thick fog-like substance appeared all around them. In no time at all it had penetrated the vehicle, and a moment later each of them blacked out.

An Encounter That Was Very Real!

When they awoke the thick mist had cleared. Furthermore, the night sky had been replaced with the redness of the rising morning sun. Of more importance to the couple, the strange creatures also appeared to have gone. When they summoned up the courage to peer out of the truck and examine their immediate surroundings, they could find no evidence of their presence such as footprints or other markings. They did, however, discover two small red dots on Dawn’s neck, as if something pin-like had pierced the skin.

A depiction of a couple overcome by thick fog

What was the thick fog that entered the truck?

The pair took several moments to gather their thoughts. Neither could remember anything after the bright lights of the UFO and the strange mist filled their truck. And neither could put forward anything close to a rational explanation for what they had witnessed prior to that. They did, though, agree that they had been privy to something extraordinary, and more importantly, very real. They also agreed that it would be best if they kept the experience to themselves.

The couple then quickly gathered their things back into the truck and set out for home in Los Angeles, suddenly more than eager to leave the area, and the incident behind. As they traveled along the lonely highway, however, they each noticed a disc-shaped object – almost identical to the one they had seen descending the previous evening – seemingly following them. This continued for several miles before the object disappeared.

They eventually arrived home and attempted to pick up their lives from the point before they headed out to the Mojave Desert. However, they would soon discover that this would prove to be easier said than done.

Intense Dreams And Strange Creatures

Although they did indeed not speak of the strange encounter to any of their friends and family, they would continue to feel the effects of the bizarre incident as the days and weeks went by. For example, both Steve and Dawn would experience sudden intense headaches, as well as feeling equally intense bouts of nausea. Furthermore, both would experience particularly intense nightmares, unlike anything they had experienced before.

There were, though, further, more ominous and outright creepy experiences. Each of them would begin to see lights in the sky that appeared to be following them. They also both began to hear particularly strange sounds inside their house. Even more concerning, both couldn’t escape the feeling that someone – or something – was watching their every movement.

Steve and Dawn Hess

Steve and Dawn Hess

However, when their children began telling them that strange creatures with bright red eyes were appearing in their rooms at night, they realized that the incident was far from behind them. One particular night, the couple was dragged from sleep by the sounds of their son screaming in terror. When they rushed to his bedroom, they were shocked to see him levitating in the air while “spinning like a top”, as if being spun by a pair of invisible hands.

By the time Dawn began reporting being grabbed and pushed by an apparent invisible entity, the pair decided they had no option but to undergo hypnotic regression in an attempt to unlock their memories and find out just what happened that October night in the Mojave Desert.

An Abduction Encounter With Experiments And Procedures

The couple would eventually contact Dr. William Anixter, who would agree to hypnotically regress the couple in an attempt to unlock their suppressed memories.

Ultimately, they would recall that after they had lost consciousness, the strange, tall creatures had taken them from the vehicle onto the disc-shaped craft. Once onboard, they were both then subjected to many different tests, experiments, and procedures. Both recalled that not only did these procedures, at times, cause each of them considerable pain, but one of them resulted in the strange marks they had noticed on Dawn’s neck.

Steve and Dawn Hess's account was documented in the book Mojave Incident

Steve and Dawn Hess’s account was documented in the book Mojave Incident

Essentially, it would appear that Steve and Dawn Hess underwent a typical alien abduction. However, we might question if this was the only such encounter in their lives. Might they have been abducted before – perhaps multiple times over the course of many years? As some researchers have pointed out, the fact that these experiments are carried out and apparent records kept of them, is suggestive of a purposeful, ongoing program. Whether that is the case here or whether Steve and Dawn Hess were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time is perhaps open to debate.

There was, though, one particularly interesting, if worrying part of the session that is worth highlighting. Not only did Dawn begin speaking in a voice that was not her own – as if she had been possessed by another intelligence – but she stated that “I know where the Universe ends”, before elaborating that the “Universe ends when its matter stops mattering to us, and starts mattering to them”.

What was meant by this, and from whose perspective it was said, remains unknown. What was certain, as the Hess family already knew, was something very strange and perhaps ominous that took place in the valley in the Mojave Desert that October evening in 1989.

The Investigation Of Ron Felber

Although the couple certainly didn’t speak widely about their encounter, it soon came to the attention of writer, Ron Felber. He would spend a considerable amount of time with the pair, eventually releasing the previously mentioned book, The Mojave Incident. [3]

In an interview promoting the book with Shadows Of Your Mind magazine, he would detail the case in more detail, as well as his investigation of it. For example, he would explain that he had first become aware of the case through an employee of a company he ran, Paul Moran.

According to Felber, Paul was close friends with Steve and had approached him in confidence about the strange encounter. Not only did Paul think that Felber would be interested in the story, but he also believed that Steve might find talking to him about the bizarre event a form of therapy.

Ron Felber

Ron Felber

He would admit to having little interest in the subject of alien abduction when he was first told of the encounter, simply because his main focus was on true crime. However, he would claim that once he met the pair, “all that changed”. Not only did he find them both very credible and reliable witnesses, but he was immediately captivated by their account upon hearing it first-hand.

He would state that it felt to him “as if a curtain had been lifted” and that the account was so authentic, in his opinion, that it simply had to be “shared with the world”.

Felber was also present during some of the hypnotic regression sessions and was “fascinated” as he watched the couple relive the life-changing and otherworldly account.

Perhaps of most interest is Felber’s interpretation of the strange line that Dawn uttered during the time it appeared as though “something else was being channeled through her”. He would offer that he took the phrase to mean that “if ‘they’ are forced to take control, we will have forfeited something precious”. This could mean many things, and we will come back to this shortly.

Recurring Details And Themes

There are several intriguing details that surface in the alien abduction encounter of Steve and Dawn Hess – all of which have either come up in other cases of alien abduction or are details about the process of alien abduction arrived at by researchers collectively. And these details, on occasion, are so trivial that they stand out even more.

For example, if we recall the fact that Dawn stated when she warned Steve not to open fire, she was uncertain if these thoughts were her own or ones placed there by the entities outside the truck. This idea that whatever intelligence is behind alien abduction phenomena, it has the ability to control a person’s thoughts is one that surfaces often. Many abductees, for example, recall walking to a waiting craft, but doing so as if their movements are controlled by something else. Or others state they arrive at the location of the abduction of their own accord, as if acting on instructions being sent to their subconscious brain.

A depiction of a couple watching a UFO

Many details of the Hess case surface in other encounters

Perhaps an even more intriguing notion is the belief of both Steve and Dawn Hess that the creatures outside with the red glowing eyes were banging the side of their truck and jumping on the roof in order to create more fear. What is interesting here is that some researchers have put forward that some creatures such as Bigfoot, reptilians, and perhaps even aliens, feed off human fear. Indeed, it is claimed that such fear in poltergeist cases only increases the strength and sometimes aggression of the poltergeist, while other researchers claim the same with Jinn.

When I recently spoke with veteran paranormal researcher, Steve Mera, he pointed out to me that for all the sightings of Bigfoot creatures and cryptids, there are rarely, if ever, accounts of these beings savaging a witness. Usually, once a person is cornered or trapped, these strange creatures usually turn and run. Is this a case of them simply feeding on a person’s fear until the last possible moment? And is this perhaps the case with aliens and cases of alien abduction? Might these abductions not be real – at least in the sense that we might understand them – but be scenarios designed to heighten and produce fear and terror?

Multiple Connections

The fact that so many different anomalous entities seemingly look to evoke fear in humans in order to strengthen their own manifestation should perhaps alert us to a connection between these seemingly different entities of the paranormal – and a deep and far-reaching connection at that. Could it be, for example, that these entities are simply different manifestations from the same source? And if so, what is that source? Does it come from another dimension, or could it even be the universe itself, manifesting itself into our own reality?

If we return to the detail of Steve and Dawn Hess blacking out before they were taken to craft, this is another detail that shows up in many alien abduction encounters. Budd Hopkins, for example, pointed out that it was almost as if this was the result of a purposeful action of these apparent alien entities, as if they had incapacitated abductees for nothing more than ease of getting them onboard their vehicles.

And lastly, we might turn our attention back to the apparent prophetic line that could be interpreted as a warning that we very well could lose control of the planet to whatever intelligence is behind the alien abduction phenomenon.

Many alien abduction cases, and even some close encounter cases with apparent extraterrestrials, often contain details of apparent warnings of humans damaging the environment of the planet. Could that be the case here? And is this warning exactly that – a grave and brutal warning of what this apparent alien race is prepared to do if we do act in such a manner?

This also should prompt us to ask, if there is such an interest in the welfare of the planet – so much so that these alien entities are prepared to take such drastic action, does this suggest that they have a vested interest in Earth and its future? Could it be that they are looking to reside here permanently and so need to ensure that the environment remains suitable? Or might it even suggest that this alien presence already calls the planet home? Maybe they are not alien at all but an indigenous presence that has lived here discreetly for as long as we have, perhaps in the so-called inner Earth that many legends speak of.

There is certainly a lot to think about after examining the alien abduction case of Steve and Dawn Hess.

One More Thing To Consider

It is also perhaps worth turning our attention to a top-secret underground military facility in the Mojave Desert that some people very much believe could hold many secrets regarding the UFO and alien question. [4] Many people, including Dr Steven Greer, have made claims that certain black budget projects involving reverse-engineered alien technology have been taking place out of the facility, very likely for decades.

Greer would state at a recent press conference that there were “two types” of UFO – one that was most definitely extraterrestrial in nature, and ones that were “man-made” and the result of the reverse engineering of alien technology, which had led to “breakthroughs in energy propulsion”.

On a side note, it is also worth noting that some researchers have put forward that our progress in reverse engineering alien technology has put us even more urgently on alien races’ radar, and for similar reasons as the apparent extraterrestrial concern involving humans’ development and dropping of the atom bombs to end the Second World War.

Essentially, the combination of advanced propulsion technology combined with humans’ collective desire for weaponry is a concern for other civilizations across the cosmos. We might hope it is not so much of a concern that these respective alien races decide to take more proactive action.

A Significant Contribution To The Big Picture Of The UFO And Alien Question

As we can see, then, although the abduction encounter of Steve and Dawn Hess is, on its own, easy to separate from the herd of other abductions leading to it being forgotten about, when considered alongside the many other alien abduction cases, it resonates very nicely. And as such it contributes significantly to the overall big picture of the UFO and alien question.

More than whether we should consider whether or not this encounter happened or not, we should perhaps consider just why these incidents are taking place in the first place. Just what is behind these bizarre encounters? And perhaps more than anything else, just how much do governments around the world know about what is behind these truly strange goings-on, and why exactly do they feel the need to keep such information from us?

As the race toward disclosure continues more and more people are clamoring for that final piece of the puzzle that will allow the fuller picture to suddenly come into focus. And, as we mentioned earlier, we just might find that understanding what is at the heart of the UFO phenomenon will help us to understand other areas of the paranormal and anomalous world. Indeed, increasingly researchers and investigators from different fields of interest come closer together, willing to share information as we collectively strive toward just what might be behind these truly bizarre and unsettling encounters.

The video below examines this fascinating case a little further.


1 The Mojave Incident, Dave Partridge, Medium https://shadowsofyourmind.medium.com/the-mojave-incident-973c851f01f1
2 A Harrowing Alien Abduction in the Mojave Desert, Brent Swancer, Mysterious Universe https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2023/05/A-Harrowing-Alien-Abduction-in-the-Mojave-Desert/
3 Mojave Incident: Inspired By A Chilling Story of Alien Abduction, Ron Felber, ISBN 9781569 802137
4 Top secret military base revealed as US prepares for UFO hearing, Sunday World https://www.sundayworld.com/news/world-news/top-secret-military-base-revealed-as-us-prepares-for-ufo-hearing/a1071421543.html

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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