By Rich Tosches
Denver Post Staff Writer
Sheri and Chuck Bowen stand near a windmill-powered watering hole on their family's 13,000-acre ranch near Eads. The ranch is on the site of the infamous Sand Creek Massacre. (Post / Rich Tosches)
The tales of mysterious livestock mutilations go way back on the Colorado flatlands, back at least to 1967 outside of Alamosa, where Snippy the horse died a strange death.
Snippy had been skinned in a bizarre way. The cuts were sharp and precise. There was no blood at the scene. Snippy's owner said when she touched the horse's flesh, it oozed green fluid that burned her skin.
There were, of course, reports of UFOs in the area that night.
Beam ahead, so to speak, to Monday. To the parched land near this tiny town just 40 miles from the Kansas border. Chuck Bowen, 54, a rancher and a photographer, gazes across the 13,000 acres his family has owned since the 1940s. He takes a step, and the dust around his boots swirls in the relentless wind.
Two of his cows have died freaky deaths. And then he hears the word "alien," and he smiles. It's hard, frankly, for down-to-earth Bowen to imagine why extraterrestrial beings would hover over his remote meadow, carefully snatch away the faces of two cows and then dart back into the twinkling stars.
"You would think," he said, "they'd have something more important to do."
And yet Bowen wonders what on earth could have killed his Angus cows and surgically removed the skin from the same side of both cows' faces, leaving the carcasses otherwise intact in the undisturbed grass of the sprawling ranch.
"The grass around their legs was still upright, still tall," he said. "When an animal dies it usually thrashes around and disturbs the ground. This was like the cows had been gently laid down in the grass. Like they'd been lowered."
Oh, and there's this little tidbit that jacks up the spooky meter another notch in Bowen's head: The ranch, originally owned by his grandfather, sits on the site of the infamous Nov. 29, 1864, Sand Creek Massacre, in which some 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were killed by U.S. Army soldiers. Bowen and his wife, Sheri, have spent decades sifting through the dirt, uncovering about 3,000 artifacts of that horrible day. Everything from cannonball fragments to metal arrowheads to soldiers' uniform buttons.
In February and again in April, not far from that main battlefield and down by the towering cottonwood trees that stood even back then, Bowen found the dead cows.
"Both of them had the skin sliced off the left side of their faces in exactly the same pattern,"