The Philadelphia Experiment From A-Z

Dr? Morris K. Jessup

Morris Ketchum Jessup was born on March 2, 1900; with interests in many areas (astrophysics, philosophy, mathematics, selenography, and writing.) Some publications on the subject unjustly sum Jessup’s life up in four words: “Used Auto Parts Salesman.” However he also taught astronomy and mathematics at Drake University as well as the University of Michigan. He operated the largest refracting telescope in the Southern Hemisphere (in South Africa.) Jessup studied early cultures of Mexico, Inca remains in Peru, and also participated in archeological studies of Maya ruins. Although Jessup was never officially awarded his Ph. D. many books refer to him as “Dr. Jessup” for added effect

During the 1950’s Morris Jessup published four books (The Case for the UFO, The UFO Annual, The Expanding Case for the UFO, and UFO’s and the Bible) taking the subject of Ufology in a serious tone. The books were released during a time when the media was awash in a sea of hog-wash as far as UFO’s were concerned; and not for lack of effort, none of his books really be-came a best-seller. I think Jessup said it best: “There is so much damned nonsense being put out by silly people that one gets disgusted with a lot of it.”  I wonder if he would be surprised to learn that after 60 years, and many more books, nothing has changed

Morris K Jessup

Dr. Morris K. Jessup 1900~1959



In his first book was entitled “The Case for the UFO,” he put forth the idea that his readers should pressure their political representatives to demand research into the unified field theory, for possible application to new kinds of space-ship drive, such as antigravitational. This tidbit sparked Carl Allen’s interest in Jessup, whereupon he started writing to Jessup in January of 1956.

Mr. Jessup was invited to the Office of Naval Research where he was given an annotated copy of his own book “The Case for the UFO” which has become known as the “Varo Edition.” Some of the mysterious notations referenced an invisibility experiment in 1943. [1]

In July or August of 1958 Mr. Jessup turned over his collected information on the PX to writer / researcher Ivan T. Sanderson in New York for safekeeping, “in case anything should happen to me.[2] This information included his own personal notes, and his own annotated copy of the Varo Edition, which is unique in that it contains his counter-comments and is the only such copy in existence. [3]

Mr. Jessup became very involved in the study of the Philadelphia Experiment. Oceanographer and personal friend Dr. J. Manson Valentine recalls that Jessup seemed well-informed about the PX, and attended several conferences with Navy officers and scientists on the subject. He recalls his conversations with Morris Jessup by stating;

Dr. J. Manson Valentine

Dr. J. Manson Valentine

“According to Jessup the purpose {of the Philadelphia Experiment} was to test out the effect of a strong magnetic field on a manned surface craft. This was to be accomplished by means of magnetic generators (degaussers). Both pulsating and non-pulsating generators were operated to create a tremendous magnetic field on and around a docked vessel. The results were as astonishing as they were important, although with unfortunate aftereffects on the crew. When the experiment first began to take effect a hazy green light became evident… Soon the whole ship was full of this green haze and the craft, together with its personnel, began disappearing from sight of those on the dock until only its water line was visible. The destroyer was subsequently reported to have appeared and disappeared at Norfolk, Virginia, which may have been the result of a trial invisibility run, involving a related time-warp phenomenon.”

“The Navy had requested him to be a consultant on yet another experiment but that he had refused. He was convinced that the Navy, in seeking to create a magnetic cloud for camouflage purposes in October 1943, had uncovered a potential that could temporarily, and if strong enough perhaps permanently, rearrange the molecular structure of people and materials so that they would pass into another dimension with further implications of predictable and as yet uncontrolled teleportation.” [4]

Most books say; Near the middle of April, 1959 Mr. Jessup phoned and made arrangements to meet Dr. Valentine to present his evidence and conclusions about the Philadelphia Experiment. He never made it to the meeting, for on that night he “committed suicide” by carbon monoxide inhalation. [5]

“…apparently was an error. The Valentines told me they had been trying to reach Jessup for three days before his death to ask him over, for they were worried about what he had told them. He had told them he was ‘on to something that might be big.'” ~ Ann L. Genzlinger in a interview with Grey Barker [5a]

No notes or manuscripts of any kind were ever found, his briefcase seen with him that morning was missing. No autopsy was ever performed on Jessup.

1958 Chevy Station Wagon White

1958 Chevy Station Wagon White

According to the Medical Examiner’s Report, Morris Ketchum Jessup was found by John Goode (Park Attendant) on April 20, 1959, at 6:30 PM in Matheson’s Hammock Park, Dade County, Florida.  He was in his 1958 white Chevy station wagon behind the wheel, wearing a white shirt, tie, gray pants and brown shoes. Cause of death: “Acute carbon monoxide intoxication / Deceased inhaled auto exhaust.”

The Police report reads;

“Upon arrival by 637-A. Victim was found sitting upright in his vehicle. Physical check of victim revealed negative results in berating and no pulse action evident. Victim was administered 1100 lbs of 100% oxygen with negative results. Body identified by Leon A. Seul, a friend, on 4/20/59 at 10:30P.M.”

Anna Lykins Genzlinger of Miami, (after getting access to, and examining the Dade County medical examiner’s report of Jessup’s death) supposedly found that Morris Jessup had a lethal amount of alcohol in his blood, and when combined with medication he was taking would have been fatal. With this tidbit we are led to wonder how he was able to drive his car, write a suicide note, and attach a hose to his car exhaust and commit suicide.

At this point we need to pause and point out that much of the above information comes to us via The Philadelphia Experiment, by Berlitz and Moore (1979.) The problem is, once again, that not all sources are in agreement as to Ms. Genslinger’s position on the matter. As an example, we note the statements by Genslinger as quoted in Brad Steiger and Al Bielek’s “Philadelphia Experiment & Other UFO Conspiracies,” page 58:

“There was no evidence of alcohol, but there was a complete saturation of carbon monoxide. While this does definitely establish the cause of death, there were no other tests conducted which could have indicated, for example, the presence of drugs which could have been administered beforehand.” – Anna L. Genzlinger

The context of the above quotation is that Anna Genzlinger appears to have reversed her position on the matter; the problem is that in doing so, she creates a glaring contradiction. In Moore’s book the inference is that Jessup’s blood was saturated with alcohol (pointing to a conspiratorial dirty deed), whereas in Steiger’s book the same woman states flatly that “there was no evidence of alcohol,” and that Jessup’s death could be explained as a plain old suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, although there may have been other evidence of conspiracy to murder.

“Originally”, Anna said, “I was motivated by a strong feeling that Dr. Jessup did not take his own life. But after my long investigation, I have concluded that he did- but not while in possession of his faculties. He was under some sort of control.” [6]

Regardless of how Jessup actually died, we must resist the urge to let ‘strong feelings’ influence our interpretation of facts. Either Jessup’s blood was alcohol-saturated, or it wasn’t. Which will it be?

“No Signs of violence or surgical scars. No leg edema. Blood negative for alcohol. 38.5% carboxyhemogloblin corrected. Examined by: R. A. Justi, M.D.” – Medical Investigator Dr. Sheppard.

Other problems for the researcher include the following:

Steiger’s book on page 58 informs the reader that “while it is a state law in Florida to conduct an autopsy on suicide victims, there was no autopsy whatsoever performed on the body of M.K. Jessup.” It is irrelevant what the state law is in Florida; the question is, was it law in 1959 when Jessup died? And, even if it was, we note that Anna Genzlinger has apparently shifted her position on Jessup’s death from a “conspiratorial” viewpoint to a more “conventional” one anyway.

On the matter of just why there was no autopsy, Dr. Joseph H. Davis, examiner at the Dade County Medical Examiner’s office, answers that Jessup’s body had been donated to the University of Miami’s School of Medicine. (interestingly about month before his death on, March 20th 1959 Jessup signed a legal “Form of Dedication” leaving his body to the University.) Anna Genzlinger disputes that answer, quoting the Florida State Code, No. 406.11, which gives 15 circumstances in which an autopsy would be required. The case in question would fit three of these:

  • Jessup’s case was determined to be a suicide by a homicide detective.
  • He was not attended by a practicing physician.
  • There were ‘unusual circumstances’ surrounding his death.

So if the circumstances dictated an autopsy, did the coroner’s office take it upon themselves to save the tax payers some money, and be more lenient with the law, and skip the autopsy, as it was clearly a simple case of carbon monoxide poisoning?


More hair-pulling comes for the researcher when he tries to ascertain the circumstances in which Jessup found himself just before his death. Was he displaying any changed behavioral patterns that could be interpreted as pre-suicidal, or otherwise out of the norm? Or was he skipping down the Primrose Path without a care in the world? Let the reader decide from the references below:

From one set of sources (Bill Moore, Ivan Sanderson, etc.) we are told that, a week before his death, Jessup mailed a long and depressing letter/suicide note to his friend John Nebel in New York.

“I also have seen the letter referred to above and can confirm that it is a perfectly straightforward ‘suicide note’ and further that Dr. Jessup’s letter makes it clear that he chose suicide as the only possible alternative to an insupportable future, and did so after careful consideration and not in a fit of sudden despair. Certainly the mysterious ‘they’ had nothing to do with it.” – Hans Stefan Santesson [7]

Ivan T. Sanderson

Ivan T. Sanderson

“At this our last meeting he was extremely distraught and admitted that, due to an originally pure intellectual interest in natural phenomena, he found that he had been sucked into a completely insane world of unreality. He expressed outright terror at the endless stream of “coincidences” that had occurred in his work and in his private life; but, beyond this, he was distressed that he might be accused of outright insanity should he mention these aggravations and related matters…”

“I don’t think I’m going balmy but I do believe all this nonsense is actually happening and is not a figment of my imagination. If you read this book you will see why I have been forced to this conclusion. Now, if I am right, I have a feeling that this just can’t go on any longer without something unpleasant happening; and, if something does and anybody reads this material, they will immediately say that I obviously went around the bend; and once that has been even suggested, you know quite well that the average uninvolved citizen will immediately jump to the conclusion that there is insanity in my family.”

“This was a pretty tragic situation on the face of it even then. Naturally, we gave our solemn promise that Morris’ request would be scrupulously observed; while he for his part, added the rider that only if certain persons he named requested in writing (and legally affidavited) that we do so, should the material be published.” – Ivan T. Sanderson [8]

“Jessup was scheduled to drive back to Indiana two days later. However, after two weeks a business associate of his received a letter from his publisher asking where he might be as he had not returned. After a further interval of about a month another of his friends in New York learned that he was in Florida, had gone there directly from New York, had opened his house, and a few days later had been involved in a very serious car accident from which he was still recovering. Four months later still, his principal confidant in New York received a very depressed and depressing letter from Morris, This was in mid-April, 1959. In this he said that he had been unable to do any work since the accident and he made the remark that he was “a complete vegetable.” In fact, this letter is a straight suicide note and asked outright that certain things be done as he was going to take the risk on “another existence or universe being better than this miserable world.” There was a great deal more on this score. A week later Jessup was dead…” – Ivan T. Sanderson

“There is no known reason to suppose that his death was other than suicide, and a carefully planned suicide at that. He had been distraught and depressed for over a year due mostly to his publishers having turned down his manuscripts, though on the perfectly legitimate grounds that they were unorganized and not up to his previous standard. Actually, he was pushing too hard when he wrote them, thus bringing on a vicious circle. Road traffic experts might well say that his accident was another link in this chain, as people should not drive if they are overly distraught, and the physical results of this accident certainly were very grave.” – Ivan T. Sanderson [9]

Manson Valentine relates that Jessup had confided in him over a period of months, revealing a deep and growing depression:

“If he committed suicide, it was probably due to extreme depression… He was also despondent over the criticism directed against his books by the scientific and academic world.” – Dr. J. Manson Valentine [10]

How far back from the time of Jessup’s death did his changed demeanor become evident? Friends relate the obvious change in his general mood as far back as “early 1958.” [11] Some of this may have had to do with troubles in his marriage; hints that all was not well on the marital front comes from the following:

Brad Steiger

Brad Steiger

“…but his close associates and friends cite despondecy over an approaching divorce and a number of personal defeats.” – Brad Steiger [12]

Pretty grim picture of a very depressed man, wouldn’t you say?

Now consider what is being published as of this writing (1994):

“We are told over and over that those who knew Jessup even in the slightest realized full well that he did not commit suicide, for he had not been depressed or given signs of turbulence in his personal life. He appeared to be happy, had a job, a family, lots of friends, and was putting a great deal of effort into his UFO studies. His mistake was perhaps linking them with the Philadelphia Experiment, because this is in all likelihood what caused him to be a prime target for silencing.” – Commander X [13]

Jessup had several unused prescriptions in poor condition in his possession when he was found;

  • Abbot Colchicine Granules: 1/120
  • Amphetamine Sulfate: 10 mgs. #60
  • Atarax: 10 mgs
  • Testosterone: 50 mgs
  • Powdered Thyroid: 1 gram

A lot of books try to make something of this but they are simply unfilled prescriptions he was given by doctors that he himself decided he was fine without.

Why can’t we all agree on something as fairly well-documented as Jessup’s general condition just before his death? Are our motives as researchers more concerned with the truth, or with sensationalism or pre-conceived notions?


To further confuse the issue of Jessup’s death, Ivan T. Sanderson states that he did not drive his car to the Dade County park at all, but rather committed suicide in his garage. In referring to the story of Jessup’s death, Mr. Sanderson writes:

“This {Jessup’s death} was greatly enhanced by the false report that Jessup had been found dead in his car in a park. He was not; he was found in his car in a locked garage in his house. Most unfortunately, no precise statement has ever been issued as to whether a pipe had been led to the closed car from the exhaust or not; nor was it stated whether the garage was locked from the inside or the outside, or the car locked at all. These latter points may just never have been published, as his death did not receive more than perfunctory notice.” [14]

This is a very interesting twist; the only problem is that one can find a copy of Jessup’s Death Certificate in Berlitz’ Without a Trace, p. 118. And the Certificate indisputably shows the “place of injury” as “Station wagon – County Park,” Dade, Florida. We suppose that next we will be reading that Morris K. Jessup’s garage was located in the middle of the Dade County Park!


I’m not sure we will ever know, in the end there is some what of a mystery as to whether or not it actually was suicide. Everything was executed some would say expertly, and not what would be common for someone committing suicide and other oddities;

  • The hose that was used was not an ordinary garden hose, it was two inches in diameter with a length of five feet.
  • The hose was wired to the exhaust pipe, not simply stuffed in.
  • The cloths / rags stuffed into the back window were wet to causing more of a air tight seal
  • No obvious sources of water were found to wet the cloths / rags left at the scene.
  • His briefcase seen with him in the morning was no where to be found.
    "Saucer Man Suicide" ~ "Fort Myers News-Press" on Wed Apr-22, 1959

    Fort Myers News-Press, Wed Apr-22, 1959

  • He was pronounced D.O.A by Dr. Harry Reed, who said he lived in the neighbourhood and just happened on the scene. Anna Genzlinger while researching Jessup’s death; “(I) Have talked personally with every Dr. Harry Reed in Dade County. They all deny being anywhere near Matheson Hammock Park the night of Jessup’s death. Who is this mysterious “Dr. Reed,” and why did he take it upon himself to pronounce the man dead when the Coroner was already on his way to the scene? Most men would not have taken that responsibility.” [15]
  • His wife refused to identify the body, stating she was so certain that her husband would not have committed suicide. His body was later identified by Leon A. Seoul claiming to be a friend of the family. No one interviewed family or otherwise ever heard of Leon.
  • No published obituaries were found about Jessup’s death, not from his local home town paper or any other source. However in 2017 I was able to locate a easy to miss little article “Saucer Man Suicide” that appeared on the front page of the “Fort Myers News-Press” Newspaper on Wed Apr 22nd, 1959 (Two days after Jessups death)

“A prominent UFO Lecturer told us a man claiming to be Carlos Miguel Allende had called upon him in his study and warned him to discontinue his research or “Wind up a ‘suicide’ like Dr. Jessup.” – Brad Steiger [16]

“Dr. Jessup was still alive when first found, … perhaps he was allowed to die. His theories were very advanced and perhaps there were … influences that wished to prevent their spreading …” – Dr. J. Manson Valentine [17]

I think it makes it a little more real when you can hear people at the core of the mystery. This (video on the left) is one of the few times you can hear Morris Jessup’s voice. It is not about the Philadelphia Experiment, but a round table discussion on UFOs with with a few people discussed here.

“Hans Stefan Santeson (editor of “Fantasic Universe” magazine), Morris K. Jessup author “the Expanding Case for the UFO,” Dan Fry-Claims to have taken a trip in a flying saucer from New Mexico to New York in 32 minutes, George Van Tassel, Jules St. Germaine-Lynbrook, Long Island, NY Atty, Ted Bloecher-Director of the Civilian Saucer Intelligence group of NY.)”

“You must remember that he {Jessup} was not a ‘crank’ writer, but a distinguished and famous scientist.” – Dr. J. Manson Valentine

[1]See the chapter “The Varo Edition” for more information

[2]“Revelations: Alien Contact and Human Deceptions” by Jacques Vallee, Pg 201

[3]“Invisible Horizons: True Mysteries of the Sea” by Vincent Gaddis, Pg 219

[4]“Without A Trace” by Charles Berlitz, Pg 164-165, 170

[5]“Without a Trace”, Pg 170, or “The Bermuda Triangle”, Pg 116, Photocopied Death Certificate

[5a]“The Ghost of the Philadelphia Experiment Returns ”, Pg 130

[6]“The Philadelphia Experiment and Other UFO Conspiracies”, by Brad Steiger, Pg 57

[7]“More on Jessup and the Allende Case” by Hans Stefan Santesson, published in Pursuit, April, 1975, Vol. 8, No. 2

[8]“Jessup and the Allende Case” by Ivan T. Sanderson, published in Pursuit, September, 1968, Vol. 1, No. 4

[9]“Jessup and the Allende Case” by Ivan T. Sanderson, published in Pursuit, September, 1968, Vol. 1, No. 4

[10]“The Bermuda Triangle” by Charles Berlitz, Pg 151

[11]“The Philadelphia Experiment” by Bill Moore & Charles Berlitz, Pg 74

[12]“Mysteries of Time and Space” by Brad Steiger, Pg 160

[13]“The Philadelphia Experiment Chronicles: Exploring the Strange Case of Alfred Bielek & Dr. M.K. Jessup” by Commander X, pg 49, also quoted in Unsolved UFO Sightings Magazine, Summer 1994, pg 26

[14]“Jessup and the Allende Case” by Ivan T. Sanderson, published in Pursuit, Sep, 1968, Vol. 1, No. 4

[15]“The Jessup Dimension: From The Philadelphia Experiment, UFOs, and Time Travel to Mothman, Montauk, and Murder” by Anna Genzlinger

[16]“The New U.F.O. Breakthrough” by Brad Stiger & Joan Whritenour, Pg 72

[17]“Without A Trace” by Charles Berlitz, Pg 170

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