Estimating Dates of "Tunnel" Artifacts
Stickel lists seven methods of "probabilistic dating" for
establishing the alleged tunnel was filled in after the construction of
the school thus giving added credibility to stories told by
1) Pipe straps for a waste pipe under classroom #3 are thought to have
been attached after the school was constructed, thus helping to prove that the
"tunnel" was filled in after the construction of the school. The
conclusion is based upon the February 1966 patent date of the straps (vs. the
September 1966 construction date for the building) and the fact that the bands
appear new (very little corrosion or patina) compared to other pipe bands found
under the property. "In the opinion of the Historic Artifact Analyst and
the archaeological team, the date of the placement of the straps is much more
recent than the construction date of the preschool of 1966."
In his 1993 appearance at the CRCM conference in San Diego, Stickel
claimed, incorrectly, that the pipe connectors found on the pipe would
not have been available until two years after the issuance of the
patent. The Historical Analyst's report did not state that the straps
were placed on the pipe much more recently than the construction of the
school. In fact, the historical analyst interviewed the pipe band's
manufacturer: "When asked if this could have been installed by
September, 1966, he thought that was 'unlikely'." However,
"He did not believe Ideal [company's name] would have records going
back to the mid-sixties that would provide further data on the marketing
of this exact piece." The analyst thus concludes that, "It is
possible, but unlikely, that the pipe joint clamp was installed at that
site between the item's manufacture date and the school's
In any case, the bands had to have been in place at least 6 years (since 6
years had elapsed from the supposed 1983-84 tunnel refilling and the excavation
of the clamps). The in situ appearance of the clamps after at least 6
years underground should not be bright. However, slides of the in situ
find show shiny pipe clamps, as if they had been freshly polished.
There was, in fact, some corrosion on the clamps. But, according to Dr.
Michael, the apparent difference could be explained in other ways:1) The two
sets of pipe clamps found under the school may not have been processed at the
same level of quality; 2) by differences in soil acidity; and 3) by differences
in water permeation in the soil area.187
These possibilities were not considered in Stickel's report.
Thus, Stickel's conclusion amounts to speculation based on insufficient and
possibly tainted data. On balance, the theory that the pipe bands were in fact
released for sale in time to appear under the McMartin school by construction
time must be considered much more probable than the existence of troglodytes.
2) The discovery under room #4 of a mailbox that was once used by the
owners of the neighboring house (in the vacant side lot). The house was torn
down in 1972, causing Stickel to speculate that the mailbox [and thus the
"tunnel" fill] "most probably" dates to after the demolition
of the house.
Once again, Stickel reacts to the data with speculation instead of sober analysis. There is no established date for the mailbox. The house was occupied for 30 years prior to its destruction and 24 years prior to the construction of the McMartin preschool
more than enough time to discard old or unwanted mailboxes or any other items related to the house.
Ted Gunderson, project coordinator for the MTP, apparently sought out the former owners of the house to ask them when the mailbox was discarded. A handwritten note (on a copy of the one page preliminary tunnel report) to
"Rico & Nancy," apparently with his signature attached, states: "I need to locate Mark [son of the deceased former owner] an (sic)
find out the date the mailbox was taken down. This will give us an idea when the tunnel was
filled in." The query and its possible results are not mentioned in Stickel's report, suggesting that the research was not completed or that its results were unacceptable.
3) A "Mickey Mouse" sandwich bag that says "Disney Class 82/83," copyrighted 1982, and was allegedly found in the
"fill matrix" under room #4 "probably indicates that the tunnel fill (or at least some of it) dates to that time or thereafter."
Stickel (p. 84) supports his conclusion with Michael's analysis of the
"Therefore the cavity could be no older than 1983, assuming the Disney Corporation did not manufacture a wrapper prior to the time of the copyright date appearing on it. Even if it did, it probably would not have done so much before 1983 and certainly not as early as 1966 when the McMartin School building was constructed."
But Michael was assuming that the artifact had not been introduced into the
fill in a clandestine manner. In fact, the cavity or
"tunnel" area could have existed prior to the manufacture of the Disney bag or wrapper, which could have been introduced at any time after its manufacture. Michael acknowledges that it could have been placed with the intent of creating false evidence. No photograph clearly showing the bag in situ has been made public. When asked if the bag constituted scientific evidence of the existence of a secret room, he replied,
"Not at all."188
There was ample opportunity for the bag to have been covertly placed. The McMartin parents dug in the same area of the alleged tunnel entrance on three separate occasions, two of which are not mentioned in Stickel's report. The
first two times parents dug holes at random near Ray Buckey's room; although the exact location is not known it is clear that the holes could easily have been at or near the location in which the Disney bag was allegedly found in 1990. In the third dig, conducted by parents with a backhoe, one trench was dug right up next to the spot where the Disney bag was reportedly found by Hobbs. Considering the lack of site integrity, (see above) it is also conceivable that the bag was introduced between April 21 and May 8, 1990.
4) The "arch" under the foundation between rooms 3 and 4 and over the alleged tunnel between the two rooms, is
"obviously a feature made to accommodate the tunnel and there is no other conceivable scenario to account for it if it were created before the preschool was constructed."
The feature is clearly not an arch. If it was formed by human beings they must have used their feet to sculpt it because it is clearly irregular and rough in shape. Its shape is so slight that it serves no useful purpose anyway. Even if there had been a tunnel at that location, there would have been no need to construct an arch; it would have been much easier and less time consuming to simply dig a little deeper if more height were needed. The combined photographic evidence from Stickel and from SRS of the school's concrete foundation
and the most cursory look at concrete foundations of houses, buildings, and curbside etc.
shows that the formation of the "arch" is entirely consistent with the natural process of erosion.189
5) "Four large containers (1 ceramic and 3 metal pots)" found under the supposed
"arch," standing upright and full of intact glass artifacts (coke bottles and jars), allegedly hand placed at a shallow level from which they certainly would have fallen during original (1966) landscaping for the property, thus breaking the glass contents within.
The pots, whatever their purpose or origin, fall within the same category of evidence as the above artifacts also misused for
"probabilistic dating." The issue was already examined above (see Photographic Documentation).
6) The tunnel's dirt ceiling was too weak to have supported human foot traffic from above; it would have required significant shoring up. That requirement was met, however, by the school's concrete foundation which served as a
"de facto roof."
It's hard to understand how this theory helps date the alleged
"tunnel" other than by assuming a priori that it was originally constructed at the same time or after as the school. The theory is inadequate compensation for the fact that essential support beams for the walls and the ceiling of the alleged tunnel were not found during the excavation (see #7 below).
7) Soil was redeposited on the E/W axis of the school building (prior to construction) and compacted to level the property.
"Therefore any holes or openings found in that area extending up to or near the surface would necessarily date to a time after 1966."
The ceiling of the alleged tunnel, according to Stickel's preliminary report, was 30 inches below the school's concrete floor. The
fill used to level the property was two feet thick.190 There is no evidence that soil intrusions below that depth were made for the purpose of constructing a tunnel. The evidence shows only that trash pits were present on the property and that, subsequent intrusions into the top soil were made by excavators searching for tunnels.