News & History

A Christmas Conundrum: Rooftop reports leave more questions than answers

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

A whirlwind of activity has authorities completely baffled this Christmas morning as they try to piece together a series of strange sightings and countless reports of commotions at local homes.

The first calls rang in shortly after midnight Sunday. Larry Cain, the county’s 911 coordinator, said emergency phone lines were “jingling off the hook” as residents called to report hearing a “clatter” on their rooftops and spotting a “hairy-faced guy in a red outfit.”

Cain said there were “hundreds” of calls made throughout the pre-dawn hours, and that the calls suddenly stopped just before dawn. “Evidently he was hitting a lot of homes last night,” Cain said, “but there were no reports that this person was taking anything — only leaving things.”

“We’re still trying to piece together the timeline of calls. This has turned out to be a real Christmas conundrum.”

— Sheriff Jason Watson

Arkadelphia Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson provided The Arkadelphian with a 911 recording of one of many reports during the night hours. The caller, a Walnut Street resident near Perritt Primary School, explained to police that he had heard a commotion on his roof moments before noticing the mysterious figure had landed on his neighbor’s rooftop. (Listen to the recording below)

Sheriff Jason Watson said deputies responded to each of these calls at every corner of the county.

The first reports of activity came from Dalark, Manchester and Joan, where several families called after hearing what sounded like a vehicle had landed on their rooftops.

A report filed at the Caddo Valley Police Department notes that officers were involved in a brief pursuit with a sleigh-like vehicle after they observed it speeding on Valley Street. Officers there quickly aborted their efforts to make a traffic stop once the vehicle went airborne and suddenly disappeared.

While watching the radar for signs of winter weather, Tate Chanler, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, said he noticed an odd object heading straight toward Clark County. “I called the Norad hotline to report this unidentified object, and the airman there told me they saw it on radar, too,” Chanler said. “To them it looked like a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer, and that we should not be alarmed, as this object is spotted on radar around this time every year.

Firefighters also experienced some unusual activity on an otherwise uneventful night. According to Arkadelphia Fire Chief Jason Hunt, there were “multiple” calls from residents complaining their fireplace had been suddenly snuffed out, followed by a smell of singed clothing.

AFD responded to two calls of smoke-filled kitchens where residents had over-baked cookies. One caller advised of an electrical short with his rooftop Christmas lights — Hunt said it appeared a “heavy, hoofed animal” was the culprit for the damaged lights and subsequent electrical short.

Firemen later assisted police officers with a minor vehicle accident at 26th and Caddo involving a green hairy male that left the scene on a scooter and a sleigh operator named K. Kringle, owner of a 2021 Boeing Sleigh SX. The driver and nine animals were checked out at the scene, and fortunately there was no need for medical transport. Firefighters returned to service at 2:34 a.m.

Around the same time at Arkadelphia’s Dexter Florence Memorial Field, an on-duty air traffic controller relayed that she had spotted a low-flying aircraft, but that the object was traveling at speeds too fast to identify. She informed officers that the craft appeared to be traveling toward Curtis.

A devoted Neighborhood Watch captain captured this image of the alleged perpetrator scaling the chimney of an Arkadelphia home just before sunrise Sunday morning. | Courtesy photo

In Gurdon, the Marshal’s Office was requested to a location off of Sticky Road to assist in the recovery of a stuck vehicle. There was no vehicle in sight when they arrived, but an officer took photographs of what appeared to be a rut caused from a vehicle with two tracks and dozens of hoof prints. More reports of rooftop ruckuses were phoned into the sheriff’s office from residents in Whelen Springs, Beirne and Okolona.

An officer on duty in Amity performing a routine check of businesses at the town square was baffled beyond belief to find an unoccupied sleigh double-parked at the roundabout. Averting his gaze momentarily to radio in what he had seen, the policeman spun back around to find that vehicle had taken off. Surveillance footage from City Hall captured video of the craft as it nearly pummeled the plaza centered in the roundabout.

The sheriff added that the trail of phone reports indicate the person was traveling from east to west. “It seemed like it all happened in just a matter of seconds,” Watson told The Arkadelphian. “We’re still trying to piece together the timeline of calls and collect evidence to solve these sightings. This has turned out to be a real Christmas conundrum.”

In their efforts to solve this case, law enforcement urge residents who have noticed anything unusual to let them know in the comments below.

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