On Tuesday, October 9,1990, a meeting of the city council of Sedona, Arizona convened at 7:00 p.m. After the meeting was called to order and the Pledge of Allegiance recited, a brief moment of silence was observed. Next the roll was taken and the floor opened for public comment. Second to approach the microphone was a clean-cut young gentleman who introduced himself as Ben Porterfield and informed the gathering that he had submitted an application for the position of City Magistrate. According to the minutes of the meeting, Porterfield “advised he wanted to give the Council an opportunity to match a face with a resume and that he would be available after the meeting for questions.”
As Ben Porterfield took his seat for the duration of the meeting, it is not known if he questioned the decision to use an alias on his application. Perhaps a man who aspires to administer the law for a municipality ought to do so under his real name. This might hurt his chances of getting the job, he possibly thought, especially if they do a background check which was certain to be the case. Also, he may have wondered if managing a trailer park counted as relevant experience for issuing warrants and reviewing matters of law. No matter, Ben Porterfield, or whatever the young man’s name was, had a number of ongoing projects in various stages of development. Whether or not he got the City Magistrate position was of little consequence.
Unsurprisingly, Ben Porterfield was passed over for the position of City Magistrate of Sedona, Arizona. Months later, however, some who attended the city council meeting that night may have wished they’d taken a greater interest in the man at the microphone with the face and the resume. Because Ben Porterfield was eventually going to become the subject of an arrest warrant, possibly issued by the newly appointed Sedona City Magistrate, and the target of a manhunt for absconding with an indeterminate quantity of Sedona residents’ precious bodily fluids.
Just a few months after the meeting, as the year drew to a close, concerned parents began presenting their teenage offspring at local medical clinics for examinations. At the same time, the Sedona Police Department started receiving reports of a mysterious couple who were offering area teenagers ten dollars to draw a vial of their blood. It took authorities a few weeks, but eventually they were able to zero in on a mobile home at the Windsong Trailer Park, located along U.S. 89A in west Sedona. The trailer belonged to Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield, managers of the park.
Sedona Police Chief Bob Irish was at a loss to explain why these two individuals were collecting the blood samples. “The possibilities of it are only limited by your imagination. At this point, it is one of the most bizarre situations I have ever seen.” At the time, it was thought that at least a dozen teens had allowed some of their blood to be extracted for money. According to accounts, the teens were taken into a bathroom where a syringe was used to extract a sample of their blood. “It looked okay to me,” said a 15-year-old who lived next door to the couple. “They would unwrap each needle and put a brace on your arm and have you fill out a questionnaire. You had to be 14 or over, and you could only give three times. But the questions were really weird, like, ‘Did you use Clearasil…Are you on drugs or alcohol?’” The young woman went on to reveal that her boyfriend and his friends had sold their blood numerous times to the couple and that the pair had taken more than 100 samples from at least 30 teen-agers. Interviews with additional teens revealed the couple posed as representatives of the government and that the blood was needed for the testing of lasers.
Blood wasn’t the only thing the strange couple was collecting. According to authorities, the pair had been collecting rent checks from Windsong residents and depositing them into their personal account. This led to an arrest warrant being issued for a Benjamin and Sarah Birdsong on charges of child abuse, embezzlement, impersonating medical personnel, aggravated assault and operating a clinical laboratory without a license. Apparently the age requirement and the questionnaire subjects were asked to fill out were insufficient to secure licensing for the couple’s blood drawing enterprise. Investigators were also not entirely clear regarding the true identity of the individuals. Chief Irish thought the couple’s names were possibly aliases and that they were known to have used the names Millett and Stewart when they lived in the Phoenix area.
On Monday, January 7, 1991, Sedona Police and an official from the Arizona Department of Health Services served a search warrant at the Camp Verde home of Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield. The couple were not present at the time of the raid and had been last seen at the residence the previous Friday. Items taken from the home by police included two handguns, two shotguns, a Mac-10 submachine gun with silencer, an IBM computer, a printer and computer storage disks – the standard items necessary to get a teen blood-buying business up and running. Also taken in the raid were a book of satanic rituals, the Satanic Bible by Anton Lavey, photocopies, posters and banners containing occult logos and satanic imagery. Satanism quickly moved to the top of the list of possible motives for the strange couple’s blood-buying activities. “It seems to be the forerunner as far as theories,” said Chief Irish. The chief further speculated the blood might be used as part of an “occult-type” ceremony, admitting that, “The worst-case scenario would be drinking it (the blood).”
Meanwhile the search for the pair continued in earnest. The couple owned two vehicles, a 1968 Ford pickup and a 1974 Volvo station wagon, that were now missing from the couple’s Camp Verde home. Acting on a tip, authorities closed in on a motel in Mesa, Arizona, but missed capturing the pair by two hours. Later, authorities admitted they could not confirm that the motel occupants were the fugitive couple. Investigators now believed the actual identity of the pair to be Charles E. Stewart, 32, and Sharon M. Smythe, 23, who went by the aliases Benjamin and Sarah Porterfield while living in Sedona. A number of town residents had encountered the couple, describing them as friendly but very private. None interviewed were able to provide any worthwhile leads. An 11-year-old neighbor of the Porterfield’s described how he was well treated by the couple who would buy parts for his bicycle and take him on camping trips. He did admit, however, that they had some strange habits. “I never saw any of that devil stuff. But there was always weird, loud music in the middle of the night. All the time, they would go camping in Boynton Canyon and then we would hear about animals that were sacrificed up there.”
Investigators continued to pore through materials seized from the couple’s home. A computer specialist was called in to examine the contents of the Porterfield’s home computer. At one point, the expert thought the couple may have booby-trapped the device to erase its contents if tampered with. Eventually, however, the computer revealed little useful information about the Porterfield’s or their secret government research into blood lasers. Occult experts brought in to examine the satanic materials concluded they showed nothing to indicate active occult involvement. The elusive couple, who seemed to become more mysterious with every bit of information discovered about them, had seemingly vanished with potentially over a hundred vials of blood extracted from the town’s teen-age population, all while abandoning a cache of weapons and a computer. Perhaps Chief Irish was wishing he’d introduced himself to Ben Porterfield when he had a chance. “I remember at a City Council meeting, he went up to the microphone and said, ‘I’m Benjamin Porterfield, and I’m available to meet with you.’ He looked like a clean-cut, all-American kid,” Irish recounted.
It should be noted that many residents and visitors to Sedona claim the city rests on a large energy vortex composed of a number of smaller vortices, the most significant of which is the Boynton Canyon vortex. These swirling concentrations of energy are linked with any number of strange phenomena. Perhaps a mystery couple collecting blood samples from local teens is a fairly mundane occurrence in an area where unexplained healing powers, strange spirits, ghostly hauntings, UFO activity, and Interdimensional Portals are part and parcel of the landscape. And if two mysterious travelers conducting highly sensitive scientific research should suddenly be called to deliver their collection of samples back to their obscure corner of space and time, and if the pair of strangers should suddenly vanish through the interdimensional doorway from which they possibly emerged, perhaps it should come as no great surprise.