Beyond Midlife Magic
Jo Ann Richards’s book (2021) Midlife Magic is about more than her relationship with Captain Mark Richards. Yet, for those who have followed the saga it has several nuggets that further our understanding, perhaps in unintended ways. This article does not focus on Jo Ann’s personal life or her magical beliefs.
Many books and essays have been written by prisoners, but having a relationship with a life prisoner is never easy. I have known a number of women married to lifers or death row prisoners, who entered the relationship after their partner was convicted. I once thought it would make a fascinating study should I have wished to pursue other degrees.
Jo Ann accurately describes issues facing someone marrying a prisoner serving life without parole, which was especially difficult before family visits were allowed. In many ways, being in prison is similar to being is controlled by the IRS and the DMV, with violence never far away. This can also apply to visitors who must learn how to wait and be subject to the whims of an bureaucracy.
Under any circumstances, the relationship can be very one sided. The free person controls much of the dynamic, from deciding when to visit or providing money for commissary and other needs. For some, it can be important to have a relationship where boundaries are maintained. A woman who has married a lifer can go home after a visit, live her life, and still describe herself as being married. Others can also experience some of what it means to live outside the law and societal approval — a mixed blessing to be sure. Loved ones can have a certain community and a cause — whether it be working on prison issues or trying to free their husbands or wives. But it can also be easy to get wrapped up in prison drama,
A prison relationship is not without risk as free people enter into a complex world that prisoners can manipulate or use, on rare occasion with even deadly consequences. And for those who help gain their partner’s release, the future remains uncertain. Although some make it work, I have known others whose relationship with lifers did not last once parole was granted.
It would be pure speculation to guess about how any of this might apply to Jo Ann. She writes about how she met Mark and what it brought her. What is remarkable is that after her relationship with Mark began, she entered into other dynamics as he began his stories about being a space captain. She helped Mark with his research, lived with his mother in his family home, announced the Dragonhill research center (out of her home), published Mark’s book Imperial Marin, and spoke on his behalf at conferences and podcasts.
This book gives Jo Ann her own voice but there is an inherent ambiguity when one party is in prison. At times I have wondered what information was from Mark and what was from Jo Ann. For instance, Jo Ann stated during an interview that Mark was on the highest levels in the Republican National Committee. Was Mark in control of this narrative or Jo Ann? Was it simply something she said on the spur of the moment? As far as I know this claim was never repeated. It can be attributed to Jo Ann but not necessarily Mark.
Ghosts Aboard the Hornet
Jo Ann recounts her visits to the USS Hornet and Mark’s claims that it had served as a command ship for his father when they battled aliens together.
Years later, when Mark shared with me that he and his father had served on that ship, I learned why that residual negative energy had still been present. They, along with other military personnel, had been involved in hand-to-hand combat with captured enemy non-human beings in the ship’s main hangar bay, during which Mark even been thrown across the room by one of them, and afterward, some of those enemy’s bodies had been taken into the medical bay. Since the medical bay hadn’t yet been restored when we’d visited, the negative energy from that time had still remained.
As this site has explained, the Hornet had been decommissioned at the time Mark claims and critical equipment was removed. It was in the “mothball” or rust fleet at the Puget Sound. Given the visibility of such a storied ship and the amount of work necessary for it to sail, it was impossible for it to slip out unnoticed and return later to be decommissioned again. As it is, the ship narrowly escaped being scrapped before it was towed to Alameda where restoration began as a floating museum.
Jo Ann met ghosts aboard the ship, including the spirit of her father-in-law, Major Ellis Richards Jr. The Hornet is no stranger to ghost stories. Jo Ann’s accounts at least fits into the ship’s legends and the experience of many on board today.
The realm of spirit or ghosts is beyond my expertise, but whatever Jo Ann experienced, I do not believe it had anything to do with “the spirit of my deceased father-in-law” She recounts that Ellis appeared and stood beside her. At the very least, Ellis had no particular connection to the ship. As a disabled Air Force officer, Richards would not have been on the Naval ship in any capacity before it was moved to Alameda. His ties to it were only in Mark’s imagination.
Whether Ellis made a special appearance despite that is left for others to decide.
UFOs and Alien Raptors
As might be expected, Jo Ann relates several experiences with UFOs. She reports an encounter when she was attending a conference in England. It is impossible to determine what might have been seen, but there are things that are more important than the nuts and bolts of a saucer.
When I returned to the U.S., Mark told me it had been a drone belonging to his Raptor friends who like to keep an eye on me when I travel. In my opinion, it was partly to be sure of my whereabouts and to offer protection if needed as a favor to Mark.
Mark claims contact with the raptors even from prison. In 2019, during a family visit, they saw “a large triangular craft with red lights along its perimeter drifting above the buildings. . . . Its engine made a distinctive whap-whap sound.” It again was Mark’s friends saying hello.
When the raptors are not visiting Mark, they like chocolate, antiques, and other nice things. (The Kerry Cassidy Interviews, Interview 8.). If this is true, it’s not hard to imagine that a light in the sky is a raptor drone or a distinctive whapping sound is from a raptor ship. It is a big “if”, however.
Jo Ann devotes several pages to her suspicions that she has been followed or tracked at various conferences and travels. Before raptors or surveillance are discussed, however, she should first show that Mark is a captain with several advanced degrees. Without this, it is not as if she is imparting secret information. Jo Ann focuses on Kevin Moore’s plans to produce a documentary on Richards: He agrees with the court ruling that Mark is guilty of the crime for which he’d been charged, (despite my publicly declaring his innocence), claims that Mark never served in the military, and … Continue reading
Psychic Connections and Spirits
Jo Ann stated that she has experienced psychic communication with both Titania Essex and Major Richards.
Titania is a fictional character who is part of Mark’s claims to be a space captain. Mark asserts that he first met her in England when they were children. They played with raptors and had a number of adventures. She grew up to be the love of Mark’s life and they had a son together. Titania is said to have been murdered in 1979. Mark was determined to leave the Secret Space Program after that.
As discussed on this site there is no basis for the narrative. Mark’s history was well documented during the trial and up to the present. After college he started numerous projects and edited a journal based on Ecotopian ideas. He eventually married his college sweetheart. No evidence has been presented to support his claims about Titania and unsurprisingly there appears to be no record of her.
Major Richards started his Air Force career as a fighter pilot but after a devastating crash he no longer could fly. He became a procurement officer but the effects of his injuries remained throughout his life. He was not capable of the exploits Mark describes. He either was not the person communicating with Jo Ann or he should have encouraged her to stick to the truth.
I have no doubt that Jo Ann believes that she has been touched by both. Sincerity, however, is not evidence and experience is not the best way to measure truth.
Nazi Aliens and Contact
The appendix presents a brief “primer” on alien contact and the Secret Space Program. I need not repeat what is written about The UFO Lore of Hamilton Field, Avro Saucers, and similar matters. Simply put, she claims Ellis flew Avro saucers (made by a Canadian aeronautical company) years before they were conceived — the craft never got more than three feet off the ground.
Jo Ann also states that the National Security Agency was established in 1952 to develop “reliable, secure communication with extra-terrestrials visiting Earth.” The Agency’s purpose is well documented, but even under Jo Ann’s revision it would have been established within weeks of contact with the Raptors and before we met the Grays.
Of note is her claim that in 1940, Ellis “was sent to the US Southwest to deal with a reptilian species that had been working with the Nazis.” This is the first time I have been aware of this claim, but it was two years before Ellis enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private with a high school education and electrical manufacturing skills. Census records show that in 1940, he was a 16 year-old student living with his father in Illinois. The likelihood that he would have been sent to deal with alien Nazis is nonexistent, but perhaps Jo Ann thought about Mark’s claims to have served in Vietnam at the age of 15. A precocious family!
Jo Ann sheds more light when she ascribes the above quote to “historian Marshall Dill and author Arthur C. Clarke.” The quote is indeed Clarke’s but Marshall Dill is more interesting than the quote itself. Dill was Mark’s history professor at Dominican College. He grew close to Mark and Richards house sat for him during college and afterwards — giving Mark even less time to be a space captain. After Mark was convicted Dill wrote to the court expressing his support for Mark. He did not write with Clarke and the quote does not belong to him.
I have debated with myself about whether the reference to Dill shows Mark’s tendency to personalize things. It may be similar to how Mark appropriated the story of the Dulce battle and placed himself at the center of events or claimed friendship with Robin Williams. However, it may simply be a nod to someone who was important to Mark.
Ultimately, it is a reflection of how the murder of Richard Baldwin separated Mark from the life he had known. Mark could not return to his days on the college campus. He could only go into space and give Dill a cameo appearance.