Cops baffled by mystery object that crashed into home


January 4, 2007

Police say they can't identify this golf ball-sized object which fell into a home in New Jersey.

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (AP) -- Authorities were trying to identify a mysterious metallic object that crashed through the roof of a house in eastern New Jersey.

Nobody was injured when the golf ball-sized object, weighing nearly as much as a can of soup, struck the home and embedded itself in a wall Tuesday night. Federal officials sent to the scene said it was not from an aircraft.

The rough-surfaced object, with a metallic glint, was displayed Wednesday by police.

"There's some great interest in what we have here," said Lt. Robert Brightman. "It's rather unusual. I haven't seen anything like it in my career."

He said he hoped to have the object identified within 72 hours, but declined to name the other agencies whose help he has enlisted.

Approximately 20 to 50 rock-like objects fall every day over the entire planet, said Carlton Pryor, a professor of astronomy at Rutgers University.

"It's not all that uncommon to have rocks rain down from heaven," said Pryor, who had not seen the object that struck the Monmouth County home. "These are usually rocky or a mixture of rock and metal."

Pryor said laboratory tests would have to be conducted to determine if the object was a meteorite.

Police received a call Wednesday morning that the metal object had punched a hole in the roof of the single-family, two-story home, damaged tiles on a bathroom floor, and then bounced, sticking into a wall.

The object was heavier than a usual metal object of its size, said Brightman, who added that no radioactivity was detected.

Brightman would not disclose the address of the house or the names of the people who lived there, citing the family's desire to not talk to the media. He would only say that the couple and their adult son live in a township housing development.

Brightman said one man who lives at the home found the object at about 9 p.m. Tuesday after returning from work and hearing from his mother that something had crashed through the roof a few hours earlier.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which sent investigators to the town, did not know where the object came from, said spokeswoman Arlene Murray.

"It's definitely not an aircraft part," she said. "I can't speak beyond that as to what it might be."

In the neighborhood later in the day, residents chatted with each other in the streets about the fallen object, but none said they knew which house had been hit.

Robert Nalven, 55, said nothing this exciting had happened in the six years he's lived in the affluent development. "I'm happy it didn't hit my house," he said.