"He's found outlines of crustaceans, snails, and sea worms inside his meteors," the Grand Junction, Colo., news report declared. "Proof of alien life." That would be something, if only it were true. Writing for the Verge, Brendan Borrell has the lengthy story of Steven Curry, an amateur meteor hunter from Montrose, Colo., who fancied himself a pro and ended up arrested, awaiting a hearing that will determine whether he'll wind up in a mental health facility. Curry, unlike most scientists and dealers, believed meteorites were everywhere and said he found them everywhere, too. And in Montrose, where he moved in 2006 in his late 60s, he was considered the resident expert, giving talks and donating five meteorites—worth $59 million, he said—to the county historical society. But then he tangled with Blaine Reed, one of America's "preeminent meteorite dealers."
Reed had gotten Curry booted from eBay a number of times over the bogus meteorites he was selling on it. Curry was public in his denunciation of Reed, whom he accused of defaming him. So Reed came up with a plan: He purchased an "iron meteorite" found by Curry for $646 from a Grand Junction shop, sent it to a professional lab that found only a "vanishing trace" of nickel in it (it should have been at least 13% nickel), and brought his findings to Grand Junction police. Curry was charged with misdemeanor theft and fraud and in late 2012 sentenced to 500 hours community service and a fine. Curry was beside himself over the injustice—which he began to believe permeated the whole government. And then things got crazier. Read the full story for more on how Curry ended up at the Bundy Ranch and became one of the "most influential sovereigns in Colorado" before his September arrest. (Read more Longform stories.)