© Fred Lynch
Dr. Byron Glenn at Cape Urgent Care
Dr. Byron Glenn of Cape Girardeau says he wants nothing to do with the people he sees as online crackpots trumpeting a "conspiracy wrapped in an enigma."

He's not alone. The folks at NASA have fruitlessly tried to debunk what they say are wild conspiracies involving Comet Elenin -- a "wimpy" projectile expected to remain more than 20 million miles from Earth.

Glenn said he's been harassed and threatened by doomsday believers of "Planet X," an idea spreading in the blogosphere and in online chat rooms about a brown dwarf star, a low-mass object rapidly approaching the solar system and bent on destroying much of the Earth. He said that believers, apparently followers of Terral L. Croft, or "Terral03" as he is known in anxiety-ridden chat rooms, have shown up at his North Mount Auburn Road family practice demanding answers.

"I'm not the leader of any group. I can't tell people what to do. I don't want to," Glenn told the Southeast Missourian last week when asked about his connection to Croft's "research group," reportedly made up of people who plan to head for caves in Missouri's Ozarks in the coming weeks. The plan, according to Croft and a series of online correspondence in recent months, is to ride out the earthquakes, floods, volcanoes and other calamities they believe to be coming, thanks to the magnetic and polarizing effects of Planet X.

Croft, in letters to members of the group, describes Glenn as his good friend, a man he's been acquainted with for some time. He and others say Glenn is leading the Ozark survivalists. Glenn says he's never met Croft, a man he describes as "out there" and "on the edge," a Revelation chaser and Sept. 11 conspiracist.

"I am not the leader of any Ozark survival group," Glenn said.

Others say he is -- most notably Croft, who in his more recent Internet messages claims "our survival group leader and physician Dr. Byron Glenn and his engineer son" saw some disturbing things in their "expensive telescope."

"Dr. Glenn was able to zoom in on the area of our dwarf star to realize he was looking at a monster of great size. We cannot see the actual dwarf star, but now he can make out the dark area and the dancing stars in the background created by the gravitational leasing effect," Croft wrote in his communique.

He was not reachable at a phone number provided to the Southeast Missourian by a source from New York who said he fears the group may be attracting and hurting unwitting believers.

Croft believes the object will become visible as a "second sun" in early September, at which time the "earthquakes, volcanoes, rogue tides, mass animal deaths and the whole 9 yards are going to escalate out of control in August and September for the crap to hit the fan ..."

Croft, who reportedly resides in Florida, and others say they are planning to "head for the hills" around Aug. 1, and that a series of photographs will clearly show the force of destruction he asserts is coming. He said doctors, engineers, military special forces personnel and enough trained specialists to man a small hospital will, too, be heading for the Ozark caverns, apparently the safest place to survive when the substellar object does its worst, Croft asserts.

It appears survival is becoming a financial matter. In some correspondence, the group talks about raising money to accommodate hundreds of people looking for space in the caves, those who would not be able to cover the costs otherwise.

"All of you have a place with me at the Ozark cavern location, but you must have sufficient food and supplies listed in the survival video and link for a six-month period," Croft writes.

Glenn claims it's all a bunch of nonsense. He said the "expensive telescope" he is supposed to own is actually an 8-inch model with a camera lens, and that he is nothing more than an amateur astronomer. While the doctor acknowledges he did take some photos of the comet, he said people in the chat room group are attaching more significance to the pictures than they should. Unlike the Harold Campings of endtime prophesies that caught the public's attention and scorn this year, Glenn said he doesn't, nor does anyone, know the hour of the Earth's fall.

But Glenn says he has seen something in that telescope. Something on three consecutive nights. Something that didn't go away.

While he may not ally himself with the "research group," the Cape Girardeau doctor does believe there's something very bad in the wind.

"I'm watching. I have a watchful eye," Glenn said, asserting that something serious is causing a rash of volcanoes and massive earthquakes, like the 9.0 quake that struck Japan in March. He claims to know something, the same thing NASA knows, the president knows, the Defense Department knows. But Glenn says there's no use in talking about it -- and the leaders in the know can't talk about it either.

"Who's going to go to work. Who's going to the power company? Think about that. How much food would be on the shelf at grocery stores? How jam packed would the highways be?" he said, referring to what he believes would be the chaos caused if the public learns of looming destruction.

"If you don't go through the ruse, people know something's up. Everybody must be entertained," Glenn said, referring to a line in the movie Network.

Absolute nonsense, said Dr. Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office in California, the people who watch comets and asteroids for a living.

Yeomans said there's been a lot of Internet buzz about brown dwarf stars and the like in recent years, something he said began with a woman who said she was channeling aliens from a star system. He said some folks who apparently flunked high school science say this Planet X is imminent.

It's not, Yeomans said.

"It's completely baseless," he said. If a brown dwarf were to pass by the Earth and sun, as soon as Sept. 26, "it would light up the sky even without a telescope now. Why haven't we seen it and why have the effects not been noted by the motions of the other planets -- which they haven't?"

Comet Elenin, first discovered late last year, has been gradually moving closer to the Earth, Yeomans said. It is not expected to move any nearer than 22 million miles from the Earth.

"That's not even that close," Yeomans said, calling Elenin a fairly modest, mediocre comet.

"It's a bit wimpy by cometary standards," he said, noting the light makeup of comets -- dust and ice.

Yeomans said NASA has given up on trying to combat all of the misinformation online.

"So many of them, they don't talk science," he said. "They're passionate believers who enjoy the publicity they get. It's whistling into the wind trying to convince them otherwise."

The "research group" sees something different. And whatever Glenn knows, he's not telling.

Asked about it all, he referred to the famous line in the military tribunal movie A Few Good Men:

"You can't handle the truth."