The Mysterious Betz Sphere

Sometime in April 1974 three members of the Betz family, parents Gerri and Antoine and their oldest son Terry, were walking in the woods around their property on Jacksonville’s Fort George Island when Terry found something that would impact their lives for years: a strange metallic sphere, about the size of a bowling ball. Thinking it odd enough to make a good souvenir, Terry, then a 21-year old pre-med student, took the ball home.


The Betzes didn’t think much about the orb until one day when Terry started strumming his guitar near it. According to Gerri, who became the family spokesman on sphere-related matters, something strange happened: the ball started humming back. Soon it started displaying other unusual properties - it would roll around seemingly on its own volition, changing directions and halting abruptly. It even vibrated and emitted a high-pitched sound that would send dogs whining and covering their ears.

A 2012 analysis by Skeptoid revealed contemporary media analysis that indicated the sphere was a ball check valve produced by the Bell & Howell company: its size, weight, and metallurgical composition matched those of the company’s ball check valve.

Skeptoid also revealed analysis of the sphere’s seemingly autonomous motion, noting that the sphere “sat quietly on display inside the Betz home for nearly two weeks, and is not reported to have ever moved on its own at all, except for when someone took it down to experiment with it”, and quoting a representative of the United States Navy who stated that “I believe it’s because of the construction of the house… It’s old and has uneven stone floors. The ball is almost perfectly balanced, and it takes just a little indentation to make it move or change direction.”

As well, Skeptoid noted coverage of New Mexico artist James Durling-Jones, who had been collecting scrap metal for use in sculptures; Durling-Jones reported having loaded ball check valves into the rooftop luggage rack of his Volkswagen Bus, and having “(driven) through the Jacksonville area around Easter of 1971, at which time a few of the balls rolled off the luggage rack and were lost.” Skeptoid concluded that this was the sphere’s origin.

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