Mike McDowell: Who Was He? How Did He Identify Gelatinous Blobs?

One of the most intriguing mysteries highlighted in Netflix’s ‘Files of the Unexplained’ is the incident of gelatinous blobs that descended upon Oakville, Washington, in 1994. This peculiar occurrence, which featured prominently in the episode titled ‘Bizarre Blobs of Washington,’ has left a lasting impression on public consciousness. The episode delves into the involvement of microbiologist Mike McDowell, with contributions from his sons who offer insights into their father’s research and the strange phenomenon of the blobs.

Mike McDowell Studied the Blobs Closely

Mike McDowell, a dedicated microbiologist employed by the Washington State Public Health Department, resided in the area with his family. He cherished spending time with his two sons, often bringing them along to his laboratory to share his passion for his work. Recalling their childhood, McDowell’s sons reminisced about instances when military personnel would unexpectedly arrive at their doorstep to whisk their father away for various missions and health crisis management. While they were too young to grasp the intricacies of his projects, one memorable event they recalled was his involvement in addressing the Anthrax outbreak.

On August 7, 1994, residents of Oakville, Washington, witnessed a perplexing phenomenon as gelatinous blobs descended from the sky, resembling rain. This occurrence repeated itself approximately six more times over three weeks. Concerned by these events, Sunny Barcliff, a resident, collected samples of the goo and promptly sent them to various government departments for testing after her mother fell ill. Several other individuals reported sickness, while some noted that their pets or livestock had either died or become seriously ill following the blobs’ descent.

One of the departments to which Barcliff sent the samples was the Washington Department of Public Health, where McDowell took charge of identifying and studying the blobs. McDowell’s involvement led to his appearance on the TV series ‘Unsolved Mysteries’, where he explained his findings and the conclusions he had reached based on his research.

Mike McDowell Used Microbes to Understand the Blobs

After receiving the samples, Mike McDowell kept them in a medium containment facility, which raised suspicions among many who read his work that the material might be biohazardous. McDowell further explained that upon physical examination, the blobs appeared uniform and lacked structure. Neither the naked eye nor a microscope revealed anything distinctive about them. To delve deeper, he cultured the blob samples, which resulted in the growth of two bacteria: Pseudomonas fluorescens and Enterobacter cloacae. These microbes are typically found in the human gut and the excrement of mammals.

Continuing his research on the blobs, McDowell concluded that they were man-made. According to his children, he mentioned at some point that these were intended to be used as “carriers.” However, McDowell did not publicly provide further explanation about the microbes. Allegedly, one day when he arrived at his lab, he discovered that the sample he was working on was no longer there. The receptionist informed him that men in black suits had come and taken away all the items related to the research.

His sons revealed that they didn’t hear much from their father about the incident, but on one occasion, McDowell became sentimental while they were at their uncle’s place. Reportedly, McDowell expressed regret over not being able to finish his research, as it could have been a breakthrough for his career. Despite this setback, he continued to serve with the Washington State Public Health Department and retired from there with a respectable position. McDowell passed away in 2020, leaving many questions unanswered about the incident that he had closely observed.

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