Tom Adams (foreground) and Gary Massey (in the background) in the vehicle they called "Thing," which hit many roads on the way to investigate cattle mutilations. This was NOT the Volkswagen Type 181 "Thing," which was a two-wheel drive, four-door, convertible, manufactured and marketed by Volkswagen from 1968 to 1983.
Instead, according to Christopher O'Brien, this was the personal nickname that Gary Massey and Tom Adams gave to Massey's 1970s' Dodge van that was retrofitted to have four-wheel drive (as pictured below).
Thomas R. Adams (1945-2014) helped this fledgling investigator/researcher immeasurably from early 1993 through 1999. He sent me hundreds—possibly of thousands of pages of documents to help get me up-to-speed about the cattle mutilation phenomenon (and other peripheral subjects) in the mid-1990s and spent hundreds of hours with me on the phone.Thomas R. Adams May 6, 1945 Paris, Lamar County, Texas, USA - August 20, 2014 Paris, Lamar County, Texas, USA. Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown
I last saw him in 1999 —just before he dropped completely out of the field w/ no explanation. Weirdness has ensued ever since and myself and most of his other researcher friends have never spoken with him again. The prevailing theory is that he burnt out and probably became a hard-core Christian, but that's not for certain. What is for certain, is that in 1999, one of the most important figures in the "cattle mutilation" community disappeared off the radar screen for over 15 years. Now word comes (9 months late) that he died, alone in his Paris, TX house...He died on August 20, 2014 after not showing up for work for a couple of days. ~ Christopher O'Brien. Source.
The Paris [Texas] News, Sunday, August 24, 2014, Page A7 - Thomas Richard Adams, 69 of Paris, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, at his home. Cremation was under the care and direction of Bright-Holland Funeral Home.
Thomas, the son of Jack T. and Hazel Evelyn Hutchison Adams, was born May 6, 1945, in Paris. He graduated from Paris High School and attended East Texas State University. His career at Flex-O-Lite spanned many years, and following that he worked several years at the Dollar Store.
He was preceded in death by his father on July 27, 1976, and his mother on Aug. 21, 2004. He was also preceded in death by his grandparents, James Thomas Adams, Ida Hugh Cochran Adams, Judge W. A. Hutchison and Edna Denison Hutchison.
Survivors include several cousins including a first cousin, Patsy Daniels and husband Clyde. Source.
Christopher O'Brien reports that Massey set his house on fire, shot his dog, and then shot himself dead.
Gary Massey was born March 5, 1948, Virginia, and died September 7, 2010, at Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County, Texas. He is buried at Restlawn Memorial Park, Sulphur Springs, Texas.
Gary Mac Massey, 62, of Sulphur Springs passed away Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010, at his residence. A private family burial will take place at a later date.
He was born March 5, 1948, in Virginia, the son of J.L. and Robbie Kathlyne Melton Massey.
Survivors include his mother, Robbie Kathlyne [Melton] Massey of Sulphur Springs; one brother and sister-in-law, Brad and Holly Massey of Sulphur Springs; and two nieces, Cara Thompson and Meredith Massey of Sulphur Springs.
He was preceded in death by his father (J. L. Massey, 73, August 21, 1920 - February 2, 1994, Sulphur Springs, Texas). Source.
More historical context
Two books, both appearing in 1976, pictured below, did much to break the silence about the cattle mutilations happening in the West.