The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter is an alleged close encounter with aliens. But it is not like every other encounter. The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter is one of the most well documented cases in the history of UFO incidents and it is a chilling tale. There were dozens of eyewitnesses including state troopers, and policemen and was so notorious that it was officially investigated by the US Air Force. The incidents began on the evening of August 21, 1955 and continued through to the dawn of the next morning. The incident occurred mostly around a rural farmhouse at the time belonging to the Sutton family, which was located near the small town of Kelly and the small city of Hopkinsville, both in Christian County, Kentucky, United States.
On the night of the event, seven people present in the Sutton farmhouse claimed to be terrorized by a number of creatures similar to gremlins (giving rise to the nickname “Hopkinsville Goblins”. The residents of the farmhouse described them as around three feet tall, with upright pointed ears, thin limbs (their legs were said to be almost in a state of atrophy), long arms and claw-like hands or talons. The creatures were either silvery in color, or wearing something metallic. Their movements on occasion seemed to defy gravity with them floating above the ground and appearing in high up places, and they “walked” with a swaying motion as through wading through water.
Although the creatures never entered the house, they would pop up at windows and at the doorway, working up the children in the house to a hysterical frenzy. The families fled the farmhouse in the middle of the night to the local police station and sheriff Russell Greenwell noted they were visibly shaken. The families returned to the farmhouse with Sheriff Greenwell and twenty officers, yet the occurrences continued. Police saw evidence of the struggle and damage to the house, as well as themselves seeing strange lights and hearing noises. The witnesses additionally claimed to have used firearms to shoot at the creatures, with little or no effect, and the house and surrounding grounds were extensively damaged during the incident.
The Suttons had no running water in the farmhouse, and due to it being a warm evening Billy Ray Taylor, the patriarch of the Taylor family, went to an outside water pump for a drink. It was about 7.00 p.m. Taylor said he observed strange lights in the sky to the west, which he believed to be an unusual craft. He excitedly told the others about his “flying saucer” sighting, but no one believed him, instead thinking that he had become overly excited after seeing a vivid “shooting star”.
At about 8.00 p.m., the families began hearing strange and unexplained noises outside. The Sutton family dog which was on guard outside began barking loudly and then hid under the house, where it remained until the next day. Going outside a few minutes later with their guns, Billy Ray Taylor and Elmer “Lucky” Sutton then asserted that they saw a strange creature emerge from the nearby trees. Jerome Clark describes the creature as:
[A] luminous, three-and-a-half-foot-tall being with an oversized head, big, floppy, pointed ears, glowing eyes, and hands with talons at their ends. The figure, either made of or simply dressed in silvery metal, had its hands raised.
Disquieted by the creature’s bizarre appearance, the pair were further unnerved when it began rushing towards the house, holding its hands up in the air raised, which the men took it as threatening behaviour. When the creature approached to within about 20 feet, the two men became scared of a home invasion and began shooting at it, one using a shotgun, the other man using a .22 rifle. There was a noise “sounding like bullets being rattled about in a metal drum”, and the creature, they said, then flipped over and fled into the darkness and shadows. Sure that they had wounded the creature, Lucky and Billy Ray went out to look for it. Hendry writes that as the men were stepping from the porch, “a taloned hand reached down from above and began grasping at their hair.” They shot at the creature—it was perched on an awning over the porch—and it was knocked from the roof.
Lucky and Billy Ray returned to the house in a disturbed state. Within minutes, Lucky’s brother J.C. Sutton said that he saw the same creature (or at least a similar creature) peer into a window in the home; J.C. and Billy Ray shot at it, breaking the window, whereupon it too flipped over and fled. For the next few hours, the witnesses would assert that the creatures repeatedly approached the home, either popping up at the doorway or at windows in an almost playful manner, only to be shot at each time they did.
At about 11.00 p.m., the Taylor-Sutton crew decided to flee the farmhouse in their automobiles and after about 30 minutes they arrived at the Hopkinsville police station. Police Chief Russell Greenwell judged the witnesses to have been frightened by something “beyond reason, not ordinary.” He also opined “[t]hese were not the sort of people who normally ran to the police … something frightened them, something beyond their comprehension.” A police officer with medical training determined that Billy Ray’s pulse rate was more than twice normal.
Twenty police officers accompanied the Taylor-Suttons back to the farmhouse, and several entered it to assess the damage. Police and photographers who visited the home saw many bullet holes and spent shells, and further discovered what Clark describes as “an odd luminous patch along a fence where one of the beings had been shot, and, in the woods beyond, a green light whose source could not be determined.” Though the investigation was inconclusive, Daniels et al. writes, “Investigators did conclude, however, that these people were sincere and sane and that they had no interest in exploiting the case for publicity. The patch sample, although photographed, was never collected and had mysteriously disappeared by the noon the next day.”
Police left at about 2:15 a.m., and not long afterwards, the witnesses claimed that the creatures returned. Billy Ray fired at them once more, ruining yet another window. The last of the creatures was allegedly sighted just before dawn, at about 4:45 a.m. on August 22.
The United States Air Force took the allegations seriously and officers from nearby Fort Campbell inspected the case, but could find no rational explanation and to this day is still labelled an open case. The official UFO investigation office, Project Blue Book, never officially investigated the case, although a file has been kept on it and is labelled “unexplained”.
Later on August 22, Andrew “Bud” Ledwith of WHOP radio interviewed the seven adult witnesses in two different groups. He judged their tale of the events as consistent, especially in their descriptions of the strange glowing beings. Ledwith had worked as a professional artist, and sketched the creatures based on the witnesses descriptions.
In addition to Ledwith’s sketches, Pfc. Gary F. Hodson of the 101st Airborne Division stationed at nearby Fort Campbell sketched the creatures based on eyewitness descriptions. The “men” were described as approximately 3 feet tall and either being silver in color or wearing silver colored clothing that lit up or glowed when the invaders shouted to each other. All of the witnesses agreed to a remarkable degree as to the appearance of the creatures.
It is also worth noting that the descriptions of these creatures (which by no means fit the common impressions of extraterrestrials) closely fit the accounts of 15 children and 3 school staff in Dyfed, West Wales later in 1977, who observed small ‘silvery men with spiked ears’ and helmets working around a UFO.
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