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Unsolved Mysteries of Kelly-Hopkinsville UFO encounter

The Unborn

Kelly-Hopkinsville_encounterThe Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter, also known as the Hopkinsville Goblins case, is a well-known and well-documented alleged Close Encounter event in the history of UFO incidents. The event occurred near the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, Kentucky beginning on the evening of August 21, 1955 and continuing through the next morning. UFO researcher Allan Hendry wrote "[t]his case is distinguished by its duration and also by the number of witnesses involved."

theunbornmovie.net Multiple eyewitnesses would claim that, for several hours stretching over a late evening and early morning, they repeatedly saw five glowing, silvery creatures, each three feet tall and seeming to float above the ground. The witnesses additionally claimed to have used firearms to shoot at the creatures, with little or no effect.

Jerome Clark writes that "investigations by police, Air Force officers, and civilian ufologists found no evidence of a hoax. Even Blue Book confessed to being stumped. So was [Isabel] Davis, one of the most hardheaded of UFO investigators." It should be noted, however, that Project Blue Book never formally investigated the case.

The Event

On the evening of August 21, 1955, members of the Sutton family were entertaining a visiting friend, Billy Ray Taylor, at their farm house located near the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

When Taylor went to an outside water pump for a drink at about 7.00 p.m., he observed strange lights in the sky to the west. 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".theunbornmovie.net

At about 8.00 p.m., the family dog began barking loudly, and then hid under the house, where it stayed for the entire event. Going outside a few minutes later, 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.

When the creature approached to within about 20 feet of the Taylor home, the men began shooting at it, one using a shotgun, the other man using a .22 rifle. The creature, they said, then flipped over and fled into the darkness. 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 and touched his hair from above." They shot at the creature -- it was perched on an awning over the porch -- and it was knocked from the roof. theunbornmovie.net

Within minutes, Lucky's brother J.C. Sutton said that he saw the same (or a similar creature) peer into a window in the home; J.C. and Billy Ray shot at it, whereupon it too flipped over and fled.

For the next few hours, the witnesses would assert that the creatures repeatedly approached the home, only to be shot at each time they did. One time, the witnesses shot one of the beings nearly point blank, and would later insist that the sound resembled bullets striking a metal bucket. The floating creatures' legs seemed to be atrophied and nearly useless, and they appeared to propel themselves with a curious hip-swaying motion, steering with their arms. Clark writes that "[i]f the creatures were in a tree or on the roof when hit [by gunfire], they would float, not fall, to the ground."

Hendry writes that family matriarch "Mrs. Lankford counseled an end to the hostilities," noting that the creatures had never seemed to try harming anyone. Between appearances from the creatures, the family tried to temper the children's growing hysteria. theunbornmovie.net

At about 11.00 p.m., the Taylor-Sutton crew decided to flee their home in automobiles; 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.

There might have been partial corroboration of the Taylor-Sutton tale: at about 11 p.m., a state highway trooper near Kelly independently reported some unusual "meteors" flying overhead "with a sound like artillery fire."

Several police officers accompanied the Taylor-Suttons back to their home, and according to Daniels et al, "[t]he official response was prompt and thorough." In 1998, Karal Ayn Barnett wrote, "By all accounts, the witnesses were deemed sane, not under the influence [of drugs or alcohol], and in such a state of terror, no one involved doubted that they had seen something beyond far their ken." theunbornmovie.net

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 was never collected. "

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 a window. The last of the creatures was allegedly sighted at about 4:45 a.m. on August 22.


The case earned publicity within hours of its alleged occurrence. The August 22, 1955 Kentucky New Era claimed that "12 to 15 little men" had been seen. Clark writes that none of the witnesses ever claimed this, rather that "[t]he observers had no idea how many of the creatures there were. They could only be certain that there were at least two because they saw that number at the same time."

Later on the 22nd, 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. Their descriptions were generally consistent, though the female witnesses insisted that the creatures had a somewhat husker build than the male witnesses remembered, and Billy Ray Taylor was alone in insisting that the beings had antennae. Hendry describes Ledwith's efforts as "fortunate because the publicity soon grew so obnoxious to that Sutton family that they later simply avoided telling the story and refused to cooperate [with UFO investigators, excepting] Isabel Davis." theunbornmovie.net

As reports reached the newspapers, public opinion tended to view the story as a hoax and showed only brief interest in the event. Some residents of the local community, including members of the police department, were skeptical of the Sutton's story and believed that alcohol (possibly moonshine) may have played a part in the incident, although to date no evidence has been found to support this belief. The fact that some of the witnesses worked for a carnival somehow contributed to the belief in a hoax.

The farm became a tourist attraction for a brief period, which upset the Suttons who tried to keep people away, eventually attempting to charge people an entrance fee to discourage them. That only convinced the sight-seers that the family was attempting to make money from the event, and increased the public view that the event was a hoax. Finally, the Suttons refused all visitors and refused to discuss the event further with anyone. To date, family members who survived the event rarely talk to reporters or researchers, and by given accounts have stuck to their version of the event. As late as 2002, Lucky Sutton's daughter, Geraldine Hawkins, believed her father's account, stating,

It was a serious thing to him. It happened to him. He said it happened to him. He said it wasn't funny. It was an experience he said he would never forget. It was fresh in his mind until the day he died. It was fresh in his mind like it happened yesterday. He never cracked a smile when he told the story because it happened to him and there wasn't nothing funny about it. He got pale and you could see it in his eyes. He was scared to death." theunbornmovie.net

The official UFO investigation office, Project Blue Book, never officially investigated the case, although a file has been kept on it. A prominent Ufologist Allen Hynek had interviews with two persons with direct knowledge of the event a year after the event took place.


* In 1957, U.S. Air Force Major John E. Albert concluded that the Kelly-Hopkinsville case was the result of the witnesses seeing a "monkey painted with silver [that] escaped from a circus," and that Mrs. Lankford's imagination had exaggerated the event. Isabel Davis, for one, rejected this explanation as not only entirely speculative, but absurd: "[m]onkeys are hairy creatures, monkeys have long tails, monkeys are notorious chatterboxes, and monkeys struck by bullets bleed and die ... no amount of 'optical illusion' can explain a mistake of this magnitude."theunbornmovie.net

* An explanation for the case has been proposed recently by Renaud Leclet, a French Ufologist. It could be a misidentification of a pair of Great horned owls, which are nocturnal, fly silently, have yellow eyes, and aggressively defend their nests. Leclet argues that this explanation fits well with the details of the case, including the appearance and behaviour of the "humanoids". The metallic sound of the striking bullets can be explained by the fact that some bullets hit some metallic objects of the farm, such as the fence. This misidentified bird hypothesis was echoed by Joe Nickell in a Skeptical Inquirer article.

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