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Close encounters of the 3rd kind:

The Kelly-Hopkinsville case, 1955:

"The first is a very strange thing that happened on August 21st, last year, near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. It made headlines in the newspapers out there, and for once it was carried by the press wires - I suppose just because they thought it was ridiculous. You may remember reading the wire story about "little green men" - actually they weren't green, some rewrite man put that in because he thought they ought to be green."

Frank Edwards, in a lecture organized on April 28, 1956, by the Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York, at the Pythian Temple, 135 West 70th St, New York City.

This is information and documentation I collected about a farm family who believed they were attacked by alien beings during the whole night of August 21-22, 1955.

In this file:

The events:

These events occurred on the night of August 21 to 22, 1955, near the little town of Kelly, located near the small city of Hopkinsville, in the rural area of Christian County, in southwestern Kentucky, USA.

"Lucky" Sutton, as he was known to friends and neighbors, was the "patriarch" of this bluegrass clan. Visiting Lucky and his family, was a man from Pennsylvania named Billy Ray Taylor. Billy left the Sutton house to go for some water from the family well, there was no inside plumbing at the Sutton farm house. At the well, he saw an shining object land in a small gully about a quarter of a mile away. Running back to the house, he excitedly reported his sighting to the eleven people in the house. Billy was laughed at, as no one believed his tale and no one left the house to check.

After a short period of time, the family dog began to bark loudly outside. As customary in this rural area, Lucky and Billy quickly went outside to find the reason of the dog's concern. The dog actually hid under the house and was not seen anymore that evening. At a short distance from the front door, both men were stopped dead in their tracks by the sight of a glowing hovering light, which came towards them and allowed them to see that it was in fact a 3 and a half feet tall creature, advancing towards them with hands up, as if to surrender. The bizarre creature would be described as having "two large eyes with a yellow glow, more on the sides than in the human face, a long thin mouth, large bat-like ears, thin short legs, and unusually long arms with large hands ending in claws."

Bud Ledwidth of Radio WHOP has the artistic capabilities to execute these drawings according to witness investigation the next day after the event's night:

Drawing 1 Drawing 2 Drawing 3
Description by a woman. Description by Billy Ray Taylor. Description by another of the men.

There are more illustrations here.

As tradition imposes, they grabbed their guns and shot first, all questions postponed, at the moment that the creature was no farther than 20 feet to them. Billy Ray fired a shot with his .22, and Lucky unloaded with his shotgun. Both men later admitted that there was no way they missed the creature at close range, but the little being just did a back flip, stood up again, and fled into the woods.

No sooner had the two men reentered the house before the creature, or another like it, appeared at a window. They took a shot at him, leaving a blast hole through the screen. They ran back outside to see if the creature was dead, but found no trace of it. Standing at the front of the house, the men were terrified by a clawed hand reaching down from the roof in an attempt to touch them. Again, they shot, but the being simply floated to the ground, and scurried into the cover of the woods. The two men sought the protection of the house again, only to find themselves under siege from these little men. For a time, the entities seemed to tease the family, appearing from one window to another. Taking pot shots through the windows and walls, their weapons seemed totally ineffective against the creatures.

Many times, the creatures would again approach the house, their hands raised above their head as in some kind of friendly gesture. The two men would fire at them, the bullet did metallic clanging noise when it hit the creature, which would flip over, or float in the air, or escape on all fours towards the weeds, only to come back again minutes later. The Suttons estimated that they might have been as many as 10 to 15 such creatures harassing them, although they never attempted to penetrate the house.

After three hours of fear turning into sheer panic, with three children crying or shrieking, the Sutton family decided to make a break from the house, and get help at the Police station at Hopkinsville. The farm was located nearer to Kelly, but the nearest police were in Hopkinsville. Family members took two vehicles to the Police Station in Hopkinsville, and reported their strange tale to Sheriff Russell Greenwell. Finally persuading the policemen that they were not joking, the policemen agreed to visit the Sutton house. Arriving at the farm, police found no trace of the creatures, but did find numerous bullet and rifle holes in the windows and walls. Greenwell was in charge of the twenty plus officers at the scene, and reported that the Suttons seemed sober, and were genuinely frightened by something. After a canvas of the neighborhood, reports were entered of the "hearing of shots being fired," and the observation of "lights in the sky."

Exhausting all efforts to find a rational explanation to the strange story, and finding no clear evidence of any alien visitors, the police left the Suttons farm at about 2:15 am. 90 minutes later, the creatures made their return. They began again peeking in the windows, seemingly out of curiosity. More gunfire took place, but again without effect. Several more hours of antics followed, finally stopping some 90 minutes before daybreak.

Short discussion:

Naturally, initial public opinion was that the whole story was a hoax. If this was the case, several questions must be answered. Why would the Sutton family make up such an incredible claim? They made no money from the story, and did not seek any publicity, on the contrary. Why would they shoot holes in the walls of their home, causing a financial drain on the family to repair the damages? When, days later they attempted to protect themselves against human invaders walking in number across their fields, police was helpless. They thought of asking one dollar by visitor, to get some money to repair all the damages, but almost no trespasser paid. Of course, as soon as they tried to raise money, the press labeled them hoaxers and closed the case.

Including Billy Ray and Lucky, seven adults were witnesses to these events. All of them, when questioned separately, gave the same story. Also sketches were made of the beings, and they essentially depicted the creatures in a like manner. A year after the events, the case was thoroughly investigated by Isabel Davis, an investigator from New York City, who related that the stories had not changed. As the years rolled by, the accounts of the Sutton family stood firm. No evidence of a hoax has ever been brought forward. The case was also looked into by Bud Ledwith, who was an engineer at a Hopkinsville radio station. Noted investigator, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, also accepted the accounts of the Suttons. Hynek discussed the details of the case with Davis and Ledwith. Although the Kelly-Hopkinsville case is an extremely unusual one, it is considered today to be authentic by many UFO investigators. Indeed, there would not be one single reason to reject it, if it weren't for its fantastic implications.


According to a text from the Kentucky archives of the Mutual UFO Network, another interesting event took place in Knoxville, Kentucky, on August 22, 1955, with description similar to the Kelly-Hopkinsville event, unfortunately I have not yet found the time to search for information on this other event.

Statements from ufologists:

Kevin D. Randle:

Kevin D. Randle, ufologist, USAF retired, radio interview quote:

"What specific example of an entity case would you cite as fairly credible and why?"

"Well, naturally, I would elect the Roswell case, but the aspect of it from the military end. Edwin Easley, Patrick Saunders, et. al. because of their credibility. If we go beyond that I kind of like the Kelly-Hopkinsville report from 1955, but only because of the number of witnesses and the physical evidence involved. That is, the number of holes that Kelly (sic) and friends shot in the house in their attempt to repel the alien creatures. The Air Force excuse that they didn't investigate the case, though Air Force officers did go to interview the witnesses is fairly weak. It is an interesting case."

Dr. Gregory L. Little:

In UFO Abductions Through The Ages, by Dr. Gregory L. Little, 1994:

"As my eyes fell on the demon drawings in Plancy's Dictionnaire infernal (1863), I was struck by their similarity to the famous 1955 Kelly-Hopkinsville UFO case. Imagine the demons as gray in color, and they would also fit the description of the ubiquitous grays in recent abductions."

"There are many in the UFO field (as well as various religious leaders) who believe that the creatures associated with UFOs are demons. The similarity of some demons to the grays of UFO reports are probably no coincidence."

Karal Ayn Barnett:

In "The Kelly-Hopkinsville Incident - An Historical Review", 1998:

"Based on my experience of the region, I would testify to the fact that no one in that area would consider making up anything remotely like what the Suttons and Taylor said they saw. The residents of southwestern Kentucky are people who even now are largely religious, and (I mean on disparagement) conformists. To make up a story like this, one would run the risk of being branded as insane or a congenital liar with a pox on their family to boot. The ridicule, the contempt, the ostracism, the media circus - no one would risk it. It just wouldn't happen. Unless it really happened."

"Not to put too fine a point on it, but small town Southerners are cloistered away, and in a sense, protected from other cultures, not just alien ones. Southerners don't venture far from their homes, usually, and the constant interaction among the townsfolk tends to reinforce certain ideas. One idea that is profoundly reinforced is that there are no such things as aliens, and anyone who says that they are either bedeviled, bewitched or terminally bewildered. We need not wonder why the Suttons and Billy Ray Taylor moved from the area soon after the incident."

Martin S. Kottmeyer:

Excerpts from "Pencil-Neck Aliens" by Martin S. Kottmeyer.

"Aliens with long, thin necks are currently "in." Reports and drawings of these pencil-neck Greys seem to be everywhere. They've turned up on T-shirts, made for TV films - Intruders (1992) - and in dozens of magazines and books. The proliferation of this trait among contemporary aliens may be a telling indication that our taste in aliens is as subject to fadism as our taste in clothing styles.

One has to grant that pencil necks have more aesthetic logic than biologic sense. The slenderness of these necks undeniably lend elegance to present-day aliens and enhance their overall anorexic appearance. Propping oversized craniums on top of such skinny supports however raises concerns this species is whiplash bait. What business have such aliens in vehicles which legend has it have a penchant for bone-bending right angle turns and ultra-air-brake stops?

The pencil-neck is a strikingly recent innovation. Early studies of ufonauts Coral and Jim Lorenzens's Flying Saucer Occupants (1967), Charles Bowen's The Humanoids (1969), and James McCampbell's Ufology (1973) - say nothing about aliens with long thin necks. They certainly weren't common. I'm doubtful there was a single unambiguous instance of a pencil-neck alien prior to the Eighties. I've rummaged through the drawings of all the major cases - the Flatwoods monster, Kelly-Hopkinsville, Barny and Betty Hill, Herb Schirmer, Pascagoula, Charles Moody, Travis Walton - and they are nowhere to be seen. (...) They seem to arrive en masse in 1987 with no less than five drawings of pencil- necks in Budd Hopkins' Intruders and the very prominent example staring out from the cover the Whitley Strieber's Communion. These works were popular and influential to the degree that it is now part of the stereotype of the Grey as noted by David Jacobs in his abductee study, Secret Life."

References, sources and additional reading:

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This page was last updated on February 20, 2005.