The Kelly–Hopkinsville encounter, also known as the Hopkinsville Goblins Case or the Kelly Green Men Case, was a series of UFO/alien sightings that took place in the fall of 1955, the most famous and well-publicized of which centered around a rural farmhouse at the time belonging to the Sutton family, which was located between the hamlet of Kelly and the small city of Hopkinsville, both in Christian County, Kentucky. Members of two families at the Sutton farmhouse alleged to have seen unidentifiable creatures and other witnesses attested to lights and disc-shaped objects in the sky (some accompanied by odd sounds). The events that occurred are regarded as one of the most significant, well-known and well-documented cases in the history of UFO incidents, and a favorite for study in ufology, as many other reputable witnesses, including local policemen and state troopers, were witnesses to the events. Even the United States Air Force investigated the mysterious incident.
The Sutton-Taylor family sighting
On the evening of August 21, 1955, members of the Taylor family were visiting the Sutton family in their rural farmhouse located near the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, in Christian County, Kentucky. Altogether, eleven people were present during the Sutton farmhouse UFO/alien sighting. At around 7:00 PM, Billy Ray Taylor went outside to fetch a drink from the residence’s well (the house had no running water at the time). While outside, he reported seeing a strange, brightly lit, disc-shaped object in the sky that descended to the ground about 400 yards from the house. Billy Ray rushed back into the house and explained his sighting to the families who laughingly passed it off as a “shooting star”. About an hour later, the families began to hear strange sounds outside at which time the fathers of the two families, Billy Ray Taylor and Elmer “Lucky” Sutton, went outside with their guns in hand to see what was up. To everyone’s surprise, both reported seeing strange creatures emerge from the woods.
The men shot at the creatures and noted that each time the creatures were hit with their bullets, the impact sounded like “rocks rattling in a tin can”. Seven people in the farmhouse (not all of the eleven witnessed the strange events of the night – June Taylor was too frightened to look, and Lonnie Lankford, and his brother and sister were hidden during the encounter) recounted being terrorized by several creatures described as being three feet tall, with upright pointed ears, large eyes, long thin mouths, thin arms and legs, with claw-like hands. They believed the creatures were either silver in color or wearing some sort of metallic suit. Movement of the creatures seemed to “defy gravity” with the creatures sometimes “floating” above the ground or descending slowly to the ground from trees or other farmhouse structures. The creatures never entered the farmhouse but periodically “popped up” in the windows and doorways. The family continued to shoot at the creatures through the windows and doorways but still, the bullets had no effect on them. After a few hours of this “cat and mouse” game, the members of the families had enough and fled the house around 11:00 PM to the local police station. Sheriff Russell Greenwell noted they were visibly shaken and a police officer with medical training determined that Billy Ray’s pulse rate was more than twice the norm (the sheriff later told reporters that “these were not the type of people who could be easily frightened).
Other witnesses report lights in the sky
Unknown to anyone, during this encounter, a few miles away, another incident was also taking place. Shortly before the families arrived at the local police station, a state highway trooper patrolling near the police station independently reported some unusual “meteor-like objects” flying overhead, “with a sound like artillery fire” emanating directly from them. Authorities realized something strange was indeed occurring in their sleepy little town and gathered up on-call officers to investigate the bizarre goings-on.
The authorities investigate
The sheriff arrived at the farmhouse along with a dozen police officers and reported that the Suttons “seemed sober, and were genuinely frightened by something”. The officers noted extensive damage to the house and as such, began going from door to door to gather additional statements from nearby neighbors. During this time, the officers themselves witnessed the strange lights in the sky and in the nearby woods (although later, some would refuse to talk openly about it). To their surprise, the officers found that nearby neighbors were also terrified and reported seeing the same strange lights in the sky, and strange sounds, at their homesteads.
After a few hours, police, satisfied that they had gathered enough reports from witnesses, concluded their investigation at about 2:15 AM and left the Sutton farmhouse at that time. Not long after, the families reported that the creatures again returned to the farmhouse and continued to terrify the residents until around 4:30 AM that morning.
The following day, investigators worked with the witnesses gathering statements and producing sketches of the creatures from the descriptions they obtained from them. They noted that all witness descriptions matched and all accounts of the incident were generally consistent (female witnesses tended to describe the creatures as a bit huskier than the male witness descriptions). Other witnesses, including diners at the local Shady Oaks restaurant, also reported seeing the strange lights in the sky. Soon thereafter, the Air Force was called in to investigate but did little more than search the farmhouse and nearby grounds.
Still a mystery
As publicity of the case grew, the Suttons, who police described as “a very honest family”, sought to return to their normally “quiet” existence and began to avoid telling the story and would no longer cooperate with UFO investigators. Nearly 50 years later, one of Lucky Sutton’s daughters, who was just a toddler at the time of the sighting, explained that she believed the story to be true. She explained how she remembered her father’s reaction to the events.
“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.”
Comically, 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 paint” that had escaped from a travelling circus. Regardless, more than a decade after the incident, all witnesses stood by their stories and in the decades following, several took the story with them to their graves.