"Kelly Green Men"
Children of witness to alleged alien invasion defend father's 1955 claim
By MICHELE CARLTON
Geraldine Hawkins was only 7 or 8 years old the first time she heard the story of the Kelly Green Men.
Although her father, Elmer "Lucky" Sutton, said he was one of the people who witnessed the alien invasion on Aug. 21, 1955, he didn't talk about it to Hawkins until the late 1960s when two writers contacted him for an interview.
"This was the first I'd ever heard of it," Hawkins said about the Kelly incident during an interview at her home in Princeton on Friday. "I remember it was a man and woman that came to the house. I had never heard anything about it. I remember sitting in the floor with my legs crossed listening to this story. It terrified me."
The sighting occurred at Kelly, a small town on U.S. 41 about eight miles north of Hopkinsville. "Lucky" Sutton, who was living in a small farmhouse on the Old Madisonville Road at Kelly, and several family members said a spaceship landed near the house that evening. It was carrying about a dozen little space creatures, they said.
"Lucky" Sutton and other family members said they had a gun battle with the creatures that lasted for hours.
Most of the Sutton family members who said they fought the aliens off with shotguns are deceased. However, Hawkins and her younger brother, Elmer Sutton Jr., of Trigg County, said their father shared his Kelly experience with them. Hawkins, 41, and Sutton, 35, are the children of "Lucky" Sutton and Glorine Powell, of Trigg County. Their father died on Dec. 5, 1995.
"He talked to me about it because I was one of the last ones to leave home," the younger Sutton said. "I prodded him about it a lot. A lot of times he wouldn't talk about it. If I'd catch him in the right mood, he'd sit down and talk for hours about it. When he did, I'd listen. To be honest with you, he knew some day he'd die. I guess he wanted one of us to know the truth."
According to the family, a visitor to the Sutton house, Billy Ray Taylor of Pennsylvania, had been in the back yard getting water from the well. He noticed a light streak across the sky and descend into the trees along a ravine about a quarter of a mile away.
A while later, "Lucky" Sutton‘s mother, Glennie Lankford, saw a creature with long arms and talon-like hands raised in the air approaching the back of the house.
"(Dad) said they appeared to have a human shape, but with some modifications that made them different," Sutton said. "He called them little green men. He called them green, but said they actually weren't green. He said they were silver, but they had a greenish silver glow to them. He said they were about 3-foot tall -- about the size of a 5–year–old. Their arms were double the length of humans' and had pointed ears. He said the eyes were in the same place as humans, but were more of an almond shape. The eyes had a luminous glow. He said they really didn't walk, just skimmed on top of ground, but moved their legs."
"Lucky" Sutton and Taylor each armed themselves and fired several shots at the aliens, they later reported to police. The siege continued through the night, they said. None of the bullets seemed to affect the creatures.
"He told me he didn't know what in the world they had in mind, but he wasn't going to stand around to find out," Sutton said.
"He's just one of the kind of guys to see something like that and naturally think ‘they're going to do something. I've got to protect my family.' I guess that's what he done. He beared arms and started laying into them. I'd have done the same thing. I'd have been aiming right between the eyes," he said.
"If they had've hurt one they could have retaliated," Hawkins said.
"What else was he supposed to do? Go up and shake one of their hands," Sutton said.
The Suttons, Taylor, Lankford and a few children in the house that night said they piled into two cars and headed for the police station in Hopkinsville. City, county and state police, along with military personnel from then–Camp Campbell flocked to the Kelly homestead and stayed until about 2 a.m. They searched the house, the yard, surrounding fields and a wooded area, but reportedly found nothing.
The family claimed the creatures returned again about 3 a.m. and stayed until morning.
In the past 47 years, numerous media reports have circulated worldwide speculating about what happened in the community of Kelly.
Most recently, the local legend has attracted the attention of an independent production company in Glendale, Calif. A film crew from Barcon Productions came to Hopkinsville over the weekend to research the Kelly incident. Barcon has been filming eyewitness accounts for a film entitled "Monsters of the UFO" to be released next summer.
Contrary to some media reports, Hawkins insists that her father and other family members were not drinking on that night, nor did they fabricate the story. Although investigators at the scene failed to find the spot where the spaceship landed, she said her parents took her to the spot about 20 years later.
"The following weekend after those two (writers) had been there to talk to him, they took us out there to where it happened. I remember a big, round burned out place back there in the field. It was still there," Hawkins said.
Hawkins and Sutton said many of the reports referred to the Suttons as "a low-status group of people" and used their father and Taylor's employment with a carnival to discredit the family's story.
"They sensationalized the story because (Billy Ray and my father) worked at the carnival. That they were able to create this fiasco," Hawkins said. "He wouldn't have done that anyway. He wasn't that type of person. You could look at him and tell that something happened to them that night. They couldn't have made up something like that. They were just country folks. They wouldn't have thought to think up something like that so elaborate. They wouldn't have run to town terrified in the middle of the night."
Despite any speculations from outside sources, the siblings believe what their father told them about the Kelly incident.
"I could always tell when my dad was pulling my leg or not. He wasn't pulling a fast one," Sutton said.
"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," he said.
Hawkins and Sutton agree that people should have more of an open mind to the unexplained phenomena.
"I think God didn't mean for us to understand everything. He doesn't want us to know everything," Hawkins said. "Man might want to know everything. I think there's some things out there that He doesn't want us to figure out and know what they are."
"We're here. We're breathing and living. Why can't there be something else out there," Sutton said, pointing to the sky.
"Back then I think it was harder," Hawkins added. "Now, in this day and age, people are more apt to believe stuff like that. A lot of people don't believe in this stuff. I do. I always have. I believe in ghosts, angels, UFOs. You name it, I believe it."
Hawkins and Sutton said they admired their father's work ethic and his strength in dealing with the media circus that followed his family's close encounter at Kelly.
"To me, in my mind, he was a hard–working kind of a man trying to raise a family who saw something out of the ordinary -- something people wouldn't believe," Sutton said. "He told the story and people called him a liar. I believe that was the hardest thing for him to swallow -- for people to call him a dog-faced liar and not believe it."
"I just want people to realize that they weren't crazy," Hawkins added. "They weren't just seeing things that night. Something really happened to that family."
Michele Carlton can be reached by telephone at 887-3235 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.