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UFO Case Report:

The Kelly-Hopkinsville 'Goblins' Encounter

Date: August 21, 1955
Location: Kelly, Kentucky, United States

Billy Ray Taylor went out to fetch some water from the Sutton family well, when he saw a large shining object land in a gully about a city block away. A short time later, Carl "Lucky" Sutton and Billy Ray went out to investigate and saw a small 3-to-4 foot creature walking towards them with its hands up, as if surrendering. They later described the creature, one of several encountered that night, as having large eyes, a long thin mouth, large ears, thin short legs, and hands ending in claws.

Drawing by artist Bud Ledwith, showing one of the creatures as described by the witnesses. (credit: UFOs Northwest)

Drawing of the initial sighting by Billy Ray Taylor of the object which 'landed" in the gully. The drawing was made by Bud Ledwith on the afternoon following the sighting. (credit: UFOs Northwest)

Three of the witnesses to the incident. In the middle is Elmer "Lucky" Sutton discussing how the craft landed. (credit: UFOs Northwest)

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: MajorCase
Hynek Classification: CE3
# of Witnesses: Multiple
Special Features/Characteristics: Humanoid/Occupant, Witness Photo

More Articles on this Case

The Sutton (Kelly/Hopkinsville) Encounter

Allan Hendry, CUFOS, in Ronald Story's "Encyclopedia of UFOs"

One of the best-known and best-documented Close Encounters of the Third Kind (CEIII) to come from the modern era of UFOlogy is that which allegedly took place on August 21-22, 1955, near Kelly, Kentucky. This case is distinguished by its duration and also by the number of witnesses involved.

UFOs at Close Sight: The Kelly-Hopkinsville Case

UFOs at Close Sight (Patrick Gross / Ufologie.net)

Collection of articles, documents, and press reports on the Kelly-Hopkinsville Case.

Kentucky Classics: The Critter 'Invasion' of Kelly-Hopkinsville

Annie MacFie

The "Hopkinsville Case" took place seven miles to the north at a wide-spot-in-the-road called Kelly. Because of outlandish exaggeration and derisive treatment in the press, the story was generally disbelieved at the time, but careful investigation by responsible researchers has turned up no evidence of hoax or deceit on the part of the witnesses. R

Timeline of Events in the Kelly-Hopkinsville Case

UFOs at Close Sight

A short timeline of the events and investigation of the case.

Original 1955 article in 'Kentucky New Era' newspaper

Kentucky New Era, August 22, 1955 (credit: Ufologie.net)

Here is the original article from the "Kentucky New Ear" newspaper, the very next day to the event. Staff Writer Joe Dorris came on the scene the night of the incident with the police, or after the police, and the following morning and wrote this article, the first newspaper article about the case.  R

An Historical Review of the Kelly-Hopkinsville Case

Karal Ayn Barnett, 1988

With what happened to the Sutton family and their friend Billy Ray Taylor in the summer of 1955, the Sutton's and Taylor's worldview changed suddenly and forever when a craft full of bizarre-looking aliens plunged into their reality.

The Kelly-Hopkinsville Creatures

Jeffrey Scott Holland

A brief overview of the Kelly-Hopkinsville case. "This matter is often regarded as a hoax, but many researchers are convinced there's something to it. Seven adults and three children witnessed these events, and all gave corroborating stories many times to many investigators." R

The Kelly ‘commotion' (recent press article)

Jennifer Brown, Kentucky New Era (Hopkinsville, KY), August 13, 2005

If Lonnie Lankford had been a little older, his mother might not have pushed him under the bed that night she thought she saw an alien outside her bedroom window. R

Children of witness defend father's 1955 claim

Michele Carlton, Kentucky New Era (Hopkinsville, KY), December 30, 2002

Children of Elmer "Lucky" Sutton, key witness in the Kelly-Hopkinsville case, defend their father's 1955 claim. (2002 press article) R

Print / Other References

Isabel Davis and Ted Bloecher. "The Kelly-Hopkinsville Report." CUFOS.

Full Report / Article

Source: Loy Lawhon, About.com
[go to original source]

The Kelly-Hopkinsville Case
August 21 - 22, 1955

Kelly is a small town, and Hopkinsville a small city, both located in rural Christian County in southwestern Kentucky. "Lucky" Sutton's family farm was located nearer to Kelly, but the nearest police were in Hopkinsville. Thus, this case acquired the name Kelly-Hopkinsville.

At around 7.00 P.M. on August 21, a visiting Pennsylvania man named Billy Ray Taylor went out to fetch some water from the Sutton family well. While he was at the well, he saw a large shining object land in a gully about a city block away. He went back inside and told the others, but they laughed and didn't believe him.

A short time later the family dog began barking wildly outside, so Carl "Lucky" Sutton and Billy Ray grabbed their guns and went out to investigate. They had walked a few yards from the front door when they saw a small 3-to-4 foot creature walking towards them with its hands up, as if surrendering. They later described the creature as having large eyes, a long thin mouth, large ears, thin short legs, and hands ending in claws.

In a rural area in the 1950s, folks were likely to shoot first and ask questions later if they felt threatened. Even though the creature seemed to be peaceful, Billy Ray fired a shot at it with his .22, and Lucky blasted away with his shotgun. They couldn't possibly have missed the creature at that range, but it just did a quick back flip and ran quickly into the woods, apparently unharmed.

Billy Ray and Lucky returned to the house, but before they could tell the others what had happened, the creature, or another one like it, appeared in front of a window. They shot at him through the screen, leaving a hole that investigators noticed later. When the men went outside to see if they had killed the creature, they found nothing. As they looked, one of the creatures, from the roof of the house, reached down to touch one of the men's hair. They shot at it, but it just floated to the ground and then ran off into the woods.

They went back inside and soon the house was under siege by a group of the creatures. The seven adults and four children in the house at the time were terrified as creature after creature appeared at windows around the house, seemingly taunting them. The men's guns were totally ineffective against the creatures.

After about three hours of this, the family decided to make a run for it. They piled into two vehicles and drove down to the local police station to report the event, arriving at about 11:00 P.M.. When police officers were finally persuaded to go to the farm and investigate, they could find no evidence of the strange events except for gunshot holes in the windows and walls.

According to reports, Sheriff Russell Greenwell was among the twenty-five or so law enforcement officers investigating the scene and the family who had told this wild tale. By all accounts, the witnesses were determined to be sane, not drinking, and in such a state of terror that no one who talked to them doubted that they had seen something unusual. Neighbors reported hearing the shooting, and one person had seen "lights in the sky" earlier that evening.

Shortly after the police left, at about 2:15 A.M., the creatures returned. As before, they began staring into windows, curious but not hostile. Again the men responded with gunfire, and again it had no effect. This ordeal continued until a half an hour before sunrise. On the morning of the 22nd, the police, along with the Air Force, investigated but again found nothing. Billy Ray and Lucky weren't there, having driven to Evansville, Indiana to take care of some sort of business. The Hopkinsville newspaper, The Kentucky New Era, carried the story on 8/22/55.

Many people believe this case to be a complete hoax. If it was then it has to be one of the biggest and most useless hoaxes in ufology to date. The family made no money from the incident and did not want any publicity at the time. They had to make extensive repairs to the house which cost them a considerable sum of money for that year. In the course of shooting at the creatures, Billy Ray and Lucky had shot up the house pretty well. All seven adults told the same story with no contradictory evidence in their statements. Sketches of the creatures based on descriptions from different witnesses matched closely. Their stories were unwavering a year later when a thorough investigation of the case was conducted by Isabel Davis.

No evidence of a hoax has ever been revealed in this case, and the Suttons still insisted that it was true years later. Now, over forty years later, it's likely that many, if not all, of the Suttons who were adults at the time have gone to their graves without changing their story.

Noted astronomer and UFOlogist J. Allen Hynek took the story seriously because he discussed the case with two of the principal investigators of the story: Bud Ledwith, an engineer at a radio station in Hopkinsville and a personal acquaintance of Hynek's, and Isabel Davis, an investigator from New York City.

Case ID: 524 edit: 524

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