So I've got three main accounts from which to work: the Bud Ledwith report written the day after the incident; the Isabel Davis report, based in part on Ledwith's work but not published until 1978; and Dr. J. Allen Hynek's account in his book "The UFO Experience," based largely on the work of Davis and Ledwith, both of whom Hynek knew, respected and trusted.
|Billy Ray Taylor was known to be a bit of a prankster...|
The game was given away by a reporter for the Hopkinsville New Era newspaper, who reported the day after the incident that "All sorts of investigations were going on today in connection with the bizarre story of how a space-ship carrying 12 to 15 little men landed in the Kelly community early last night and battled occupants of a farmhouse. Most official of the probes was reportedly being staged by the Air Force.”
Indeed, in a statement made two years after the incident, a Major John E. Albert reported that he was en route to Fort Campbell the morning after the incident when he heard news reports on the radio about the UFO event. Given permission by his commanding officer to investigate, Maj. Albert proceeded to the Sutton farm and started to poke around... His report is a jaw-dropper:
"Mrs. Glennie Lankford was an Impoverished widow woman who had grown up in this small community Just outside of Hopkinsville, with very little education. She belonged to the Holy Roller Church and the night and evening of this occurrence, had gone to a religious meeting and she indicated that the members of the congregation and her two sons and their wives and some friends of her sons', wore also at this religious meeting and were worked up into a frenzy, becoming very emotionally unbalanced."Maj. Albert then reported that Mrs. Lankford had a magazine article with a photo of something that looked like a man but was really "a monkey, painted silver." He went on to postulate that either a) there was a circus in town that night and a silver-painted monkey escaped and terrorized the Suttons in their farmhouse, or b) the Suttons were "emotionally upset" by the religious meeting and that their "imaginations ran away with them" when they saw the picture of the monkey, and so naturally they imagined a monkey that looked like a man appearing at their windows all night...
I kid you not.
But if Maj. Albert really thought the "little green man" was a monkey, it's hard to explain why Ledwith reported that an Air Force officer was at the Sutton farm the day after the incident, attempting to draw a composite image of the creature from the family's testimony... or why another Air Force officer denied vehemently in a later document that anyone from Fort Campbell was ever sent to the Sutton farm to look into the incident.
It's all very strange... and it gets even stranger when, in an Air Force Intelligence Class lecture from 1957, the Kelly-Hopkinsville case is paraded out as a prime example of a hoax "that takes so much time and effort, not to say unlimited patience," to address. After reading Maj. Albert's bizarre statement, though, you have to wonder who was wasting whose time...
There's another little mystery about the Kelly-Hopkinsville incident that I fear I will never be able to solve... When the 11 members of the Sutton family realized that their house was being approached by strange, glowing little men, it was, as you might expect, up to the menfolk to arm themselves and protect the family. Because of this, most of the story is reported from the POV of the men, who did all the door guarding and alien-plugging that night.
But there's a forgotten little moment that really intrigues me... For the longest time, Miss Glennie Lankford, the matriarch, refused to believe her son that there were little creatures outside the house. But then, she said, she knew something was wrong when "Alene came back in the house terrified, white, nervously shaking, saying that she had seen one of the little men. She was terribly upset, and remained that way for days..."
Alene, wife of one of Miss Glennie's sons, would have to have been in the kitchen, the door to which was the only entrance to the house left unguarded. At some point, her curiosity must have gotten the best of her, and she stepped outside to see what her husband was shooting at... And she saw one of them.
Tragically, Ledwith doesn't seem to have thought to interview Alene, and although Davis met Alene and had a chance to ask her "one or two" questions, she doesn't seem to have asked about this moment in the story. So, we'll never know what Alene saw or what happened to her. All we know about Alene's experience that night is that a few minutes later, when one of the men, Billy Ray, stepped out on the porch to look around and an alien reached down from the roof above and tried to grab Billy Ray's hair, it was Alene who pushed her way out the screen door and pulled Billy Ray back inside to safety... See, she knew what was reaching for Billy Ray's hair, because she had seen it herself...
When I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucky Sutton's daughter Geraldine recently, I asked her if her Aunt Alene had ever told her story of what happened to her outside the kitchen door that night... Geraldine said that she never knew her Aunt to talk about it, and that Alene had passed many years ago.