On Sunday, August 21, 1955, between the small towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville in rural Kentucky, something happened that has gone down in the history books as one of the most compelling cases of alien encounters ever—or one of the most culturally-influential hoaxes. Two families, the Suttons and the Taylors, after witnessing something crash to the earth in the nearby woods, were assailed in the Sutton farmhouse by a group of diminutive “goblin”-like creatures. These creatures were allegedly bulletproof. The “attack”—these creatures didn’t really do anything except scare the people inside the house—lasted for hours. The families eventually made a break for it and raced into town to fetch the authorities. Several policemen, both County and City officers, as well as State Troopers, and even some MPs from nearby Fort Campbell all went to investigate. They found nothing but bullet holes in the walls of the house and in the trunks of nearby trees. The Air Force later investigated the incident and officially listed it a hoax. Officially. Allen Hynek of Project Blue Book was said to be more open to the possibility that it was genuine.
Those who didn’t come right out and accuse the witnesses of lying said it was a case of mistaken identities. The crash witnessed was just a meteorite, they said; there were sightings from independent witnesses, including policemen, of “lights” in the sky that night. And the little alien “goblins”? Just owls. Some suggested that the witnesses had been drinking. (I wonder if that included the children present. To be fair, though, not all the children reported seeing anything. But also, to be fair, the family was staunchly religious and drinking alcohol was not accepted.) They also said it could have been a case of mass hysteria.
Was the encounter real? Depends on whom you ask. But the encounter would have an indelible effect on popular culture, real or not. You see, Steven Spielberg was doing research for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND when he read about the encounter. It struck a chord with him. And the rest is history. More on the bizarre creatures brought to life by this encounter in the next post in this series. And for the purists, yes, there is a vampire connection. A couple, even. Read on.