Project Blue Book Declassified: The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter

“Each wave of sightings adds to the accumulation of reports which defy analysis by present methods... An investigative process in depth is necessary here if, after twenty years of confusion, we want some answers.” – J. Allen Hynek

On the evening of August 21st, 1955, a family of five adults and seven children called the Suttons breathlessly arrived at the Hopkinsville police station, claiming that 12 to 15 otherworldly beings descended from a spaceship and attacked their farmhouse – located in the town of Kelly, in Christian County, while they were holding them with gunfire “for nearly four hours.”

Residents of the farmhouse included Glennie Lankford, her children, Lonnie, Charlton, and Mary, two sons from a previous marriage, Elmer ‘Lucky’ Sutton, John Charley ‘J.C.’ Sutton, and their respective wives, Vera and Alene, Alene’s brother O.P. Baker, and family friend Billy Ray Taylor and his wife June.

According to the police report, at 7:00 PM, Taylor went to fetch water from the backyard well when he saw a metallic object shining “real bright, with an exhaust all the colors of the rainbow.” Taylor said that the object came towards the house, passing over then stopped in the air and dropped straight towards the ground. 

One hour later, alerted by the dog’s barking, Taylor and Lucky went to the back door of the house and saw a strange glow, in the midst of which appeared a small humanoid creature, about three and half feet tall and having an “oversized head” … “almost perfectly round, [its] arms extended almost to the ground, [its] hands had talons…and [its oversized] eyes glowed with a yellowish light.”

Terrified, the two men pulled out a 20-gauge shotgun, a .22 rifle and started shooting at the “little man”, who did a “flip,” and fled into the woods.

Another creature appeared a few moments later near a side window which the two men fired at through the window screen. The “little man” once again “flipped” then disappeared.

Shortly after, Taylor decided to step outside under the overhanging roof, and those who stayed behind him saw what they described as a claw-like hand reaching down to him and touching his hair. The group screamed and quickly pulled Taylor back in the house while Lucky was shooting at the creature above the overhang then at another one in a nearby tree.

Back inside, the Suttons spent 4 hours listening for footsteps; sometimes hearing scratches on the roof. At 11:00 PM, the group ran for the cars and fled towards the Hopkinsville police station at top speed.

Concerned for possible gun battle between local citizens, four city police, five state troopers, three deputy sheriffs, four military police from the nearby U.S. Army Fort Campbell and a photographer drove to the Suttons farmhouse. Their search yielded nothing other than shell casings and holes in window and door screens made by firearms.

The next day, the police returned to the farmhouse for further investigation, but none of the Suttons was there. The neighbors told two officers that the family had “packed up and left” after claiming “the creatures had returned about 3:30 in the morning.”

Credit: Center for UFO Studies
Credit: Center for UFO Studies

Local radio station employee Bud Ledwith was able to find them later. He interviewed the adult eyewitnesses and made drawings based on their accounts. Ledwith said he was impressed by their remarkable precision and consistency with their descriptions even though the men were unable to coordinate with others. 

The Kelly incident received widespread coverage in radio stations and national press – including the New York Times, and eventually attracted the attention of the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book. However, the Air Force never officially pursued the matter other than interviewing their Fort Campbell counterparts that were briefly present that night, and in the end labeled the Kelly incident as a deliberate hoax.

One of the most thorough investigations of the Kelly incident was undertaken in 1956 by Ufologist Isabel Davis who published an extensive report called Close Encounter at Kelly and Others of 1955, as part of the Center of UFO Studies – a UFO research group founded by Project Blue Book astronomer, Dr. J. Allen Hynek in 1973. The 230-page report included details of maps, drawing, documentary records, interviews with Sutton family members as well as police investigators, and summaries of other similar accounts around the world.

Due to lack of physical evidence, but also to her reckoning, none of the given explanations made much sense, Davis concluded that the Kelly incident remains unsolved.


  1. Right here is the perfect webpage for anybody who wishes to understand this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for decades. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Read More