Kentucky’s Hopkinsville Goblins

The 1950’s saw a wave of UFO reports and alien sightings. Hollywood produced movies featuring flying saucers invading Earth, the U.S. government’s Project Blue Book was investigating UFOs, and people across America were wondering if aliens were real and being covered up, or simply a product of mass hysteria. Among so many sightings, there was one regarding creatures which came to be called the Hopkinsville Goblins that is still discussed today because of the inability to easily prove the story’s falsity.

Christian County, Kentucky, where Hopkinsville is located
Christian County, Kentucky, where Hopkinsville is located

The sighting took place between the towns of Hopkinsville and Kelly Kentucky, causing it to sometimes be referred to as the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter although the creatures are usually only referred to as the Hopkinsville Goblins. On August 21st, 1955, Billy Ray Taylor (a citizen of Pennsylvania) was visiting his friend Carl “Lucky” Sutton and his family who lived in a farmhouse in rural Kentucky that had no telephone lines or running water. At about 7:00 PM, Billy Ray left the farmhouse to retrieve some water from the family’s well when he noticed a very large and shiny object land roughly a block away in a nearby gully. The object was reportedly shaped like a saucer, which he stated had lights on the sides which were “all of the colors of the rainbow.” Billy Ray went back inside to tell the family what he had just seen, except that nobody else believed him.

A short time later, the family’s dog started barking which prompted Billy Ray and Lucky emerge from the house armed with guns to investigate what was upsetting the dog. As they did so they saw a light come at them from the forest, which (as they saw it more clearly) began to look more like an extremely strange creature. According to Billy Ray and Lucky, the creature was only three to four feet tall, had pale skin, large ears similar to a bat’s, with two large eyes that seemed to have a yellow glow as well a bald head, a thin, elongated mouth, small thin legs, and long arms that ended with large, clawed hands.

An artist's depiction of one of the Hopkinsville Goblins
An artist’s depiction of one of the Hopkinsville Goblins

As the creature got within twenty feet, the two men fired at it, Billy Ray with his .22 and Lucky with his shotgun, although their weapons seemed to have no noticeable effect. Even though they claimed that there was no way they could have missed their target at that range, the creature back flipped, stood, and retreated into the woods.

The two men fled to the safety of the farmhouse, but as soon as they entered they observed another creature’s facing looking inside through a window. They fired at it, leaving a hole in the window screen and exited the house to see if they had killed it. Outside there was no evidence of the creature, but then the two men noticed a creature’s clawed hand reaching out to touch them from the roof. Billy Ray and Lucky again shot at it, but the creature floated down and ran back into the woods. Afterwards, the two men and the Sutton family holed up in the farmhouse and found themselves besieged by the Hopkinsville Goblins.

Despite the fear being instilled in the family, the creatures weren’t necessarily acting malevolently but rather almost in a mischievous sort of way. At multiple times the people would see one of the creatures’ faces peeking in at them through the window, although they never made any attempt to forcibly enter the house. The men shot at the creatures through the windows and the walls, although at no point did it appear that their weapons had any kind of effect on them. At certain times one of the Hopkinsville Goblins approached the house with their hands raised above their head, as if they were surrendering or trying make a friendly gesture. Each time this occurred the men would shoot the creature, although it would either flee to the woods on all fours, float in the air, or do a back-flip.

A painting depicting the ordeal
A painting depicting the ordeal

This went on for roughly three hours, during which time the family became terrified of what was occurring and decided to seek help from neighboring Hopkinsville. They fled using two vehicles to reach the Hopkinsville Police Station, and asked Sheriff Russell Greenwell. After proving to the police that they were serious, they returned to the farmhouse with the Sheriff and twenty police officers. Although the farmhouse, riddled with broken windows and bullet holes showed signs of the siege, there was no evidence of the Hopkinsville Goblins. The police found that the Suttons were clearly sober and that something must have scared them a great deal. After questioning what neighbors there were in the area, it was found that others reported the sounds of gunfire and that there had also been reports of lights in the sky. Sheriff Greenwell would later stated that the Suttons were not a family known to complain to the police, and that “Something frightened them, something beyond their comprehension.”

Eventually the police officers left at 2:15 AM, but ninety minutes after their departure the Hopkinsville Goblins returned. Their mischievous activity and gunfire continued for a few more hours, until the creatures left for good about an hour and a half before sunrise.

All in all there were eleven witnesses to the event including Billy Ray and the Sutton family. The police have stated that the family was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that their intense fear was genuine while others have noted that the family had not many any attempt to try and gain publicity from the event. Also of note is the fact that there are others who can corroborate that something strange happened on the Sutton farm. As stated earlier were neighbors who reported hearing gunfire and seeing strange lights, but then there was a state trooper in Kelly, Kentucky at 11 PM who stated that he witnessed several meteor-like objects which produced a sound like artillery.

Three witnesses of the Hopkinsville Goblins, with Lucky Sutton in the middle
Three witnesses of the Hopkinsville Goblins, with Lucky Sutton in the middle

After the event a newspaper claimed that the people involved had seen anywhere from twelve to fifteen of the creatures, although the Suttons and Billy Ray stated that they had no idea as to the number of creatures, and claim that there had to have been at least two since that was the most they ever saw at a time. Today the event stands out due to the fact that it is a very difficult story to disprove due to the testimony of the witnesses, neighbors and police, and because of the efforts the Sutton family made to downplay the event. Eventually the sightseers and tourists became such an issue that the Suttons outright refused visitors and did not talk about the story, although each witnesses’ retelling of the event would always be consistent lending some credence to the event. The daughter of Lucky Sutton even stated in 2002:

“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.”

Clearly, something happened to the Suttons’ farm that caused an uproar with the local community that the Suttons themselves wanted nothing to do with. Perhaps that is the largest reason why the Hopkinsville Goblins have continued to be examined as a possible sighting of extraterrestrial creatures.


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