Cryptid Corner, Opinion

Cryptid Corner: The Hopkinsville Goblins

(Illustration by Noah Black and Damon Beard)

On J. Allen Hynek’s Scale of UFO Encounter Classification, a close encounter of the fifth kind is defined by witnessing a UFO or alien in action and establishing a line of communication.

However, how do you classify an encounter in which you and your family were engaged in a four-hour gunfight with said aliens?

The Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter took place on Aug. 21, 1955, at the farmhouse of the Sutton family, located between Kelly and Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

That night, Elmer “Lucky” Sutton and John Charley “J.C.” Sutton were hosting guests along with their wives and children.

With a total of eight adults and three children in the house, attention was easily divided between different conversations, paying no attention to family friend Billy Ray Taylor as he left the house to fetch drinking water from the well.

Taylor described seeing a stereotypical flying saucer streak across the sky as he retrieved the water from the well before the UFO landed a little over half a mile away from the house.

He recounted the story to the rest of the house upon returning but was met with laughter and ridicule from his friends.

The incident was shrugged off as an overreaction by Taylor, and the occupants returned to their game of cards and chatting.

A little over an hour later, the Sutton’s dog began to bark frantically outside, rousing Lucky and Billy Ray to investigate.

Walking outside toward the dog’s location, the dog quickly sprinted past them as motion began stirring in the nearby trees surrounding the farmhouse.

Unable to identify the emerging figures at first, Lucky and Billy Ray ran back to the house and quickly armed themselves before returning to the scene, prepared to fend off the homestead from thieves or wild animals.

Retrieving a pistol and a shotgun, the two men returned outside to confront the figures as the rest of the house watched in disbelief.

As the men stepped out onto the porch, they finally saw what had emerged from the forest, little grey men.

No taller than 2 or 3 feet in stature, these humanoid like figures slinked toward the men, their grotesquely thin overly-long limbs dragging and swaying as they approached, their glowing yellow eyes seemed almost glazed over, paying no attention to the men through vision as their bulbous heads bobbled under their own weight.

Taylor also described the figures as having bat-like ears that pointed instantly in the direction of any sound that was being made in its vicinity.

Without hesitation, Lucky Sutton shot the humanoid at point-blank range with his  shotgun. As the shot collided with the figure, a metallic “pink” was heard and the figure was knocked down to the ground before abruptly standing right back up and running off with the other figures.

A few minutes passed after the men retreated into the house, the occupants obviously shaken.

Over the course of the next 30 minutes, these figures would reappear and disappear, peering in through windows and scratching their claws against the panes of glass as if purposely intimidating the lodgers.

Firing a reaction shot at one of the appearing figures, Lucky and Taylor once again ran outside to see if they had done any damage to the creature, this time only to be ambushed by one of the creatures standing on the overhang of the roof above the porch.

The creature grabbed Billy Ray Taylor by the top of the head before he was pulled back inside by his wife June.

Following this surprise attack, the men spent the next four hours fending off 15 of these figures as the stalked around the house, peering into the doorway and windows looking for an opportunity to get inside.

After managing to hold them off with gunfire, the family went to the Hopkinsville police station once day arrived, informing the police of the siege they had just underwent.

Known as trustworthy folk, the police had no reason to hold any disbelief toward the Suttons, especially since the adults were sober and the children had recounted the same story.

Upon investigation of the Sutton farmhouse, there was little evidence of any creature presence aside from a strange patch of glowing soil, but there was certainly evidence of gunfire as there were holes present in nearby trees, windows and doors.

The encounter of the Kelly-Hopkinsville goblins was the start of the “little green men” boom in the United States, with the phrase being picked up and used by news outlets and media to describe the encounter and ones that were similar.

This, however, is in spite of the fact that the creatures were described as grey-skinned with green hues rather than being a flat green color.

Despite similar encounters being describe from that point forward in Hopkinsville and the rest of the United States, there remains a large number of skeptics that all fall back on the same common theory.

It was well known at the time that an aggressive family of great horned owls resided in the forest near the Sutton residence, leading many to claim that the family simply mistook the identity of the owls as strange goblin creatures.

Skeptic Joe Nickell points toward this fact and states that the residents of the house were more than likely inebriated regardless of the notion that Lucky’s wife, Glennie Lankford, was highly religious and did not allow alcohol inside or near the house or that the children corroborated the story.

There are similar reports in the United States of creatures like the Hopkinsville goblins not associated with UFO sightings, though.

Dover, Massachusetts, is home to the alleged Dover Demon, a small, grey humanoid creature with a large bulbous head and elongated, thin limbs that allow it to quickly climb trees.

The Chippewa Cree and the Ojibwa indigenous peoples of Montana share a similar story about a race of small troublemakers known as the Mannegishi or the Memegwesei. Once again, this race is described as having a bulbous head, elongated limbs and piercing yellow eyes.

With such a fascinating story, of course, it has gained a large foothold in popular culture as well.

Geraldine Sutton-Stith, Elmer Sutton’s daughter, wrote a book describing what her father and family experienced and frequently goes on tour discussing the event with ufologists and fans.

Media and games have embraced the story too, with many creatures taking inspiration from the tale such as the Pokémon Sableye and the titular Critters from the film “Critters.”

The Kelly-Hopkinsville event may never be fully explained, as most of the family and friends present that night have passed away, but the tale, nevertheless, lives on.