The Hopkinsville (Kentucky) Goblins

Perhaps the weirdest (credible) report of a UFO encounter in the history of UFOs. Most of the weirdness is due to the description of the phenomenon encountered that night of August 21, 1955 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The description of the creatures as “goblins” conjures a mythological or fantastical explanation. Yet, the “Kelly-Hopkinsville Goblin Encounter” most definitely began (like so many stories of high strangeness) as a UFO story.

From the Fortean Winds POV, the first thing to understand about encounters with the pilots of UFOs…is they’re often absurd. This is not to say they are not credible. In fact, many cases of encounters with UFO pilots have been recorded by first responders and multiple witnesses.

In their important book “Close Encounters at Kelly and Others of 1955” Isabel Davis and Ted Bloecher detail the following:

On July 7, during a flurry of object sightings at Tacoma, Washington, residents of the Center and J Street neighborhood, Gene Gamachi, I.W. Martenson, and others, told of seeing a number of objects, some of which landed on nearby roofs. Witnesses saw several “little people” who disappeared upon the arrival of newsmen (3). On July 8, during a concentration of sightings all over Texas, an unidentified merchant seaman in the Acres Home suburb of Houston observed the landing of a “silver saucer.” From it emerged a dimunitive pilot no more than two feet tall with a round head “the size of a basketball” who greeted the seaman, re-entered his vehicle, and took off.

Close Encounters at Kelly

The airship sightings of 1897 detailed similar bufoonery. Pilots floating down from airships to chat with earthlings, or attempting to fish from the edges of what would later become blimps. It all sounds like something out there having a bit of a laugh at our expense. Newspapers recorded numerous odd airship sightings during this period from 1876 to 1897 (some of them were hoaxes, others were not). Many of these sightings sound similar to UFO reports in the present.

Mystery Airship San Francisco Call Nov. 1896

What does all that have to do with Kentucky Goblins? Nothing. Yet, it’s important to establish for the last one hundred years or so, encounters with UFO pilots are often ridiculous. This likely involves the same trickster phenomenon and behavior evidenced at Skinwalker Ranch. Except this time, it decided to show up with floppy ears.

Image from J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies

Eight adults and three children were witness to the events of August 21, 1955. The Sutton farm where the encounter occurred was a small three bedroom house which did not have running water or a telephone. This is relevant as a family friend by the name of Billy Ray Taylor left the house to get water from the well when he saw a bright silver disk pass over the house and land nearby.

He went into the house to tell the others, but they did not believe him. Billy worked in a traveling carnival, and was quite a character. However, an hour later Billy and Lucky Sutton saw a humanoid creature resembling the photo above and described it as follows:

“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.” The body gave off an eerie shimmer in the light of the night’s new moon, they said—as if made of “silver metal.”

Confused and frightened Billy and Lucky proceeded to shoot the “little green man” with a 20 gauge shotgun and a .22 rifle. They reported it flipped when shot, as if it felt the impact, but then popped back up and fled into the night. It returned and appeared outside of a window. The two men shot at it through the window screen and it, again, flipped and ran off into the night.

To many investigators at the time, Mrs. Lankford who owned the home, seemed the most credible of all the witnesses. A middle-aged Godly woman. She did not allow liquor in her home and told the same story of the incident throughout her life. Mrs. Lankford described the creatures in her statement to the USAF below.


According to the witnesses. The creatures continued to approach the house and one of them touched Billy Ray Taylor’s head when he was on the porch. The hand came from above him, as if the creature were atop the porch. The witnesses saw the hand and pulled Taylor back inside.

The family continued to hear sounds of scratching on the roof over a period of several hours, until they decided to make a run for their cars and the local police station. The police who received the terrified family confirmed their terror appeared genuine.

Police investigators and representatives from Fort Campbell examined the scene the following day. They could not find any evidence of a UFO landing or remains of unexplained creatures. They did find the spent shell casings from the rounds Taylor and Sutton had fired off. USAF Blue Book investigators followed up after the police and decided to no longer pursue the matter.

There didn’t appear to be any evidence to pursue. Yet, most investigators at the time found the witness accounts credible and consistent beyond the point of coincidence. While this incident would not yield any further UFO data, it did spawn several UFO tropes that survive to this day. It reinforced or (some say) began the description of UFO Pilots as “Little Green Men.”

Billy Ray Taylor became the stereotype of the country “bumpkin” who encountered a flying saucer. He gave many interviews and enjoyed the limelight. He and Lucky were working as Carnies before the incident. So, his penchant for showmanship and a quick buck lead many to doubt his accounts.

It also began the popularity of “Kentucky Goblin” tales. Which continue to some extent in the present on the TV show Hellier on Amazon Prime. We have to admit. We love a good Kentucky Goblin story. It’s just a fun piece of Americana, but there are a couple key takeaways here.

#1) The Kentucky Goblin story is a UFO story. Specifically, a UFO pilot story. Multiple witnesses saw the craft and occupants. Military and police investigators saw no reason to doubt the witnesses on the surface. Which leads us to believe the incident was quite likely real.

#2) The description of the occupants as goblins was rare. None of the witnesses claimed these goblins attempted to or appeared as if they wanted to hurt them. In fact, Mrs. Lankford said it appeared they were approaching with their hands up in order to establish contact. When they were struck by bullets, they ran away on all fours like an animal.

Conclusion: The Kelly-Hopkinsville (Goblin) Story is quite likely credible and legitimate. The consistency of the story among most (we’re looking at you Billy Ray) of the witnesses, the character of Mrs. Lankford, and the fact the police believed they encountered something…make this one of the weirder credible accounts in UFO history.

It’s also notable that a similar event, allegedly, occurred in the Ohio River Valley a week before the Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter. In the book “Mysterious Events” (published by NN) the author notes the Ohio River encounter was seen by many witnesses.

“A claim is also made for another encounter with allegedly the same creatures in another part of the United States along the Ohio River a week prior to the incidents in Kentucky, which itself had numerous witnesses.

There were dozens of eyewitnesses to the incidents, which included two families present at the farmhouse and in others in the area; other civilians, some of whom had no connection to the families at the farmhouse and even one in another state. The witnesses also included several local policeman and a state trooper who saw and heard strange phenomena such as unexplained lights in the night sky and noises the same night.

Mysterious Events – NN

Similar events were reported nearby. The fact civilian ufologists, Air Force Investigators and the Police found no evidence of a hoax is significant. They did find the dispensed ammunition. You either believe the fine people of Kentucky shot up their house and raced to the police station to create a lifelong hoax, or you believe they encountered something real. Now that we know UFOs are real this case deserves consideration.

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Author: RamX

A technologist and data professional who found out UFOs were real in 2019. It took some convincing. I had to look really hard to prove it, but I am quite sure they're real now. So, I can only ask: What else is out there?

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