Since very early times man has periodically reported contact with beings from other worlds. Some perceived these mysterious visitors as fairies or giants and in some cases even haled them as gods, going so far as to integrate them into their religious belief systems. But in 1955 when the Sutton-Lankford family from Kelly Kentucky allegedly encountered alien visitors who arrived in a mysterious craft and approached their farmhouse in the middle of the night, they did what country people do when they find themselves in such situations. They started shooting! But to the dismay of the defenders the bullets had no effect on the invaders, prompting the family to abandon the premises and seek the help of local law enforcement. It was said of this family by police that,
“These aren’t the kind of people who normally run to the police for help.”
It’s one of the most famous and well-researched cases of an alleged alien encounter in history. Over the years hundreds of journalists and investigators from around the world have examined the details of the incident which continues to inspire curiosity almost 60 later. In fact Steven Spielberg was inspired by the story which is said to have influenced the creation of the much less disturbing tale from the film E.T.
A number of sources exist that document the incident . One which I recommend is a recent book authored by my friend a journalist by the name of Rob Dollar and fellow newsman Tim Ghianni. The book is called Monkeys Don’t Wear Silver Suits and it accomplishes something unique. It’s a highly informative and open-minded treatment of a topic with potentially monumental and frightening implications and mixes it with enough humor and a healthy skepticism that make it a balanced read. One striking detail the authors also mention in the book is that the incident at Kelly wasn’t the only encounter with strange creatures reported in the area. Others also encountered strange creatures that summer and even some in more recent years.
So what really transpired that fateful evening in 1955? It’s hard to say. Theories about escaped monkeys have been offered. Some suggest the whole family was hallucinating. Unfortunately most of the witnesses are now deceased. But accounts provided by the witnesses (8 adults and 3 children) never changed and were consistent over the years, a remarkable aspect since most hoaxes debunk themselves over time with conflicting stories. Two additional facts stand out in this case according to investigators. Firstly, the witnesses were sober on that evening and did not seem under the influence. Secondly, whatever they encountered that night left them severely frightened and traumatized for the rest of their lives. Former Hopkinsville Police Chief Russell Greenwell was recorded as saying: “Something scared these people. Something beyond reason—nothing ordinary.”
Having researched this case and visited the location where the incident was reported I agree with the late Isabel Doris in her assessment of the case.
“Were it not for this universal determination to disbelieve a story of this nature, it is probable that the ‘explanations’ we have examined would never have been given serious consideration.”
In other words, while it’s not the explanation that we wish to believe, an actual alien visitation is more believable than the other explanations offered. Does this prove anything? Nope. But as always, I will keep exploring.