Hopkinsville Goblins: The TRUTH behind Kentucky’s “Little Grey Men” TAP TO GET PODCAST
Not much really happened in rural Kentucky. But that would all change one late-summer night in 1955, when a fireball seemingly streaked across the evening sky in Hopkinsville, KY, where things began to get otherworldly.
They burst into the precinct, hearts racing. Late that August evening, the Sutton family, a local group of farmers, had encountered one of the wildest and most unimaginable nights one could ever imagine. Hearts literally pounding, they recounted one of the craziest events in American cryptid history. There in that Monday issue of the Madisonville Messenger on August 22nd, 1955, tucked between accounts of catastrophic regional floods and reports of typhoid fever, lies one of the greatest witness accounts of unknown creatures to this day.
It all began that evening at the Sutton farmhouse, just a quarter mile outside of Kelly Station and about 8 miles north of Hopkinsville. Lucky and John Sutton, Billy Ray Taylor, and the three men’s wives, along with two other family members and their multiple children, were all in the house that Sunday night when, around 7:20 PM, something began to light up the night sky through their farmhouse window. “It was all lighted up,” the Sutton brothers recounted. The object streamed across the evening sky and glided down into a field about a quarter mile away. “It looked to be about the size of a number 2 washtub and had the shape of an egg”, but despite the weirdness of the event, everyone quickly put it out of their minds and went back to their evening routine.
And just as a side note, while too many, it might seem odd to just forget about something this strange, lights crashing in fields and all, as someone who lives in the rural US, particularly in farm country, seeing strange lights and hearing weird sounds is actually pretty normal (and often pretty easy to explain away) so while it might strike us as odd to not investigate this further, It’s not out of the realm of possibility. But things were about to get much harder to dismiss.
About 40 minutes later, a handful of faint figures began to appear around their home. The forms looked vaguely human but short – only a 3 or 4 feet wall. Oh, and they seemed to reflect light, almost as if they were made of metal. These forms began to approach the rear of the farmhouse, but as the Sutton family watched, entranced by these little men, more began to appear. Before long, upwards of 15 of these things had crept up, climbing up on the deck, the roof, and hiding in the trees.
Curious, Taylor slowly stepped out the front door to get a better look when one of the creatures reached down from the roof and grabbed him by his shirt. Lucky grabbed his 12 gauge, double barrel shotgun, swung it up, and blasted the creature off the roof freeing Taylor from its grasp. But other than knocking the fiend down, the shotgun seemed to have little effect. The unwelcome visitor calmly stood back up from where it landed, turned, and walked off, leading the whole posse into the night. But this story doesn’t end there.
Half an hour or so passed as the Suttons processed what on earth (or beyond it) just happened – when the little men showed back up. Over the course of the next 6 hours, the Hopkinsville goblins, as they are now known, came back a total of 6 times. Each visit followed the same pattern. They would approach the farmhouse, the family would empty a box of shells at them, then they would simply get up, dust themselves off, and walk away. Finally, after four boxes of .22 shells and a handful of shotgun slugs had been spent, the family loaded into their cars and sped down to the Hopkinsville Police station where in a panic, they recounted this entire encounter where they described how a dozen or more chrome “little men” with pointed ears, bald heads with skin stretched tightly over their skulls, and long arms that almost drug the ground terrorized them for hours.
After listening to each member of the family give the same account separately and after measuring one of the women’s pulses (Which was well over 140 BPM), the police were convinced that something strange had taken place. They called in backup from Kentucky state police, and within an hour, eight police cars and at least one carload of military personnel arrived at the farm.
But after an investigation of the scene, the police couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary, minus a 1 ½ inch square hole in the farmhouse window screen where Lucky supposedly shot one of these creatures with his 12 gauge and a handful of .22 casings. With nothing else to go on, the police concluded that whatever it was must have fled the scene and began to load up and head back to the station, but the report does note one additional thing: Just as they were about to turn in for the night multiple personnel on the scene made a not of not one but two bright colored objects, possibly about the size of a number two washtub, streaking across the sky away from the Sutton farm.
The Hopkinsville Goblin encounter is one of the most detailed and downright wild stories of encounters with the unknown. UFOologists and cryptozoologists alike have been circling back to this story for decades. Heck, we even found loose connections to this very story when we did our research on the Loveland frog man. This encounter helped create the modern extra-terrestrial visitor narrative we have all grown so familiar with. Even the “little green men” idea stemmed from a misinterpretation of this very story where the detail of the goblins being gray and metallic was misconstrued as green.
But what really happened out at the Sutton farmhouse? Did the family really come into contact with something otherworldly? Or was it something much easier to explain?
Despite common theories surrounding intoxication, authorities at the time swore the family was completely sober when they gave their report. So if it wasn’t substances playing into the pandemonium, what was it?
The most commonly heard theory is that these little gray men were best explained by that the great horned owl. Great horned owls, named after the large feathered horn-like protrusions jutting out of the top of their heads, call almost every corner of North America their home. Growing on average to 25 inches in height with a wingspan upwards of 5 feet, these creatures, despite being a bit short for the cause, do fit the bill. If you are listening rather than watching this, I encourage you to look up a picture of the Hopkinsville goblins and compare it with that of a horned owl, and well, we would all be lying if we argued we wouldn’t make that same mistake. Those horns look a lot like pointy ears. Their heads and large eyes bare a striking resemblance to skin stretched tightly over a skill. Heck, even those claws look a lot like large, dangly hands.
And as far as the gunshots go, we could chalk that up to being frightened and filling in those gaps. Our brains have a way of doing that. And while not common, there are numerous documented accounts of horned owls reaching down and grabbing ahold of human’s shirts and shoulders or even digging into people’s skulls. Sure, it’s a stretch, but if there were young chicks involved, it could all make even more sense. Horned owls are fierce protectors of their young, and well, have you ever seen a photo of a baby owl? Those things are far scarier than any alien depiction I’ve ever seen.
But what about those bright, bathtub-sized lights buzzing overhead? I mean, they were seen by both the Suttons AND the police at separate times. Couldn’t that be proof in and of itself? Well, I might just have an explanation for that as well.
August is prime time for many skywatchers across the northern hemisphere, not for alien hunting or owl spotting, but for meteor watching. The Perseid meteor shower. Known for being the most productive meteor shower of the year, the Perseids can produce upwards of 150 – 200 meteors per hour. And while this shower peaks in mid-august, meteors can be witnessed all the way up to the 24th. Couple that with the fact that this was in Rural Kentucky in the 1950s, where light pollution would be virtually non-existent, and quickly, you can see how even an average meteor would be a spectacle to witness.
And about the whole, it crashing in the field bit. If you’ve ever seen a large meteor close to the horizon, it can look a whole lot like it crashed down just outside, despite the fact that it was most likely hundreds of miles away or more! I witnessed this firsthand a decade or so ago when I watched a large meteor burn through the central Arkansas sky in broad daylight. I could’ve sworn it landed just a few miles away from where I was. I even drove to a local city park where I thought it could’ve crashed. but when I watched the news later that night, they said that they did, in fact recover a downed meteorite…. In Texas.
The Hopkinsville Goblin encounter left quite a mark on history. In 1986 the comedy/horror film, Critters hit the silver screen, basing its plot loosely on the original goblin encounter. The third generation of Pokemon introduced Sableye, A ghost Pokemon directly based on the description of these grey men. There was even a musical featuring the Hopkinsville goblin invasion titled “It Came From Kentucky.” But despite the influence on culture, the Hopkinsville goblins seemed to go back to where they came from. Well, that is, until 2012, when a string of sightings cropped up once again. And if you stick around, I’d like to read you one of those sightings exactly as it was recounted.
“I am located in Pike County, just outside the town of Hellier, Kentucky. Hellier is located roughly 30 to 60 minutes from the borders of Virginia and West Virginia, respectively. Most of Pike County is made up of small towns and rural communities; it is not uncommon to go days without seeing my closest neighbors. I moved to this area for peace and quiet. I have received neither.
I have lived in this area for just under seven months, and in that time, the majority of the harassment has occurred within the past three. I did not become aware of any strangeness until early December, although that is only when I began to keep a record of these events. At first, it was merely strange tracks in the snow around my home. I had initially imagined that they were from some kind of animal, though they closely resembled a human footprint minus the heel. At that time, I was under the impression that it was simply a single creature. It wasn’t until the weeks later that I began to suspect that I was dealing with a number of what I thought were individuals “hazing” me upon my arrival to the area.
At this point, I was incapable of keeping my dog outdoors overnight. Any attempt to leave her leashed would result in her barking herself hoarse until she was allowed back indoors. In the weeks leading up to this particular evening, I had awoken to find my shed doors open on several occasions, many of my children’s toys missing or moved, and my yard in general disarray. I had already given a report to the police, who were making it increasingly clear that they were not interested in my case, barring psychical harm or large-scale theft.
The second week of January, I am having breakfast with my family when my five-year-old daughter begins talking about the “kids without hair.” When my wife inquired about these kids, she informed us that she had spent the previous night watching them play in the yard. As you can imagine, this was of some concern. I asked my daughter what these kids looked like, she told me that they “were bald like grandpa and weren’t wearing any clothes.” The very same day, I found the wreath that hung inside our rear porch stuffed into our mailbox. I purchased and installed motion-activated floodlights the following day, and for a time, the problems ceased. It wasn’t until the end of February that our daughter informed us that the “bald kids” had returned.
I was awoken by the sound of my daughter screaming and rushed to her bedroom, only to meet her halfway down the hall. When my wife and I were finally able to calm her down enough to speak, she told us that the kids were trying to peer into her window, but they couldn’t reach, and instead, had taken to tapping on it. She hasn’t slept in her own bedroom since. It was that morning that I phoned the police for the second the time, and they responded by finally sending a trooper to our residence. I informed him of the regular mischief, how I was now unable to let my dog outdoors after dusk, and of the “bald kids”. When we found the ground disturbed just under my daughter’s bedroom window the officer informed me, very matter-of-factly, that we were dealing with an animal and I would be better off contacting the game commission than waste their resources any further.
Almost every day for the following week, I would find some evidence that something or someone had been on my property the previous night. Smudges on the windows were not uncommon, stones from the walkway dragged to the other side of the lawn, and I had found tears in the screen door. On Wednesday, the 7th of March I finally witnessed the “kids without hair” for myself.
The dog woke me up around 1:30 AM, scratching at the back door and whimpering to be let out. I noticed that the motion floodlight was on and went to the kitchen window to check that the shed doors were still closed when I realized that I could see the shadow of an individual cast across my lawn. From the angle I was positioned at the window, I could not actually see the source of the shadow or the floodlights. The dog was pacing circles around the back door, and I could hear someone rifling through a box on the porch. Filled with more anger than common sense, the only reaction I could muster was to bang loudly on the window and yell, at which point I heard the screen door on the porch swing open and slam against the house. I heard what I can only describe as “chirping” at this point. It sounded much like a skunk, if more guttural. I then realized that there were more than two people on my property, and the shadow, which had been reacting as if it didn’t know which way to run, was quickly joined by another. For a moment, I watched as the shadows chirped at one another when I noticed a figure out of the corner of my eye.
Standing in the flower bed just to the bottom left of my window was a small, humanoid figure with sickly pale skin, completely hairless, standing roughly four ′. It was looking in the direction of the shadows and had clearly come from around the left side of the house opposite the porch and had not noticed me as far as I could tell. Its face was devoid of features, save for large round eyes, very reminiscent in shape and color of a bird’s eye. It had no nose to speak of and only a small slit for a mouth. It didn’t appear to move its mouth as it chirped, sounding more as if the noises originated from its throat. It was most certainly not a “wild animal” and even more certainly not a child. I was too terrified to move and watched as the creature hopped to the others, and together they scrambled into the woods on the right side of my property. It was clear that there were at least five in the group.
Since that evening, my dog has gone missing from the porch, yet to return, and I can only imagine that his disappearance has to do with these creatures. I’ve gone looking for him during daylight hours, only to find many of my missing belongings scattered at the entrance to an abandoned mine shaft at the far edge of my property. I don’t dare go inside”
– So next time you’re passing through rural Kentucky, keep your eyes to the skies. Who knows, you might see one heck of a meteor show. Or you might encounter something beyond your wildest imagination.
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Thanks for touring Cryptids Across the Atlas. Until next time, keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see just on the edge of the road.