The annals of UFO lore are peppered with accounts of alien encounters and abductions, these mysterious entities coming for us for inscrutable reasons we may never understand. Some such cases really serve to bring on the weird, with plenty of clues and details that cloak them in a thick layer of oddness and high strangeness, leaving us to wonder just what is going on. One such surreal account played out in a rural area of the U.S. state of Indiana back in 1983, and it has gone on to become a classic example of just how truly bizarre such encounters can be.
It was a hot summer night, on June 30, 1983, and Debbie Jordan-Kauble was going about her usual routines on what had until then been a very ordinary, mundane evening. At the time she was living in a rural area near a place called Copley Woods, outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, along with her two young sons and parents and on this evening her father was off at his second shift at an automobile factory. That night Debbie, her mother, and two sons ordered take-out fried chicken, and it couldn’t have been more normal, but as she washed the dishes and the grease off her hands things would begin to get weird, spiraling into a harrowing experience that would change her life forever. She would say of what happened:
I was washing the grease off my hands before I left to go to the neighbors house to cut some more patterns out. She lived one block over and one road behind us so I wouldn’t be far in case Mom needed help getting the boys to settle down. As I stood at the kitchen sink and looked aimlessly out the window, I noticed an odd light coming out of the swimming pool pump house. First of all, I knew the door SHOULD be closed because I remembered wrestling with the rusty slide lock. I had been out there just a few hours earlier, putting some more chlorine tabs in the pool floater. It was getting dark out so the strange light really caught my eye. It was not like the incandescent bulb that was in there. It looked more like florescent, white light. And it was very bright. I pointed this out to my mother and asked her if she wanted me to stay home. She thought it was odd but told me not to worry about it. She would lock the doors and if she needed me she would call me. In the five minutes it took me to get in my car and make a quick detour to the turnabout in back of the house, to check on the light before I left, the light was gone. And the door to the pump house was closed. But the pedestrian door to the side garage attached to the house was now open. I do not know why I didn’t stop then and go back inside. I should have but I didn’t. I headed on to our neighbors’ house.
Debbie reached her neighbor’s house without incident and called her mother to tell her she had arrived safely. At this point her mother was calm and sounded normal, but shortly after this, practically right after hanging up, there was a phone call from her mother, who now sounded frightened and urgently implored her to come back home right away. It would only later turn out that Debbie’s mother had seen a “basketball-sized ball of light” hovering around in the back yard, but at the time it was not clear why she was so panicked and scared, so insistently begging Debbie to come home immediately. Debbie then excused herself, apologizing to the neighbor and driving the short distance back home, where she found her mother cowering within and frantically looking through the window outside. Debbie says of what happened next:
Once I arrived, I pulled around to the back of the house again. This time I stopped at the sun room outside access door and found Mom standing there waiting for me. As I walked in, I went for the shotgun Daddy had behind the trash compactor. Mom made a comment about the gun not being loaded and I said to her that whoever was out there didn’t know that and I could always beat the crap out of them with it. I have to say, at this point, that I do not know what came over me. I am no fool and at that time in my life, I was the biggest chicken in the world. If I had know why mom called me back that night, I would have never gone out back. I would have gone in the front door, grabbed my mom and kids and high-tailed it out of there so fast it would make your head spin.
Making the whole situation even eerier and more surreal was that at the time Debbie’s mother not only had no idea why she was in a panic, but she didn’t even remember calling her daughter. At this point, they both thought it was just an intruder, and so Debbie crept outside with the shotgun and approached the pump house, ready to wave her empty gun to frighten any trespassers, but no one was in the pump house, nor was there any sign of an intruder anywhere. The only thing out of place was her dog cowering under a truck and growling uncontrollably. As she did her search of the yard, outbuildings, and garage, she was suddenly aware of a growing, burning sensation throughout her body, which she would later equate to being splashed with acid, and whish grew in intensity until she had the sudden, undeniable urge to get out of there immediately, that her life was in danger. She would say of what happened next:
I suddenly felt as if I was on fire. All the skin on my body started burning. It felt like I was covered with acid. And I thought, “I’ve gotta get out of here RIGHT NOW!” I turned to run out the pedestrian door and that is when I was hit in the chest by something VERY bright and electrifying. I have never been hit by lightning. But if I could imagine what it would feel like, I would say it was like this. It felt as if I had first been punched by a huge, electric fist, right in the gut. The burning, electrical feeling slowly moved down my legs to my feet, out my arms to my fingertips and around my head. Then, I could feel every molecule of my body vibrating. I couldn’t move. And I couldn’t see because the flash was so bright. I know I could not have tolerated more than a few seconds of this but I swear it felt as if this lasted for several minutes. I assume it couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds. I remember thinking, “I’m DEAD! This is what it feels like to die.” I was shaking and burning and I felt like I was vibrating to my very core. The brightness wore off fast. Then, the vibrating and shaking subsided. But I still couldn’t move. I was able to see bits and pieces. VERY much like having been ‘flashed’ in the eye by a camera flash. I had big blind spots in my vision but I could see some shadow and some movement in the yard in front of my. I can now feel someone pulling on my right shoulder, as if to pull me down a bit. Then, I felt a stabbing, burning sensation in my right ear. And I could hear someone telling me it was unfortunate that I had to feel pain.
After this, she suddenly and inexplicably found herself outside, with no idea of how she had gotten there, and above her hovered a bight light about the size and shape of a basketball. The light moved up and down, as if scanning her, and then slowly became an oval shape before disappearing. At this moment, Debbie saw another egg-shaped object, around which several humanoid figures could be seen. She explains:
I could see something about the size of the pool pump house. Maybe 8 to 10 feet tall and shaped like an egg. (Not very big as far as UFOs go.) And I could see 6 people in the yard in front of me. They are at various spots in the yard. At the same time, they all seemed to line up and slide to the left, back to this egg shaped thing in front of me. They were smaller than me. Shorter. I thought they looked like children. Bullet shaped children. Bigger in the head and getting narrow at the feet. I couldn’t see much detail, mostly just silhouettes. The rest of this event is still a blur after 20 years. The next thing I remember is hearing someone say. “It’s over.” I suddenly remembered my kids. I thought, “MY KIDS! Oh my God!” And immediately I heard the voice say that my kids were okay. I heard my name being called and I was able to move and I turned and began to walk up the lower porch steps, toward the back kitchen door. With each step I took, the memory of what had just transpired, faded until by the time I reached my mom at the back door, I did not remember anything after I entered the garage. I said to my mom, “Everything’s cool.” And with that, she became animated again. It was as if she was standing there, in a daze, until she heard my voice.
Debbie then went back to the neighbor’s house, where they told her she had been gone for 2 hours, despite the fact that to her only 15 minutes had passed. At this point, she rather oddly felt like going for a swim in the pool, inviting the neighbor and her daughter to join her. As they made their way to the pool, things would get even stranger still, of which Debbie says:
As we walked though the back yard to the swimming pool, my neighbors’ daughter suddenly jumped and yelled, “OUCH.” She said she had stepped on something that made her foot burn, and now her foot was getting numb. By the time we reached the pool, she said her foot felt numb all the way to the knee, but yet she could walk on it. We weren’t in the pool more than 10 or 15 minutes when we all started feeling nauseated, and my eyesight started getting real fuzzy, even though I had not had my head under water. I could see halos around all the outside lights and it was making me dizzy. The girls left and I went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I could not open my eyes. They were swollen completely shut.
My mother took me to the emergency room. They, in turn, sent me directly to an eye specialist across the street from the ER because they didn’t have anyone on call in ER who was able to treat something like this. This doctor was just across the street and agreed to work me in and see me that morning. He was stunned at the extent of my injury. He kept asking me if I had looked into the arc of a welder’s torch or the sun. I had not. I was given several tubes of cream and some drops to try to heal my eyes. It took SEVERAL weeks for them to fully recover and to this day, my eyes are VERY sensitive to light. And my vision is very far-sighted. Sometimes my eyes will still suddenly burn and turn red, for no apparent reason. Fortunately, this only lasts for a few minutes.
The following week after the incident, they were having a BBQ in their backyard when one of the guests noticed an 8 foot circle with a 20 foot swath of wilted dead grass coming off of it, which for some reason instilled a sense of panic in her. This mark would prove to have some rather strange qualities, of which Debbie has said:
The mark in the yard remained there for nearly five years. Every year snow melted off of it. Animals would not walk on it. There were no bugs in the soil. Even when the grass finally did begin to grow back, the grass in that place was thick, rubbery and kind of a bluish green color. The dandelions that grew around the mark were three times the size of normal ones. The tomato plants my mom had out by the pool, were the size of grapefruits but when you tried to eat them, they were so acidic the skin on your lips would peel off. And the vines were as big around as my forearm. The leaves on a patch of trees behind the mark withered, turned brown and fell off. The power line above the mark shorted out and blew a transformer, melted the wiring and blew out the tubes on the Heathkit HAM radios in the basement of the house, which was right next to the place in the yard.
In addition to the strangeness with that mark in the yard, Debbie would over the years be plagued with inexplicable health issues, nightmares, and other odd incidents, of which she says:
The aftermath of this day was a nightmare for several years. I was ‘shell shocked’. I sat up at night, watching over my children and waiting. Waiting for something. But I didn’t remember what it was I was waiting for. I got sick and stayed sick for over a year. I developed life-threatening allergies, rashes, fevers, swollen glands, diarrhea, bleeding gums and my hair started falling out. My fingernails started growing thin, peeled and had horizontal ridges in them. I developed irregular heartbeats (PAC’s) I started having panic attacks. Almost daily for a long time.
And the dog that was out there with me that night? She had to be put to sleep about 2 and a half months later. All her hair fell out from the head down. She developed black, oozing sores all over her back, her eyes got milky white and she was obviously going deaf. Her teeth all fell out and her gums bled, as well. When we took her to the vet, he was shocked to see how quickly she had deteriorated. She was not that old (about 6 or 7 years) and the way she looked you would have thought she was 20 years old. He advised us to put her down because he felt she was suffering and he could not help her. He figured she was ‘eaten up’ with cancer of some kind. I think of my dog, and the fate she met. In my heart, I believe whatever she encountered that night was directly related to her untimely death. And there is a part of me that STILL worries I will eventually have some kind of cancer related to my experience of that night. There is nothing I can do about it right now, except take good care of myself and hope for the best.
It would also turn out that other people in the area had seen basketball-sized orbs of light flitting about at the time, and it was all weird enough that she reached out to UFO researcher Budd Hopkins, who would conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and write of it in his best-selling 1987 book Intruders – The Incredible Visitation at Copley Woods, after which it would hit the public consciousness and appear in a 1992 CBS mini-series of the same name. In 1993, Debbie’s sister would write a book on it as well, called Abducted! The Story of the Intruders Continues, and it has gone on to be one of the most shocking and intriguing alien encounter reports on record, being investigated by other notable UFO researchers such as Linda Moulton Howe. As for her own thoughts on the whole affair, Debbie herself has remained rather introspective on it all, rather bravely embracing what happened to her and looking at it as a defining moment in her life. She has said of this:
I often wonder what my life would have been like had I not had the experience. I can’t imagine. Truthfully, despite the obvious trauma, I don’t think I would change a thing. I have become a much stronger person. I don’t give credit to the experience or the ‘Intruders’, other than it FORCED ME to be strong, to survive and grow. And I kinda like that about me. That is the story of this day. You know when you can name the date and time of an event, it MUST have made quite an impression on you. June 30th, 1983, made such an impression on me that it actually crushed the old me while molding the new one. Now THAT’S a defining moment.
What was going on here? What forces came for this woman out in that remote location? Was this aliens, interdimensional interlopers, or something else altogether? What has come to be known as the “Copley Woods Encounter” has gone on to become one of the weirder bizarre incidents in UFO lore, and for good reason. It has many elements that are beyond bizarre, full of high strangeness, and while we may never get true answers it stands tall as a singularly weird account.