Nov 19, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Was the Betty and Barney Hill Incident a Top Secret Mind-Control Test? MK-Ultra?

Ready to see one of the most famous alleged alien abduction incidents questioned? It’s coming, anyway. It’s that of Betty and Barney Hill. They were a husband and wife who, on the night of September 19, 1961, and while driving home from Canada to New Hampshire after completing a fun vacation, had a significant number of hours erased from their minds. It all happened near Indian Head, New Hampshire. It was there they saw a strange light in the sky that appeared to be carefully shadowing them from above. Concern and anxiety set in, which is no surprise. Finally, they made it home. Something very strange and disturbing happened to the Hills, but such was the state of their minds, they weren’t sure what it was. But, they certainly wanted to know. In the days and weeks that followed, the Hills began to experience terrifying, never-jangling nightmares: there were memories of having been taken on-board a UFO, and of having been subjected to intrusive and stressful medical-based experiments. Betty recalled that the aliens inserted a needle into her navel. Sperm was removed from Barney, via what was termed as “a suction device.” The “alien abduction” phenomenon was up and running, and the issue of “missing time” was well and truly born. The fascination that the Hill’s experience generated – partly due to Betty and Barney’s decision to speak openly at UFO events – ultimately led to the publication in 1966 of The Interrupted Journey: Two Lost Hours “Aboard a Flying Saucer.” It was written by a respected journalist and author, John Fuller. 

The story of Betty and Barney – and of their pet dog, Delsey, too, who was also in the car at the time of the incident - still provokes interest and intrigue to this very day. It is to alien abductions what Roswell is to tales of crashed UFOs: a key case in the history of Ufology. What if, however, aliens did not abduct Betty and Barney? What if – just like those who were present in Rendlesham Forest in 1980 – the pair were led to believe they had undergone something that had extraterrestrial origins, when things were actually much different? One of those who came to believe that the Hills had been subjected to an MK-ULTRA-type encounter was the late Philip Coppens. He said: “It is clear that the Hills were being monitored by USAF [U.S. Air Force] Intelligence before the encounter took place, through Major James MacDonald, who had befriended them some time earlier. Betty Hill wrote to [UFO researcher / author] Donald Keyhoe who, despite the fact that he received over a hundred letters a day, homed in on this initially unremarkable case. Within twenty-four hours, Keyhoe had arranged for the Hills to be visited by top-level scientists, including C.D. Jackson, who had previously (definitely not coincidentally) worked on psychological warfare techniques for President Eisenhower [italics mine]. Stretching coincidence far beyond breaking point, Jackson already knew Major MacDonald, with whom he next interviewed the Hills.” 

(Nick Redfern) How to manipulate minds in the name of UFOs: drugs and hazmats

Philip continued on: “It seems that Betty and Barney Hill were at the center of a web that involved USAF Intelligence and top military experts in psychological warfare. The evidence suggests that the Hills were the subjects – victims – of a psychological experiment [italics mine].” Those who believe that the Betty and Barney Hill experience was a genuine alien abduction case might very well balk at the words of Coppens. That’s not a wise approach to take, though. You’ll soon come to see why. Sadly, Coppens was unable to continue his work on the case for long on this topic. In 2012, he was quickly taken by a very rare form of cancer at the age of just forty-one: Angiosarcoma. On average, it kills slightly less than two hundred people in the United States per year. Philip Coppens is gone, but the threads of his research have allowed us to take his investigations further into the associations between UFOs and mind-manipulation. In a roundabout way, the story of Betty and Barney Hill has a link to the events that occurred in Pont-Saint-Esprit on August 15, 1951. And also to MK-ULTRA. That’s a jaw-dropping claim for someone to make; it is, however, absolutely true. I noted that John Fuller, in 1966, wrote a full-length book on the experiences of Betty and Barney Hill: The Interrupted Journey. Philip Coppens concluded that those same experiences were linked to early mind-control programs of the U.S. government. 

As for Fuller, he was an intriguing character. When he died in 1990, at the age of seventy-six, the New York Times ran an obituary on him. It was written by a Times journalist, Edwin McDowell, who stated that Fuller was occasionally "...criticized by reviewers for not using footnotes in his books and for what they judged was the implausibility of his topics. But as Jeff Greenfield wrote in The New York Times Book Review in reviewing ‘The Poison That Fell From the Sky,’ Mr. Fuller ‘keeps raising the most unsettling of questions.’ Moreover, even before passage of the Freedom of Information Act, he had a facility for somehow obtaining Government documents [italics mine], which he incorporated in some of his books.” The fact that Fuller had a strange knack for getting his hands on official papers prior to FOIA legislation was passed, suggests strongly that he moved in intriguing places and with equally intriguing people. Powerful people, too, no doubt. As for Fuller’s aforementioned 1977 book The Poison That Fell From the Sky, it told the story of a disastrous situation that occurred on July 10, 1976, in Seveso, Italy. When a local chemical plant malfunctioned, the approximately 17,000 townspeople were exposed to a highly dangerous dioxin: 2, 3, 7, 8 - etrachlorodibenzodioxin. Or, in much easier terms, TCDD. Other nearby towns were hit by the dioxin, too. Studies have shown that exposure to TCDD in and around Seveso caused damage to immune-systems and nervous-systems. Cardiovascular problems surfaced, as did liver issues. It was a catastrophe of huge proportions.

(Nick Redfern) The U.K.'s Porton Down facility: a connection to the story

So, we have large amounts of people, in a small, old European town, many of them severely injured as a result of the dangerous side-effects of science and technology. Does this sound familiar? It’s not at all dissimilar to what happened at Pont-Saint-Esprit in 1951. The only difference was this: in one town, people had their minds blown, and in the other they were severely physically affected. I must say, John Fuller seemed to have a strange thing for disasters in small towns. Not only did he write, in 1977, The Poison That Fell from the Sky; Fuller also wrote a book called The Day of St. Anthony's Fire. The latter just happens to be one of the most authoritative books on that nightmarish 1951 incident in France that we have already addressed: the crazed events at Point-Saint-Esprit. So, we have Fuller having written an alien abduction-themed in 1966 (The Interrupted Journey, as well as two other UFO-based books: Incident at Exeter and Aliens in the Skies) and another, in 1968, on how terrible hallucinogens can wreak havoc in peoples’ minds. Three decades later, Hank Albarelli would make a connection between MK-ULTRA and Pont-Saint-Esprit, as we’ve seen. It doesn’t end there. With regard to Fuller it’s just about beginning.

Back in 1957, Fuller had a decidedly clandestine meeting with a Dr. Karlis Osis, as Marie Jones and Larry Flaxman note in their 2015 book, Mind Wars. As now-declassified CIA files on Osis reveal, he was deep into a wide range of fringe sciences and technologies, including out-of-body experiences, how to alter brain wave frequencies, the means to affect “various biophysical changes,” and mind manipulation. It’s no wonder that Osis was also secretly consulted by the CIA’s MK-ULTRA teams. Days after their first meeting, Osis introduced Fuller to a CIA man named Robert Lashbrook. It turns out that Lashbrook was the very last person to see Dr. Frank Olson alive before he took that deadly, violent shove out of the Hotel Statler in Manhattan. Yes, the very same Dr. Olson who was tied to the Pont-Saint-Esprit debacle.After getting to know Fuller, Dr. Osis guardedly informed him on what was going down with the MK-ULTRA people – of the successes that had been achieved, but also of the disastrous accidents that had occurred with certain hallucinogens. Osis also made Fuller an unforeseen, amazing offer: how would he, Fuller, like to be the very first investigative journalist to break at least a part of the MK-ULTRA story to the Unites States’ media?

Clearly, Osis was recklessly playing both sides at the same time – the government and the media - for reasons that, today, are lost and not clear. As a writer, though, Fuller immediately recognized the dollar value of the story that, potentially, just might be tossed into his lap. At the time, the mid-to-late 1950s, Fuller chose not to publish anything that might have compromised the mind-control programs that both the CIA and the U.S. Army were heavily into at that time. Clearly, however, Fuller never lost the undeniable allure of all this. That is precisely why Fuller decided to write, in 1968, The Day of St. Anthony’s Fire: he was hooked on matters relative to the mysteries of the human mind. As we now know, the story that that particular book told was caused by an MK-ULTRA operation that went dangerously off the rails, leaving more than a few people in asylums and with their minds in total disarray. 

(Nick Redfern) Alien abductions...that weren't what they seemed to be

Osis also made a way for Fuller to speak with one Andrija Puharich. He was an American of Yugoslavian extraction, someone who was deeply interested in the mysteries of the human mind, and who, in the 1950s, just happened to work at the Edgewood, Maryland-based U.S. Army Chemical Center. The Edgewood Arsenal being the location where a ball lightning-driven program secretly ran in the 1960s; where significant research of an unethical mind-based nature was undertaken on military personnel; and whose staff secretly liaised with scientists at Porton Down, England. From the mid-1950s, and up to at least the latter part of the 1960s, John Fuller was inextricably, and clandestinely, tied to some of the most significant players in MK-ULTRA – and in other, associated, mind-control projects too. And, Philip Coppens’ work put psychological warfare expert C.D. Jackson right in the heart of the Hill’s encounter on that dark and dangerous night home in September 1961.

John Fuller is long gone and not able to defend himself. I have to say, though, that it’s very hard to accept that Fuller – as an intelligent, investigative journalist and a skilled author – didn’t make even any of the connections between the Hill abduction and the U.S. government’s mind-control operations, And particularly so as a result of his very own links to the staff of MK-ULTRA. It’s even harder to accept that Fuller may have been secretly, and knowingly, brought into the fold by the CIA to kick-start the alien abduction phenomenon via the very first book on the subject: The Interrupted Journey. I have to confess, however, that when I put all of the pieces together – not forgetting Fuller’s uncanny knack of getting his hands on secret government documents - that’s sure how it looks to me. 

If the strange and controversial scenario I have put together is indeed the real deal, then it demonstrates that just about anything can be made to look like something else. And, that includes an alien abduction of epic proportions. Of course, this provokes another question: how many alien abductions were created out of mind-control technology? One? Ten? Dozens? Hundreds? And all in the name of hiding the MK-Ultra programs under a UFO banner. It couldn't happen? It most assuredly could happen. The biggest issue, however, is the shock, and the fact, that such a program worked - and that the field of Ufology fell for it all. I could be wildly off, course. But, I don't think I am. I have a very deep feeling that  Ufology has been duped to a huge degree. Now, it's time to dig deeper into the controversy of Betty, Barney, the MK-Ultra programs, and Delsey the ever-faithful, loving dog.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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