Dec 31, 2022 I Brent Swancer

The Bizarre Case of the Kentucky Alien Abductions

The evening of January 6, 1976 started out festive for Mona Stafford. It was her 36th birthday, and to celebrate she had gone out to have a nice meal with her best friends Louise Smith and Elaine Thomas. They drove out thirty-five miles from their home in Liberty, Kentucky, to have dinner at the Redwoods Restaurant, between Stanford and Lancaster, and the night went well, the three of them chatting and having fun. When they finished dinner and left the restaurant at 11:15 p.m., they were in a jovial mood, and expected to have a nice, leisurely drive home, but their evening was about to spiral into a strange tale of UFOs, aliens, and an abduction that has lodged itself firmly within the lore and become one of the weirdest in Kentucky history.

Leaving Stanford and heading for Hustonville on Highway 78, the three suddenly saw a bright red object appear in the clear night sky against the backdrop of stars. It was a startling sight to see, and at first the women were convinced that it was an aircraft coming in to crash. The object seemed to be headed right towards them, and as they tried to figure out what it was, Mona lost control of the vehicle, the steering wheel not responding as it veered slightly back and forth but kept on a steady path forward. The speed of the car also increased, even though Mona was not pressing the accelerator, and soon they were speeding along at about 85 mph, the brakes not responding to efforts to slow them down. The car continued its high rate of speed without deviation, and then the light approached close enough that they could see it was no airplane, but rather a huge object “bigger than two houses,” which hung stretching across the road on both sides, rocked back and forth for a couple of seconds, and then moved off to the left. It then followed from behind for a short time, then flipped on its end, coming extremely close to the driver's side. 

The object was now close enough that the terrified women were able to discern that it was an enormous, metallic, disc-shaped object with a dome on top, a ring of red lights around its midsection, and yellow, blinking light on its underbelly. The bizarre object then hovered over the driver side of the car for a time before it moved ahead of it on the highway while emitting a blue beam of light that lit up the entire interior and filled it with “a haze like air, sort of a fog.” At that moment, all of them experienced an intense burning sensation in their eyes, which got so bad they could barely open them. At the same time, the ignition lights lit up on the instrument panel, an indication that the car’s engine was stalled, but they were still speeding along, and the instrument panel was going haywire in an aray of frantic blinking lights. The light outside then became blinding in its sheer intensity and then it was all over as suddenly as it had begun. The road ahead was dark again, the object was gone, and they were on the outskirts of Hustonville, a full eight miles from where they had just been.

The confused and frightened women were still experiencing the burning sensation in their eyes, and they noticed that there were burns on exposed areas of flesh and they each had a red mark like a cigarette burn on the backs of their necks. Despite this, Mona was able to keep driving, now fully in control of the vehicle, and they finally managed to arrive safely at Smith’s home. Almost immediately they noticed that the clock in the kitchen showed 1:20 A.M., confirming the trip of 35 miles had taken just over two hours when normally it took about 45 minutes, and rather oddly the hands on their watches were spinning at a much higher than normal speed. None of them had any explanation for any of it, and when they reported it to the police and the local navy office neither showed any interest in their story. 

In the following days a series of strange things would happen. Their eyes became more irritated and swollen, Louise Smith’s pet parakeet was now inexplicably terrified of her and died not long after, and the car they had been in that night began to develop mysterious electrical problems. Smith’s clock in her bedroom also stopped working when she touched it and could not be coaxed back to life. All three of the women experienced potent nightmares that they could not remember upon awaking in a cold sweat, as well as insatiable thirst and sudden, unexplained weight loss. In the meantime, it would turn out that, although they had expressed no interest on the phone with the witnesses, the Navy had released the information to a local TV station, and before long the story was all over the news. This caught the attention of UFO researcher Jerry Black, of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and he set up an interview with the three women. 

The first meeting with the women did little other than convince Black that they were definitely in physical pain and under duress. They could remember few details about what they had seen and nothing of the missing time they had experienced. They were able to describe some of the physical and mental symptoms they had been experiencing since the strange ordeal, as well as show Black the burn marks they had suffered, as well as marks on the nape of their necks, which were roundish, pinkish-gray blotches the size of a half-dollar. Walter Andrus of MUFON, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), were both informed of the case and began their own investigation into it, also contacting Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle of the University of Wyoming, who agreed to perform hypnotic regression on the women to see what they could dig up about that missing time. This is where things would get even stranger still. 

On March 7, 1976, Sprinkle performed a preliminary hypnotic regression, although at this time, only one of three would consent to the hypnosis, Mrs. Stafford. This first session did not bear much fruit, as when they tried to regress past the sighting of the red light in the sky Stafford became very agitated and began to cry. In the next session she was able to vaguely remember meeting some alien entities, and was able to pick out what they looked at from some various illustrations of aliens shown to her by the investigators. After this, the case hit a lull for several months, as they did not want to push the women too far too soon and wanted them to relieve some of their mental stress before continuing, and it did not help that they were running low on funds to finance their investigation and all of the flying back and forth to Kentucky. It was due to these financial woes that they sold the rights to the story to the National Enquirer tabloid. Thus would begin the next chapter of the weird tale.

None of the investigators had any illusions of how bad it would look to have the story appear in the National Enquirer. After all, this was a tabloid that routinely published pulpy trash with headlines like “I Had Bigfoot’s Baby,” but they needed the money. In the meantime, with the new funding the hypnotic regression sessions continued. This time, Sprinkle was joined by well-known UFO investigator Bob Pratt of the Enquirer. The women were also all subjected to lie detector tests carried out by Lexington Police Department detective James Young, which they passed with flying colors. This time all three of the women agreed to be hypnotized, and although they showed obvious signs of distress during the sessions, they were able to give for more details on that missing time than ever before. 

All three of the women said that they were taken aboard some type of craft and subjected to physical examinations, during which they were restrained, put in humiliating positions and subjected to procedures that were often harsh or even tortuous in nature, although exact details of these remained murky. What they did know is that there had been a lot of poking and prodding, and they all remembered some sort of warm liquid being applied to them. Interestingly, they all described different venues for their respective examinations, with Smith saying she had been on a metal table, while Thomas had been inside of a capsule with an unusual looking noose-like device around her neck, and Mrs. Stafford’s exam was in a chair-like device.  

The characteristics of the alien entities themselves seemed to be vague and often indescribable, with the women not able to recall them well other than to say they were “shadowy figures” about four feet tall, and what they did recall often did not make much sense. They often described the entities as hovering near them or gliding through the air, and they made mention of “eyes” that floated about. One of the investigators would say of these descriptions of the entities:

They also recalled the frightening “one eye” or “two eyes,” which also hovered over them. Mona recalled a single bright purple eye that radiated lightning-like rays. Elaine also joined the other two in describing the strange events. She remembered “two-eyes” from a round head in a deep darkness. One eye, she said, was a “beautiful blue,” encircled by a blue membranous lid, like a turtle, and the other eye appeared dark. Louise saw several different forms of beings during her ordeal, but she was so frightened that she closed her eyes and didn’t look at them. However, some months later, she described her vision of the humanoids in similar fashion to her two friends; adding that their hands looked like jagged wing tips.

As the investigation went on, it would be found that there was corroborating evidence to back up the women’s ordeal. Other witnesses who had no relation or contact with the women had also reported UFO sightings in the area at about the same time as the abduction, which further strengthens their claims, and UFO researcher and author B.J. Booth has said of this:

This case also had other observers of the UFO that night, independent of Stafford, Smith, and Thomas. These sightings occurred in Casey and Lincoln counties, Kentucky. Within a couple of hundred yards of the abduction, one couple watched from the window of their home a “large, luminous object,” which passed over the Stanford area. This occurred about 11:30 P.M. The couple wanted to remain anonymous. Other observers reported also, describing a ring of “reddish orange” lights around a disc-shaped flying object. Two teenagers, out for a joy ride, stated that they chased a low-flying UFO after it had hovered over the Angel Manufacturing Plant in Stanford. They chased the strange object all the way to Danville, and there they reported the object to Police. 

Another very significant report came from the owner of the property where the three women’s abduction took place. The farmer stated that “down the road” from his house, he witnessed an unusually low-flying object which shot a white beam of light to the ground. Could this have been the precise time of the abduction itself? The added strength of a well-conducted investigation make this one of the most quoted events in UFO annals world-wide. This report would include not only abduction, but other validating sightings, physical evidence, animal reaction, and electromagnetic effects. Not only was this case fully reported and researched, it was followed up on; determining the long-range effects on the health and lives of these three well-regarded women.

We are left to wonder. What happened to these women? Is there anything to this at all, or is it nothing more than a shared delusion or even a hoax? What are we to make of the corroborating reports from the same time? Whatever the case may be, this case adds to the pile of others like them, further pointing to the fact that the UFO phenomenon can get pretty strange, indeed. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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