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Classic Mysteries—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, January 2017

Kentucky 1976: Were three women abducted by aliens?

by: Brent Raynes

LtoR: Louise Smith, Elaine Thomas, and Mona Stafford

This one is a definite UFO classic. At approximately 11:30 p.m., on the night of January 6, 1976, three women, Elaine Thomas, age 54, Louise Smith, 44, and Mona Stafford, just turned 35 that night, unexpectedly encountered a large disc-shaped object low in the sky. All three women, described as lifelong churchgoers with good reputations in their community, were residents of Liberty, Kentucky, for most of their lives. On this night, they were returning home from a restaurant in Stanford, which is about 29 miles from Liberty, where they had gone to celebrate Mona Stafford's birthday. They were only about a mile outside of Stanford when the encounter began.

“It was as big as a football field!” exclaimed Louise Smith, who was driving. “It was metallic gray with a glowing white dome, a row of red lights around the middle and three or four red and yellow lights underneath.” Suddenly, Smith was not in control of the car! The other two women screamed at her to slow down, the speedometer showing that they were going 85 miles per hour. Smith raised her foot to demonstrate to them that she wasn't applying any pressure to the gas pedal. She even attempted to slow the car down by applying the brakes, but this failed to slow them down as well.

The next really curious thing to happen was that they found themselves entering Hustonville, about eight miles from where they had remembered last being. There was also no large flying disk in sight anymore. Then when they returned to Smith's home in Liberty, expecting the time to be around midnight, they were perplexed to discover that it was 1:25 a.m., about an 80 minute gap of time for which they could not account for!

Each of the women had a small red burn on the back of their necks. “It resembled a real bad sunburn,” Mona Stafford remarked. The women also suffered severe headaches and skin irritation over their bodies.

I personally visited Liberty myself on Monday, November 1, 1976. While there I phoned Ms. Thomas and had a rather informative conversation with her. “It can really mess up your mind,” she confided. “You can't get away from it.” She said that she didn't consciously remember the abduction part itself, which came out under hypnosis done twice by Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle, a well-known Wyoming psychologist who has long studied the alien abduction phenomenon. She told me that if she tried to think about the experience much she'd get a severe headache. A local Church of Christ member, she said, “I pray to God constantly to have knowledge,” adding that she meditated and was “studying mystical” things also. Of the “abduction” memories, Smith recalled, “You could sense what they were doing. I had the feeling that they knew what we were thinking and we knew what they were thinking.” She recalled “hooded greyish” figures, that she could only make out their head and shoulders as “the rest disappeared into (the) fog.” She wasn't sure how many there were. Everything seemed to be “surrounded in fog.” She mentioned that she had always had the ability of “intuition.” In fact, before they left Smith's house that night and had the experience, Thomas had pointed out to Stafford and Smith that Smith's pet parakeet was making an unusual commotion. Thomas also claimed that she could sense things from animals.

Before I had called Ms. Thomas, I had visited Stafford's mother, Mrs. Ed Witt, at her place of employment, which was the Liberty Mobile Home Supply and Service, located in downtown Liberty. She told me that her daughter felt that she would die before her 36th birthday [which, of course, we now know she didn't], adding that she didn't seem disturbed about it and seemed to accept it in a calm way. She stated that right after the UFO experience that her daughter went right to the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel to read it. She also told me that Ms. Stafford had gone to a local physician as her eyes had apparently been quite irritated from the lights of the UFO.

Although death did not pay a visit to Ms. Stafford on or before her 36th birthday, she later would write to me in a letter dated January 22, 1978: “My mother died on March 28th and I've had eight other of my people to die in eight months. One was my boyfriend. We were going to be married in December. His death was on November 28th, eight months after Mom died. So as you see that's much to go. But I'm doing okay now.”

In response to my remark that it seemed she had had a few odd experiences since the UFO encounter, she wrote: “Yes, I've had a lot of experiences that is hard for people to believe, but I know that they did. Like the man that came to me on the night of July 19th, 1976. And you know, my doors was locked. This is the way they can do anything. But I'm not afraid anymore and await for him to come back. I've had a lot more things to happen but haven't told anyone about them.”

So what happened on July 19th? Ms. Stafford had been home alone watching television when the programming went off. As she sat for a spell watching a snowy pattern on the screen, she began to feel as though someone was watching her. She turned her head to the side and, about 5 feet away, saw a man with bright red curly hair and beard looking at her. She returned her gaze back to the TV, then looked back at the man. She then jumped up out of her chair, at which point the man vanished. An investigator looking into the case (Jim Miller) speculated to me that perhaps this pleasant looking figure may have represented one of the Biblical “disciples” as he felt that Ms. Stafford was “more religious than the other two” experiencers, who were all regular churchgoers.

All three women reported unusual psychic experiences following the UFO incident, although Stafford's mother had told me that her daughter had, prior to that January encounter, not had any psychic experiences.

I spoke in person (as well as in follow-up phone conversations) with Ohio investigators Jim Miller and Jerry Black who had been involved with the Kentucky case early on, and who worked closely with the Ohio UFO Investigators League, Leonard Stringfield, and Dr. Sprinkle. In fact, a few months ago, I discussed this case once again with Dr. Spinkle on the phone.

Ms. Stafford had been hypnotized [light trance] back on March 6, 1976, at which time she became emotional and was crying. It was felt that further hypnotic regression should be undertaken, and so Dr. Sprinkle was flown in and separately hypnotized all three women on July 24, 1976. In a prepared statement he later wrote: “Each woman seemed to experience the impression that she had been taken out of the car and placed elsewhere without her friends...each woman seemed to have a somewhat different kind of 'examination' and in a different 'location.' Ms. Smith did not have a clear impression of the location, although she did recall a feeling of lying down and being examined; Ms. Stafford had the impression of being in a 'volcano or mountainside,' with a room in which a bright light was shining on a white table with white clothed persons or humanoids sitting around and observing her; Ms. Thomas recalled impressions of being in (a) dark chamber with grey light permitting a view of the humanoids who were apparently observing her.”

Several days following the hypnotic regressions the women all complained of fatigue, burning sensation of face and eyes, skin sensitivity, and other symptoms that they had also experienced for several days following their initial UFO experience of January 6th. Dr. Sprinkle wrote: “I tried to reassure the ladies that it is not an uncommon experience in hypnotic regression that persons – after 'reliving' earlier emotional experiences – may re-experience some of the symptoms which accompany those emotional reactions.” The experiences for these three women had been described as something of an ordeal, reportedly having each lost about 15 pounds, not slept very well, and had a loss of appetite. Their health had deteriorated. Around 3-4 a.m., September 25, 1978, Ms. Thomas died in the hospital of a heart attack. Stafford had been with her during her final days and told Jerry Black how a woman patient in the same room had reported seeing light beams shining in the window. A nurse there became quite upset. Thomas reportedly told them not to worry; they wouldn't be bothered. A few hours later she passed away. Stafford was quoted by a reporter to say: “At night, she said lights, blinding lights, came at her from all sides and she heard the voices of the aliens speaking to her. She told me: 'People are going to say I died, but that won't be true. Only my body is going to die. They're going to take my spirit with them.'”

All sorts of strange things were being reported. Bibles disappearing inexplicably from Ms. Smith's home and car. Three wedding rings disappearing too, although a couple of weeks later upon returning home one of the rings was laying on the doorstep.

Noted UFO abductee Betty Hill, way up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, had established contact with Louise Smith, and I learned that soon after a phone call she had had from Smith, Betty claimed “I went in my bedroom and found a beat-up book of matches, from Liberty, Kentucky! On the floor.” She had no way to explain its presence.

Jim Miller shared with me how as he and others were leaving for Ohio after their investigation with Dr. Sprinkle had been completed that they were exiting out of a horseshoe shaped driveway of a motel, where interviews and hypnosis had been conducted. All three women were standing outside, he estimated some 5 to 10 feet out from the building. He was looking back as they were departing, the women waving and clearly visible, except for a brief instance when an obstruction had temporarily blocked his view. Then he could see everything again, still in the driveway, but the women were gone, and he couldn't imagine how they could have disappeared from view so quickly. He tried to get the driver to turn back, but he didn't. Later, all three women were questioned about this on the phone and stated that they had stood together outside waving goodbye until the car had completely disappeared into the distance. Jim added how during that whole investigation odd things had been happening. A door to Jim's motel room that he locked one evening before retiring unlocked three times in a row. Dr. Sprinkle got locked in the bathroom of a room being used for hypnosis. The same bathroom had been used two days before with no problems. As Dr. Sprinkle used a pocketknife to try and remove bolts from the hinges, the blade broke. Jerry Black working from the other side managed to remove some screws and rescue the good doctor. But then as they were next readying to do more taping, a sudden storm knocked out the electricity. One evening after stepping out for a bite to eat, Jim returned to grab his camera and found that the lens cap had been moved several feet away from the camera.

Perhaps these were not the most evidential events of an odd nature, but considering the high degree of strangeness in this case that these investigators were looking into, it certainly made for a spooky weekend. And who knows.

Leonard Stringfield, certainly a highly respected ufologist, stated: “This is one of the most convincing UFO cases on record.” He devoted several pages to his own investigation of this intriguing incident in his book, Situation Red, the UFO Siege (1977). The late Coral and Jim Lorenzen, the founders and directors of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), devoted an entire chapter to the case in their own book, Abducted! Confrontations with Beings from Outer Space (1977).

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