The authenticity of UFO cases is usually judged by the respectability of it's reporters, especially those dealing with abductions. That being the case, the report of an extraordinary series of events from three women from Stanford, Kentucky is highly regarded. It would be on January 6, 1976, that Mona Stafford, Louise Smith, and Elaine Thomas would have a terrifying experience of the first kind.
The added strength of a well-conducted investigation makes this one of the most quoted events in UFO annals world-wide. This report would include not only abduction, but physical evidence, animal reaction, and electro-magnetic 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.
January 6 was Mona Stafford's 36th birthday. She was joined by her best friends, Louise Smith and Elaine Thomas to celebrate the event, and just have a friendly dinner together. The three friends took their dinner plans to the Redwood restaurant, which was located south of Lancaster, Kentucky on U.S. 27, thirty-five miles from their hometown of Liberty. As the three finished their dinner, they started what they thought would be a nice, pleasant drive back to their houses. Little did they know what lay in store for them in what would be a night they would never..could never forget. As their journey began, it was 38 degrees, with a south wind of 15 mph, and a visibility of 15 miles.
Leaving the Redwood eatery at 11:15 P.M., the three women were in a jovial mood as Louise Smith sat behind the wheel of her 1967 Chevy Nova. It should be noted that none of the three had any beer or liquor to drink that night, or any other night for that matter. Leaving Stanford, and heading for Hustonville on Highway 78, the three suddenly see a "bright, red" object in the clear, night sky. The sighting frightened Mona first, who thought it was an airplane which was on fire, and heading for a crash landing. As the glowing object came closer, Smith lost control of the automobile...
The little Chevy was now going 85 mph, a speed never traveled before by Smith. In a panic, she cries, "I can't hold the car on the road." Mona reaches over and tries to help her, thinking that something is wrong with the steering, but she cannot control it either. The car continued it's high rate of speed without deviation. Later, Louise would state, "My foot wasnít even on the gas pedal." In a moment, the unknown object was frighteningly close to the Chevy. It followed from behind for a short time, then flipped on it's end, and came extremely close to the driver's side. All three women would state the same thing. What they were looking at was an enormous, metallic, disc-shaped object with a dome on top, and a ring of red lights around it's mid section. The women all saw it close enough to see a yellow, blinking light on it's underbelly.
The UFO hung over the driver's side of the car for a time before it moved ahead of it on the highway. As it did, a bluish-white light shot into the car, illuminating the interior of the vehicle. Later, Mrs. Smith would describe the inside of their car as filled with "a haze like air, sort of a fog." In a second, all three women suffered from a burning sensation so strong that they could not open their eyes from the irritation. The last thing in the memory of Smith, Stafford, and Thomas was being backed into a pasture entrance in a "crazy manner."
One hour and 20 minutes later, the three found themselves back in the little Chevy, driving toward Liberty. They were shaken and tense..with exposed areas of flesh, painful from the burns. The three frightened and scared ladies finally arrived at Mrs. Smith's home, and when they entered they noticed that the clock in the kitchen showed 1:20 A.M., meaning the trip of 35 miles had taken just over two hours, normally it took about 45 minutes. They immediately went to the house of their neighbor, Lowell Lee, who confirmed the time. Confused as to what to do next, they called the Police station. The next day, they phoned the Navy recruiting station. Neither of the two calls afforded them any aid. The Navy station did give some of the details of the event to a Lexington TV station, however. The story quickly reached the press, and was given headline status.
MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) investigator Jerry Black heard the story of the event, and immediately went to work to gain more details. Black called the three women and asked for an interview, but Smith, Stafford, and Thomas were reluctant at first to relive the event, or to have strangers in their homes. After more phone calls, and the offering of his sympathy and compassion for their experience, the three witnesses agreed to an interview. Also, Black invited Mrs. Peggy Schnell of Blanchester, Ohio to attend. She also had experience with these kinds of cases, and Black felt that the three would feel more comfortable with a feminine presence.
The first meeting was more or less an ice-breaking session, but several very important facts were revealed. Black stated that the three women were all obviously in physical pain; they all were chain-smoking, which they attributed to the experience, they had an insatiable thirst, and they all claimed excessive weight loss since the event. The three women gave some details of their observations of the UFO; it's structure, and it's behavior. They also discussed some of the ill effects that they had sustained. These memories were painful to all three, as they tried to recall details in hopes that someone might be able to help them. Mrs. Thomas would state, "We live in fear of what we donít know. Iím worried about Lou and Mona. I think theyíre ready for a breakdown."
Naturally there were some psychological problems in the aftermath of their experiences. Mrs. Smith was having difficulties in performing her everyday duties as an assistant for the Casey County Extensive Office. Mrs. Stafford was not only suffering from her eye inflammation, she was desperate to know what happened during the missing time. The three women were assured that they would be able to undergo regressive hypnosis, and uncover their missing time, therefore alleviating some, if not all of their emotional stress. Several things were evident to the investigators at this first meeting. The three women witnesses were sincere about what they had experienced, they were suffering from the so-called "beam," and there were obvious physical scars from the encounter. Smith lifted her hair up, and showed a mark on the nape of her neck. It was a roundish, pinkish-gray blotch, the size of a half-dollar.
Another unusual revelation that came from this meeting was the strange reaction of Mrs. Smith's parakeet. When Smith first arrived home after her experience, instead of her usual happy greeting, she received a frightening reaction from the bird. It flew into the side of it's cage, and fluttered it's wings in a wild display of fear. Smith proclaimed that since the first night home, her pet had not had a thing to do with her. Did the sixth sense of the parakeet perceive some "unearthly" aura from Smith? Further tests were conducted in the presence of other birds, and when other people drew near, the birds were perfectly normal, but when Mrs. Smith came close, they too panicked. The pet died in March 1976. This uncanny reaction was not the only one to come from Smith's presence.
The minute hand of the wrist watch that Smith wore began to rapidly spin around it's dial. Also, the next week after the sighting when she touched her bedroom alarm clock, it quit working. Frustrated, she threw the clock away. Another quirky problem was noticed when Louise's car developed electrical problems. Driving to work, she was stopped by Police who informed her that the signal lights were not working. The most annoying problem of all was the general ill health and weakness of the three unwilling witnesses of this extraordinary event. Because of this, investigators agreed that, at least for the time being, no other details of the event be released. Walter Andrus of MUFON, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek of CUFOS, were both informed of the case, and both agreed to wait for details until the three women were in better condition.
After the initial interviews, the investigators involved were convinced that the three women's story, though disturbing, was as solid as could be. The value of this event would be historical, and though difficult, those involved had to use all their patience to keep the dark secrets of that night to themselves, until a later time. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that these three well-respected, mature, sane women had seen something not in our knowledge to understand, and that there was missing time that had to be explored. An abduction was on the minds of the principal investigators.
Dr. Hynek was called upon to provide a professional psychiatrist to perform regressive hypnosis on the three. Unfortunately, lack of funding was a big part of the decision as to who to call upon. None of the noted doctors lived anywhere near the state of Kentucky. Dr. Berthold Schwarz was contacted first, but because of his tight schedule, was not able to make the trip. Also well-respected ufologist and physician, Dr. Leo Sprinkle was considered. Sprinkle was consultant to APRO, but he was not called because he lived in Wyoming. In a stroke of good fortune, Dr. Sprinkle heard the basic facts of the case, and dropped everything to go to Kentucky.
When Smith, Stafford, and Thomas were contacted about Sprinkle's desire to help them, they refused, not knowing of Sprinkle's reputation. At this time, the three women, though needing help, were still under the impression that in time their problems would pass, and to involve more and more people in the story would only prolong the agony. The three women had heard of Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO, and this well-respected husband and wife team were called in to try to ease the fears of the story being released nationally. A promise was made to the three ladies that the regressive hypnosis procedure and it's results would NOT be released to any of the UFO groups for publication until a time that they felt comfortable with it. An agreement was made! A date was set for the regressive hypnosis, March 7, 1976.