Creepy Mysteries: Hill Abduction

Thanks to film, television, documentaries, and overall popular culture all of us are familiar with the tropes of an alien abduction. The bright light from the sky, the tractor beam, the strange experiments conducted by small grey beings. It may be a bit of a surprise to learn that the elements of what we call a “close encounter of the third kind” began with a couple who do not even remember it happening. On the night of September 19, 1961, Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based couple named Barney and Betty Hill were driving home through the White Mountains following a vacation to Niagara Falls. Along the way, the couple recall seeing a bright light of some kind, which seemed to be following their car down this stretch of empty road. There seemed to be a hypnotic quality about it as Barney at one point took out a pair of binoculars to look at it. Once he noticed that there were beings of some kind in the thing, he and Betty took off. Suddenly the glowing object swooped down onto their Chevrolet Bel-Air and the air was filled with an electric sensation that vibrated their car. Around 5 AM the Hills had returned home feeling uncomfortably different, as they realized that they could not account for 2 hours’ worth of time from the night before aside from some vague memories of being in a place with tall trees and a glowing aircraft hovering above them. It would be another two years before the couple would have any kind of consolation as to what happened to them.

Following this fateful night, both Barney and Betty saw evidence that something was not quite right. The watches they were wearing had stopped working, and despite what was tried they never told time again. Betty’s clothes were also damaged without explanation and she even found an off pink powder on her dress. Stranger still, she began a phase of insisting that their luggage be kept by the doorways to be grabbed while heading out instead of a more conventional spot like a closet or bedroom. Their Chevrolet Bel-Air now had these metallic circular marks on the trunk, at the suggestion of Betty placed a compass on the car to find there was now a magnetic field emitting from the vehicle.

A little more than a week after this fateful event, Betty Hill began to have a recurring nightmare. In this nightmare she and her husband are escorted through the woods by short humanoids wearing blue uniforms with grey skin. They were led to the UFO that had been following them that night, it was landed and the doors were opened waiting for them. From there these entities conducted a series of experiments on the couple. The couple was eventually put into contact with psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Simon in January 1964; he believed Betty’s nightmares and fragmented memories were a product of some repressed memory. His suggestion was the use of hypnosis as a means to possibly recover them.

Betty was the first recipient of the hypnotherapy sessions with Barney following shortly thereafter. The Hills recounted being being taken aboard the UFO and being subjected to a series of medical experiments. While they were initially frightened both of them said the extraterrestrials made efforts to put them at ease. Dr. Simon even asked Barney if he felt like this was something akin to a kidnapping, to which Barney said he did not, claiming that he went along voluntarily with what was happening after a while. One of the most interesting pieces of information gathered from these hypnotherapy sessions was at one point Betty talked to one of their abductors and described how he showed her an expansive three-dimensional map of the stars around them. Years later as technology improved, a science teacher and amateur astronomer who was always interested in the case, began researching this and found out that the stars, Betty saw actually did exist around 38 light years away. Her work was even verified by a number of scientists as being accurate. For believers this has been a piece of evidence they have proudly held up as proof, while skeptics have said it is mere lucky coincidence.

Despite having such fascinating clients, doctor-patient confidentiality still existed, especially in this case, as both Betty and Barney Hill were prominent citizens in their community for their works in civil rights. Unfortunately, for the Hills, Benjamin Simon decided not to observe this and went public with their incredible tale. It spread through the public about this couple who were taken up into a flying saucer and experimented on by extraterrestrials. Thanks to the power of hypnotherapy the secrets of their terrifying experience were uncovered. The couple became a source of fascination and ridicule throughout the media due as they became the public faces of alien abduction.

The official state marker identifying the The Betty and Barney Hill incident along Route 3 in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

In 1966, Betty and Barney gave permission to author and columnist John G. Fuller to write a book detailing their alien encounter given his reputation in covering the UFO phenomenon. His book The Interrupted Journey served as the basis for a TV movie about the event. In 2007 Betty and Barneys niece and director of MUFON, Kathleen Marden collaborated with renowned UFOlogist Stanton Friedman in writing a more definitive take on the abduction with the book Captured!. This book not only examined the events of the abuction, but also examined the scientific aspects of it. With this year marking the 60th anniversary of the event, Captured! is getting a rerelease for the occasion.

There are naturally skeptics to the account given by Betty and Barney Hill. Renowned scientist Carl Sagan once devoted a segment of his TV series Cosmos to discrediting Betty’s star map. Project Blue Book at UFOs were a hot topic a few years before, could they be looking to get some popularity based off that. If that was the case why did the couple try to keep the event under wraps? Martin S. Kottmeyer, author of An Alien Who’s Who pointed out the similarities between the abduction account and the Outer Limits episode  “The Bellero Shield” even stating how the way they described the aliens bore a resemblance to the aliens from the episode. When asked about this, neither Barney nor Betty had ever watched the Outer Limits. At the same time we now live in a world where the federal government has admitted that there are objects in our skies of unknown origin that are seemingly powered by a technology we can not comprehend. Is it that much of a stretch to assume one of these UAPs, as they are called, would land and interact with humanity? And what about the star map, which many have verified as being surprisingly accurate. The Hill Abduction has led to other UFOlogists turning to hypnotherapy as a means to communicate with supposed abductees who have come forward following this. This method has led to many more accounts, which if accurate, show that not are we not alone in this universe but that aliens have taken notice of our little world.