Encounter in the Night: The Betty and Barney Hill Case

It started as a star they saw. Skeptics would later say that was all they saw. But Betty and Barney Hill always advocated that something much more happened;something profound, something frightening, something that no other person before (to their knowledge) had every experienced.

On the night of September 19, 1961, Betty and her husband Barney were driving back from a spur of the moment second honeymoon in Canada when they happened to see what they at first thought was a bright star. Instead of staying in one place, the star seemed to move; bobbing up and down, growing bigger then smaller, moving closer and then far away. The Hills began to suspect, as they watched, that this object was following them. It disappeared behind hills and then seem to appear again as they turned a corner. Barney, in particular, would later express a certain amount of apprehension about the object, comparing it to feeling like a rabbit being watched by a hunter.

At some point, Barney drove the car off the main highway onto a dirt road. Neither of the Hills quite remembered when or why they did this. Barney stopped the car at one point and both the Hills used a pair of binoculars to view the object better.

Though both Hills reported the same type of object, Barney was the only one to report seeing figures in the windows. The figures, which he described as reminding him of Nazi officers, seemed to send images into Barney’s mind which frightened him.

As they continued to drive, they heard an electrical sound on the trunk of their car. They would describe this sound as a static-like crackling that seem to tap on the metal of the car. Later, Betty would say it was very similar to the crackling sound a microwave oven makes. A second later, they heard the sound again on the trunk and realized they were now back on the main road. Neither remembered how they got back to the main road from the dirt road they had just been on.

With no further sign of the object, the Hills continued their journey home. It was once they arrived home in New Hampshire, that the Hills realized that they had arrived a couple hours later then they should have, even accounting for several stops along the way. This missing time concerned them a bit but they glossed it over as losing track of time during the trip. When they awoke on September 20, 1961, the Hills noticed strange, electromagnetic spots on the trunk of their car. A compass passed over these splotches would spin wildly but remain calm when not over those areas. They remembered that as the area of the car where the static-like sounds were heard during their UFO experience the night before.

Upon investigation of the clothes they wore the night before, they noticed that Barney’s shoes were scuffed when they were pristine the day before and Betty’s dress had damage to the zipper and tears on the hem. The dress also seemed to be covered by a pinkish substance that they didn’t notice the night before. Disgusted, Betty quickly washed the dress and put it away not to be opened until years later.

Within the next couple of days, Barney noticed a collection of warts appearing on his groin. He went to a doctor several times to have them removed but they continued to return for years afterward.

As the weeks past, the Hills began to report other paranormal events in their home. They would hear the front door open and footsteps walking through their house but upon investigation find no one there. One day, Betty Hill arrived home to find one of her bowls in the middle of the kitchen table with a block of ice in the middle of it. Embedded inside the ice, was a necklace that Betty hadn’t seen since the night of the UFO sighting.

They may have even reported a visit by the now infamous Men in Black. Betty saw a large black sedan pull into her driveway from an upstairs bedroom and watched as a man dressed in a black suit got out and walked slowly up to her front door. The doorbell rang and Betty went to answer the door. When she opened the door, the man was gone and the driveway empty.

The Hills began to believe that the occupants of the craft they saw were keeping tabs on them.

To try to figure out what has happened to them, they made a report with a national UFO group and a brief interview was conducted. An investigation of the local Air Force Base, determined no aircraft was flying that night that could explain what the Hills saw. However, later it was determined that radar sightings coincided with the Hills sighting. The investigators and press, at first, took little notice of the Hills experience. It simply was too common to what others had reported in the past.

But the most amazing part of this case was just beginning.

Also, in the months that followed their incident, the Hills began to experience frightening nightmares and flashbacks, the images of which caused a great deal of stress in their lives. These dreams most affected Barney who, as a down-to-earth, straight forward person, had a hard time coming to grips with the images.

In the spring of 1962, because of the health problems resulting from their nightmares and stress, the Hills were referred to psychiatrist and famed hypnotherapist Doctor Benjamin Simon in Boston, Massachusetts. Simon had gained fame by using hypnosis to help soldiers experiencing post traumatic stress syndrome relieve their stress by remembering forgotten incidents they experienced. Simon determined that the Hills would greatly benefit from remembering what had happened to them during the night of September 19, 1961 and began a hypnosis regime for both of them. The hypnotic sessions were performed on both Betty and Barney but separately and recorded on audio tape.The results of these sessions produced a story so horrorifying for the time, though common now, that many just couldn’t believe it. Many still don’t.

Both Betty and Barney Hill reported similar incidents on that fateful night. After the static electricity sounds on the trunk of their car were heard, they seemed to go into a conscious trance-like state. A state where they could see and experience everything going on but were virtually powerless to resist. Betty seemed less effected by this trance and would spend more time talking with the occupants than Barney who, for the most part, didn’t seem conscious much of the time.

They related that the car came to a stop with the object hovering a only a couple of feet above the dirt road in front of them. A number of bipedal aliens came forward and approached the car. They described them as being small, not much more than four fee tall, with long arms that appeared to have no muscles. Their faces had large dark eyes with no pupils and thin mouths. Their noses were only two tiny holes. Today, we would describe these as classic Grey aliens.

Both Bettyand Barney experienced a great deal of fear at the occupants.

The Hills were escorted out of the car and Barney seemed to be paralyzed and was carried by the aliens. Betty, seeing that the aliens were small and scrawny, felt that Barney’s weight was either counteracted by something or the aliens were stronger than they appeared. Barney, seeming to be unconscious a good deal of the time, was carried with the tops of this shoes dragging along the gravel road. Betty attempted to struggle with her captors but was quickly calmed by one of the aliens.

They enter the craft, which the Hills described as being shaped like a banana with two retractable fins that pointed into the air and had blinking colored lights on the ends, and the Hills were separated.

At this point, they report, Barney was subjected to a series of experiments and medical tests. His clothes were removed and skin, hair and blood samples were taken. The aliens looked into Barney’s mouth and appeared surprised that Barney’s teeth could be removed. Barney had lost his teeth sometime before and he wore false teeth. The aliens inserted needles into Barney’s back which left him with horrible back pains the rest of his life. They also used a strange contraption which was placed on his groin area and seemed to take samples from the region. Barney would relate that it was more than coincidence that the region where the samples were take was also the same place where Barney experienced chronic warts.

It appears from their hypnosis, that while Barney was going through his tests, Betty was being given a bit of a tour of the ship. An alien, who she called the leader, escorted her around and answered questions that Betty had. It appeared that Betty was getting over her fear and was becoming curious. Betty was shown a three dimensional map of the stars that the ship occupants had traveled to. The map that Betty drew has created quite a bit of criticism. Some have claimed to have identified the stars on the map while others see the map as being so vague that one can match anything with it. Betty had always argued that the map she saw was in three dimensions which made it extremely difficult to draw it in two dimensions.

While talking with the leader, Betty expressed that no one would believe that she had gone through this experience and asked for some way to prove to others that she was indeed aboard a UFO. The leader handed her a book that appeared to be made of some special substance, similar to metal but with properties like paper. Betty was always adamant that this substance was not like Earthly tin foil, as others have argued. The leader said she was free to take the book with her and explained that she would not remember anything about the experience as they would be wiping her memory.

Once Barney was done with his tests, it was Betty’s turn. The alien doctors had problems unzipping her dress and were forced to cut it with a scissors type tool. Like Barney, they took skin, hair and blood samples. They also seemed to take a long needle and insert it into Betty’s stomach. Betty experienced a great deal of pain during the procedure. Many have suggested that Betty may have gone through a pregnancy test and that the aliens may have been harvesting her eggs.

After both Barney and Betty’s tests were complete, they were escorted out of the ship at which point an alien noticed that Betty had the book the leader had given her. There appeared to be an argument between members of the crew and the leader. The book was taken from her. Apparently, the leader had been overruled by the crew.

Once back on the main road, the Hills heard the electrical sounds on the back trunk again and seemed to awake from their trance.

When the hypnosis sessions were complete, the Hills reported feeling better. Investigators had been keeping track of Betty and Barney’s reported experiences with great interest and now that the hypnosis sessions were complete, they could begin to examine the evidence.

Most of the physical evidence (the pink substance on the Betty’s dress, the magnetic spots on the car, Barney’s scuffed shoes) had been destroyed or misplaced. This made Betty’s star map of particular interest to investigators.

Many looking at the map could not discern the stars they were supposed to represent. In the late 1960s, astronomer Marjorie Fish began to compare the map with 3D models of the universe she was making and found a match. Betty’s map, backed up by Ohio State University computer models later on, seemed to show the double star system of Zeta Reticuli 1 and Zeta Reticuli 2.

This is amazing for two reasons; 1) Betty had no training in astronomical studies and 2) Zeta Reticuli 1 and Zeta Reticuli 2 were not discovered by astronomers until a full five years after Betty drew her map.

Skeptics have argued that the map is so basic that it could be matched with any of the stars in the universe. Marjorie Fish, anticipating this argument, tried many times over the years to match the map to any number of 3D models she had created and none matched as well as the Zeta Reticuli cluster.

Betty and Barney Hill’s story was published in a book by John Fuller called The Interrupted Journey. This was a result of an unscrupulous reporter publishing their story without their permission and after continued requests not to publish it. The Hills simply wanted to go on with their lives. Once it became clear that their experiences were going to become public anyway, they decided it would be best to put their side of the story on paper.

Some have suggested that the Hills entered into the agreement with John Fuller’s book in the hopes of cashing in on the story. A detailed analysis of the agreement between the couple and Fuller, shows that they did not ask for much monetary gain and, in fact, put their health in jeopardy with an extended tour to promote the book.

This brings up the integrity of the Hills. If we are to base our belief on what the Hills have said, we need to determine what type of people they are.

Barney Hill was a post office worker who was deeply involved with the civil rights movement of the time. He was given several awards by the community for his civil rights work. Not the type of person who is prone to creating falsehoods. Betty Hill was a social worker who dedicated her life to helping others. She was deeply hurt when health problems (some of which stemmed from her experience) caused her to have to cut her social work short. Both were well respected members of the community and praised highly by family and friends. It should be pointed out that today when an abductee publicly reports their experience, they tend to lose their livelihood. This did not happen to the Hills which suggests that despite the insaneness of their story, they had the trust of those around them.

The Betty and Barney Hill case is often thought of as the first UFO abduction and is often used as a comparison for the UFO abduction cases of today. It’s influence on UFOlogy is immeasurable. If it weren’t for the Betty and Barney Hill case, many feel that it’s likely we wouldn’t know about the abduction phenomenon at all.


Scott Fowler is the editor of UFO Village, founder of Beltsville Ghosts and president of Baltimore Washington Paranormal Investigators.
Work Cited

Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience By Stanton Friedman and Kathleen Marden. New Page Books. 2007

The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction. By B. J. Booth. http://www.ufocasebood.com/Hill.html

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