An artist's depiction
The seven people present in the farmhouse claimed that they were terrorized by an unknown number of creatures similar to gremlins, which have since often been referred to as the "Hopkinsville Goblins" in popular culture. The residents of the farmhouse described them as being around three feet tall, with upright pointed ears, thin limbs (their legs were said to be almost in a state of atrophy), long arms and claw-like hands or talons. The creatures were either silvery in color or wearing something metallic. On occasion, their movements seemed to defy gravity, with them floating above the ground and appearing in high-up places. They "walked" with a swaying motion as though wading through water. Although the creatures never entered the house, they would pop up at windows and at the doorway, waking up the children in the house in a hysterical frenzy.
- On the evening of August 21, 1955, Billy Ray Taylor of Pennsylvania was visiting the Sutton family of Kentucky. The Sutton family home was a rural farmhouse located near the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, in Christian County, Kentucky. There were a total of eleven people in the house that night, including the children of the two families.
- The Sutton farmhouse had no running water, causing Billy Ray Taylor to go outside to the water pump for a drink at about 7:00 p.m. Taylor said he observed strange lights in the sky to the west, which he believed to be an unusual craft. He described it as disc-shaped in appearance, and featured lights on its side that had "all of the colors of the rainbow". He ran back to the house, excitedly telling the others about his "flying saucer" sighting, but no one believed him; instead they thought that he had become overly excited after seeing a vivid "shooting star".
- At about 8.00 p.m., the families began hearing strange and unexplained noises outside. The Sutton family dog which was in the yard outside began barking loudly and then hid under the house, where it remained until the next day. Going outside a few minutes later with their guns, Billy Ray Taylor and Elmer "Lucky" Sutton then asserted that they saw a strange creature emerge from the nearby trees.
- When the creature approached to within about 20 feet, the two men began shooting at it, one using a shotgun, the other a .22 rifle. There was a noise "sounding like bullets being rattled about in a metal drum" and the creature, they said, then flipped over and fled into the darkness and shadows. Sure that they had wounded the creature, Lucky and Solomon went out to look for it. Hendry writes that as the men were stepping from the porch, they saw one of the creatures perched on an awning. They again shot at the creature and it was knocked from the roof. Again, they heard the rattling noise, although the creature was apparently unharmed.
- Lucky and Solomon returned to the house in a disturbed state. Within minutes, Lucky's brother, J. C. Sutton, said that he saw the same creature (or at least a similar creature) peer into a window in the home. J. C. and Solomon shot at it, breaking the window, whereupon it too flipped over and fled. The creatures could be heard loudly scurrying about on the roof and scratching as though trying to break through. For the next few hours, the witnesses asserted that the creatures repeatedly approached the home, either popping up at the doorway or at windows in an almost playful manner, only to be shot at each time they did. The witnesses were unsure of how many of the creatures there were; except for one sighting of two at the same time, all other sightings were of only one, although the first story claimed twelve to fifteen. At one point, the witnesses shot one of the beings at nearly point blank range and again would insist that the sound resembled bullets striking a metal bucket. The floating creatures' legs seemed to be atrophied and nearly useless, and they appeared to propel themselves with a curious hip-swaying motion, steering with their arms.
- The Pokémon Sableye is based on the goblins described in the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter. In the games, they are animated with a swaying or "wading" motion, based on the creatures' reported gait.