The Case for UFO Abductions as Physical Events

Part III


By Budd Hopkins

“Having established the initial requirements for theorizing about the nature of the UFO abduction phenomenon, let us now consider the types of evidence which support the least torturous, least convoluted explanation of these reports. That is, of course, the idea that these thousands of credible people are simply relating what actually happened to them. Sometimes the shortest distance between two points actually is a straight line.”

These six examples from my files illustrate the routes by which suspected abduction cases come to the attention of investigators, but more importantly they illustrate exactly the circumstances and details which comprise an individual’s initial report. Obviously, these details are either the result of fantasy and self-delusion or are accurate accounts of what the percipients feel has happened to them. The first five of my examples have subsequently been thoroughly investigated. (The sixth, involving a very young child, by necessity rests upon a parent’s testimony, and so it will not be included in this analysis.) These five cases involve a total of twelve witnesses. All the details I’ve related were remembered normally; hypnosis is not an issue. All five reports include periods of missing time and “impossible” or illogical physical dislocations. All involve inarguable signs of trauma. In only one case is an actual UFO sighting involved, and only one (different) report includes a clearly recollected group of “aliens.” Just one of the five reports was initially characterized as a “UFO case” by the witnesses, none of whom were well-informed about the abduction phenomenon at the time of their encounters.

Since the history of public awareness of UFO abductions is crucial to the viability of all psycho-social theories of the phenomenon, an exact chronology is essential. The first American abduction report became publically known in 1966, but seven years would pass before a second such case would be featured by the media [5] In 1975 a third abduction report became known and a made-for-TV movie on the subject appeared, but it was not until the late eighties that such events were seen by the public in somewhat familiar detail. [6] In this context it is highly significant that one of my five examples predates even the first publically known abduction case and another predates the second, and another predates the second, 1973 incident. A third example, from 1974, still predates the TV movie and any detailed general public awareness of UFO abductions, and the other two cases I recount predate both of my books on the subject. Thus, any theory of the UFO abduction phenomenon must deal with the fact that these reports (among thousands of others) arose prior to any general public knowledge of the abduction scenario and its sequence of detail. To make th1s point absolutely clear, all five of these bizarre events were described to other people - family members, friends, etc. - at the time they first occurred, i.e. in 1961, ‘68, ‘74, and so on - and in none was an abduction experience suspected. In each case that suspicion surfaced later - days, months, years, even decades later.

Beyond argument these reports cannot be considered artifacts of “belief in UFOs” or the products of folkloristic contamination by material absorbed from various nineteen-eighties UFO books and TV programs. As we have seen, the perplexing incidents which make up these reports are physical; they deal with the hard-edged kingdom of objects and sites, not the misty land of inward musing and fantasy. All five cases describe genuine trauma, confusion, clear cut periods of missing time, and “impossible” dislocations experienced by the witnesses. (Similar accounts of vehicular dislocation, it should be mentioned, do not occur in movies and books until decades after these witnesses first reported them). Anyone wishing to theorize about the UFO abduction phenomenon as fact or fantasy must begin with an explanation of the details contained in these initial reports. Obviously, any theory of UFO abductions must satisfactorily account for the material I have just elucidated - or be discarded. For the record it should be mentioned that hypnosis was eventually used in my five sample cases to help the witnesses recall the unremembered portions of their encounters, and to explore other UFO incidents not included - or recalled - in their initial reports. From the outset and throughout their investigation, these five cases have conformed to the patterns present in hundreds of others I’ve explored; they are in no way remarkable.

Having established the initial requirements for theorizing about the nature of the UFO abduction phenomenon, let us now consider the types of evidence which support the least torturous, least convoluted explanation of these reports. That is, of course, the idea that these thousands of credible people are simply relating what actually happened to them. Sometimes the shortest distance between two points actually is a straight line.

1. Eyewitness Testimony of an Observed Abduction

On January 3, 1979, in a rural area of southern Florida, Filiberto Cardenas, a male friend and the man’s wife and teenage daughter were driving home from a trip to some local farms. [7] When their car inexplicably stopped, Cardenas and the driver stepped out to lift the hood to check the battery cables. All four saw a blinding light shoot down in front of them, accompanied by a buzzing sound. Cardenas was lifted up and out of sight as the two female passengers in the back seat of the car screamed in terror. The three stunned survivors reported the abduction to the police. Roughly an hour and a half later, Cardenas was found dazed and confused some sixteen miles away from the place where he had been lifted up into the sky. He was hospitalized with physical symptoms similar to those reported since in other abduction cases (pain in the legs, vision problems, an abrasion and so forth). Hypnosis subsequently revealed details both typical and atypical of such abduction accounts, but centrally important is the eyewitness testimony of an abduction seen independently by non-abductees with clear, normal recall.

2. Circumstantial Eyewitness Testimony

This type of corroborating testimony involves the witness’s observing pre- or post-abduction details which are highly suggestive, though not absolutely conclusive. To make this more subtle point as clear as possible I will cite three different examples:

In the summer of 1983 in Indianapolis, Kathie Davis underwent a UFO abduction when a small craft landed on her property. [8] At approximately the same time as the abduction ended and the craft took off, a next door neighbor saw a brilliant flash of light through the trees, emanating from the place the UFO had apparently rested, according to the ground traces which were subsequently observed. Immediately after the flash the neighbor heard a loud roar approaching her house; the lights flickered, there was a power outage, and then all was still as the lights came back on spontaneously; no fuses were blown and no circuit breakers had been tripped. The neighbor immediately informed her husband, when he arrived home that evening, of the frightening sequence of events; weeks later the two neighbors talked about their experiences and discovered the exact coincidence of time and event.

In October, 1990, an intelligent, well-trained medical doctor was involved in a serious, personal conversation with his friend and house-guest, another physician. Though the hour was early, the guest abruptly interrupted their discussion, announced that he was sleepy, and immediately left the room to retire. The host watched his friend leave, feeling uneasy about the uncharacteristic behavior he had just observed. After a while he heard, just outside the house, a whirring, turbine-like sound which, in his phrase, “chilled him to the bone” - yet he was absolutely unable to bring himself to look outside for the source of the noise. Then, after a small, indeterminate sound in the house caught his attention, he turned and saw, in a virtually subliminal glimpse, a diminutive, large-eyed creature moving through the room. The doctor, who happens to be trained in psychiatry, found himself unable to do any of the things he wanted to do: investigate, go to help his friend, sound the alarm, or whatever. He had only one strong thought which came into his mind as if emanating from elsewhere. As “This is none of my business.” He finally stood up, went directly to his bedroom, lay down and instantly went to sleep. It was not until the next morning that he was able to think clearly about his own completely uncharacteristic behavior.

His house-guest, as later investigation suggested, had been the sole target of the abductors, and was, indeed, taken that night. The most important thing to be remembered about this example is that a trained medical professional witnessed what turned out to be preliminary incidents in the abduction of another physician by UFO occupants.

Over and over again, non-abductee witnesses in other UFO abduction cases have described what seems to be the temporary, external control of their behavior; it seems the UFO occupants can do whatever is necessary to make sure potential witnesses to an abduction do not interfere with their operations. So, despite the importance of the witness’s observation of an “alien” figure in this case, it is almost as significant that a mature physician, thoroughly trained in psychiatry, personally experienced the efficacy of apparently external, anomalous control over his own reactions and behavior. [9]

A third example of this kind of second-party circumstantial testimony involves two young women, first cousins and recent college graduates, in Houston, Texas. They shared a two-bedroom apartment, and late at night one of the young women awoke with the sensation of having being dropped from a few inches above her bed. Within moments she remembered - clearly - having just been inside a spacecraft; the memory was dreamlike but extraordinarily vivid. She recalled seeing small, black-eyed figures, a group of whom were carrying out some kind of physical procedure upon her naked roommate who lay stretched out on a metallic table. Alarmed by the realism of her “dream,” she went into her friend’s bedroom to check on her condition. She was shocked to find the room empty, though both young women had retired hours ago. The window was closed and locked, the bathroom unoccupied. Now thoroughly disturbed, she unbolted the front door and went outside to look for her roommate’s car; it was exactly where it should have been, in the parking lot behind the building. She returned to their apartment and again searched for her friend. The bedroom was still empty so she decided she must inform the police. As she picked up the receiver and began to dial she heard a moan from her roommate’s quarters. Rushing in, she found the missing woman face down on the bed, naked, her head at the foot of the bed and her feet on the pillow - and this only moments since she had last searched the room. She roused her roommate, and slowly, gradually, the young woman came to consciousness. Their memories of the UFO interior coincided exactly. There are many other corroborative details in this fascinating joint account, and though it seems that both women were abducted, one was apparently returned first and allowed to operate normally, outside any kind of “alien control.” Thus she functioned as an independent, circumstantial witness during that time period. [10]

3. Congruency of Detail in UFO Abduction Accounts

It should be no surprise to anyone that when an abduction involves more than a single individual - and there are apparently thousands of multiple abductions - the witnesses’ descriptions corroborate one another. This is true even when the incidents are investigated separately, in different localities, years after they occurred, with the use of regressive hypnosis and with different investigators involved in the research. But the most important corroborative details are those small, unpublished descriptions which investigators carefully save and store. For instance, I maintain a secret file of what might be called notational symbols - numbers, letters, whatever - that dozens of witnesses have reported seeing in and on UFOs during their abductions. I have shown examples of the two basic, closely related systems to a very few trusted colleagues; all have been astounded at the similarity - even identity - of these recollected symbols. But since these symbols operate as a means of testing the validity of new cases, I still cannot make this area of evidence public. This is indeed unfortunate, because these notational systems provide evidence that undeniably places corroborating abductee testimony beyond the realm of chance.

Another specific example arises from the thousands of reports of physical examinations conducted during UFO abductions. It is highly significant that in no abduction report I’ve seen has a witness ever mentioned that the UFO occupants were curious about the one organ most central to our own thoughts about human anatomy - the human heart. Alien interest in the lower abdomen and the genitals is almost universally described, as well as procedures involving the head and nasal cavity. But never - never - the heart. [See our side-bar for updated information] The fact this has never yet occurred in thousands of abduction reports proves once again that fantasy can not be the creative factor in these accounts. Folklore, fantasy, dreams: these cover a limitless spectrum. The specific events actually reported do not; they consistently remain within the narrow range of actual, felt experience.

Short questions, short answers:

1. Do physical traces accompany UFO abduction reports?

Yes. Ground traces of affected soil where the craft have landed abound, as well as physical scars of two highly specific patterns on the bodies of abductees.

2. When people report abduction experiences, are they physically missing from their homes/cars/bedrooms, etc.?

Yes. I have dozens of cases in which people who were literally missing were searched for during these “missing time” UFO experiences.

3. When people awaken in bed and remember having been abducted and taken outside, is there ever any evidence that this is so, and that the memories are not merely dreams?

Yes. Many abductees find themselves with muddy feet, grass and leaves in their beds, and other such indications that they’ve been literally outside their houses.

4. Are there other extensive categories of evidence suggesting these experiences are physically real, but which space does not allow us to elaborate upon? Yes, unfortunately. Many.


1. The UFO abduction literature includes many carefully investigated cases from such widely separated places as Italy, Puerto Rico, the Soviet Union, Brazil and Great Britain. In three particular abduction cases the surprising similarity of these reports can be seen, for example, in the precisely matching descriptions of landed UFOs’ heights and diameters, the arrangement and type of their landing gear, the position of their doors and ramps, and the location of their external lights. One of these abductions took place on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, one in Mindalore, South Africa, and the third in Indianapolis, Indiana.

2. See in Particular, The Final Report on the Psychological Testing of UFO Abductees by Bloecher, Clamar, Hopkins. Available through the Fund for UFO Research.

3. For example, the first known UFO abduction reported to the FBI is dealt with in an internal FBI memo dated January 17, 1967. Six years later, in 1973, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker reported their abductions to both the Air Force and a local Sheriff’s office instead of the FBI – not an accessible or highly visible presence in the town of Pascagoula, Mississippi. I can personally attest to the fact that at least a dozen abduction cases were officially reported to the FBI in 1987, to no avail. For public consumption the FBI states – as do the Air Force and other official agencies- that it ahs no curiosity about such reports. This well-publicized position has meant, to no one’s surprise, a decline in the number of abduction cases reported recently to Federal agencies.

4. I have received thousands of responses to my books, Missing Time, 1981, and Intruders, 1987, in which I specifically asked for people to write if they felt they had had such experiences.

5. The Betty and Barney Hill case was the first widely publicized abduction case, described in a Look Magazine article in the fall of 1966 and in a slightly later book by John Fuller, entitled The Interrupted Journey: Dial Press, 1966. The second such case, involving Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, was widely reported by the news media in 1973.

6. The made-for-TV film version of the Hill case was entitled The UFO Incident, and the 1975 abduction case that made the headlines involved the five-day witnessed disappearance of Travis Walton in Snowflake, Arizona.

7. For an interesting account of this well known case, see Second Look magazine, July/August, 1980.

8. Hopkins, Intruders, pp.38-68. Kathie Davis and her neighbor recalled their experiences spontaneously, though Kathie’s were later refreshed through the process of regressive hypnosis.

9. Author’s personal files.

10. Author’s personal files. So far, no hypnosis has been attempted in this case.

This paper was presented at a UFO conference sponsored by the Santa Barbara Centre for Humanistic Studies on November 2, 1990. / Published with expressed permission from Budd Hopkins.

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Budd Hopkins

Are Aliens Interested in the
Human Heart?


Even though it may not have been known or made publically available at the time, we do know the aliens have shown an interest in the human heart, although their interest in this organ does appear to be somewhat rare. When Budd’s paper was originally written and presented in 1990, he was not aware of an event involving a heart procedure, which according to published accounts, occurred in 1989. In 1993, Budd Hopkins read the manuscript and wrote the Introduction for the book from which the account [below] in this side-bar is summarized. We suspect the reason these beings performed a procedure on this subject’s heart was directly related to her vicinity to the lightning when it struck the subject’s house.

Budd Hopkins also amended his opinion on military involvement in the lives of alien abductees and addressed the topic in the early 1990’s during a lecture presentation; however, he never fully endorsed the MILAB theory that military personnel were actually abducting alien abductees.

“...the two Greys are performing a procedure on the Contact Experiencer’s heart after she was in extremely close proximity of a lightning strike, and she may have in fact been hit, although no burns were reported. There was a square area ‘cut’ into her chest and because of the pain, the Experiencer claimed to have left her body. As she looked down at herself lying on the table whilst the Greys worked on her, she saw nothing but blackness inside the square area of her chest, as if it were in ‘...another space or dimension.’ The beings then told the Experiencer, ‘We are repairing your heart. You will be okay now.’ After that, she returned to her body which still lay on the table and continued to experience the excruciating pain until she became unconscious shortly thereafter.”

Excerpted from Hybrids Rising’s The Greys Kathy-Marden.jpg

Kathleen Marden
Expert on the
Betty and Barney Hill Case

Where The Debunkers Went Wrong

A Primer on Hypnosis

Commonalities Among Abductee Experiencers and Alien Abduction

ICAR and David M. Jacobs, Ph.D. Denise-Stoner.jpg

Denise Stoner





Joe Montaldo and November Hanson

ICAR: International Center for Abduction Research



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