However, the case of the Hills in memories of alien abductions:
1) Was the first to have been abducted by gray aliens.
2) Originated the concept of "missing time".
3) The first that were hypnotized on an alien abduction case.
4) A star map Betty Hill was shown in 1961 by the grays indicating where they came from and which she later drew, is a system of stars called Zeta Reticuli that was not known at that time and was discovered by astronomers in 1972. (The grays are also known in the U.S. as "Zeta Reticulans”).
5) They were the first to claim to have been physically examined by extraterrestrials.
6) Betty had, while in the UFO, a medical procedure done on her which we didn’t have in 1961 called amniocentesis to find out if she was pregnant.
The couple's story, commonly called the Hill Abduction, and occasionally the Zeta Reticuli Incident. The famous Betty and Barney Hill (see their photos below) abduction case made the concept of alien abduction famous and opened the door to many other reports of similar experiences.
The Hills lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. Barney (1922–1969) was employed by the U.S. Postal Service, while Betty (1919–2004) was a social worker. Active in a Unitarian congregation, the Hills were also members of the NAACP and community leaders, and Barney sat on a local board of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
They were a mixed race couple at a time in America when that was unusual: Barney was black of Ethiopian ancestry, and Betty was white.
The UFO encounter
The alleged abduction, according to a variety of reports given by the pair in interviews over a period of time, began on the evening of September 19, 1961, when the Hills were driving back to Portsmouth from a vacation in Quebec, Canada. There were few other cars on the road as they traveled south. South of Groveton, New Hampshire, they claimed to have observed a bright point of light in the sky. While Barney navigated U.S. Route 3, Betty reasoned that she was observing a communication satellite and urged Barney to stop the car for a closer look and to walk their dog, Delsey. Worried about the presence of bears, Barney removed a pistol that he had in the trunk of the car.
Betty, whose sister had confided to her about having a flying saucer sighting several years earlier, observed the object through binoculars as it moved across the face of the moon flashing multicolored lights. Barney, who had not observed the craft, thought the light was a conventional aircraft.
Approximately one mile south of Indian Head, they said, a huge craft rapidly descended toward the Hills' vehicle causing Barney to stop directly in the middle of the highway. The craft descended to approximately 80–100 feet above the Hills' 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air and filled the entire field of the windshield. Barney, carrying his pistol, stepped away from the vehicle and moved closer to the object.
Barney tore the binoculars away from his eyes and ran back to his car, saying, "They're going to capture us!" He saw the object again shift its location to directly above the vehicle. He drove away at high speed, telling Betty to look for the object. She rolled down the window and looked up, but saw only darkness above them.
Almost immediately, a series of mechanical buzzing sounds, loud enough to cause the vehicle to vibrate, seemed to come from the rear end of the car. Betty touched the metal on the passenger door expecting to feel an electric shock, but felt only the vibration. The Hills say they experienced the onset of an altered state of consciousness that left their minds dulled, and that they also felt a tingling sensation throughout their bodies.
Arriving home at about dawn, the Hills assert that they had some odd sensations and impulses they could not readily explain: Betty insisted that their luggage be kept near the back door rather than in the main part of the house. Barney noted that the leather strap for the binoculars was torn, though he could not recall it tearing. Barney says he was compelled to examine his genitals in the bathroom, though he found nothing unusual. They took long showers to remove possible contamination and each drew a picture of what they had observed. Their drawings were similar.
Perplexed, the Hills say they tried to reconstruct the chronology of events as they witnessed the UFO and drove home. But immediately after they heard the buzzing sounds their memories became incomplete and fragmented, and they could not determine a continuous chain of events. Barney recalled saying "Oh no, not again", though he could not place the comment in context.
After sleeping for a few hours, Betty woke and placed the shoes and clothing she had worn during the drive into her closet, observing that the dress was torn at the hem, zipper and lining. Later, when Betty retrieved the items from her closet, she noted a pinkish powder on her dress, but had no idea where it might have come from. She threw the dress away, but later changed her mind, retrieving the dress and hanging it on a clothesline. The powder vanished in the wind, though Betty says a few pink stains were left on the dress. Over the years, she said, five laboratories have conducted chemical and forensic analysis on the dress.
Initial report to the U.S. Air Force
On September 21, Betty telephoned Pease Air Force Base to report their UFO encounter, though, for fear of being labeled insane, she withheld some of the details. On September 22, Major Paul W. Henderson telephoned the Hills for a more detailed interview, lasting about 30 minutes. Henderson's report, dated September 26, determined that the Hills had probably misidentified the planet Jupiter. His report was forwarded to Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force's UFO research project.
Within days of the encounter, Betty borrowed several UFO books from a local library. One had been written by retired Marine Corps Major Donald E. Keyhoe, who was also the head of NICAP, a civilian UFO research group.
Within two weeks of the UFO encounter, Betty says she was troubled with recurrent nightmares. They occurred almost nightly, and were so vivid that her mind was occupied with thoughts of the dream throughout the day.
On September 26, Betty wrote to Keyhoe. She related the full story, including the details about the humanoid figures that she had neglected to report to the Air Force. Betty wrote that she and Barney were considering hypnosis to help recall what had happened. Her letter was eventually passed on to Walter N. Webb, a Boston astronomer and NICAP member.
The Webb interview
Webb met the Hills on October 21, 1961. In a six-hour interview, the Hills related all they could remember of the UFO encounter. Barney asserted that he had a sort of "mental block" regarding the encounter, and that he suspected there were some portions of the event that he did not wish to remember.
Webb speculated that the couple's panic regarding a close UFO sighting had generated Betty's nightmares.
In November 1961, Betty began writing down the details of her vivid, recurrent nightmares.
In the dream, Betty seemed to be struggling to regain consciousness; she then realized that she was being forced by two small men to walk in a forest in the nighttime, and of seeing Barney walking alongside her, though when she called to him, he seemed to be in a trance or sleepwalking. The small men stood about five feet tall, and wore matching uniforms, with caps similar to those worn in the U.S. Air Force. They had no hair on their heads, and had large bulbous foreheads.
In the craft
In the dreams, Betty, Barney, and the small men all walked up a ramp into a disc-shaped craft of metallic appearance. Once inside, Barney and Betty were separated. She protested, and was told by a man she called "the leader" that if she and Barney were examined together, it would take much longer to conduct the exams. She and Barney were then taken to separate rooms. Though the leader and the other men spoke to her in English, their command of the language seemed imperfect, and they had difficulty communicating.
Betty then dreamed that a new man, similar to the others, entered to conduct her exam with the leader. Betty called this new man "the examiner" and said he had a pleasant, calm manner.
The examiner told Betty that he would conduct a quick exam and a few tests to note the differences between humans and the craft's inhabitants. He seated her on a chair, and a bright light was shone on her. The man cut off a lock of Betty's hair. He examined her eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, throat and hands. He saved trimmings from her fingernails. After examining her legs and feet, the man then used a dull knife, similar to a letter opener to scrape some of her skin on to a glass slide. She thought maybe they wanted to find out why Barney and she were of different color.
The doctor removed Betty's dress. He told her to lie on a table. Saying he was examining her nervous system, he dragged a machine somewhat resembling an EEG device over her front and back body.The doctor cleaned his hands with a liquid and put examination gloves on. He took out a hypodermic needle some four to six inches long to conduct what he said was a pregnancy exam. He used a wet swab on her navel. He thrust the needle into it, which caused Betty agonizing pain, but the doctor rubbed her forehead and the pain vanished.
Betty was told that her exam was complete, and that she and Barney would shortly be returned to their automobile. She began conversing with the leader, only to be interrupted when another man rushed into the room and – seemingly excited – spoke with the leader in a strange language. They hurriedly left the room, leaving Betty alone.
Returning in a few minutes, the leader examined Betty's mouth and seemed to be trying to pull her teeth from her mouth. When this was unsuccessful, the leader asked why her teeth were fixed while Barney's came out of his mouth. Laughing, Betty told them that Barney wore dentures because humans often lose their teeth as they age. The leader seemed unable to understand the concept of old age. She tried to explain what a year was, but he didn't seem to understand.
In the dream, Betty asked the leader if she could take an artifact from the ship in order to prove the reality of the encounter. The leader let her take a large book whose pages were filled with symbols filled in columns.
Betty then suggested that humanity would like to meet other inhabitants of the universe, and tried to persuade the leader to openly announce their presence on Earth. Amid her pleas, the men brought Barney into the room. He seemed to be in a daze.
The men began escorting the Hills from the ship, though an argument broke out amongst the men in the strange language they'd spoken before. The leader then took the large book from Betty. She protested, saying that the book was her only proof of the encounter. The leader said that he personally did not care if she kept the book, but the other men of the ship did not want her to even remember the encounter. Betty insisted that no matter what they did to her memory, she would one day recall the events.
She and Barney were taken to their car, where the leader suggested that they wait to watch the craft's departure. They did so, and then resumed their drive. Betty stated that the event was miraculous and exciting, but Barney said nothing.
Aftermath of Betty's dream
Betty's dream concluded with her asking, "Now do you believe in flying saucers?" Irritated, Barney said, "Don't be ridiculous."
While Betty thought the dreams might reflect actual events, Barney was more skeptical, thinking that his wife had simply had a number of unusually vivid dreams.
Medical help and more interviews
On November 25, 1961, the Hills were again interviewed at length by NICAP members, this time C.D. Jackson and Robert E. Hohman.
Having read Webb's initial report, Jackson and Hohman had many questions for the Hills. One of their main questions was about the length of the trip. Neither Webb nor the Hills had noted that, though the drive should have taken about four hours, they did not arrive at home until seven hours after their departure. When Hohman and Jackson noted this discrepancy to the Hills, the couple was stunned, having no explanation (a frequently reported circumstance in alleged alien abduction cases that some have called "missing time"). However, Betty was able to recall an image of the moon shining on the ground.
As Clark writes, despite "all their efforts the Hills could recall almost nothing of the 35 miles between Indian Head and Ashland. The subject of hypnosis came up. Perhaps hypnosis could unlock the missing memories. Barney was apprehensive about hypnosis, but thought it might help Betty put to rest what Barney described as the 'nonsense' of Betty's recurrent dreams."
By February 1962, the Hills were making frequent weekend drives to try and locate the area of their UFO encounters, hoping that locating the site might spark more memories. They were unsuccessful in trying to locate the site for several years afterwards.
As Clark writes, "In February or March [of 1962] warts appeared in a near-perfect circle around Barney's groin; they were removed surgically."
On November 23, 1962, the Hills attended a meeting at the parsonage of their church where the invited guest speaker was Captain Ben H. Swett of the U.S. Air Force, who had recently published a book of his poetry. After he read selections of his poetry, the pastor asked him to discuss his personal interest in hypnosis. After the meeting broke up, the Hills approached Captain Swett privately and told him what they could remember of their strange encounter. He was particularly interested in the "missing time" of the Hills' account. The Hills asked Swett if he would hypnotize them to recover their memories, but Swett said he was not qualified to do that and cautioned them against going to an amateur hypnotist, such as himself, or a half-baked hypnotherapist.
First public disclosure
On March 3, 1963, the Hills first publicly discussed the UFO encounter with a group at their church.
On September 7, 1963, Captain Swett gave a formal lecture on hypnosis to a meeting at the Unitarian Church. After the lecture, the Hills told him that Barney was going to a psychiatrist, Dr. Stephens, whom he liked and trusted. Captain Swett suggested that Barney ask Dr. Stephens about the use of hypnosis in his case.
In November 1963, the Hills spoke before an amateur UFO study group in Quincy Center, Massachusetts.
The Hills first met Dr. Simon on December 14, 1963.
Early in their discussions, Simon determined that the UFO encounter was causing Barney far more worry and anxiety than Mr. Hill was willing to admit. Though Simon dismissed the popular extraterrestrial hypothesis as impossible, it seemed obvious to him that the Hills genuinely thought they had witnessed a UFO with human-like occupants. Simon hoped to uncover more about the experience through hypnosis.
Dr. Simon's hypnosis sessions
Simon hypnotized Barney first. His sessions were often quite emotional, punctuated with angry outbursts, expressions of fear, and episodes of hysterical crying. Barney said that, due to his fear, he kept his eyes closed for much of the UFO encounter. Based on these early responses, Simon told Barney that he would not remember the hypnosis sessions until they were certain he could remember them without being further traumatized.
Under hypnosis, Barney also reported that the binocular strap had broken when he ran from the UFO back to his car. He recalled driving the car away from the UFO, but that afterwards he felt irresistibly compelled to pull off the road, and drive into the woods. He eventually sighted six men standing in the woods. Commanding Barney to stop driving, three of the men approached the car. They told Barney to not fear them. He was still anxious, however, and he reported that the leader told Barney to close his eyes. While hypnotized, Barney said, "I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes."
Barney related that he and Betty were taken onto the disc-shaped craft, where he and Betty were separated. Taken to a room by three of the short men, Barney was undressed by the three short men and was then told to lie on a rectangular exam table. Unlike Betty, Barney's narrative of the exam was fragmented, and he continued to keep his eyes closed for most of the exam. A cup-like device was placed over his genitals. He did not experience an orgasm though Barney thought that a sperm sample had been taken. The men scraped his skin, and peered in his ears and mouth. A tube or cylinder was inserted in his anus. Someone felt his spine, and seemed to be counting his vertebrae.
While Betty reported extended conversations with the creatures in English, Barney said that he heard them speaking in a mumbling language he did not understand. The few times they communicated with him, Barney said it seemed to be "thought transference"; at that time, he was unfamiliar with the word "telepathy".
He recalled being escorted from the ship, and taken to his car, which was now near the road rather than in the woods. In a daze, he watched the ship leave. Barney remembered a light appearing on the road, and he said, "Oh no, not again." He recalled Betty's speculation that the light might have been the moon, though the moon had in fact set several hours earlier.
Betty's hypnosis sessions were not as eventful. Under hypnosis, her account was very similar to the events of her recurrent dreams about the UFO encounter, with two notable differences: under hypnosis, the short men did not have large noses, and they had no hair. Simon suggested that Betty sketch a copy of the "star map". She hesitated, thinking she would be unable to accurately depict the three-dimensional quality of the map she says she saw on the ship. Eventually, however, she did what Simon suggested. Although she said the map had many stars, she drew only those that stood out in her memory. Her map consisted of twelve prominent stars connected by lines and three lesser ones that formed a distinctive triangle. (See below) She said she was told the stars connected by solid lines formed "trade routes", whereas dashed lines were to less-traveled stars.
Dr. Simon's conclusions
Though the Hills and Simon disagreed about the nature of the case, they all concurred that the hypnosis sessions were effective: the Hills were no longer tormented by nightmares or anxiety about the UFO encounter.
Afterwards, Simon wrote an article about the Hills for the journal Psychiatric Opinion, explaining his conclusions that the case was a singular psychological aberration.
Publicity after the hypnosis sessions
The Hills went back to their regular lives. They were willing to discuss the UFO encounter with friends, family and the occasional UFO researcher, but the Hills apparently made no effort to seek publicity.
But on October 25, 1965, a newspaper story changed everything: A front page story on the Boston Traveler asked "UFO Chiller: Did THEY Seize Couple?" Reporter John H. Lutrell of the Traveler had been given an audio tape recording of the lecture the Hills had made in Quincy Center in early 1963. Lutrell learned that the Hills had undergone hypnosis with Dr. Simon; he also obtained notes from interviews the Hills had given to UFO investigators. On October 26, the UPI picked up Lutrell's story, and the Hills earned international attention.
In 1966, writer John G. Fuller scored the cooperation of the Hills and Dr. Simon, and wrote the book The Interrupted Journey about the case. The book included a copy of Betty's sketch of the "star map". The book was a quick success, and went through several printings.
Many of Betty Hill's notes, tapes and other items have been placed in a permanent collection at the library of the University of New Hampshire, her alma mater.
Analyzing the star map
Map of Zeta Reticuli, according to Betty Hill and Marjorie Fish
Below the star map drawn by Betty Hill
Below the star map according to astronomers
In 1968, Marjorie Fish of Oak Harbor, Ohio read Fuller's Interrupted Journey. She was an elementary school teacher and amateur astronomer. Intrigued by the "star map", Fish wondered if it might be "deciphered" to determine which star system the UFO came from.
Assuming that one of the fifteen stars on the map must represent the Earth's sun, Fish constructed a 3-dimensional model of nearby sun-like stars using thread and beads, basing stellar distances on those published in the 1969 Gliese Star Catalog. Studying thousands of vantage points over several years, the only one that seemed to match the Hill map was from the viewpoint of the double star system of Zeta Reticuli. Therefore she concluded that the UFO might have come from a planet orbiting Zeta Reticuli.
As a result of Fish's hypothesis, some have dubbed the Hills' account The Zeta Reticuli Incident. Most Ufologists, however, continue to prefer the Hill Abduction or some similar term.
Distance information needed to match three stars, forming the distinctive triangle Hill said she remembered, was not generally available until the 1969 Gliese Catalog came out. Fish also was the first to note that all the stars on the map connected by lines (which Betty Hill said she was told were trade or frequently-traveled routes) fell in a plane, with Zeta Reticuli acting as a hub. Thus the displayed routes would be the most logical and efficient way of exploring the nearby stellar neighborhood for a civilization located in Zeta Reticuli. These points played critical roles in the subsequent debates over the validity of the Fish match to the Hill map.
Fish sent her analysis to Webb. Agreeing with her conclusions, Webb sent the map to Terence Dickinson, editor of the popular magazine Astronomy. Dickinson did not endorse Fish and Webb's conclusions, but he was intrigued, and, for the first time in the journal's history, Astronomy invited comments and debate on a UFO report, starting with an opening article in the December 1974 issue. For about a year afterward, the opinions page of Astronomy carried arguments for and against Fish's star map. Notable was an argument made by Carl Sagan and Stephen Soter, arguing that the seeming "star map" was little more than a random alignment of chance points. In contrast, those more favorable to the map, such as Dr. David Saunders, a statistician who had been on the Condon UFO study, argued that unusual alignment of key sun-like stars in a plane centered around Zeta Reticuli (first described by Fish) was statistically improbable to have happened by chance from a random group of stars in our immediate neighborhood.
The 1966 publication of Interrupted Journey, by John G. Fuller, details much of the Hills' claims. Excerpts of the book were published in Look magazine, and Interrupted Journey went on to sell many copies and greatly publicize the Hills' account.
Budd Hopkins writes, " ... the Hill case bears upon one popular theory which has been widely but uncritically accepted by many skeptics: the idea that such accounts must have been implanted by hypnosis, consciously or unconsciously, or by manipulative practitioners who 'believe in' the reality of such events. Simon, who hypnotized the Hills, was avowedly skeptical about the reality of the Hills' abduction recollections. Yet the Hills stubbornly held to their interlocking, hypnotically recovered accounts despite Simon's suggestions at the end of treatment that their memories could not be literally true. It can therefore be concluded that the bias of the hypnotist had nothing to do with the content of their hypnotic recall." Later, Betty claimed to have seen UFOs a number of times after the initial abduction, and she "became a celebrity in the UFO community."
Barney died of a cerebral hemorrhage on February 25, 1969, and Betty Hill died of cancer on October 17, 2004.