27 February 2009


Fortean author Mike Dash has tipped me off about an interesting development to one of the most famous MIB cases in the UFO literature; the case of Dr Herbert Hopkins, from Maine. Hopkins had been the consultant hypnotist who had performed the hypnotic regression for the 1975 abduction case in Maine, involving recalled memories of strange, ‘mushroom-headed', entities. Mike Dash continues the story in his indispensable book Borderlands:
“Perhaps the oddest and most detailed of all MIB incidents actually sprang from the Maine encounter of 1975. About six months after the incident had occurred, a local doctor named Herbert Hopkins was alone in his home when he received a call from a man who claimed to be the vice-president of a UFO organisation. The caller had heard that Hopkins had spoken to Stephens and Gray, and asked if he could call to discuss the case. Hopkins agreed, and within a matter of seconds - far more quickly than seemed possible - a man appeared at his back door. Hopkins let him in, for some reason not even asking his name.

“The stranger, he thought, `looked like an undertaker'. He was dressed in a just-pressed black suit, and when he removed his (black) hat, Hopkins saw that he was not only bald, but lacked eyelashes and eyebrows. His face was white, his lips a vivid red, and he asked his questions about the case in a flat, unaccented voice. At one point, while Hopkins was talking, his visitor brushed his gloved hand against his face and the doctor saw with surprise a red smear appear on the back of the glove. The man was wearing lipstick.

“Then came the threats. First Hopkins's visitor executed a bizarre `conjuring trick', slowly dematerialising a coin the doctor was holding in his own hand, with the comment, 'No one on this plane will ever see that coin again.' Next, Hopkins was told to destroy all the tapes and notes he had made of his meetings with Stephens and Gray. If he did not, the man threatened, his own heart would vanish in the same way that the coin had.'

“As he spoke his last words', Hopkins remembered, 'I noticed that his speech was slowing down. A bit unsteadily, he got to his feet and said, very slowly, 'My energy is running low. Must go now. Goodbye.' The man walked woodenly out of the house, towards a bright light that was shining in the driveway, and Hopkins did not see him again.”

But some new information throws an entirely different light on this account. An internet blog by Hopkins nephew, also called Herbert Hopkins reports that:

“My uncle was, unfortunately, a fantasy-prone individual, craved the center of attention and limelight and on a base level he sometimes just made things up—no matter how hyperbolic—to top everybody else. As brilliant as he was in many areas, however, he was unskilled at fiction.

“And for much of the ‘70s and 80s, he was an alcoholic. Every night was spent alone with a magnum of wine (he made his own wine, too, in a still in the basement). He would stumble up the stairs at about 5am, tripping over the 'invisible dog'. How did I know about the invisible dog? Well, a handful of times when I was sleeping over I would be awake and hear that tripping and the inevitable curse, “goddamn dog!” The real dog, incidentally, was next to me on the bed, staring out at the hall, wondering what the hell the thud had been.“

The bottom line for this particular Man in Black tale is unfortunately pretty mundane. This mysterious being in black, inspired by cheap fiction and alcohol, probably less of malicious intent and more from some sad need for attention, was, alas, a simple lie, one that needs to be corrected for those into serious research in this area. You can read the full account here:


(NB: This link no longer appears to be active as of October 2015)

The Hopkins family seem to have been a pretty odd crew, and Harold Jnr. Presents another experience from his rather eccentric relatives.

“What seemed kinda creepy to a kid now seems…well, no so much. In fact, it is so full gaps and silliness you have to wonder why some of the legitimate journals on paranormal research would even bother to treat it with any validity.

“The truth is again pretty obvious and simple. But unfortunately mixed with family sadness. Remember the part I mentioned about John not recognizing the couple but bringing them home anyway? At the time, we kids weren’t privy to what went on there, but later John told me. John and Maureen were swingers (is that term even still used?) It was fairly common for other couples to be coming and going about that place. As I kid I thought, wow, they sure have a lot of, um, “close” friends. Yep, close. Very close. So that they might have brought home an alien or two…not such a big surprise.

I seem to recall that this MIB incident featured in one of John Keel's reports in Flying Saucer Review. It also appeared in dramatised form in a remarkable play called All Along the Watchtowers, performed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. There is a review of it somewhere in the crumbling back-copies of Magonia. I’ll try and dig it out and put it up here."

Again, thanks to Mike Dash for this tip-off. Borderlands is an excellent book and you should have a copy:


Anonymous said...

I think Howard lied, to promote his own work.

libbyda said...

You could be right Anonymous. 30.7.15

Unknown said...

There were two Hopkins MIB articles, about the elder Hopkins's two MIB encounters. A second post addressed this second case (involving a strange female MIB with pendulous breasts)... and attributed it to another relative's wife-swapping exploits.

Although the original links have failed, both posts are still retrievable via the Wayback Machine:



Unknown said...

what´s about the coin, the Visitor gave Dr.Hopkins?

Anonymous said...

What Howard Hopkins fails to understand is that there are people who have encountered these beings and, the description given by Herbert Hopkins fits, exactly! So, Howard Hopkins may be one after 'the limelight himself. The drinking may be due to the encounter, frightening indeed!

Marion Lily said...

Yes, i encountered one around 2009 during a trip to Atlantic City. We were staying at a creepy inn (my bf likes a bargain). We were at the bar on night and I suddenly noticed a strange man sitting at the bar to my right (I was at the front and he was at the side right). I thought well I hadn't seen him when I'd looked away and he must have sat there quietly cause I hadn't noticed. However, he was a very weird looking person. He had a hat pulled down very low on his head and a pair of large eyeglasses. His skin was a terribly pale shade and his mouth looked crumpled in. I kind of smiled and he didnt change his expression or position. I couldn't tell if he was looking at me or not. The bar girls never approached him to take his drink order. After a few minutes, I noticed he was gone but had turned my head and didn't see him leave. I was surprised and said aloud "oh, he's gone" to which my boyfriend who had been sitting to my left the whole time asked who. I said the man who had been sitting to my right. My bf said there was nobody sitting there! It didn't occur to me until some years later that it was a ghost...but then I've been thinking about it and I thought it might have been an alien man in black. I've seen a lot of ghosts as I am a medium with over 30 years exp. (doing it before it became popular and everyone thought there were a medium). I've seen a lot as real as you and I but this guy did not look normal. I also recall such a weird feeling at this Inn, so creepy, I even said to bf that I thought there were aliens there, for real!!! even bf that exp. I just got the creeps from the place. I also think it was some kind of awful crime ridden drug/mafia type place...just weird as can be.

Unknown said...

Thought I'd add to this thread. Dr Hopkins was my Uncle and Howard was my brother. Yes, Dr. Hopkins liked to drink a bit but I don't think that makes his encounter false. He was a brilliant man, he needed to keep his mind busy so I don't doubt he did a lot of research in that area. I don't dismiss the encounter as my brother did. Different perspectives. As for the odd people in the family. We did have some, but it was interesting to see. As for the swingers, a few years later she shot and killed her husband. Robyn

Mike Dash said...

Sadly, as indicated above, Howard Hopkins died in 2012, aged only 50; this perhaps explains the disappearance of his blog from the web. Obituaries can be read here:


and here


Anonymous said...

I suspect his lies went beyond the Men in Black and he had an influence on David Stephens. I say this because I knew David Stephens, personally, for years. Despite Hopkins claims David "was a clean living guy", David told me, himself, he and his roommate not only abused whatever drugs they could get their hands on, but they were high the night this occurred. He has not believed this actually happened to him since approximately 1980. Another item of interest. Anyone that lived in Oxford prior to the 1990's will tell you, if you didn't have a pile of money to throw at a satellite dish, you were basically stuck watching WCSH6. No cable, lots of mountains, on a great night you might get 3 stations. 7 days before David Stephens abduction, the Betty and Barney Hill TV movie "The UFO Incident" aired on NBC. WCSH6 is an NBC station. If David had the TV on that evening, odds are he watched that movie. That mixed with the drugs led to "encounter", and Hopkins milked it for attention.