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: