PORTSMOUTH - We are not alone.
Betty Hill sits in her living room next to a bust of one of the little green men who abducted her and her late husband Barney more than 40 years ago.
"Junior," as she calls the bust, is tattered and aged - particularly from a fall from a podium during one of her talks in St. Louis years ago. But Bettyís story remains an intact and startling glimpse inside Americaís fascination with UFOs and aliens.
"Interrupted Journey" became a made-for-TV movie in 1975. James Earl Jones played Barney and Betty was played by Estelle Parsons. Film critic Leonard Maltin rated the film as above-average and called it "absorbing" and "fact-based." He did say it lacked action though. Barney passed away in 1969. Betty, who turns 84 in June, has told their story across the world: from the Soviet Union to England to the United States and Canada. The tale remains something out of this world.
The Hills were returning from vacation in Canada on Sept. 19, 1961. They headed toward Portsmouth on Highway 3 through Lancaster in the stateís western panhandle. They saw a moving light in the sky as they approached Indian Head. Barney stopped the car but left the engine running and got out to look at the object with binoculars. He saw "5 to 11 figures moving behind a double row of windows" of some kind of craft.
As the object closed, Barney ran back to the car exclaiming, "They are going to capture us!" The couple fled in the car at breakneck speed. Betty said the object moved directly over the car and they heard a loud noise - like the sound of a tuning fork - and then they were drowsy.
Soon after, Betty began having nightmares about that night. A group of "men" stood in the middle of the road and stopped their car. Betty and Barney were taken aboard a disk-shaped craft and examined through hair and skin samples. Betty says the aliens did not all look alike. They were 4Ĺ- to 5-feet tall. "Iím not too accurate on their height, but theyíre rugged. Theyíre not skinny guys." Anxiety led the Hills to seek help from Dr. Benjamin Simon, a Boston psychiatrist who specialized in treating amnesia through hypnotherapy. Simonís help revealed many details of their encounter that matched each otherís closely as well as Bettyís nightmares.
Betty no longer struggles to deal with her abduction.
"No, no, no," she said in her State Street home. "Actually, when I was on board the craft I recognized the importance of what was happening. I said to the leader, ĎI know youíre not from this planet. Where are you from?í"
Through Dr. Simonís treatment, Betty drew a "star map" showing her alien abductorsí origin. An astronomical investigation years later produced a controversial match between her map and a cluster of previously unknown stars near two stars called Zeta Reticuli.
"Others may say they were abducted before, but she popularized it," Schuessler said. "I have a lot of respect for Betty."
Schuessler said the Hillsí willingness to go to Dr. Simon and outside the UFO Network, brought credibility.
Dr. Simonís professional opinion of the Hillsí abduction was that it was a product of their collective imaginations. He concluded "people do not necessarily tell the factual truth while they are under hypnosis - all they tell is what they believe to be the truth." Schuessler said Dr. Simonís conclusion doesnít mean the abduction didnít happen. "A lot of people didnít want to believe Betty, wanted to believe it couldnít be true. But she has never wavered on her story."
"If they donít believe it, then I donít know who they are," she said. "I go to the grocery store and people come up to me and tell me their sightings. Around here, itís difficult to find someone who hasnít had at least one sighting or knows someone in their family who has."
Through March 2001, there have been 143 UFO sightings reported over the years in Rockingham County, by far the most in the stateís counties. Seacoast sightings were reported over the years in Barrington, Durham, East Kingston, Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, Newfields, North Hampton, Portsmouth, Seabrook and Stratham. New Hampshire MUFON reports three recent sightings around the state including a Fremont man who saw a white orb of light on Jan. 16, 2002. The others were in Pittsburg in 2002 and in Colebrook in 2000. Peter Geremia, director of New Hampshire MUFON, said the notion of the state being a hotbed of UFO activity is a perception.
"Weíve had times when we had many more sightings than others, but so have many other places around the world," said Geremia, a resident of Rye. "Itís all about where and when the phenomenon starts."
But Geremia says New Hampshire has a rich history of UFO sightings going back to Fullerís books on Muscarello and the Hills. "The books by Fuller probably helped make our cases a little more famous than some of the other ones," he said. "I generally say the Hill case is the flagship of abduction research cases." Betty quite seriously says her last sighting was during the Portsmouth Christmas Parade this past January when a craft with three red lights on top hovered over her neighborhood.
"I assumed they were watching the Christmas parade. Even now theyíre out here flying over Great Bay. Basically they follow the rivers."
By Richard Fabrizio
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