During the summer of 1961, a woman and her two daughters had a terrifyingly close encounter with a floating apparition in their Kentucky home. A creature that was so strange some researchers believe that it must have come from another dimension or possibly even the bowels of hell itself.
American author and ufologist, Leonard Stringfield — who served as director of CRIFO (Civilian Research, Interplanetary Flying Objects ) and public relations adviser for the UFO group NICAP (National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena), which was headed up by famed “flying saucer” expert Donald Keyhoe — cataloged this frankly bizarre case, which (one must assume) he believed to be an extraterrestrial visitation.
While the facts in this case are scarce to say the least, what little information we do have paints a vivid picture of what must have been a terrible night for a woman and her two daughters, Brenda, and Judy, in their pastoral hometown of Rogers, Kentucky.
Their odd tale began at approximately 1:30 a.m. — sometime in August of 1961 — when a woman identified only as “Mrs. Quinn,” abruptly awoke in her bedroom to find what she described as a “terrible looking creature” hovering beside her bed. Quinn would further illustrate this enigmatic entity to investigators:
“[It was] a big blob with a small round head with no neck, looking like a roly-poly. Around its big eyes were wrinkles that glowed.”
The phrase “roly-poly” can be used to describe either “pill bugs” — otherwise known as Armadillidiidae, which is a terrestrial crustacean group in the order Isopoda — or an often inflatable “punching toy” that rights itself when pushed over.
We assume Quinn meant the second variety, but perhaps the creature resembled an insect. It’s difficult to know for sure. What we do know for sure, however, is that this life form might be the most peculiar to come down the crypto-pike since the ENFIELD HORROR.
Quinn watched in horror as this small, dark being, drifted across her bedroom toward the bed where her daughters were sleeping. It was then that her 14 year-old daughter, Judy, awoke to see this bizarre, black specter hanging above her head. She described — in decidedly non-politically correct terms — the suspended and evidently bio-luminescent thing as resembling “…a huge tar-baby with enormous eyes.”
For those who don’t know, the story of the “tar-baby” was originally published in “Harper’s Weekly” by Robert Roosevelt. Years later, in 1881, author Joel Chandler Harris included the inanimate character in his controversial Uncle Remus stories. Finally, in 1946, Walt Disney Studios adapted the story in the contentious and rarely seen “Song of the South.”
In the tale, the tar-baby (a doll made of turpentine and tar) is used to trap the character of “Br’er Rabbit,” who becomes stuck in its frozen grasp. Due to Br’er Rabbit’s sticky predicament, the phrase “tar-baby” was commonly used to denote someone trying to avoid — or extricate themselves — from a “sticky situation.” In modern times the term has been (understandably) stigmatized for its negative racial connotation, which many deem offensive.
Taking Judy’s observation at face value, however, would seem to indicate that this flying creature appeared to be lumpy, moist and tacky, as if covered with a tar-like substance.
Although the visage of this wide-eyed fiend was more than enough to inspire terror in the witnesses; what was worse was that Judy claimed she could “feel” the creature tugging on her psychically in an attempt to make her move against her will. She explained:
“I knew it wanted me to go somewhere. I found myself slipping off the bed. Suddenly, the thing released its strange force and it was gone.”
Perhaps due to the psychological resistance offered by the teenager, or for reasons that are still unknown, this spine-chilling organism vanished… sliding, perhaps, back to its home dimension.
In discussions about this unique case, I’ve found that there are as many theories about this entity’s origins as there are people whom I’ve asked. Some suggested that it was some kind of inter-dimensional interloper that just happened to briefly become visible to the Quinns.
Others surmise that it was nothing less than a demon from the depths of Hades looking to claim an innocent soul. Still others feel confident that it was a simply a visitor from OUT OF THIS WORLD that was likely just as repulsed by the appearance of the humans, as they were of it.
Although this creature does bear a passing resemblance to the large-eyed, floating fiend that scared locals in rural Thailand, known as GHOSTLY SCARECROW OF CHIANG RAI, the fact is that this being is so utterly unique in the annals of both cryptozoology and ufology it’s almost impossible to imagine from where it was spawned.
Regardless of this entity’s origins or intentions, it’s a safe bet to assume that Quinn ladies never forgot their late night encounter with the hideous “roly-poly” or “Dark Baby” as we’ve christened it… especially young Judy, who — if her story is to be believed — came dangerously close to disappearing with it.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / designer / crypto chronicler / pod host / cult movie lover and co-founder of American Monsters.