By Jim Miles
It was 16 days before I was born, the predawn darkness of July 8, 1953, when Cobb County policeman Sherley Brown and his partner were patrolling Bankhead Highway near Leland. Seeing a decrepit pickup truck sitting in the middle of the road and three young men gathered around a figure flying on the pavement and waving for their attention, they stopped to investigate. Stretched out on the highway was a gangly, two-foot long humanoid corpse. The creature had two arms and two legs, but no hair.
“They told us they had run up on this little red spacecraft in the middle of the highway,” Brown related. “They said they saw three of these little men come running to the ship and jump on it. One of them didn’t make it before the spaceship took off, and they ran over it. There were scorched circles on the pavement where the ship had been.”
The story sounded solid. Just the evening before a number of Atlanta area residents had watched a large, multicolored, cone-shaped UFO maneuver slowly across the sky.
“They weren’t drunk,” Brown continued. “They acted scared, about how you’d be if you’d run up on a space alien.”
The story, flashed to news agencies within hours, alarmed the world. Atlanta newspapers and TV and radio stations were hounded by news agencies far and wide for the latest information. Two Air Force investigators packed for an emergency research trip.
The three men who killed the creature, barbers Edward Watters and Tom Wilson, and butcher Arnold “Buddy” Payne, were between nineteen and twenty-eight years old and shared an apartment at 1919 Peachtree Road NW. While they went home with the alien corpse, Officer Brown returned to headquarters. There several Austell residents called in to report having seen the mini-UFO that had left one of its crewthings behind.
“I went in and tried to explain what we’d found to the chief,” Brown said, “but he wasn’t interested in it. So I went home and went to bed and about an hour later I got a phone call.
“It was the chief, and he wanted to know what was going on. The newspapers and some intelligence fellow from the Air Force were all over him.”
The Killer B’s (two barbers and a butcher) spread word of their discovery and called the Atlanta Constitution later in the day. A skeptical reporter asked the men to cart the carcass to his office, which they did. There a veterinarian said it “looked like something out of this world.”
Several hours later Herman Jones, founder and director of the State Crime Lab, took the odd being to an anatomy professor at Emory University. They shortly pronounced the alien to be a hairless, de-tailed monkey.
After sticking to their story for several hours, the team caved and admitted it was a hoax formulated over a card game and masterminded by Watters. The three men purchased a monkey at an Atlanta pet shop and overdosed it with chloroform at their apartment. The barbers initially claimed to have shaved the poor creature, then admitted they were traitors to their trade and had used a depilatory. No one accepted responsibility for de-tailing the poor animal.
The hoaxsters had finished their scenario just five minutes before the policemen arrived.
“They had taken a blowtorch and burned those circles in the highway,” Brown related, “and they had shaved that monkey. I mean took every hair off of it.” He found the manufactured alien “so strange, and it looked so realistic.
“I should have known it wasn’t real,” but “it was just so realistic. I did believe it. It was almost impossible not to believe.”
The trio achieved their fifteen minutes of fame and were featured in LIFE magazine.
“Everybody was angry” at the men, Brown remembered. “It got pretty hot there for a while.”
Watters accepted responsibility for the incident and paid a fine for obstructing a highway-forty dollars. He moved out of Atlanta two months later.
“How would you like to be known as the Monkey Man?” Watters asked. “It got to be a big joke, you know. But jokes can go too far. They ran it into the ground, calling me Monkey Man and laughing at me.”
Despite the fact that for forty years the creature has resided in a jar of formaldehyde in Decatur at the GBI”s State Crime Lab headquarters, some true believers swear this was a cover-up for the real alien found that night in Georgia.
From Weird Georgia (2000)
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org