enigma of point pleasant
“Mothman”, as the strange creature came to be called, is
perhaps one of the strangest creatures to ever grace the annals of weirdness
The weird events connected to the Mothman began on November 12, 1966 near
Late in the evening of November 15, two young married couples had a very
strange encounter as they drove past an abandoned TNT plant near Point
Another sighting had more bizarre results. At about 10:30 on that same
evening, Newell Partridge, a local building contractor who lived in Salem
(about 90 miles from Point Pleasant), was watching television when the screen
suddenly went dark. He stated that a weird pattern filled the screen and then
he heard a loud, whining sounds from outside that
raised in pitch and then ceased. “It sounded like a generator winding up” he
later stated. Partridge’s dog, Bandit, began to howl out on the front porch
and Newell went out to see what was going on.
When he walked outside, he saw Bandit facing the hay barn, about 150 yards from the house. Puzzled, Partridge turned a flashlight in that direction and spotted two red circles that looked like eyes or “bicycle reflectors”. They moving red orbs were certainly not animal’s eyes, he believed, and the sight of them frightened him. Bandit, an experienced hunting dog and protective of his territory, shot off across the yard in pursuit of the glowing eyes. Partridge called for him to stop, but the animal paid no attention. His owner turned and went back into the house for his gun, but then was too scared to go back outside again. He slept that night with his gun propped up next to the bed. The next morning, he realized that Bandit had disappeared. The dog had still not shown up two days later when Partridge read in the newspaper about the sightings in Point Pleasant that night.
One statement that he read in the
newspaper chilled him to the bone. Roger Scarberry, one member of the group who
spotted the strange “bird” at the TNT plant, said that as they entered the city
On November 16, a press conference was held in the county courthouse and the couples from the TNT plant sighting repeated their story. Deputy Halstead, who had known the couples all of their lives, took them very seriously. “They’ve never been in any trouble,” he told investigators and had no reason to doubt their stories. Many of the reporters who were present for the weird recounting felt the same way. The news of the strange sightings spread around the world. The press dubbed the odd flying creature “Mothman”, after a character from the popular Batman television series of the day.
The remote and abandoned TNT plant became the lair of the Mothman in the months ahead and it could not have picked a better place to hide in. The area was made up of several hundred acres of woods and large concrete domes where high explosives were stored during World War II. A network of tunnels honeycombed the area and made it possible for the creature to move about without being seen. In addition to the manmade labyrinth, the area was also comprised of the McClintic Wildlife Station, a heavily forested animal preserve filled with woods, artificial ponds and steep ridges and hills. Much of the property was almost inaccessible and without a doubt, Mothman could have hid for weeks or months and remained totally unseen. The only people who ever wandered there were hunters and fishermen and the local teenagers, who used the rutted dirt roads of the preserve as “lover’s lanes”.
Very few homes could be found in the region, but one dwelling belonged to the Ralph Thomas family. One November 16, they spotted a “funny red light” in the sky that moved and hovered above the TNT plant. “It wasn’t an airplane”, Mrs. Marcella Bennett (a friend of the Thomas family) said, “but we couldn’t figure out what it was.” Mrs. Bennett drove to the Thomas house a few minutes later and got out of the car with her baby. Suddenly, a figure stirred near the automobile. “It seemed as though it had been lying down,” she later recalled. “It rose up slowly from the ground. A big gray thing. Bigger than a man with terrible glowing eyes.”
Mrs. Bennett was so horrified that she dropped her little girl! She quickly recovered, picked up her child and ran to the house. The family locked everyone inside but hysteria gripped them as the creature shuffled onto the porch and peered into the windows. The police were summoned, but the Mothman had vanished by the time the authorities had arrived.
Mrs. Bennett would not recover from the
incident for months and was in fact so distraught that she sought medical
attention to deal with her anxieties. She was tormented by frightening dreams
and later told investigators that she believed the creature had visited her own
home too. She said that she could often hear a keening sounds (like a woman
screaming) near her isolated home on the edge of
Many would come to believe that the sightings of Mothman, as well as UFO sightings and encounters with “men in black” in the area, were all related. For nearly a year, strange happenings continued in the area. Researchers, investigators and “monster hunters” descended on the area but none so famous as author John Keel, who has written extensively about Mothman and other unexplained anomalies. He has written for many years about UFO’s but dismisses the standard “extraterrestrial” theories of the mainstream UFO movement. For this reason, he has been a controversial figure for decades. According to Keel, man has had a long history of interaction with the supernatural. He believes that the intervention of mysterious strangers in the lives of historic personages like Thomas Jefferson and Malcolm X provides evidence of the continuing presence of the “gods of old”. The manifestation of these elder gods comes in the form of UFO’s and aliens, monsters, demons, angels and even ghosts. He has remained a colorful character to many and yet remains respected in the field for his research and fascinating writings.
Keel became the major chronicler of the Mothman case and wrote that at least 100 people personally witnessed the creature between November 1966 and November 1967. According to their reports, the creature stood between five and seven feet tall, was wider than a man and shuffled on human-like legs. Its eyes were set near the top of the shoulders and had bat-like wings that glided, rather than flapped, when it flew. Strangely though, it was able to ascend straight up “like a helicopter”. Witnesses also described its murky skin as being either gray or brown and it emitted a humming sound when it flew. The Mothman was apparently incapable of speech and gave off a screeching sound. Mrs. Bennett stated that it sounded like a “woman screaming”.
John Keel arrived in Point Pleasant in
December 1966 and immediately began collecting reports of Mothman sightings and
even UFO reports from before the creature was seen. He also compiled evidence
that suggested a problem with televisions and phones that began in the fall of
1966. Lights had been seen in the skies, particularly around the TNT plant, and
cars that passed along the nearby road sometimes stalled without explanation.
He and his fellow researchers also uncovered a number of short-lived
poltergeist cases in the
And stranger things still took
place.. A reporter named Mary Hyre, who was the Point Pleasant correspondent
Alarmed, she summoned the newspaper’s circulation manager to her office and together, they spoke to the strange little man. She said that at one point in the discussion, she answered the telephone when it rang and she noticed the little man pick up a pen from her desk. He looked at it in amazement, “as if he had never seen a pen before.” Then, he grabbed the pen, laughed loudly and ran out of the building.
Several weeks later, Hyre was crossing the street near her office and saw the same man on the street. He appeared to be startled when he realized that she was watching him, turned away quickly and ran for a large black car that suddenly came around the corner. The little man climbed in and it quickly drove away.
By this time, most of the sightings had
come to an end and Mothman had faded away into the strange “twilight zone” from
which he had come but the story of
On that same tragic night, the James Lilley family (who still lived near the TNT plant at that time) counted more than 12 eerie lights that flashed above their home and vanished into the forest.
The collapse of the
During Christmas week, a short, dark-skinned man entered the office of Mary Hyre. He was dressed in a black suit, with a black tie, and she said that he looked vaguely Oriental. He had high cheekbones, narrow eyes and an unidentified accent. He was not interested in the bridge disaster, she said, but wanted to know about local UFO sightings. Hyre was too busy to talk with him and she handed her a file of related press clipping instead. He was not interested in them and insisted on speaking with her. She finally dismissed him from her office.
That same night, an identically
described man visited the homes of several witnesses in the area who had
reported seeing the lights in the sky. He made all of them very uneasy and
uncomfortable and while he claimed to be a reporter from
So who was
Mothman and what was behind the strange events in
Whatever the creature may have been, it
seems clear that Mothman was no hoax. There were simply too many credible
witnesses who saw “something”. It was suggested at the time that the creature
may have been a sandhill crane, which while they are not native to the area,
could have migrated south from
But there could have been a logical explanation for some of the sightings. Even John Keel (who believed the creature was genuine) suspected that a few of the cases involved people who were spooked by recent reports and saw owls flying along deserted roads at night. Even so, Mothman remains hard to easily dismiss. The case is filled with an impressive number of multiple-witness sightings by individuals that were deemed reliable, even by law enforcement officials.
But if Mothman was real and he truly
was some unidentified creature that cannot be explained, what was behind the
UFO sightings, the poltergeist reports, the strange lights, sounds, the “men in
black” and most horrifying, the collapse of the
John Keel believes that
And if such things
can happen in
Made By Munteanu Constantin
“Spiru Haret” College
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