|Average Height||1.8-2.1 m|
|Sapience Level||Sapient (presumed)|
|Seen in||Charleston and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, USA|
The Mothman, a strange creature reported to haunt the Charleston and Point Pleasant areas of West Virginia between November 1966 and December 1967, was also sporadically reported to be seen prior to, and after, those dates, with some sightings coming as recently as 2005. Most observers describe the Mothman as being 5 to 7 feet tall creature with wings and large reflective red eyes, similar to the Garuda of Hindu lore. A number of hypotheses have been put forward to explain what people reported, ranging from misidentification and coincidence to paranormal phenomena and conspiracy theories. The Mothman was named in parallel to the villain "Killer Moth" in the Batman TV series that was popular at the time, was reportedly first sighted November 12, 1966. A group of five men were preparing a grave in a cemetery close to Clendenin, West Virginia when what they described as a "brown human shape with wings" lifted off from behind nearby trees and flew over their heads. However, this sighting was not made public until later, and the first sighting described in the media took place just three days later.
On the evening of November 15, 1966 two young married couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, were out for a drive in the Scarberrys' car. They were passing a World War II TNT factory about seven miles outside of Point Pleasant, in the 2,500 acre McClintic Wildlife Station, when they noticed two red lights in the shadow by an old generator plant near the gate of the factory. They stopped the car and were startled to see that the lights were the glowing red eyes of a large animal, "shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back," according to Roger Scarberry. Terrified, the couples took off in their car, heading for Route 62.
Headed down the exit ramp, they saw the creature again, standing on a ridge near the road. It spread its wings and took off, following their car to the city limits. They went to the Mason County courthouse and told their story to Deputy Millard Halstead, who later said "I've known these kids all their lives. They'd never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously." He followed Roger Scarberry's car back to the TNT factory, but found no sign of the strange creature. According to the book Alien Animals, by Janet Board, a poltergeist attack on the Scarberry home took place later that night, in which the creature was seen several times.
On that very same evening, at about 10:30 p.m. Newell Partridge, a local building contractor who lived in Salem, about 90 miles from point pleasant, was watching television when he the screen suddenly went dark. He would later state that a weird pattern filled the screen and that he heard a loud whining sound coming from outside that raised in pitch before drawing silent, “It sounded like a generator winding up”. Newell’s dog, Bandit, began to stir and howl out of the front porch, Newell got up to investigate what was going on. When he walked outside, he noticed that Bandit was focused on the hay barn, about 150 yards from the house. Newell then turned on his flashlight and shinned the beam in the direction of the barn, upon doing so the light illuminated two red circles that looked like eyes or the reflectors of a bicycle tire, the sight of these glowing red eyes frightened him. Bandit, an experienced hunting dog who was also very protective of his territory shot off across the yard in the direction of the glowing eyes. Newell called for his dog to stop and come back to the porch but the determined dog paid no attention to his master.
Afraid for the life of his dog Newell ran back into the house to get his gun but was to frightened to go back outside. That night he slept with with his gun propped up agianst his bed. The next morning Bandit was no where to be found, Newell called out for his dog but to no avail. Two days later there was still no sign of Bandit when Newell read about the Mothman sightings in Point Pleasant. He read one statement in particular that may have explained the fate of his beloved dog. Roger Scarberry, one of the 4 people who originally saw the Mothman near the old TNT plant, was qouted by the newspaper as saying that they saw the body of a large dog laying on the side of the road moments before the Mothman appeared to them. Could this have been to body of Bandit?
The next night, November 16, local townspeople, armed, went searching the area around the old TNT plant for signs of Mothman. This old World War II TNT plant would become known as the lair of the Mothman, and the strange creature could not have picked a better place to hide. The area was made up of several hundred acres of woods and large concrete domes where exploseves where stored during the war. A network of tunnels branched out across the area and made it possible for the creature to move about without being noticed. The area was also surrounded by the McClintic Wildlife Station, a heavily forested animal perserve filled with dense woods, artificial and natural ponds, and steep ridges and hills. Much of the reserve was inaccessible by vehicle amd any creature, including the Mothman, could have remained hidden.
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley and Mrs. Marcella Bennett with her baby daughter Teena, were in a car on their way to visit their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, who lived in a bungalow among the igloos which where concrete dome shaped structures erected for explosives storage during WWII close to the TNT plant. The igloos were now empty, some owned by the county, some by companies intending to use them for storage. They were headed back to their car when a figure appeared behind the parked vehicle. Mrs. Bennett said it seemed like it had been lying down, slowly rising up from the ground, large and gray, with glowing red eyes. Mrs. Bennett reportedly was so terrified that she dropped her young daughter but quickly got her thoughts together, picked up her child and ran back into the house. Wamsley phoned the police as the terrified friends heard the creature walk onto the porch and peering in through the windows. By the time the police got to the house the creature had disappeared.
On November 24, four people saw the Mothman flying through the air over the TNT area. On the morning of November 25, Thomas Ury, who was driving along Route 62 north of the TNT, said he saw the creature standing in a field by the road, then spread its wings and took off, following his car as he sped into Point Pleasant to report the sighting to the sheriff.
On November 26, Mrs. Ruth Foster of Charleston, West Virginia saw the Mothman standing on her front lawn, but it was gone when her brother-in-law went out to look. On the morning of November 27, it pursued a young woman near Mason, West Virginia, and was reported again in St. Albans the same night, by two children. The Mothman was seen again January 11, 1967, and several times during 1967. Fewer sightings of the Mothman were reported after the collapse of the Silver Bridge, when 46 people died. The Silver Bridge, so named for its aluminum paint, was an eyebar chain suspension bridge that connected the cities of Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio over the Ohio River.
It was built in 1928 and collapsed on December 15, 1967; investigation of the wreckage pointed to the failure of a single eye-bar in a suspension chain due to a small flaw when it was made. Some researchers believe that the appearce of the Mothman brings about a warning of trageity to come, and say that the sightings of the Mothman in Point Pleasant was due to the iminenct collapes of the ill fated bridge.
Reports of Mothman sightings and events continue to this day. Instances of "strange flying creatures" and "winged men" have been reported in many American states as well as across the globe in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including supposed sightings in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986, shortly before the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.
A large collection of first-hand material about Mothman is found in John Keel's 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, in which Keel lays out the chronology of Mothman and what he claims to be related parapsychological events in the area, including UFO activity, Men in Black encounters, poltergeist activity, Bigfoot and black panther sightings, animal and human mutilations, precognitions by witnesses, and the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge across the Ohio River. Keel's first book was the basis of a 2002 movie of the The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Debra Messing, directed by Mark Pellington. A companion book called The Eighth Tower was also released in 1975, built on material edited from The Mothman Prophecies by the publishers.
John Keel believes that Point Pleasant was a “window” area, a place that was marked by long periods of strange sightings, monster reports and the coming and going of unusual persons. He states that it may be wrong to blame the collapse of the bridge on the local UFO sightings, but the intense activity in the area at the time does suggest some sort of connection. Others have pointed to another supernatural link to the strange happenings, blaming the events on the legendary Cornstalk Curse that was placed on Point Pleasant in the 1770's.
Author Jeff Wamsley has compiled two books on the Point Pleasant Mothman phenomenon. In his 2002 book Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend, with Donnie Sergent, Jr., Wamsley presents old press clippings, local history, and eyewitness interviews. In his second book, Mothman: Behind the Red Eyes written in 2005, Wamsley interviews nearly a dozen eyewitnesses, allowing them to describe what they saw. Wamsley is also the owner of the Mothman Museum and a key organizing figure in the Mothman Festival each year in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
A.B. Colvin, a local photojournalist and documentary film maker who claims to have seen the creature in 1967 and 1973, has produced a book and 32-hour DVD news series on Mothman called The Mothman's Photographer, with over 40 eyewitnesses and experts. Colvin's sister took a snapshot of him in 1973 that allegedly shows a Garuda or Thunderbird in the background. Colvin took a picture of an anomalous figure in a crop circle in 1979 that he alleges could be either his deceased father, who Colvin reports was at the suppoesed Philadelphia Experiment in 1943, or Indrid Cold, a 'spaceman' who reportedly contacted local resident Woody Derenberger.
While researching various forms of Buddhist philosophy and various Native tribes, Colvin seems to have reached the conclusion that both the Garuda of the Far East and the Thunderbird of the Native Americans are synonymous with Mothman, and that the Mothman was fulfilling a pre-ordained, archetypal role that involves stopping heinous crimes at pivotal moments in mankind's cyclical existence by sending visions, dreams, and messages to ordinary humans. Colvin presents some evidence that Charleston witnesses separately saw Mothman, the Dover Demon, the Virgin Mary, plasma figures, "intelligent" globes of light, and the Flatwoods monster in the same spot, lending credence to his Mothman "shape-shifting" theory.
Cryptozoologist and author Loren Coleman, in the 2002 book Mothman and Other Curious Encounters focuses on news stories he alleges undermine Keel's "ultraterrestrial" approach. As Coleman likes to point out, the word "Mothman" was coined by a copyeditor in Ohio who was a fan of the television "Batman" series. Coleman alleges that the Indrid Cold story told by Woodrow Derenberger has little or nothing to do with the core Mothman reports. He claims that over eighty people have died because they have seen, researched, or had some connection to Mothman, such as the wife of the director of the 2002 motion picture, who also worked on a Mothman film. Coleman feels that the influence of Keel has heightened the cryptozoological realities that underlie the initial reports. He claims he does not consider mundane natural history explanations as the final answer.
Sceptics such as a college professor in 1966 and members of CSICOP in 2002 have argued that the most likely explanation of the sightings is excited eyewitnesses mistaking a barn owl for a winged monster. Another possibility is the misidentification of a sandhill crane. The sandhill crane, however, is not native to the area but may have migrated down from Canada. This theroy does not appease those who have wittnessed the Mothman in person, stateing that in no way could what they have seen actualy have been a bird of any kind.
Omen of horrific events to come, demon, escaped government experiment, barn owl, Sandhill Crane or something else, what could the Mothman be? Unlike a lot of criptids that are localized in a general area, the Mothman does not seem to appear in any one area for a long period of time making field reasearch of the creature next to impossible. And if the theory that the Mothman is an omen of ill fortune would any field reasearch even want to go looking for such a creature? The Mothman is one cryptid that will most likey remain a mystery for all time, flying erierly through the darkest places in our world and our subconcious.