During the mid-1960's, a creature known as Mothman terrorized people in the Ohio River Valley in West Virginia. Over 100 people claim to have encountered this terrifiying winged creature. Witnesses described it as being larger than a man, gray or black in colour, with a ten foot wingspan. Its red, glowing eyes gave off an aura of terror to those who saw it. Mothman was often observed levitating and flying without moving its wings. Along with sightings of this mysterious "bird", there was a flap of UFO sightings, Men In Black encounters, animal mutilations, and poltergeist phenomena, along with tv, radio, phone, and unexplained automobile malfunctions.
The Mothman was first reported on 12 November 1966 by five men preparing a grave for burial near Clendenin, West Virginia. They were startled by a brownish-coloured man with wings that rose up from some nearby trees and flew over their heads.
On 14 November 1966 in a field near Salem, West Virgina, Newell Partridge, a building contractor, was watching TV when suddenly, the picture blanked out and was replaced by a fine herringbone pattern. A screaching sound came through the speaker. His dog, Bandit, was on the front porch, agitated and howling. Partridge went outside with a flash light to investigate and was frightened by a pair of red glowing eyes staring back at him from the barn across the yard. When Bandit ran toward the eyes, Partridge ran inside to fetch his gun, but spent the night with the loaded shotgun propped up next to him, too afraid to go outside.
The next morning, Partridge went outside to investigate. He saw Bandit's footprints leading to where he had seen the eyes the night before. However, the dogs prints stopped and formed a circle, as if the dog had been chasing its tail (which Partridge had never seen him do before); then the prints vanished, as if the dog disappeared from that spot or was carried away. While Partridge never saw his dog again, a future eye-witness report published in the paper suggested his dog was carried off and killed by Mothman.
The next evening, four people, Roger and Linda Scarberry, and Steve and Mary Mallette, were driving past the abandoned TNT plant looking for friends who might be at the popular hangout. They saw a man-shaped figure, only larger, shuffeling toward the door to the plant. It had bat-like wings, and large red eyes situated in a headless torso. Terrified, the two couples sped off.
Up the road, they encountered the same creature which then pursued the car by flying without flapping its wings. They heard a high-pitched, squeaky sound. The thing followed them all the way to city limits. The four saw a dead dog lying in the middle of the road. They returned to the TNT area with Sheriff Millard Halstead, who took the couples seriously as he knew them their whole lives. The dog was gone, and everything appeared normal at the plant, except Halstead's radio made noises like a tape player at high speed.
The next day, a press conference was held and Mothman was given its name after a lesser villan in the popular Batman comic.
On 16 November, Mrs. Mercella Bennett saw a strange red light over the TNT area. Suddenly, a large grey being rose from the ground. Terrified, Mrs. Bennett grabbed her 2 year old daughter and sped toward the Thomas family home nearby. Locked inside the house, they soon heard a shuffling noise just outside the house and Mothman's glowing red eyes appeared in the livingroom window. Mrs. Bennett was plagued with nightmares for months afterward, and sought medical attention for her anxieties.
On 27 November, Connie Carpenter was driving home from church when she saw Mothman suddenly unfold its wings and fly at her windsheild. It veered off at the last minute, but gave Carpenter a close up veiw of its face, which she described as simply "horrible". She developed klieg conjunctivitus, a swelling, reddening, and itching of the eyes.
On February 27, 1967, Carpenter was walking to school when a man driving a 1946 Buick approached her. The man looked like he was in his mid-twenties, well tanned, and had no coat, despite the cold temperatures. He grabbed her arm, but she got away. The next day, she found a note on the porch written in pencil saying, "Be careful girl. I can get you".
Other strange people were encountered by local residents, and not only those who had been first-hand witnesses to the strange events. Reporters who were involved with investigating and researching the strange phenomena were targeted by odd people. Mrs. Mary Hyre was working at her office in the county courthouse when she was visited by a four and a half foot man with thick glasses, wearing only a short sleeved shirt despite the cold. The man asked her for directions to Welsh, West Virginia, but apparently already knew where it was and how to get there. He made Mrs. Hyre very uncomfortable, prompting her to summon the circulation manager. After continuing the conversation further, he picked up a ball point pen and marveled at it. When Mrs. Hyre told him he could have it he suddenly laughed and ran out the door. She later saw him watching her on the street, then jump in a car and speed away when she noticed him.
Journalist John A. Keel was the most famous investigater of the Mothman strangeness that plagued the region, and documented numerous sightings in his book, "The Mothman Prophesies". Keel arrived in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in December 1966, and shortly into his research, he was caugh up in the Mothman strangeness too. Keel was followed, and received bizarre phone calls which gave predictions of things to come.
The Mothman, UFO, MIB, and poltergiest phenomena ended abruptly after the 700 foot long Silver Bridge collapsed during rush hour traffic on December 15, 1967. Fourty-six people were killed. A woman who lived near the bridge said that two strange men were climbing around it the night before.
Many theories attempted to explain what exactly went on during the 13 months of terror in West Virginia. Among the more paranormal theories put forth were those of John Keel, who suggested that the mysterious creature and related phenomena was an energy beyond the comprehension of human minds. Keel beleived in "ultra-terrestrial" beings who manifested themselves as extraterrestrials, demons, ghosts, or gods. Less paranormal theories suggest the creature was a misidentified owl or Sandhill Crane (which also has large red patches around its eyes). Diehard skeptic simply write off the whole event as a product of mass hysteria.