It’s so famous they made a movie about it, but is there truth to the legend of the Mothman? Owen delves deeper…
There are all sorts of creatures and monsters scattered across our history; monsters that have been born from the darkness in men’s hearts and the landscape that is nightmare. Creatures that wear the night like a cloak to twist and destroy everything we hold dear. There are creatures that are jealous that a child can have a sound night’s sleep while the moon is the darkness’ only companion. But most are figments of imagination, told to scare children in order to keep them safe but sometimes, just sometimes, things happen that we cannot explain. Creatures suddenly appear causing ordinary people to hide away in fear because their minds tell them these things should not exist. There’s an old saying we all have a cross to bear but what if the cross you bore was to be the portent of impending doom and silence was your curse? Meet the Mothman. But tie it together with pets disappearing, cattle mutilations, UFOs MIBs and people dreaming dark nightmares of impending doom then you have a story that goes beyond a simple local monster.
The Mothman has appeared all across the world in every culture. His arrival is the sign of a terrible catastrophe coming but no one can tell what exactly will occur. And when it does, he is gone leaving a legacy of tears in his wake. He has been photographed at the Twin Towers and seen in Chernobyl and there are alleged videos that cannot be explained by a guy in a special effects suit. There is nothing like him and various videos and photos claim to show the beast. Some say people are mistaking him for an owl but surely people can tell the difference between an owl and a winged man. An owl’s sudden appearance will startle you but the Mothman will traumatize you.
In the town of Point Pleasant a terrible tragedy occurred. The Silver Bridge on the Ohio river collapsed on the 15th December 1967 killing 46 people. A later investigation showed a single eye bar had failed in the suspension chain, a result of a flaw in the manufacturing. It was a disaster that tore to the heart of the town and its people but in the months previous, things were happening that people say were warnings of something bad to come. And what makes this case so special is that ordinary people have come out to defend their reputations against skeptics and naysayers.
A respected journalist, John Keel, has stood up and brought this case to the world to the point they made a hit movie about starring Richard Gere called the Mothman Prophecies. And quite terrifying it is too. The events in the movie are close to real events, even down to the chilling scene where Gere receives a terrifying phone call from the Mothman. In the months leading up to the disaster there were numerous reports of unexplained lights in the sky and UFOs as well as poltergeist activity on a scale that stirred the town, some of which were witnessed by John Keel himself. Doris Deweese, her husband and Dottie Campbell all have vivid recollections of the ships that were seen. The National Guard and state police patrolled the town at night looking for the cause of these mysterious occurrences and the Mothman himself.
Keel discovered the Mothman story in Point Pleasant when two couples reported a terrifying encounter with the creature when it pursued them at 100 miles per hour in their car. The story ran in a local newspaper. Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette to this day cannot explain what it was and said they heard the beat of its wings on the roof of the car. They can describe its face, its body, even down to the muscles in its legs. When you watch Linda talk about that night there is a fear there of someone who has encountered something alien to their world. And that’s what makes this case so special in the paranormal world; these people are not cranks, they are not hoaxers and they ain’t talking about their experiences for money. No matter who you talk to in Point Pleasant there is something real about this.
These people talk as if they expect the creature to turn up again at any minute, something they do not relish in the slightest. Linda has even created what she saw via a police profile artist (left) and insists what happened was absolutely true. Marcella Bennett and her children met the creature which she described as half man, half bird and over six feet tall. She managed to get herself and her kids indoors but the creature stalked round her windows and porch leaving Marcella needing medical treatment for anxiety and she still has nightmares about it.
Keith Aeiker and then girlfriend (now wife) Connie also experienced this. Connie to this day is too afraid to be interviewed on camera about the night she met the Mothman. She was labelled a crank so Keith stands today to tell the world what she won’t and this is the heart of the story for me. Keith is determined that Connie not be seen as a crank and has set the record straight to the events of that night. Keith says he saw Connie’s eyes that night and they were red and swollen. She was driving home and saw the creature when it launched itself at her. She got home and was met by her mother and all Connie could say was about the red eyes. Some witnesses have heard its screech and vomiting is a side effect of hearing it. And John keel would discover that the female victims of the Mothman were all in their menstrual cycle adding to the mystery.
Now, as we know from experience, there are those that have a paranormal encounter and immediately see pound/dollar signs. But not here. Linda and her fellow witnesses are credible people and they don’t regard their experiences as an exciting one. They have a sincerity about them and a bravery in talking about that night. They are people that have been insulted by claims they saw an owl and want the world to know different; that what they saw was real and not an owl or figment of their imagination. This is a paranormal experience that the entire town experienced alone with no support and quite frankly left many traumatized. Even now decades after the experience has left many paranoid as if they were being watched. Something was in Point Pleasant in the skies and it changed these people forever.
John Keel actually been investigating another case when he heard of the Scarberry incident which led him to interviewing many other people of all ages who claimed to have seen the creature. And the collapse of the bridge was the icing on the cake as the Mothman disappeared as did all of the strange lights in the sky. There are more things in heaven and earth as they say and could the Mothman be a sort of banshee? A creature that knows something bad is coming and is powerless to warn anyone bar by appearing in the run up to the disaster? A real life portent of doom that must bear the weight of a terrible foreknowledge and is powerless to prevent it from happening? If so, what sort of deity places that sort of burden on anyone or anything?
It left Linda needing medical treatment as she collapsed when she got home. The Mothman tag was taken from a foe of Batman. Keel remembers well the atmosphere he felt when he arrived in Point Pleasant and most of it all going unreported because they were church going people that were experiencing something unknown. A population of 5,000 and a close knit community, Point Pleasant to this day is the definitive quiet American town who still live in fear of the shadow of the Mothman. As john Keel said, there was very little humour in these people’s stories, these are people who were genuinely terrified and puzzled about what was happening to them. What also adds to this tale is that several citizens had burn marks on their skin and red inflamed eyes from their encounters which doctors could not explain.
The Mothman incident in Point Pleasant raises more questions than it answers with witnesses suddenly being told not to talk about what was happening and the Men in Black also made an appearance. The likes of Dottie Campbell were told to be quiet and she was for many years out of fear. John Keel was being helped by one Mary Hyre, a local columnist who died shortly afterwards. Mary was living in fear of her life and had also received visits warning her to keep silent and stop digging. She noted how their complexions were sallow and they never blinked but questioned her on the Mothman. Everyone knew Mary and Keel says she was trustworthy. If something was threatening her town, she would never stop until she discovered what it was. Connie Aeiker also had a visit from these men and Keith found her locked in the apartment cowering in fear in the bedroom. When he finally got her to tell him what happened she told how the Men in Black stopped her in the street to ask for directions then grabbed her. She pulled free, ripping her blouse in the process and fled. Keith found her in the blouse still ripped and a threatening note was left on her porch leaving Connie frightened to go anywhere on her own.
There is no doubt that something happened in that town but is there more to the story than the Mothman. Is it connected to UFOs? Was it an alien? Why was a small town targeted in such a way? A town gripped by a fear of the dark as something invaded their lives. Some say when the bridge collapsed the Mothman was there, it was even reported in the local papers. Others said the creature visited them before the disaster and somehow they were waylaid from their normal paths which would have left them on the bridge otherwise. And while attention was directed on the rescue efforts it is said the UFO activity in the area increased but abruptly ended too.
Everything weird in the town ended that day, leaving a town that decided it would be better not to discuss it anymore. It’s the human element here that makes this story stand out for me and for thousands of paranormal enthusiasts. John Keel, a stranger to them, is embraced for being their voice, as was Mary and, like so many others, no one takes responsibility and the shadow of mystery shrouds the town for the rest of its days. Whatever the explanation of these events, one thing is for sure, it happened. Just look into the eyes of those that witnessed it all.