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The Mothman Saga

Brent Raynes - © November 07, 2008

As most seasoned ufologists know, back in 1967, a New York journalist named John A. Keel conducted several extensive field trips to UFO and monster plagued Point Pleasant, West Virginia. There he interviewed over a hundred witnesses to what had become known as "Mothman," something very eerie and frightening that stood about 7-foot tall, had a ten foot wingspan, by some accounts had two glowing red hypnotic eyes, and reportedly was able to pursue an automobile up to 100 miles per hour in a single bound. To a roving reporter like Keel, a man who had spent weeks tracking the legendary yeti in Tibet (fully recounted in his book Jadoo, published in 1957), monster hunting was old sport. But a beast with wings was a new challenge and novelty that he just couldn't pass up.

Several years after this wave of high strangeness, Ron Schaffner, editor of Creature Chronicles, and yours truly descended on Point Pleasant one weekend in May of 1976. First we visited the Clifton F. McClintic Wildlife Station, an explosives manufacturing plant during World War II, seven miles north of Point Pleasant, where so many of the extraordinary UFO and Mothman sightings had been reported. We then interviewed several of the eyewitnesses Keel has written about in his many articles and mentioned in his book, The Mothman Prophecies. We discovered how one of those witnesses, since her first terrifying Mothman sighting in November 1966, which she had experienced in the company of teenaged friends, afterward was, two years afterwards, haunted by the Mothman phenomenon. In fact, she told us that she believed that over the years since 1966 she had had literally "hundreds" of recurrent encounters with the creature.

The woman told us that she had been within a mere yard of it, described its luminous and protruding red eyes, and recalled one occasion when it was peering in at her through an apartment window. "The bedroom window was right off the roof," she explained. "It was sitting on the roof. By then I was so used to seeing it I just pulled the blinds and went on. I felt kind of sorry for it gave you the feeling like it was sitting there wishing it could come in and get warm, because it was cold out that night."

"It seems like it doesn't want to hurt you," she added. "But you're too afraid when you see it to do anything."

But despite her fear she has a kind of fatal attraction for Mothman. She explained that anytime anyone mentioning going out to the McClintic Wildlife Station to look for the creature that she will usually go along. "I keep wanting to go back to find out what it is but I don't want to see it again," she confessed. The year before our visit, she told us how she had in fact returned with a group to look around and she said that she again saw Mothman, standing in the doorway of the now infamous abandoned power plant. That had been her most recent encounter.

"We had never heard of a UFO or anything like that before in our lives," this woman's mother told us. "Now that's the truth. We had never heard of it before until that happened to the kids and then after that happened everything went berserk." This mother even came to have her own Mothman sighting in early 1967, and later saw UFOs.

During our Point Pleasant visit I also got to speak with Mrs. Virginia Thomas. She described for me her legendary Mothman experience of November 2, 1967. Her husband Ralph had worked as a care taker at the wildlife station, where they lived, and that day Mrs. Thomas had stepped outside to cover over some motorcycles as dark clouds were forming overhead. It was then that she heard a sound "like a broken fan belt on a car" and then in a field across the road saw a grayish form "shaped like a man" but "running like lightning." In fact, ‘he' was running so fast that she told me that she later concluded that it must have been some sort of man-made robot.

Keel's published accounts of Mrs. Thomas' sighting failed to recount several peculiar details that she related to me about the event. "It took over my thinking, like it could pick it up and take it away from me," she explained. She also described how during the experience her ears were making cracking and popping sounds, and that her eyes were fixed on it, and she was unable to look away, and though she could open her mouth she was unable to utter a sound.

Mrs. Thomas, a devout Pentecostal, told me that she periodically has prophetic dreams. The one I had been familiar with from Mothman Prophecies was, of course, the one that seemed to foreshadow the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967, exactly thirteen months from the day when the Mothman epidemic in Point Pleasant had first erupted. She described how she had once foreseen an explosion at a jail in Point Pleasant also where several people had been killed. She added that after such a dream she feels bad but then when the actual event occurs she "doesn't shed a tear." It was as though, she added, the dream had prepared her. She said that when Keel had visited Point Pleasant shortly after the bridge collapse that he met with her and remarked how it hadn't seemed to disturb her too badly.

John Keel and I have corresponded off and on all the way back to 1969. In 1993, he wrote me: "As you discovered, my book only covered a small part of the overall situation. It would have taken six books to discuss all of it. What happened there also happened (and is still happening) in many other parts of the country. I was flabbergasted by the scope and complexity of the phenomena in the 1960s. I found the same identical situations everywhere…from Long Island to Hartshorn, Oklahoma. I spent some time in Fyffe, Alabama then and, as you know, they are still having UFO stuff along with many animal mutilations, poltergeist activity, etc. Unfortunately, there was little interest on Madison Ave. in the 60s and there was no place to publish any of my findings. In addition, the hardcore UFO buffs, NICAP, APRO, et al, fought bitterly against things like mutes, abductions, lost time cases, etc. They chose instead to attack me and accuse me of making it all up. …I continue to receive a great deal of mail about Mothman and things that have happened in West Virginia since. Thousands of people have had extraordinary experiences all over the country which match the experiences of the people in Point Pleasant. …Incidentally, there have been Mothman-type sightings in every part of the world. I no longer find them intriguing."

Keel determined that "Mothman" had a number of historical parallels. In India, for example, there were the legends of the giant airborne Garuda, and here in North America there was the terrifying Piasa that Indians of the Dakotas described as having red eyes and a long tail. There have also been the tales of a winged red eyed monster called the Jersey Devil that has haunted parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey as far back as 1735.

In the March 1976 edition of FATE magazine, a Virginia Miller of Elma, New York, wrote a letter saying that after reading a book review of Mothman Prophecies she was reminded of an experience with a similar creature that her father had had, of all times, on Halloween night in 1974! She wrote that they had not even heard of Mothman until nearly a year after her father's own encounter. Her father, outside the house that night watching for overzealous trick or treaters felt a compulsion to go to the backyard where Virginia had recently had a miniature replica of Stonehenge constructed out of cement blocks. Stumbling over a low garden fence he fell to his knees, got up and approached the circle. Then over nearby trees Mr. Miller was startled to see a human-like figure with a 9-10 foot wingspan and a "large grotesque head" come gliding down towards him. It was very close and then suddenly it veered off back towards the woods. Virginia felt that her father had been protected from the "gargoyle" looking thing because a friend trained in the ancient Celtic traditions had blessed the site with an old Celtic blessing. She also reported that like the people chronicled by Keel, she and her parents were "plagued by various misfortunes for months" after the incident.

A correspondent of mine wrote Virginia Miller and later visited her and her father. The creature, my friend was told, had had "leathery skin," "glowing eyes," and a "turtle like face" with a "long neck," and like so many of the others Keel had described the Miller's had a history of various kind of psychic experiences.

The Halloween encounter described by Virginia Miller made me reflect a little on the Mothman incidents. It seems like the Mothman's appearances in West Virginia kind of erupted around Halloween of 1966 and 1967. I also came to correspond with a Swedish UFO researcher named Hakan Blomqvist who was very interested in Mothman. He recalled how one Swedish couple during a UFO wave in his country had seen "several small humanoids floating around their car." He added, "The creatures had big, hypnotic red eyes, just like Mothman." That wave of sightings occurred on Halloween eve, 1965. Coincidence again?

About the Author: Brent Raynes has been studying UFOs for forty-one years. The author of Visitors From Hidden Realms (Eagle Wing Books, 2004), Brent is the editor of Alternate Perceptions magazine (

Submitted By: Brent Raynes
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© 2008 Sandy Nichols

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