Creature Feature: The Mothman

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I live in West Virginia, and for some reason this state is a hot bed for strange encounters. From the previously posted Vegetable Man to the Flatwoods Witch, the mountain state is full of monsters, none of which are more famous than The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

It all started on November 12, 1966 with a town over in Clendenin. Grave diggers were working into the late hours when they saw something large take off from a thicket of trees. They swore it wasn’t just a big bird. It looked like a man, a man with wings.

artistic mothman

An artistic representation by Cathy Wilkins of…MOTHER OF GOD, I’LL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!!!

After that, Mothman was seen numerous times in different places throughout West Virginia. Most of the sightings seemed to occur around an old munitions factory called the West Virginia Ordinance Works or as the locals called it, the “TNT”.

The TNT area was overgrown and dotted with storage buildings made of concrete and dozens and dozens of abandoned tunnels. It was also, in the 1970s, said to be so polluted that it could be labeled a disaster site. This actually ties in with a local legend as to the Mothman’s origins.

Some people believe that the Mothman was actually a bird that was mutated by the chemical runoff from the plant. Now, this theory doesn’t really hold much water since no chemical used in the creation of gunpowder has been known to cause genetic mutation. However, there are those who believe that to this day.

It was the TNT area that played stage to the closest look anyone has ever had of the Mothman. On November 15, 1966, four friends were cruising through the TNT. Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Marry Mallette had no idea what they would come across that night.

As accounts go, it was Linda who spotted the creature first. She saw a pair of glowing red eyes further up the road. When the headlights washed over the creature, they all stared in shock. Over 7 feet tall, it stood on two legs. Its body was covered in a gray/brown hide and its wings were folded.

The four were horrified of the creature. Many who have claimed to see the Mothman state that it makes them feel scared, as if it were malevolent. Some even become sick at the sight with an illness that lasts for several days.

They turned their car to speed away and panicked as the monster gave chase. It rose up into the air with a 10-15 foot wingspan and followed right along with the car, which was supposedly going 100 mph.

scarberry newspaper cliping

An article from Athens Ohio about the Scarberry sighting

Where there were dozens and dozens of sightings, even a few encounters with the Men In Black (who were keen on having witnesses keep their mouths shut,) everything seemed to come to a head with the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

On December 15, 1967, the suspension bridge collapsed and sent 31 cars into the freezing water. Sadly, 46 were killed, and while 9 survived, they were injured. Many claim to have seen the Mothman flying over the bridge before it collapsed. After the tragedy, the sightings mysteriously stopped.

There has been a photo circulating around this case for years which at first glance adds some credence to Mothman being at the scene of the bridge but upon closer inspection the supposed image is just part of the bridge itself.

mothman bridge2

Just a metal connector at he bridge top

 

Now there have been tons of theories as to what the Mothman actually is. Anything from the previously mentioned mutated bird to a sand hill crane…

sandhill crane

Come at me bro!

and an owl…

barred_owl

What is an Owl’s favorite subject? Owlgebra

However it seems a little hard to confuse an owl with a 7 foot tall human like creature. There is another odd connection between West Virginia’s Mothman, with that of Cornwall England’s Owlman (which was seen in 1976). The two sound nearly identical in terms of appearance, and with the time-frame so close together it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that they might be one and the same. (The fact that they were seen so far apart could play into the idea of migration.)

Something that did stand out to me was the long held belief by people in and around Point Pleasant that the area suffers from a curse. Legend has it that a Native American chief called Cornstalk was murdered near where the town stands today. He was killed along with his children in an act of betrayal and cursed the land.

Interestingly enough, there is a Shawnee myth about the Waupee which could explain the Mothman. The legend tales of a lonesome man who fell in love with a star maiden. They had a son and were invited to the star chief’s home in the sky. There they took the gift of a hawk feather and spread their great wings to soar across the sky.  (While a beautiful story, it doesn’t fully explain the creature. However, it goes to add credence to the idea that this being has been seen before. Myths and legends were often used to explain the explainable, after all.)

My take on the Mothman is one of hope. The creature itself ended up breathing life back into the town of Point Pleasant after the book The Mothman Prophecies and the movie with the same name came out. The little town used the monster to put themselves on the map and have become a mecca in the cyptozoological scene. While sightings have all but died out, in one town at least, the hope that something is out there is still strong.

mothman festival

Stay frosty

Sources:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Cryptid_Wiki

https://www.prairieghosts.com/

Creature Feature: Devils of Son Doong

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There are stories all over the world about monsters living right under our feet. They dwell in caves and come up to steal our children or wait until we wonder into their lair. That fear of things below is ingrained into our DNA and is one that crosses cultures, creeds and nationalities.

For years residents around Son Doong cave in Vietnam have talked about strange, human like snakes. These reptilian creatures dwell down deep in the cave and have been said to kill those unlucky enough to venture to far.

reptilianul-din-pestera

Evidence or pareidolia? possibly even Old Greg

Ever since the cave become popular among tourists for it’s beauty and unique features, unsettling reports have started to come in about half glimpsed beings in the shadows. While most of the sightings are sporadic and little more than word of mouth or second hand rumors, a video surfaced in 2015. Allegedly it is the only recorded sighting of what some are calling the “Devils of Soon Dong Cave.”

Now as I said before the concept of a monstrous race living in the subterranean darkness under us is nothing new. In the western world and in Christian mythology, there is the concept of hell and the demons that torment there. Even in the biblical creation myth, Satan tempts as a snake that walks like a man. Japan has depictions of the turtle like kappa.Even artwork featuring the courts of hell(Yomi) in Shinto show reptilian creatures.

shinto-hell

Ah the old family BBQ!

I can believe that there are some sort of creatures out there that could be responsible for these sightings. The connections are there that some version of them existed in the past and was enough to fill our ancestors with instinctual terror. Try not to remember any of that the next time you go cave diving.

Stay frosty out there.

Sources:

 

Creature Feature: The Melonheads

Something strange is said to stalk the woods at night. Small bodies, large misshapen heads, evidence of a tragic secret some would say. Others, talk of feral madness and inbreeding to levels that would make Wrong Turn look tame.

goonies-monster

“I only dropped you once…ok twice…look it was a couple of times but still!”

Called Melonheads by those who have claimed to see them. They have been sighted as far back as the 1800’s and in three states (Michigan, Connecticut, and Ohio). Described as around the size of a child and suffering from a huge swelling of the cranium, a medical condition called Hydrocephalus. Stories as to their origin abound but the most popular center around a fringe doctor named Crowe.

It is said that Dr. Crowe had saved the children from the streets but in truth took them to his country estate as test subjects. He injected chemicals into their brains which caused the large melon like shapes and lead to madness. After years of abuse the Melonheads rose up against the doctor and killed him by hanging him from a chain and burning his house down around him.

Another origin tale echos Dr. Crowe by stating the children were escaped mental patients who burned down their asylum to live in the woods. There they resorted to cannibalism and murder in order to stay alive. Eventually they began to breed with each other and commit incest, which lead to the mental retardation and Hydrocephalus.

melonhead

Hello, I am elder Melon and I would like to share with you this most amazing book!

Most of the sightings are localized to certain areas in all three states.

  • Michigan- They are said to live in the woods around Ottowa County and near Felt mansion. (Which is where many claim the insane asylum was)
  • Ohio-  The Melonheads are said to stay around an area called “Crybaby Bridge”. Several locals claim to see mutilated animals in the woods there on a regular basis.
  • Connecticut-Has a long history with the Melonheads as well. Most sightings have been reported around Fairfield County but reports have come in from nearly ten towns as well.

As far as my take on these strange little cryptids go,I’d have to say it isn’t likely these poor souls are out there. If they were I would hate to classify them as “creatures” since all stories point to them being human. Every state with hills seems to have a sort of backwoods myth like this.

Stay frosty out there

Creature Feature: Lamb of Tartary

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You know making clothes the old fashioned way was really a pain. Remember going out to the fields and pulling down the fresh lambs growing from tall stalks and sheering them? What, you don’t remember that? Surely you remember opening up the long pods to check on the naked baby lambs inside for next years harvest, No? Then you must not have had a Lamb of Tartary.

lamb-plant

Looks like a fine crop, I’d say

Dating well before the 16th century, this fascinating little cryptid was documented in Central Asia. The people there claimed the creature was both an animal and a plant. It’s life cycle started as a tall stalk which acted like an umbilical cord to the soil. Pods would then grow, filled with naked lambs and soon they would reach maturity at the very top of the stalk. There the Lamb of Tartary would sway back and forth to eat the grass around it until the food was gone. Without grass to eat it would die of starvation. The locals would come to shave it and drink it’s honey like blood.

In 1887 a writer named Henry Lee caused a stir with his book The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary. The book sparked a debate on what parts of the creature were animal and what parts were plant and ultimately listed the cryptid as a fable for the cotton plant. Reasoning that the local people had no idea of “cotton” but knew well that “wool” came from sheep.

cotton-and-wool

They do look pretty similar

There is also strong connection between the Lamb Of Tartary and a Jewish myth called the Yeduah. The Yeduah was said to be a sheep that grew from the ground by a long stalk and only by severing the stalk could the Yeduah be killed. It’s bones were then said to be used in religious divination. Stories about Yeduah were sometimes very violent. The creature was said to sometimes swing down from the stalk and snatch people up.

My thoughts on this strange creature are pretty mixed. I agree that it is most likely allegory for the cotton plant but the strong connection between the Lamb of Tartary and the Jewish Yeduah give me pause. Seems very odd that something from Central Asian myth could show up, almost perfectly mirrored, in old Jewish folklore.

Stay frosty out there

Sources:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Cryptid_Wiki

Creature Feature: The West Virginia Vegetable Man

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YOU NEED NOT FEAR ME. I WISH TO COMMUNICATE. I COME AS A FRIEND. WE KNOW OF YOU ALL. I COME IN PEACE. I WISH MEDICAL ASSISTANCE. I NEED YOUR HELP.”

These are the strange, fragmented words a man named Jennings Frederick claimed to have heard from the mouth of a monstrous creature. Frederick was a bow hunter and on a hunt outside Fairmont, West Virginia (on a hot day in 1968) he heard an odd sound. This sound, like “a high-pitched jabbering…a record running at exaggerated speed”, would lead him to an event that would change his life.

Frederick came across the creature, which he described as being much taller than himself but skinny as the stalk of a river reed. It’s body was skeletal and green like a blade of grass but it’s eyes were sickly yellow. From it’s hands stretched out thin, impossibly long fingers that ended in wide suction cups. From the cups were needle like thorns.

veg-man

We’re going to need more ranch over here!!!

It spoke the above words to him in that same fast paced jabbering before lunging at him and sticking those thorns deep into his hand. The creature was strong and as blood was drained from his body, those eyes began to flash from yellow to red in such a way that Frederick felt hypnotized. The pain faded the longer he held the plant like creatures gaze. Then, as abruptly as it attacked, the Vegetable Man shot off and up a hill at inhuman speeds.

Not long after that Frederick heard a deep humming, which he later concluded must have been the entity’s ship taking off. Frederick kept this account a secret from everyone until he finally broke down and told the story to Gray Barker.

Gray Barker will be the subject of another post later on since he is a controversial figure in many paranormal accounts from West Virginia. He is credited as coining the term “Men In Black” as well as having connections to both the Mothman and Flatwoods Witch cases.

My own take on this possible encounter is one of non-commitment. There was never another sighting of any creature that even came close to this thing since the original in 1968. To me there isn’t really much to go on to form an opinion either way. In any event it, the odd case of West Virginia’s Vegetable Man is an interesting addition to our increasingly strange world.

Stay frosty out there

Sources:

http://www.cryptopia.us/

http://ufozone15.blogspot.com/

Creature Feature: The Zanfretta Abductions

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*Holy crap, a Creature Feature out on an actual Friday!?* 

Here we have a strange case out of Italy of what may very well be the first recorded encounter with what people commonly refer to as “reptilian” aliens. (If not the first, then the most widely known at the time)

It all started one night in 1978 at the village of Torriglia. Pier Zanfretta was simply making the rounds on his security route when he made to the currently empty home of one of his clients. All of a sudden the lights and engine of his car died. As he was looking around he noticed lights coming from the house and assumed that the home was being burgled. So Zanfretta, with gun and flashlight in hand, decided to sneak around to try and surprise the criminals. However it was him that would be surprised that night and the shock would change his life forever.

zanfretta-aliens

Free Hugs!

Something touched him on the shoulder and he spun around to meet “An enormous green, ugly and frightful creature, with undulating skin..as though he were very fat or dressed in a loose gray tunic…” Was his original description of the creatures. He would go on to describe them as having large yellow triangles for eyes and points on either sides of their faces. He sprinted away and as he made it back to his car , a massive UFO rose up from behind the house. It began to glow and blasted him with a wave of heat before it disappeared completely.

Zanfretta radioed his dispatcher for help. He was rambling and in shock when the found him, saying of his attackers “No, they aren’t men, they aren’t men…my God are they ugly.” He brandished his gun at his comrades, he seemed to not know them and they were forced to knock him to the ground. They were shocked to find how warm his clothes were since it was so cold and icy out.

The Italian Military police were sent out to the area that night after Zanfretta was rescued. The found huge prints possibly created by the UFO’s landing gear that were 9 feet in diameter and horseshoe shaped. A staggering 52 citizens reported seeing the large UFO around the area of the home at the same time Zanfretta claimed to have seen it.

During the course of the investigation Zanfretta’s credibility was further increased by the amount of people who came forward in defense of his character. A member of the press found it hard to believe a family man, with a stable career and obvious hate for his new found fame, would willingly make up a story that could cost him so much. However public opinion was against him, he would go on to say to a reporter named Di Stefano “People call me on the phone at all hours to play jokes on me. I don’t know what it was that I saw, but I saw it. I am not a liar…if I could have, I wouldn’t have reported my experiences, now that I see the consequences.” Those words echo modern day sentiments from many abductees. They often lament talking about what happened to them because of the backlash they received from not only strangers but their own family at times.

So in an attempt to shed some light on what happened, On December 23rd Zanfretta agreed to be hypnotized. Dr. Mauro Moretti, a member of the Italian Association for Medical Hypnosis put him under. Under hypnosis Zanfretta revealed that the aliens had also abducted him and had taken him to a strange hot room filled with light. There they communicated with him through a glowing device. He found that the strange mouthpieces they wore allowed them to breath while on earth and that they were from a planet called “Teetonia” somewhere in the “Third galaxy”. The interrogation lasted sometime and the creatures revealed that they wanted to speak more and would soon arrive in greater numbers.

ufo-attack

He’s happy for the anal probe, are you?

Three days after his session with Dr. Moretti, Zanfretta claimed to have been abducted again. This time he said that his car was overtaken and controlled remotely. He was driven through the a tunnel before a bright white light flooded the car. His dispatch claimed that he called in at the time in a very controlled voice saying “The car has stopped. I saw a bright light. Now I am getting out.” Hours later he was found by two other guards out in a field by his car in a heavy rain. Zanfretta was weeping, crying out “They say I must leave with them. What about my children? I don’t want to…I don’t want to.” The military police were called and found to their confusion that Zanfretta’s clothes were completely dry despite the rain and that the roof of his car was “as hot as an oven.” Shocking them as well were the 20-inch boot prints that surrounded the car.

A full report was filed on January 3, 1979 and labeled “Report on the Sighting of Unidentified Flying Objects by Fortunato Zanfretta.” The military police later went on to say that the reliability of these events actually occurring was “good”. After this Zanfretta began to receive even more attention and scrutiny. He was examined by neurologist Dr. Giorgio Gianniotti who found that “…The man is in a state of shock, but he is perfectly sane.” This however did little to stop the harassment so he once again agreed to undergo hypnosis but this time he allowed it to be televised.

torriglia_hypnosis2

Here is a link to the televised session

In this session Zanfretta claimed that the device they used to speak with him was a glowing helmet and it caused him a great deal of pain. They took his gun and fired it, some would speculate in an effort to see if human weaponry could hurt them. They expressed an interest in taking him with them to which he responded with “I know that you need me, but I don’t want to. I like to be alone. I have two children. I feel good this way…and after all you are not human beings. You are horrible.” Hundreds watched but the scrutiny only increased further. Eventually things died down, until he was abducted yet again.

Zanfretta and his motorcycle were found on the summit of Mount Fasce. None of the locals had seen him drive up the only road that lead to the top. This time Zanretta insisted that he be given sodium penathol, the “truth serum”. Under it he claimed that he had been picked up by a green light. The doctor who administered the drug confirmed to the press “No human being can knowingly lie while he is under treatment, so I think it’s very probable Zanfretta had these encounters.” (It was not known at the time just how malleable a person’s perception becomes while under sodium penathol, even allowing for the implantation of false memories. One of the reasons it is no longer used as a truth serum.”)

His forth abduction was not an encounter he would have alone. After he disappeared in December of 1979, four members of his security company were sent to find him. They found instead a strange glowing “cloud” which shot out two beams of light at their cars, killing the engines. One of them shot at the UFO, which then went dark and faded out of sight. The encounter proved to much for another, who later ended his own life with a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Now for some crazy stuff.

As if it weren’t off the wall enough. Zanfretta says that while filling up his car with gas after the last encounter a strange man came up to him. The man supposedly was bald with an egg shaped head and wearing a checkered suit with a chest-plate made of steel. The man’s voice compelled him follow and he was shown a ship filled with strange beings in jars. Some “frog shaped” others more birdlike or even similar to a “caveman”. The being tried to give him a sphere that would humanity to know who they were and how they lived. He was instructed to give the gift to Dr. J. Allen Hynek in America, who as a premier UFO researcher at the time. Zanfretta did not do this however and instead claimed to have buried the object somewhere.

His last hypnosis session with Dr. Moretti was the oddest session of all. He made strange sounds, spoke in an unknown language and said things like “Question with negative answer, tixel…you can’t work out anything in a case like this. To believe or not to believe doesn’t mean anything: each thing in its own time.”

That was the last encounter Zanfretta would have with the beings but his description of the man in the checkered suit echos a being encountered by others. In November of 1966, in West Virginia, A Woodrow Derenberger had an encounter with a strange vehicle pouring flames from both ends and shaped like a lamp. A smiling man stepped out and spoke to him without moving his lips. Claimed his name was “Indrid Cold.” He was baled with an egg like head and wanted to know more about UFO sightings in the area. The same man was spotted by two boys behind a fence, where he was dubbed the Grinning Man and was seen in Point Pleasant around the same time as the Mothman sightings.

men-in-black

“Honey did you order a subscription to the Watchtower?”

I have a theory that this Grinning Man may in fact be a Man in Black. Reports of them indicate that they seem shockingly similar. Bald, fancy suits, asking and talking about UFO encounters. Always giving off an otherworldly feel and disappearing as quickly as the arrived.

Stay frosty out there.

Sources:

Creature Feature: The Dover Demon

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*Remember when I said that I’d try to have the Creature Features up on Fridays? Remember when  I said I was bad at sticking to schedules? Yeah…but I did get married last Friday so there is that. (more on the event in another post, now on with the monsters!)*

The Dover Demon was first sighted in the 70’s by one teen late at night, although there were two others present. Bill Bartlett (our sole witness), Mike Mazzocca and Andy Brodie were all cruising down Farm Street in Dover, Massachusetts when Bartlett noticed something creeping around in the beam of the headlights.

dover-demon-sketch

Bill Bartlett’s sketch of the creature which may or may not be giving him the evil eye

He goes on to describe the creature as having eyes like “…two orange marbles,” as well as a large head on a thin, lanky body with long hands and feet. “A baby’s body with long arms and legs,” Bartlett would go on to say and only around 4 feet tall. Neither Mike Mazzocca or Andy Brodie claimed to have seen the monster and many who knew Bill Bartlett weren’t sold on the idea that he couldn’t have just made it up. (Yay for double negatives, my wife is cringing so hard.)

Then another sighting occurred on the very next night.

On a dimly lit road, John Baxter found himself being approached by a small figure. He’d just left his girlfriend’s house. It was around midnight, and the only person he thought it could be was a friend of his who lived nearby. Baxter called out, but the figure did not respond, just continued walking toward him. Suddenly it stopped. Again, there was no response. He moved toward it and the small form darted off into a wooded area.

Baxter gave chase, and after a short run found it standing on a rocky outcrop. Its feet seemed as if they were “molded” to the stone and its two lightly colored eyes looked straight at him. The creature’s oddly shaped head began to make him feel more than a little unnerved so he beat feet out of there until a car picked him up at the intersection of…Farm Street. The same street on which Bill Bartlett claimed to have seen the creature.

dover-demon-baxter-sketch

Glamour shot!

Now explanations abound. Some say it was a calf (possible,there are ample farmlands around) or a baby moose (unlikely since moose aren’t found in the area.) Others have ventured to guess it was an escaped helper monkey that lost its hair due to some infection like mange. There are those that think the Dover Demon is in fact an alien due to the slight similarities with abductees’ descriptions of Grays.

The theory that I find most intriguing, however, comes from Native American mythology. The Cree Indians believed in a water spirit called the Mannegishi which they say had a head with no nose and was very thin with long arms and legs. Other tribes had similar creatures in their beliefs with varying descriptors. Some were hairy for example, but all legends had the common thread of the Mannegishi being attached to the water in some way. (They were often said to flip canoes over and drown unwitting people.) That, the connection to water, and the descriptions, are what sell me on the Dover Demon being this Native American creature.

Farm Street as well as Miller High Road (where Baxter first started his encounter) are crossed by parts of Trout Brook which feed small ponds and lakes near the encounter sites.

dover-rivers

Evidence Son!

Sources: