Perhaps one of the most well-known, oddest, and most enigmatic entities in the history of paranormal and Fortean phenomena is none other than the infamous Mothman. Beginning in 1966 there began to trickle in a series of rather strange sightings in the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the United States, of a sinister winged entity with glowing eyes that appeared from the night to terrorize unsuspecting witnesses in the area. These sightings would continue right up until the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge, which would result in the deaths of 46 people and mark the end of the weird phenomena that was coming to be popularly called the Mothman. And so was born an icon of the supernatural world, popularized in researcher John Keel’s work The Mothman Prophecies, yet the Mothman was not done yet.
This is the basic lore of the mysterious Mothman, but the phenomenon is by no means confined to just this one bizarre series of events at Point Pleasant. Indeed, reports of the Mothman, or something very much like it, have been reported all over the world, and are unsettlingly common right before major catastrophes, such as a winged humanoid sighted before the Chernobyl nuclear incident and right before the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan. One corner of the world where there have been a few spates of very recent sightings of something very much like the Mothman is in the vicinity of the major, sprawling metropolis of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States.
These sightings have been comprehensively compiled by Lon Strickler, the paranormal researcher, blogger for the site Phantoms and Monsters, and prolific writer of such books on the subject as Mothman Dynasty: Chicago’s Winged Humanoids, and they seem to have started up in the year 2011, when people began reporting seeing an ominous, bat-winged humanoid figure around 6 to 8 feet in height and with a wingspan of up to 15 feet, described as being reminiscent of a gargoyle, with glowing red eyes and the ability to seemingly hover in midair without even flapping its wings. One report mentioned on Strickler’s site comes from September of 2011, when the witness says she was startled to hear her roommate scream in the next room as they were getting ready to go out for the evening, which would unfurl into quite the bizarre experience. The witness says:
I dropped what I was doing and ran to her room to see if she was alright. I walked in to see her cowering in the corner of her room, white as a ghost and shaking. She was babbling hysterically, saying that something was looking in at her from the window. I looked toward the window and didn’t see anything but the light coming from the other apartments across the court yard. I asked what she had seen and tried to tell her that she might have been mistaken, we live on the third floor of a five story apartment building and there is nothing outside the window but a 30 foot drop straight down to the courtyard below. My roommate was hysterical and scared out of her wits; I took her to the living room and sat her on the couch. I then went to my room to put on a robe or a nightshirt on since I was only in my underwear. My roommate didn’t want to be left alone and actually followed me to my room and waited there as I put on a robe and joined her in the living room. After about 20 minutes of calming her down, she finally told me what she had seen in her window.
She stated that she was getting dressed and when she turned to face the mirror on her dresser, she saw a pair of orange eyes staring at her from the window. She turned around to see two brightly lit orange eyes staring out at her; these eyes were attached to a creature that was staring back at her through the window. My friend lost it and started screaming hysterically and backed herself into the corner. She said she was filled with this overwhelming feeling of complete and total terror, she felt like the creature was looking at her as though she was prey. She said she felt like a rabbit that was about to be pounced upon by an eagle.
I tried to rationalize with her what she had seen, telling her it could have been an optical illusion, or maybe it was the jitters from a week of hard studying. She dismissed everything, saying that she had seen what she had seen. As I sat there comforting her, my cell phone rang from my room. I got up and ran to my room and snatched it from my dresser top and answered it. It was my boyfriend and one of his buddies and they were talking a mile a minute, it sounded like they were out of breath, as I tried to get him to slow down, I walked past my roommates open door and to my absolute horror, I saw…a pair of glowing red eyes, looking through the window right at me!! They stared at me for about 3-4 seconds before what ever it was abruptly left. Like my friend, I totally lost it and screamed at the top of my lungs and sprinted to the living room.
That’s not even the end of this weird tale. The boyfriend and one of his buddies then apparently rushed over to the apartment to see what was wrong, and that was when they had also seen something strange, described as “a large bat with large glowing eyes,” which had supposedly flown away from the building to perch atop a basketball hoop at a nearby park before flying off into the night. The witness says of this:
He states that there were about 6 people in the park and all of them had seen it when it had taken off. He states that there was no way anyone could have missed it, it was about 6-7 feet tall, dark grey to black and those eyes glowed with the intensity of two glowing embers. He says that they saw it easily when it took off and headed away from the park due to both the lights of the city as well as the nearly full moon that night. They lost sight of the creature after about 5 seconds, that’s when he picked up the phone and called me. He says that when they heard me start screaming, they sprinted the block and a half to the apartment.
Needless to say, none of us went out that night and my boyfriend and his buddy stayed with us through the weekend. My roommate refused to go back to her room till it was well after daylight, she closed and locked the window and drew the blinds shut. She says that it’s the only way that she felt secure to be in there after dark. I’m still weary about coming home or going out after dark; even though I know I have to do it for both school and work. I hope that what ever it was, was sufficiently scared off by two insanely screaming college students and that I hope that I NEVER see it again. I don’t think that neither I nor my roommate will ever be the same again after this.
Interestingly, the very next month, in October of 2011, there was another harrowing report of the same creature, or something very similar, at a park near the University of Illinois at Chicago. The witness told Strickler that he had been out on a walk through the park with his girlfriend when they saw a group of people making a commotion up ahead and went over to investigate. He says of what happened next:
As we looked toward the group of about 4-5 people, something caught my eye and I looked up to see this thing fly overhead. It looked like a man; it looked like a man with wings! He flew about 10-12 feet above us and was perfectly silhouetted against the evening sky. In all honesty, it looked like an immensely oversized Sugar Glider, the kind I would see back home in Tasmania. It had the rough shape of a sugar glider, but its eyes were nothing like the soft eyes of a glider. They glowed red! We saw it for about 4 seconds before it disappeared from view. At first I thought I saw a man in a hang glider, but it was those bloody eyes that made me thing otherwise!
It is all quite odd, but what makes it all even odder still is that these sightings were made in a very urban area, with the creatures spotted by multiple witnesses. Even more spectacular than these scattered 2011 sightings was an intense bout of Mothman activity in the city starting from February of 2017, and since the sightings began there were dozens of reports that came flooding in. Many of the accounts that would come from this 2017 series of sightings came hot on the heels of each other, with at least 3 separate sightings happening within mere hours of each other in April of that month. According to MUFON, one of these was from a witness who was at the shores of Lake Michigan with her husband on April 15, and the report says:
We were about two miles out on the lake, just off of Montrose at about 10 p.m. We were enjoying ourselves when I happen to look up and saw what looked like a giant bat, and not like a fox bat (which I looked up and saw was the biggest bat). This bat was as tall as my husband, who is 6-foot, 4-inches, or even bigger. It was solid black with eyes that seemed to reflect the moonlight. This bat was blacker than the surrounding night sky and was perfectly silhouetted against the moonlit sky. This bat circled the boat three times in complete silence before heading off towards Montrose. It quickly blended into the night sky and was gone in seconds.
Curiously, the same witness says they saw a UFO not long after this, which she says was “brilliant green and was moving slowly across the horizon.” Just a half an hour after this odd report was another, this time from a man who was hanging out with his friends and family at a park some distance away when one of the friends shouted that he had seen something humanoid fly over them towards some trees. He says of what happened next:
We walked over there and saw what looked like a big owl. As we walked up on it, this owl stood up on two feet and looked right at us. We saw what looked like a huge Lechuza (a bird like entity from Mexican lore), except it was about six feet tall and really big. It had large glowing red eyes that were completely freaking everybody out. We all yelled and this thing took off into the air and took off toward North Avenue This thing freaked us all out and scared all our kids.
The third report came several hours later, from a witness who had arrived at 2AM for his job at the Chicago International Produce Market when he saw a group of people milling about and gazing up at something in the sky. Curious as to what the big deal was, he squinted up into the sky and soon saw one of the strangest things he had ever seen. He told MUFON:
I looked up and saw the biggest freaking owl I have ever seen! I’m 6’2 and I’m guessing this thing was at least a foot taller than me. It was completely black except for it having bright yellowish/reddish eyes like a cat. It stood there for a minute or two staring at everyone before shooting up into the sky and disappearing. It made everyone feel very uneasy and only took off after some guys threw some rocks at it. It had wings on it like an owl, only bigger and you could hear it flap those wings when it took off.
It made this sound as it took off and flew away that sounded like a truck’s brakes when they are burned out. It flew up and flew a wide circle, making that sound once more and then flew off in the direction of the Stevenson Expressway. We stood around and looked for it for a few minutes but it never came back. I’m reporting this because there is no way this was an owl, it stood upright like a man, just really, really tall. I don’t want to discuss this with anyone and would prefer to remain anonymous. I don’t imagine anyone would believe me anyways. One of the guys I work with who saw this thing said that it made him feel very uneasy, like a scared kid and he was glad someone threw a rock and made it fly away.
Another account from the same year was collected by Lon Strickler, and comes from a witness by the name of John Amitrano, who saw something while doing a security detail at Chicago’s popular bar The Owl, at Logan Square. As he casually just looked up to watch a plane languidly make its way across the night sky, he noticed something quite strange circling about up there as well, which had a humanoid shape, muscular legs, and flew in an odd undulating way. The witness says:
It didn’t look like a bat so much as what illustrations of pterodactyls look like, with the slenderness of its head and its wing shape. I know what birds and what bats look like. This thing didn’t have any feathers or fur, and it didn’t fly like anything I’ve ever seen.
In yet another account from Phantoms and Monsters, a witness was out walking his dog at Chicago’s Oz Park in April of 2017, when the dog began acting very strange and refusing to continue on. It was highly unusual because this dog was described as usually very active and happy to be there, yet on this evening it was cowering and trying desperately to get away. He spent some time dragging the animal into the park and continuing on their way as it whimpered and whined, and that was when the witness also noticed that the area was unusually quiet and devoid of the song of birds. Soon after this, he said that he could make out what sounded like the flapping of wings, but though it might have been some passing geese in the air above. However, when he came into a clearing by the baseball field he could see that it had been no geese. He says of what happened:
I saw a large man, probably 7 feet or taller standing on the ground. It was solid black, but what really stood out were the large, and I do mean large pair of wings that were folded behind him. These wings stood taller than the man by at least a foot and a half and jutted out of his back. I could not see it’s face as it had its face turned away from me and probably didn’t notice me at first. It finally turned and noticed me and I saw the bright, ruby red eyes that appeared to glow from within. It was at this time that it turned and faced me and I got to see what it really looked like.
It was about 7 feet tall, and instead of clothes, it looked like a giant half man, half bird kind of thing. It reminded me of the character Birdperson from the show Rick and Morty, only a LOT scarier! This thing stared at me for about 15 seconds, which felt like an eternity and then in a loud whoosh it unfurled its wings and screeched really loud, and jetted into the air. These wings looked almost bat-like and were at least 10 feet across from tip to tip. I felt like this thing could see right through me, read me, it knew what I was thinking, like it could stare right into my very soul. It was the most terrified I have ever been in my life. It rose into the air like a bullet and I heard it screech once more before losing it from my view as it rose above the trees and possibly the buildings. It was at that time that I realized that I had yet to scream or react in any way. I was just numb, numb from my head to my toes. I finished my walk early and walked home, all the while trying to see if I could see it again once I got to the street.
In another account from August of that year, a woman and her husband were relaxing at a spot along North Lake Shore Drive when they saw a winged humanoid that seemed to be descending from the sky and headed towards their general direction. It was described as having wings like those of a butterfly, and skin that was shiny, wet, and blue in color. She says of what happened next:
It hovered about 5 feet above the sidewalk, with it’s wing spread open, as it peered at the couple with large bright red eyes that slowly altered back and forth in intensity. Several people on the other side of the street, including a delivery van driver, reacted with screams and frightened yelps. The winged being hovered for 10 seconds, then quickly pulled the wings into its body and shot up quickly into the night sky.
Such was the intensity of the number of sightings and the varied locations in 2017, sometimes happening within minutes of each other on opposite ends of the city, that Stickler has theorized that there may have even been more than one of the creatures operating in the area at the time for inscrutable reasons we may never know and are maybe not ever meant to know. Rather disconcerting is that many traditional Mothman sightings typically happen in the days before major disasters, which has caused Strickler to lament:
I’m somewhat concerned by the sightings in Chicago…especially since these Mothman / Owlman sightings have said to be possible harbingers of tragic events (Ex. Silver Bridge collapse, Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi, etc.) I perceived before the beginning of 2017, that a bridge collapse would occur in the United States. Chicago is well-known for it’s bridges and this last sighting was near the Chicago River. I may be over-interpreting these sightings, but it does worry me nonetheless.
The whole part of Mothman lore linked to catastrophe and omens of imminent destruction has in fact become a major cornerstone of the phenomenon, with much debate as to whether the entity or entities actually cause these tragic events or merely serve as portents of doom, perhaps warnings. Indeed, this is just as mysterious as what the Mothman is even supposed to be in the first place. Are we dealing with some sort of cryptid? Is it a spiritual entity or alien? Or is it, as Keel often mused, some interloper from another dimension? Or maybe this is all a spooky urban legend that has lodged its way into out psyche? Whatever the case may be, it is quite obvious that this is an ongoing phenomena that appears from time to time in far flung places, and one wonder just what it was that visited Chicago and why.