Bigfoot reports come in all varieties. There are those that seem to point at some sort of strange undiscovered creature lurking out past our efforts to identify it, and then there are those reports that are altogether stranger, pointing towards perhaps something more outlandish and otherworldly in nature. Others seem to be a blend of both, and here we have a case of a family and town that were besieged by some sort of giant hairy, Bigfoot-like creature, which would prove to be far stranger in the end.
The tiny town of Spottsville, Kentucky is barely a speck on the map. A former coal town, it is a quiet, rural place with a population of less than 400, a place where everyone knows each other, people leave their doors unlocked, and where nothing much ever happens. It is the kind of nondescript backwater town that many people could drive right on by without even noticing it, but in 1975 this place would become ground zero for a series of terrifying encounters with a massive beast that remains unexplained to this day.
In 1975, the Nunnely family was living a quiet, peaceful life on their sprawling rural property. The family consisted of the father, Red, his wife, and their 6 children, and here they lived a simple life far from the hectic stresses of the big city. Indeed, they had moved out here for some peace and quiet, to start a new life away from city life, but this was all about to turn into a nightmare. It started when one evening their 10-year-old son Robert came running into the house in a state of panic and fear. The boy was hysterical, and at first unable to articulate what had happened, but when he was calm and lucid he pointed outside and claimed that he had been out in the yard when he had seen a monstrous hairy figure standing some 8 feet tall lurking about on the periphery of the property. He would later say of it, “It really scared me. The front of it was sort of a brown, and the back was white. I hadn’t ever seen anything like it in my life.”
At first his parents just wrote it off as the overactive imagination of a child, but it would soon turn out to be anything but. Before long, all of the children had seen the massive beast looming in the dark, always keeping to the shadows and seeming to be watching the property, and before long the parents had seen it as well, usually fleetingly as it crept off into the trees. It was made even more unsettling still when their dogs began to act strangely, barking madly at the forest or cowering under the porch for no discernible reason. After this, things would escalate when their farm animals began to go missing. That summer they would report losing 16 chickens and a goat, and would eventually allegedly lose a total of over 200 chickens, 1 goat, 1 horse, and would find the remains of 8 dogs, a pig, and a goat in the fields, all found brutally mutilated as if they had been torn apart by something, yet there had oddly been no blood or footprints around these carcasses. The creature was also often heard growling or wailing at night, and it got to the point where none of the family dared go out of the house after dark, when it was most active.
At first the family kept the sightings and strange goings on to themselves, but Red, who was suffering from glaucoma and had poor eyesight at the time and was afraid he would not be able to protect his family, would tell his oldest son Harold and have him move into a trailer on the property with his family. One day a squirrel hunter came out of the woods and warned the family that he had seen something very big walking on its hind legs out in the woods, which was a relief as this would be the first confirmation from outside the family that they were not imagining things. Shortly after Harold moved in, there would be an incident in which the family’s young daughter came running and screaming, and Harold had seen the creature in the gloom, even firing on it with his shotgun. Police were called in, but they did not believe any of the story, and indeed as the visitations from the monster became a nearly nightly event, they began getting so many calls from the terrified family that they stopped responding altogether.
The family continued to see the creature frequently, and in the meantime, more people in the area started reporting seeing the creature as well, sometimes reporting it as being a dark green in color and as having the disturbing habit of peeking into people’s homes. Before long, the story of the “Spottsville Monster” was doing the rounds in the news, attracting numerous hunters with high-powered rifles, who went trouncing through the woods firing at anything that moved. Some of these hunters would claim that they had seen the beasts themselves, but had oddly been unable to fire at it. One local man who went out to track the creature down claimed to have encountered it at an old, abandoned house far back in the woods, where it had been seen stooping down looking out the window out at him. The hunter claimed that he had fired on it, after which it had simply vanished into thin air right before his eyes. This adds a certain paranormal element to the tale, which is only emphasized by another strange report from a neighbor of the Nunneleys, who claimed to have had an encounter with the creature. He would say that he had been in his barn when he had had a surreal encounter with the beast. Nunnely would write of this encounter in his diary:
Little did he know the creature was also inside. He stood only for a moment at one end of the open-ended barn, when suddenly the feeling that he wasn’t alone washed over him. He slowly turned around and found himself staring into a huge, hairy mid-section. He stood well over six feet tall but he had to look almost straight up to see the creatures’ face. It was horrible and deeply terrifying with a short muzzle, long pointed fangs set into both its upper and lower jaws, black skin and strange red eyes that chilled and frightened him to his very soul. He reached for the rifle strapped on his shoulder but suddenly found himself unable to move as those terrible eyes froze him in their gaze. The man thought that he was surely done for but, despite the beasts’ appearance, it spoke to him without using its mouth at all, but some sort of mental telepathy and said, “Don’t be afraid… I will not harm you.” Then it turned around and ran out the end of the barn that was facing the open, well plowed field, now muddy from the rain. It was a few moments before he could move again, he said. But at last, he was able to shake his head trying to clear the vision of those red burning eyes from his mind. When he had composed himself, he walked to the doorway through which the being had ran, hoping to see for the first time the creatures track in the muddy field. There were none.
This is the first hint at something truly outlandish going on, where this particular monster wave goes from the territory of what at first seems to be a case of a Bigfoot, to something altogether weirder. As all of this was going on, news reporters were flocking to the Nunnely property, and the family was also facing their fair share of ridicule. It was all a bit too much for them, and they would end up moving away, yet the story was not over yet. In later years, Red’s son, Bart Nunnely, would revisit the phenomenon and find out some strange things. He was able to track down the neighbor who had seen it in the barn to find that the sightings had continued on well after the Nunnelys had left, and that he had had other encounters with the beast that also hint at something beyond just a flesh and blood ape-like creature, and of which Bart would say:
He claimed that he had seen the beast several more times after my family left. Moreover he said that what he had seen with his own eyes went far beyond anything that he had ever dreamed possible. One day he was walking along a field and noticed a strange area that looked like ‘heat waves rising from a hot, summer road’. The area was only a few yards wide and to either side everything looked normal. As he was watching one of the creatures stepped out of this strange wavy area like stepping out a doorway. One second nothing, and the next… there it was looking right at him. It growled at him and, at the same time, screamed inside his head to ‘leave me alone!’ Then it turned around and took a step back into the strange looking ‘doorway-and disappeared. After that he began watching the area from a distance using binoculars. In all he claimed to have witnessed several different monsters using this doorway a total of three different times, always appearing or disappearing, seemingly, into thin air. These strange creatures would then be seen crossing his own property and tripping the sensitive motion detecting security lights in his yard.
This odd interview would also uncover more curiosities as well, because it seems that authorities had moved in to try and cover the whole thing up, imbuing it all with an ominous air of conspiracy. Red would claim that this neighbor had been harassed and threatened by the authorities, and had also had evidence he had collected on the creature’s existence taken from him. Bart would say of this portion of his interview:
Soon after the media coverage back in ’75, he said, he was visited by the state police and a couple of other men whom he took to be Federal game officials. They demanded that he turn over all evidence concerning TSM over to them immediately, which he did. Moreover they stated that if he ever talked to anyone else about the subject, especially the media, he would be arrested without hesitation and thrown into prison on a ‘made up charge’ and would never see his wife and two young daughters again unless it was looking at them through prison bars. In addition, a statement had been prepared for the local paper in his name stating for a fact that what he had seen was nothing more than a large, black bear. Not easily intimidated he, at first, balked at the whole thing, reasoning that this was America and his rights were being grossly violated. But the officials were very persuasive and, in the end, he had little choice but to go along with the charade for the sake of his family.
Over the years he had tried to get the items back with no luck. One time he and his family came home and found a large freezer bag on the front porch. It held the remains of his plaster cast-smashed into powder. The statement was released to the local paper which proudly proclaimed the mystery of TSM solved. The hordes of monster hunters melted away leaving only the body of a dog, someone’s family pet shot accidentally by local teens, behind. Everything quieted down and TSM faded into memory. The man never talked of TSM again, fearing the threats to this day as he now owns a successful business he does not wish to jeopardize. He blames the inability to speak of his encounters on a heart attack he suffered in 1985, which left him, for a brief time before he was resuscitated, clinically dead. It is also interesting to note that the entire area has a history of active UFO sightings and many houses nearby are said to be haunted on the inside as well. I know these to be true as I have lived in a couple of them myself and have seen unexplained aerial phenomena on many occasions and in the company of witnesses numerous times there.
The story would pick up a lot of attention well into later years, with Bart appearing on a 2015 episode of the “Destination America” Channel’s show “Monsters and Mysteries in America” to talk about it, and also write of it in three books he has written, called “Mysterious Kentucky,” “Bigfoot in Kentucky” and “The Inhumanoids.” What in the world was going on here? What was the Spottsville Monster and where did it come from? Was this just a Bigfoot or was it something altogether stranger? We may never know for sure, and it is yet another case that hints at something very bizarre going on with the larger Bigfoot phenomenon.