Dec 22, 2021 I Nick Redfern

The Women in Black: All Sinister But Not All the Same

My previous article was on the subject of the various kinds of Men in Black there are out there. It makes sense, then, that I should focus on the other, mysterious, dark-attired figures: the Women in Black. Just like the Men in Black, they vary in appearance. And to a significant degree. So, let's get on. While much has been written on the sinister and occasionally deadly actions of the MIB, very little has been penned on the subject of their equally bone-chilling companions: the Women in Black. Make no mistake: the WIB are all too real. And they are as ominous, predatory and dangerous as their male counterparts. In the same way that the Men in Black don’t always wear black, but sometimes wear military uniforms or specifically beige-colored outfits, so do the WIB, who are also quite partial to white costumes. In that sense, "W.I.B." is, just like “M.I.B,” a term that is somewhat flexible in terms of actual nature and description.

A definitive W.I.B. surfaced in nothing less than a piece of publicity-based footage for a Charlie Chaplin movie, The Circus, which was made in 1928. The footage, undeniably genuine and shown not to have been tampered with, reveals what appears to be an old, short lady, wearing a long black coat and a black hat pulled low over her face, while walking through Los Angeles in west coast heat. If that was not strange enough, she is clearly holding to her ear what appears to be a cell-phone and is talking into it as she walks. Weirder still, the Woman in Black sports an enormous pair of black shoes, which look most out of place, given her short stature. She also seems to be taking careful steps to avoid her face being seen clearly. Might she have been some kind of time-traveling Woman in Black, working hard – but spectacularly failing – to blend in with the people of Los Angeles, all those years ago?

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(Nick Redfern)

In the 1960s, the emotionless, evil-eyed W.I.B. turned up in the small, doom-filled town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. And right around the time that sightings of the legendary flying monster known as Mothman were at their height. Claiming to be "census-takers," these pale-faced, staring-eyed W.I.B. practically forced their way into the homes of frightened witnesses to Mothman. What began as seemingly normal questions about the number of people in the house, of the average income of the family, and of the number of rooms in the relevant property, soon mutated into something much stranger: persistent and intrusive questions about strange dreams, about unusual telephone interference, and about beliefs regarding the world of all-things of a paranormal nature soon followed.

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(Nick Redfern) Women in Black/"Census Takers" at Point Pleasant

Moving on: in early 1987, Bruce Lee, a book-editor for Morrow, had an experience with a WIB-type character in an uptown New York bookstore. Lee’s attention to the curious woman – short, wrapped in a wool hat and a long scarf, and wearing large black sunglasses behind which could be seen huge, "mad dog" eyes – was prompted by something strange and synchronistic. She and her odd partner were speed-reading the pages of the then-newly-published UFO-themed book, Communion, by Whitley Strieber. It was a book published by the very company Lee was working for. Lee quickly exited the store, shaken to the core by the appearance and hostile air that the peculiar pair oozed in his presence.

Truman Bethurum was a Californian, born in 1898, who spent much of his early years working jobs that never seemed to last. His first marriage both began and crumbled during the Second World War. He entered into a second marriage only several months after the war ended, and ultimately wound up working out in the harsh, hot deserts of Nevada – specifically in the highway construction game. It was while Bethurum was out in the desert, in 1952, and while his second wife, Mary, was stuck at home in Santa Barbara, that Bethurum claimed he had an extremely close encounter with extraterrestrials on Mormon Mesa, a near-2000-foot-high foot high mount in Nevada’s Moapa Valley. One of those E.T.s presented herself to Bethurum as "Captain Aura Rhanes." Bethurum said that just a couple of weeks after the initial encounter, on a Saturday afternoon, Bethurum was having his hair trimmed at a barber’s shop in Las Vegas, when he caught sight of Aura Rhanes, yet again. She was walking along the sidewalk outside the barber’s – wearing an outfit of black sunglasses, black beret, black blouse, and red skirt. It wouldn't be long before the Captain in Black was gone.

Gerry Armstrong, of Jackson’s Point, Canada, was someone who had a bizarre experience in a record store in the town’s Newport Plaza back in October 1973. According to Armstrong, he was served by "the most beautiful girl I had ever seen." She wore a long and flowing black dress, had long, coal-black hair, and possessed what Armstrong called, "the blackest eyes I had ever seen." Most mysterious of all, after Armstrong paid for the old, vinyl LPs, the WIB threw his change onto the floor and literally vanished. Not without significance, at the time, Armstrong was having a significant number of UFO encounters. Now, onto another case:  In this case, the person in question was a psychoanalyst, Dr. Lee Zahner-Roloff. As he walked through a bookstore store, a tall, blond woman came towards him, holding in her arms – almost as one would cradle a newborn baby – a copy of Communion. Zahner-Roloff told Strieber: "In passing her I was overwhelmed with a sudden urge to pick up that book. Why would I pick up that book, about which I knew nothing, and seemed to have a loss of control regarding the purchase of?” He added that, "I lost personal volition completely." Zahner-Roloff bought the book and quickly told work colleagues about it. In no time at all, it was as if an epidemic of alien-themed dreams took hold of him and his work friends. He said to Strieber: "Every once in a while I think about that tall woman in the beige suit carrying your book face forward through the aisles." As all of this demonstrates, the W.I.B. and the M.I.B. have varied appearances, varied clothing, and varied agendas. We're still no closer to really solving the W.I.B./M.I.B. phenomenon, though.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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