Jun 19, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Possibly the Creepiest Creeps on the Planet: Avoid Them!

There's no doubt that over the years and decades there have been some undeniably creepy creatures among us. Some, however, are beyond creepy. As you'll see now. I'll begin with a menacing, possibly supernatural, creature that was given the unforgettable title of "The Mad Gasser of Mattoon." Back in the 1940s, the people of Mattoon, Illinois were plagued by the sinister character that became known as the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. The name was a very apt one: the mysterious figure gassed his victims, as a means to gain entry to their property, and to take advantage of whatever caught his eye. His actions followed a similar wave of attacks – in the 1930s – in Botetourt County, Virginia. But, today at least, let’s focus on the later events. On the night of August 31, 1944, a man named Urban Raef was overcome by a mysterious gas that provoked sickness, weakness, and vomiting. Despite Mr. Raef’s fear that there was a gas leak in the house, such was not the case. Rafe’s wife – to her horror – found herself briefly paralyzed. Also among the Gasser’s victims was Mrs. Bert Kearney, who also lived in Mattoon. On September 1, 1944, and approximately an hour before the witching-hour struck, Mrs. Kearney was hit by what was described as a “sickening, sweet odor in the bedroom.” As was the case with Mrs. Raef, the “gas” caused temporary paralysis in her legs. It also resulted in a burning sensation to her lips, and a parched feeling in her mouth.

Mrs. Kearney cried out for her sister – whose name was Martha and who came running to see what was going on. She too was unable to avoid the powerful smell. In no time, the police were on the scene, but the Mad Gasser was nowhere to be seen. At least, not for a while. As Bert Kearney drove home – after his shift as a cab-driver was over – he caught sight of a darkly-dressed man peering through the window of the Kearney’s bedroom. It was a thin man wearing a tight, dark cap on his head. He quickly fled the scene. In the wake of the curious affair, other reports of the Mad Gasser’s infernal activities surfaced – to the extent that both the local police and the FBI got involved. The townsfolk were plunged into states of fear and paranoia. While some cases were put down to nothing more than hysteria, that was not the beginning and end of the story. For example, Thomas V. Wright, the Commissioner of Public Health, said: “There is no doubt that a gas maniac exists and has made a number of attacks. But many of the reported attacks are nothing more than hysteria. Fear of the gas man is entirely out of proportion to the menace of the relatively harmless gas he is spraying. The whole town is sick with hysteria.” The mystery was never resolved to the satisfaction of everyone. One theory offers that the Mad Gasser of Mattoon was actually nothing stranger than a bunch of kids. Writer Scott Maruna suggests that the Gasser was a University of Illinois student, Farley Llewellyn, who had a deep knowledge of chemistry and who went to school with the initial victims. Other theories include burglars and even extraterrestrials. Now, let's get to the matter of the Slenderman. No, not the fictional one that caught the attention of so many kids. I'm talking about the one that has come to life in the form of a Tulpa/thought-form. That's right: the Slenderman is alive. 

(Nick Redfern) Slenderman: From fiction to fact

The Slenderman is a fictional character created in June 2009 by Eric Knudsen (using the alias of “Victor Surge,” at the forum section of the Something Awful website), who took his inspiration from the world of horror fiction. The Slenderman is a creepy creature: tall, thin, with long arms, a blank (faceless, even) expression, and wearing a dark suit, it sounds almost like a nightmarish version of the Men in Black. While there is no doubt that Knudsen was the creator of what quickly became a definitive, viral, meme, people have since claimed to have seen the Slenderman in the real world.  In other words, so the theory goes, it’s a case of believing in the existence of the Slenderman and, as a result, causing it to actually exist – something that is very much akin to the phenomenon of the Tulpa. An entity is envisaged in the mind, and the imagery becomes so powerful and intense that it causes that same, mind-based imagery to emerge into the real world, with some degree of independent existence and self-awareness. Such a scenario may well explain why people are now seeing something that began as a piece of fiction.

In a January 24, 2015 article that appeared in the UK-based Birmingham Mail newspaper (titled “Spooky Slender Men spotted in Cannock”), Mike Lockley wrote: “A paranormal probe has been launched in the Midlands following four sightings of Slender Men – long, stick thin specters feared around the world. Each of the chilling close encounters took place in the Cannock area, and now X Files investigator Lee Brickley is trying to fathom why the ghoul has descended on the Staffordshire mining town. Slender Men have been a part of global folklore for centuries. They may be known by different names, but their harrowing, elongated appearance remains the same around the world.” In the words of the witness: “This character was tall, with very thin arms and legs, dressed in what I presumed were grey trousers and a tight long sleeved shirt of the same color. His hairless head was elongated and neck spindly, and his arms reached practically past his knees; I could not discern a facial feature. I realized he was around three meters tall.”

Now, onto the Shadow People. My good friend Heidi Hollis says of these things: "'Have you seen this man?' It was a simple image and question posted online that sparked a worldwide awareness that - he is real! Victims worldwide have reported seeing this man peering into their homes, their bedrooms, their cribs, their cars, their lives and even - into their souls! It starts with the feeling of not being alone, only to look to the foot of your bed and find that you are right. There’s a stranger in your room and you know that you see him, worst of all, you know that he sees you, too! You try to scream or run, only to find that you are paralyzed! Terror then reaches new levels as he approaches you, leans within inches of your face and lets you know that he is indeed - your worst nightmare! This is the true story of the beginning of unthinkable horror that you have never heard of before! " Beware these shadowy things that surface at night and create terror and danger.

(Nick Redfern) Shadowy and Supernatural

Moving on: His name was Woodrow Derenberger, but everyone called him “Woody.” It was shortly after 6:00 p.m. on an evening in November 1966, when Woody Derenberger was driving home from his job as a sewing machine salesman at J.C. Penny’s in Marietta, Ohio to his farmhouse in Mineral Wells, West Virginia. The ride home was overcast and dreary. It was misting a light rain. As Derenberger came up on the Intersection of I-77 and Route 47, he thought that a tractor trailer truck was tailgating him without its lights on, which was unnerving, so he swerved to the side of the road and much to his surprise, the truck appeared to take flight and seemed to roll across his panel truck. To his astonishment, what Derenberger thought was a truck was a charcoal-colored UFO without any lights on. It touched down and then hovered about 10 inches above the road. Much to Derenberger’s surprise a hatch opened and a man stepped out who was dressed in dark clothing and who had a beaming smile. There was something about that smile, however, that sent chills down Derenberger’s back. Derenberger had crossed paths with what are known as the "Grinning Men." Its unforgettable name was "Indrid Cold."

Jaye P. Paro was a woman who had a number of bizarre, UFO-themed encounters in May 1967, in upstate New York. At the time, she was a host on Babylon, New York’s WBAB station. On one particular day Jaye decided to take a walk. It was barely dawn, and the town in which she lived was still shrouded in shadows. As she walked passed a particularly dark alley, a Woman in Black loomed into view, as if from nowhere, or from some nightmarish realm. Then, out of the blue, came a black Cadillac, the absolute calling card of the MIB and the WIB. It came to a screeching halt next to the two women, and out of one of the rear doors came an unsettling-looking character. It was a man dressed in a dark grey suit, and who sported a disturbing, almost maniacal, grin. The man with the fearsome grin shook Jaye’s hand and said, “I am Apol.” Jaye said that holding Apol’s hand was like holding the hand of a cold corpse.

And, finally, there are the Black-Eyed Children. There can be very few people within the field of paranormal research who have not heard of the BEC. But, the Men in Black parallels might be new to some. In the same way that the Men in Black wear black suits and black fedoras, the Black Eyed Children almost exclusively wear black hoodies. So, we have a black outfit and black head-gear present in both phenomena. Both the MIB and the BEC very often surface late at night. Trying to convince people to let them into their homes is one of the most chilling aspects of the activities of both the MIB and the BEC. And they are very good – almost too good – at making their escape. Beware of all these creeps!

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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