Jul 28, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Red-Eyed, Winged Mothman: The Monster and the Festival in its Name

Men in Black are roaming the streets of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Downtown is cordoned off. Sightings of a terrifying, glowing-eyed, winged creature abound. Nope, we’re not talking about one of those awful, cheap movies which certain channels insist on regularly bombarding us with. This is the Mothman Festival. Back in the 1960s, sightings of the Mothman caught the attention of John Keel. A skilled writer, Keel, in 1975, penned a book on the mystery titled The Mothman Prophecies. In 2002, it was turned into a big-bucks movie of the same name starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. The success of the movie prompted the city to hold a yearly celebration in honor of the freaky, flying whatsit. And, yes, the streets really are closed down, people do dress up as the dark-suited characters made famous by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and you’re all but guaranteed to see more than a few people disguised as Mothman. A huge, aluminum statue of the winged thing, made by sculptor Bob Roach, dominates downtown and is a monster-mecca for attendees. Local rock bands offer a fine barrage of tunes. There’s a pageant for those girls who might want to be crowned “Miss Mothman.” And, of course, there are the obligatory Mothman fridge-magnets, t-shirts, posters, very cool art-work and other, assorted, mothy memorabilia. 

(Nick Redfern) Welcome to Point Pleasant...and maybe to Mothman, too

Once a year, the little city of Point Pleasant holds an outdoor gig that attracts people in their thousands. And, it's all good fun. And the next festival won't be far away: in fact, it's being held this coming September. Not faraway, in other words. There's something else, however, too: being both a speaker and a writer at the event, I often get approached by people who want to share their experiences of Mothman and reports of other weird activity in Point Pleasant. So, with all the above in mind, I thought I would share with you some of the cases that have come my way over the years. In no particular order, I'll begin with a story from May 23, 2015. Point Pleasant, West Virginia is – beyond any shadow of doubt – noted most of all for its wave of sightings of the infamous Mothman, between 1966 and 1967. In 2014, however, the town played host to something even stranger.

The witness to the weird affair was a local woman named Denise, who emailed me the details on May 23, 2014. As Denise explained, she was jolted from her sleep by the sight of a young boy looming over her bed. This was no normal boy, however: it was one of the dreaded Black-Eyed Children – pale-skinned, black-hoody-wearing kids who are noted for their completely black eyes. Denise tried to scream out, but her vocal-chords were paralyzed, as was her entire body. The eerie boy stared at terrified Denise for a few moments, then retreated into the shadows of the room and vanished. It was a nerve-jangling experience that Denise has not forgotten. Nor has she forgotten a strange wave of hang-up phone calls that occurred across the next three nights, and all around 3:00 a.m. A connection? Denise believed so. As did I. Moving on...

One of the people who came to chat with me, as I sat at my vending table, was Irene, a woman who related a very bizarre story; one with clear MIB / WIB overtones attached to it. As Irene revealed, she is now-retired and had a very strange experience while living in Pasadena, California in the late 1970s – in either 1978 or 1979. In the early hours of the particular morning in question she inexplicably woke up and felt compelled to go to the bedroom window. On doing so, she was shocked to see a car-sized, oval-shaped UFO – of a bright blue color – that hung in the air for a few seconds, before vanishing into the dark sky above. She raced back to the bed, terrified by what she had just seen. On the following evening, however, something even stranger occurred.

There was a knock at the door. It was a very pale-faced woman in black who claimed to work for a company that offered aerial photographs of peoples’ homes – taken by an expert photographer, then framed, and that would look very nice on the living-room wall. There was, however, something that made Irene think things were just not quite right, not at all. Her instinct proved to be right on the money. When the woman, somewhat oddly, offered to show Irene one of the cameras that the company used, she agreed to see it – although why she would need to see it at all makes very little sense. If any sense at all. The woman proceeded down the drive and got in the backseat of the black car she had arrived in. In a few seconds, she was out of the car. Irene could see the camera, but was very surprised by what happened next: the woman quickly took a photograph of the front of Irene’s house, jumped back into the car, and in seconds was out of sight.

(Nick Redfern) Getting into the fun

Irene quickly became convinced that the odd encounter was somehow linked to the events of the previous night. She was likely not wrong. John Keel called these odd characters “Phantom Photographers.” In his classic book, The Mothman Prophecies, Keel said of one such case: “On a rainy night in April a man from Ohio had been driving along Route 2 near the Chief Cornstalk Hunting Grounds when a large black form rose from the woods and flew over his car. ‘It was at least ten feet wide,’ he claimed. ‘I stepped on the gas and it kept right up with me. We were doing over seventy. It scared the hell out of me. Then I saw it move ahead of me and turn toward the river.’”

Keel continued: “Months later, late in October, he returned home from work and found a prowler in his apartment. ‘When I opened the door I saw this man standing in my living room,’ he reported. ‘I think he was dressed all in black. I couldn’t see his face, but he was about five feet nine. I started to fumble for the light switch when he took my picture. There was a big flash of light, so bright I couldn’t see a thing. While I was rubbing my eyes the burglar darted past me and went out the open door. I guess I arrived just in time because nothing was missing.’” When I told Irene of Keel’s work on the issue of the Phantom Photographers, it at least helped her to realize that she was not alone and was not crazy. She went away relieved, but not entirely comfortable, which hardly surprised me. Irene thanked me, waved goodbye, and was quickly swallowed up by the huge throng.  The rest of the Mothman Festival went phenomenally well – friendships were forged, tales were told, and the legend of the Mothman grew evermore. Now, onto another case from Point Pleasant and that also ties in within the Black Eyed Chidren. Yes, that's right: two reports of the BEC in the city of Mothman.

“Anna” is a twenty-nine-year-old resident of none other than Point Pleasant, West Virginia – the infamous locale where, in 1966, the notorious, blazing-eyed Mothman first surfaced, and which was made legendary in John Keel’s classic book, The Mothman Prophecies. As Anna revealed to me when I was at Point Pleasant in 2014 - to speak at the annual Mothman Festival – back in October 2012 she had a strange and frightening encounter with a pair of Black-Eyed Children, late one Saturday night. Anna, a shift-worker at a local factory, was spending her night relaxing and watching television, after a hard day of work. Sometime around 11:10 p.m., there was a knock at the door. Do I need to tell you who had just arrived? Anna warily went to the door, and peered through the spyhole. She couldn’t fail to see the two boys, standing next to each other, and both wearing the familiar black hoodies. She shouted through the door, asking what they wanted. When she got no answer, Anna put the chain on the door and opened it. When Anna saw the boys, she was frozen with terror: both had the ubiquitous black eyes, and both had skin the color of milk. “We need food,” said one, in an almost robotic fashion, while looking at his feet. Oddly, his companion was also steadfastly looking down. With hindsight, Anna felt that their stances reflected their attempts to try and prevent her from seeing their strange eyes. If so, it was an attempt that failed spectacularly.

(Nick Redfern) Mothman, of course...

Anna slammed the door, shaking with fear as she did so. For a few minutes she retreated to the furthest part of the living room. When, however, there was no further knock at the door, she made a tentative move. Plucking up all her courage, Anna peered once again through the spyhole: the two boys were still there. Most disturbing of all, although Anna practically tiptoed towards the door and did not touch it as she reached it, she said that the BECs clearly reacted as she looked at them, as if they were able to sense she was just behind the other side of the door.

As Anna continued to stare at them – locked into a state of terror – something almost unimaginable happened: an eerie green glow surrounded the boys and, in seconds, they were replaced by a pair of what Anna described as large, upright lizards. The monstrous pair stood around eight feet tall, were completely naked, and had long, protruding jaws filled with razor-sharp teeth. They did nothing but stand there, for around twenty seconds or so, after which, Anna explained, the outside porch was enveloped in blackness and they vanished from view. Her first thought was to call the local police. But, she felt – almost certainly correctly – that filing such an incident with law-enforcement officials would very likely cause her even more problems. Instead, she quickly packed a bag, carefully opened the door, raced to her car, and spent the next three days staying at her mother’s place, just over the Ohio River. It was the end of a shocking and unforgettable incident. With that all said, when this year's festival is over in September, I'll let you know the latest developments and revelations in the mysterious world of Point Pleasant and Mothman.

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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