Nov 08, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Some of the Really Strange Things About Mothman, the Red-Eyed Terror

Just about everyone has heard of the creature called Mothman. But, did you know the monster was (and still is) among us? Well, let's dig deep into some of this high-strangeness. But, first, let's tackle the beginning. Back in 1975, when I was just ten-years-old, a book was published that became an absolute classic. In fact, it was an epic production of the occult, the paranormal, the cryptoterrestrial and the supernatural. And altogether combined. As for the “leading character” in the book, he had a pair of burning eyes and gargoyle-style wings. You know who we’re talking about. The title remains unforgettable when you’ve read the book and seen the various, spectacular artwork to back it up. The name: The Mothman Prophecies. The author of this production was the late John Alva Keel, the author of a great, adventurous book called Jadoo. The book company said of Keel’s Jadoo that “…From the Upper Nile to the to the lower Ganges and the Roof of the World in Tibet, John Keel traveled in search of Jadoo – the black magic of the Orient – and had some of the most fantastic experiences ever to appear on the printed page.” Even at my early time, I knew I was set for a life like that. There simply was nothing else I could do: it was adventure or zero. Now, back to The Mothman Prophecies

(Nick Redfern) The Flying, Red-Eyed Terror

The book told of the wild, sinister 1966-1967 story of a menacing red-eyed, winged monster that plagued the little city of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. And the word “prophecies” became very apt. It wasn’t long before people around the town were having nightmarish dreams of disaster, chaos and even death. And, no less, some of those grim prophecies came to absolute realities. The flying monster had carefully placed itself in the city – and by both day and night. There’s something else very important, too: it has been wrongly assumed that the first encounter with Mothman took place in Point Pleasant. Not at all. The first confrontation – we’re told - was on the night of November 12, 1966. The location was a cemetery in Clendenin, which is close to eighty-miles from Point Pleasant. The grave-diggers, who were on-site at the time, were shocked and awed when they saw what was described as “a brown shape with wings.” The creature vanished into the blackness leaving the men shaking. Three days later a group of amazed kids – Roger Scarberry, Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette – had their night-time encounter; an encounter that just about defined the legend of Mothman. Deputy Millard Halstead said: “I’ve known these kids all their lives. They’d never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously.” So did many others, too. 

In that period of 1966 and 1967, there was a huge amount of strange activity in the area: Mothman; the pale-faced, Men in Black; poltergeist activity; UFOs; and weird and sinister characters that just might not have been quite human. One of them was a “man” who went by the name of Indrid Cold. A man who was known for his terrible, wild grin. In fact, the Grinning Man of today was clearly born out of Indrid Cold. We’ll hear much more about this half-human thing later on. There used to be an old TNT plant in the area. But, no more. It has pretty much been razed to the ground. Much of the area is empty, abandoned and covered in overgrown bushes, vines and moss, and hidden by the trees. Graffiti adorns the old structures – some with imagery of Mothman himself. The setting – and particularly so at night – is apocalyptic, to say the very least. Indeed, the ruined, run-down area looks like the kind of locale one might expect to see in the likes of The Walking Dead on television. And, decades later, the area still oozes a sense of hard-to-describe menace.

Notably, at the same time the events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia were afoot, very similar things were going down in New York – in Huntington, specifically in an area known to the locals as Mount Misery. Like Point Pleasant, the area was, and still is, steeped in weirdness. Strange creatures – such as “black panthers,” and ghostly black dogs with eyes like burning coals – roam the heart of the old woods. Ghostly children have been seen wandering the old lanes after the sun has set. Not the kind of love you would want. creepy Men in Black have knocked on the doors of locals late at night, warning them not to discuss the supernatural activity that dominates the area. And, for years, Mount Misery – with its thick, dense canopies of trees – has been a beacon for lovers. We’ll come back to the “Lovers Lane” aspect of all this later on, as it played a very important picture in the 1960s…and still does.

John Keel reported in his 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies, that a young couple – Richard and Jane – after an evening of hanging out, and making out, were driving to Richard’s home when he suddenly fell sick. He was overcome by weakness and nausea and even briefly passed out at the wheel. Not too good. Fortunately, because of the tight corners on the small, winding roads, Richard was barely driving at fifteen miles per hour, something which allowed Jane to quickly grab the wheel and bring the car to a screeching halt. The next thing Jane remembered was seeing a bright flash, followed by a groggy sense of missing time and a feeling of memories of…well, something.

There is, however, another angle to the history of the area: Point Pleasant, West Virginia is a city of around four-and-a-half-thousand people. In 1774, the city became the site of a now-historic battle between the forces of Colonel Andrew Lewis and Native Americans from the Shawnee and Mingo groups, and overseen by Shawnee Chief Cornstalk. It was a bloody and violent battle that Cornstalk’s people lost. Despite the historic nature of the battle, there is no doubt that it has been eclipsed by a series of events which occurred between November 1966 and December 1967: it can only be the reign of Mothman. Just before Christmas of 1967, there was death on the Ohio River. Or, rather, I should say there was death under the waters. On the evening of December 15, forty-six people drowned when the Silver Bridge – that spanned the Ohio River – collapsed. After the awful disaster, the sightings of Mothman dropped hugely. Since then, there have only been sporadic sightings of Mothman in and around – and in other parts of West Virginia. To this day, there are many who believe the cause of the death and the mayhem was due to Mothman. A real-life grim-reaper gone insane? Perhaps. There’s another thing, too: some of those prophecies proved to be true. Now, let's get to the weirdness. The really weird weirdness.

There was, however, something else, too; it was something that was both terrifying and paranormal: as the threats of nuclear war grew and grew, more and more people were having nightmares and prophecies in the dead of the night. Most of those dreams revolved around Mothman and gigantic, radioactive mushroom clouds. Many people generously shared their dreams with me. The anniversary prompted something else, too: a pair of new books about the subject of Mothman. One of the books was Lon Strickler’s Mothman Dynasty: Chicago’s Winged Humanoids. Lon said of his book: It seemed like the nukes were ready to hit the red button and launch: “In the late summer of 2011, three reports of Mothman-like flying humanoids surfaced in the city of Chicago, then nothing. Whatever it was disappeared. Then unexpectedly in early 2017, a smattering of encounters emerged from different locations throughout the Chicago metro area. These reports quickly grew to nearly fifty before stopping suddenly at the end of the summer. Why Chicago? Why now? This book will examine the witness accounts as well as the investigators thought processes in real time as these incidents were brought to our attention. The sightings continue… but we are determined to find the truth.”

(Nick Redfern) One of Point Pleasant's huge bridges

The other book was The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest. The author was Tobias Wayland, who said of his book: “This book represents over two years of research by a dedicated team of investigators who have taken dozens of reports of a weird, winged humanoid seen around Lake Michigan. Author and investigator Tobias Wayland has collected these reports for the first time in one volume, along with his analysis and insider perspective as a member of the investigative team. The phenomena described the continuation of a decades-long series of events first recorded in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the late '60s, but that has likely been with humanity since our advent, and seems just as likely to be with us until our end.” Things were, indeed, expanding – and most definitely not in a good way. That red-eyed thing was soaring around the skies and those nightmares were growing. Now, there are these words from my journals:

"In the first week of the month of all these nightmares, a trio of people – all unconnected – messaged and emailed me with the details of their experiences. One of those was an alien abductee named Kenny. A resident of San Bernardino, California, Kenny had a trauma-filled dream of a nuclear attack on the United States on the night of August 7. In the nightmare, Kenny was relaxing, watching television, in a house in a small town near Lubbock, Texas – a city he has not visited; at least, not yet. Relaxation soon turned to absolute terror. A deep, thunderous rumbling noise suddenly filled the air. He raced to the front-door, only to see a huge radioactive cloud hanging in the distance – perhaps five or six miles away; maybe more. 

"Kenny was frozen to the spot, unable to move as the shock enveloped him that America had been hit by a devastating nuclear weapon. Then, as the blast from the detonation raced across the flat plains of West Texas, the sky turned dark and a massive wall of flame – perhaps two hundred feet high – destroyed everything in its wake. The last thing Kenny remembered before waking up in a frantic state, was the sight of another explosion, this one right on Lubbock itself. The war to outdo all wars had begun. Civilization, Kenny knew, would soon be over. Not only that: Kenny, in one of his nightmares, had seen a “huge black bird.” 

"There was also the story of Kimberly J. Her experience reached me just a couple of days after Kenny contacted me. Living in the heart of Chicago, Kimberly had heard of the growing sightings of the Mothman and, as an alien abductee herself, viewed the whole situation as scary and ominous. In her very own nightmare, Kimberly saw the destruction of Chicago by a nuclear weapon, with millions of people killed in seconds and the whole city destroyed. Most intriguing is the fact that Kimberly saw what she described as an approximately nine-foot-tall “bird-man” hovering over the radioactive remains and the terribly injured survivors of the initial blast. She got a feeling that the bird-man was “watching the end of us.” It may well have been planning on doing just that."

There is another aspect to all of this matter of Mothman and nuclear war. Over a time of eight weeks, no less than nine people contacted me after they had terrifying experiences in their sleep. In every one of the nightmares, the United States was destroyed by gigantic explosions, and across the whole U.S.: “Mushroom” blasts, of course.  But, who initiated it all? In the dreams, no-one knew because all of the United States’ military arsenal was flattened and unable to respond. None of the United States’ nukes could be launched. Planes couldn’t take to the sky. Cars and trucks were frozen. Laptops were dead. U.S. Military submarines sunk to the beds of the oceans, unable to help. All the electricity was lost just before the attacks. And there never would be any electric again. Three of those eight people saw in their nightmares huge, black birds circling in a dust-filled atmosphere. There is, however, a very important question that has to be addressed: How could the United States have been flattened by Russia? Or, were the Chinese the culprits? North Korea? Maybe, they had all joined together to destroy the United States.

I realized immediately what had happened. There was only one answer for all this. It was the science of electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) technology. EMP has the ability to totally paralyze technology of all kinds and across miles. Thankfully, those dreams were just that: dreams. But, in the real world, EMP weaponry can, indeed, bring down the most powerful technology to the ground. Were those EMP dreams really just dreams? I hope so. 

(Nick Redfern) Every year there is a festival at Point Pleasant. Thousands arrive!

One of the strangest, and undoubtedly, creepiest of all encounters with a winged creature occurred at the height of the Vietnam War, and specifically in Da Nang, Vietnam – but, it has a modern day aspect, as you will see. It was in August 1969 that a man named Earl Morrison, along with several comrades, had the shock of his life. It was, very appropriately, in the dead of night when the menacing event occurred – and as the men were on guard-duty, keeping a careful look out for the Vietcong. Everything was quiet and normal until around 1:30 a.m. That’s when the atmosphere changed, and an eerie form made its presence known to the shocked men of the US 1st Division Marine Corps. Despite being somewhat reluctant to speak out publicly, Morrison eventually changed his mind and, by 1972, was comfortable about discussing the incident, even if he wasn’t comfortable with what he encountered. His story makes for incredible reading: “We saw what looked like wings, like a bat’s, only it was gigantic compared to what a regular bat would be. After it got close enough so we could see what it was, it looked like a woman. A naked woman. She was black. Her skin was black, her body was black, the wings were back; everything was black. But it glowed. It glowed in the night, kind of greenish cast to it. She started going over us, and we still didn’t hear anything. She was right above us, and when she got over the top of our heads she was maybe 6 or 7 feet up. We watched her go straight over the top of us, and she still didn’t make any noise flapping her wings. 

She blotted out the moon once – that’s how close she was to us. And dark – looked like pitch black then, but we could still define her because she just glowed. Real bright like. And she started going past us straight towards our encampment. As we watched her – she had got about 10 feet or so away from us – we started hearing her wings flap. And it sounded, you know, like regular wings flapping. And she just started flying off and we watched her for quite a while.” One of those who took a great deal of interest in the story of the flying woman of Da Nang was a UFO researcher named Don Worley. His personal interview with Morrison revealed additional data, such as the fact that the woman’s hair was black and straight, that the wings may have had a slight furry quality to them, that she “rippled” as she flew by, that she appeared to lack bones in her body, and that her wings seemed to be directly “molded” to her hands and arms. The investigators, Janet and Colin Bord, say of this particularly odd case: “Usually our reports of winged figures describe them as ‘men,’ but without any indication whether features are seen which tell the witness definitely that it is a man. In view of this we suspect that so-called ‘birdmen’ should strictly be termed ‘bird people’ or ‘bird persons,’ and that no sex attribution can honestly be made.”

Now, to something that’s absolutely wild and that just might be tied to the story directly above. That is, if you have a really crazy imagination. On January 9, 2014, the John Keel website stated the following: “Mark Pilkington [a journalist and author who specializes in weird things] has alerted me to the fact that the current issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine (Feb. ’14) contains an article entitled ‘UFO Mystery Solved: “Mothmen’ Were Actually Green Berets.’” The writer, Harold Hutchison, claims that special operations forces near Point Pleasant were testing high-altitude, low-opening (HALO) parachuting for use in Vietnam; and that the jumpers used luminous paint to be seen during the tests.  And this, he says, explains the Mothman sightings.” The people at the Haunted Librarian website weren’t impressed: “While Hutchison’s theory is interesting and places a patriotic spin on Mothman, a truly Americana urban legend, it doesn’t make sense. So, no, Mothman was not a wayward Green Beret.” 

Moving on: how about a look at the place where Mothman was seen back in the 1960s? That was filled with weirdness, too. Although I’ve been to Point Pleasant on many occasions – usually to give lectures at the yearly festival in town - my trip to the city in 2017 was more like a road-trip, something I love. There was several of us: me, Lyle Blackburn, Ken Gerhard and several friends. They are devotees of road-trips, too. The drive there (and back) is beyond long; but it’s always worth it. So, we filled our vehicle with all the things we needed and hit the road. We rolled into town – slightly blearily-eyed and frazzled from a lack of sleep – around 5:00 p.m., checked into our motel, and then, as darkness fell, headed out to a local pizza eatery. There were about twenty of us there, including John and Tim Frick, who I first met at the September 2014 Mothman gig. If you don’t know the Frick brothers, you should. Not only do the brothers know just about everything when it comes to Mothman history, they also know the town itself very well. And, particularly, the many and varied landmarks which are linked to the story of Mothman. Around 8:00 p.m., they took us –with other friends – to the old, so-called TNT area, which has played such an integral role in the Mothman saga. As we left the pizza place, a full-blown convoy of vehicles followed Tim and John, as we traveled along small, winding, tree-shrouded, roads to the scene of the old action. No surprise, there was an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation in the increasingly chilly air.

For those who may not know, the TNT area’s official title is the McClintic Wildlife Management Area. It’s situated around five miles north of the town of Point Pleasant and runs to more than 3,500 acres. At the height of the Second World War, a TNT processing plant was established in the area, with the volatile chemicals used to create it stored in a series of concrete, igloo-like buildings. It was the work of around 3,500 U.S. Army personnel and, at the time, was known as the West Virginia Ordnance Works. Today, the plant is no more. The only things left now are the crumbling foundations and a couple of sturdy, metal, perimeter-gates and a rusted metal fence. During daylight, it’s an inviting and picturesque area, filled with densely-packed trees, a plethora of wildlife – such as deer, raccoons and beavers – and numerous ponds, pools and small lakes. After dark, however, things are very different. The atmosphere of menace, which was so present back in the sixties, is still there – utterly refusing to relinquish its icy grip on the people of Point Pleasant. And, the TNT locale is gone.   

Having checked out what was left of the old plant, we all followed John and Tim to a specific stretch of heavily wooded ground, parked our vehicles, and were given an excellent and atmospheric tour of the igloos and their surroundings. I have to say the whole thing reminded me of something straight out of The Walking Dead: a ruined, overgrown environment, a once bustling area now utterly dead and abandoned, and an almost apocalyptic air that one could practically cut with a knife. The military was nowhere in sight, and the igloos were decaying, covered in foliage, and splattered with graffiti, both old and new. Me and a good friend, Denise, broke off from the main group and checked out some of the igloos, which was a profoundly memorable experience: the size and shape of the igloos cause a person’s voice to echo loudly and very oddly within their dark confines. Plus, we felt a deep sense of malignancy in the old buildings – a sense which was as immediate as it was long-lasting. You could almost taste the menace, if such a thing were possible.

Notably, there was some evidence that supernatural rites and rituals had been undertaken in some of the igloos, which I found most intriguing. It was near these very same igloos that so many of the Mothman sightings occurred in 1966 and 1967 – involving, it should be noted, witnesses who soon found themselves in the cold clutches of the Men in Black. Denise and I walked around, in near-darkness, for a couple of hours, with little more than the bright Moon for illumination, taking in the atmosphere and imagining what it must have been like decades ago earlier. A few scurrying animals and the cries of a handful of geese flying overhead were pretty much the only things that convinced us we hadn’t entered some strange portal – a doorway to an unsettling, dead world. After a while, we caught up with the rest of the gang. We hit the darkness-filled roads and headed back to our motels. It had been a cool night of high-strangeness. 

There’s no doubt that the “flying humanoid” phenomenon is a real one. It might have been here, on Earth, for centuries. Millennia, possibly.” Maybe, forever. Who can say for sure? As we’ve seen, their names include Mothman, the Vietnam winged woman, the Houston Batman, the Batsquatch, the Owlman, the Yorkshire, U.K., Pterodactyl and numerous more. Not only that, those creatures of the skies are tied to disaster and death – and not just to Point Pleasant. Monster-seeker Jonathan Downes had to leave – and quickly leave - his interest in the matter of the Owlman of England for the sake of his health and his life. And, John did stay away, such were his fears of those sky-creatures. Remember that: these monsters are experts when it comes to paranormal backlash, as Jon called it. And, they won’t fail to use it when they need it. There’s also the matter of these entities being able to alter their forms, as we’ve seen. We’re talking about creatures that can morph their forms. For example, the good folk of Point Pleasant have seen giant-sized, bird-like animals over their homes. Others have encountered bat-type things. Then, there are those who - over Point Pleasant - suggest these creatures are Native American Thunderbirds. Think of the Houston Batman that was seen back in the 1950s: that was a definitive humanoid with wings. But, nothing like a Thunderbird. The creatures might look somewhat different, but the wings are always there. As are those red eyes. They will always be here. Everywhere.

Should you see a red-eyed thing late at night, and in or around Point Pleasant, West Virginia be careful. Be very careful. This monster is not just dangerous, but possibly deadly. But, I still recommend people to visit Point Pleasant: the site of West Virginia's legendary winged monster. And, I should stress that it isn't all about fear. In fact, the festival is absolutely great. Whether the Mothman agrees, I have no idea.

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.

Join MU Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions & much more! Subscribe Today!