Jeepers Creepers, it’s Mothman!
Many stories have been told about experiences concerning this mysterious creature, being numerous or one single entity no one really knows. They claim these sightings surround disaster and deaths of horror. The incidents range from your normal citizen to even officials who have witnessed it, but nevertheless horrific. The accumulation of witnessed events have been told throughout the centuries but generate around disastrous worldwide events. It’s claim to fame brings Hollywood streaming in with a movie, which never claimed to solve the mysteries but added to it.
Mothman Encounter in Japan
I’m not sure if this is the appropriate time to come forward with this story seeing that the recent events in Japan are still fresh in every ones memory. I have been a follower of your website from pretty much the start; I have read your reports and have heard you online before. Naturally your site was the one I thought of first when this incident happened and I decided to write in and tell you what happened that night in early February.
I was in Japan on business and had emailed a lifelong friend who was living in Japan and teaching English at a local school. He had insisted on my staying with him for the duration of my stay, saying it would help save me money and make my expense report look better when I turned it in. My friend (I will call him Tim for the sake of his reputation and career) was a lifelong bachelor and had a fairly large apartment all to himself and his cat. After several days of day long meetings and group seminars, we had decided to go out to get a bite to eat and take in the town. After a fairly large meal and hopping from one night spot to another we decided to go toward the ocean and check out the moonlight reflecting off the waves. My friend stated that he wanted to check on a biology station that some of his graduate students had set up near a large power plant.
As we approached the plant from the west, we walked along some paths and came to a simple metal box bolted into the ground, from this box there were a myriad of weather vanes, and other meteorological devices. My friend stated the schools science class students had a theory that just like the water being used and discharged by the power plant was warmed by the production of electricity; the air around the plant was also being warmed and thus affecting weather and tidal patterns in the
surrounding eco-system. It all sounded too complex and in my slightly tipsy and tired state was only able to grasp the bare bones of the complex theory he laid out.
He finished up and changed the subject to something more jovial when all of a sudden we heard a loud and distinct “WHOOSH” at first my mind thought it might be the sound of the distant waves crashing ashore when we heard it again, followed by a ear pitching screech that shook me down to the bone and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. We looked around for the cause of the noise, when we heard the sound again. The best way I can describe it is a city buses brakes when they are in need of service, Loud and ear splitting. We both continued to look around when my friend’s attention was drawn toward the plant by another nearby couple. A younger couple, out for a walk were staring toward the plant, arms outstretched and the obvious fear in their voice showing itself.
I looked toward the plant, and against the lights of the plant I thought I saw a figure silhouetted against the moonlit sky. The figure was large and black, from the distance I was at it looked to be sitting on top of one of the squared shape buildings. It sat there for about 5 seconds then it unfurled a large set of what I could only describe as large, black wings. The only reference I can compare them too are from the old John Travolta movie “Michael” where the main character unfurls his wings and
spreads them out to their full length. To say that this creature was large was an understatement.
The creature then took flight and circled the plant at least 4-5 times, some circuits he took at a fast pace, some he seemed to slow down, all the while he kept his attention on the row of square shaped buildings that I later found out housed the reactors. The creature then came toward us, flying at least 25-30 feet off the ground. The younger couple who had noticed the creature first were now screaming and cowering, the man shielding the woman while shielding his head with a jacket. My friend and I
looked in awe as this creature flew over us. That’s when I noticed the two large red eyes; they seemed to glow from within and with a blood red hue. They were unblinking in the 3-4 seconds we saw them, we knew they were looking straight at us, we knew this creature knew we could see it and it made no attempt to disguise itself. The sick, intense and overwhelming feeling of dread came over us. A feeling that we shouldn’t be there was to say the least, overwhelming.
As quickly as it came, it flew away, back toward the town, eventually melting into the black night sky and as it flew away from us a loud whoosh was heard again and then…silence. This lasted a second or two before I heard the sound of a shutter and turned to see my friend trying to take pictures with his cell phone, but all he got was dark, night time sky. We went straight home and my friend bolted the door and drew all the blinds, he was shaking and saying that he could not believe what he saw, could it have been a large, unknown species of bird? He kept mumbling to himself until I was able to calm him down and get him to relax and talk about what we had seen. Eventually we both agreed that it must have been some sort of large bird, or maybe an optical illusion caused by the lights given off by the plant on a regular, known species of bird.
We talked about it late into the night, till we both fell asleep on the couches and awoke the next morning to stiff necks and backs. My friend and I spent the last two days out and about and enjoying each others company, till he drove me to the airport and we bid each other farewell and I came home.
We spoke about it only once more in an email about a week before he was due to come to the U.S. for his sister’s wedding. When I brought it up at the wedding rehearsal dinner, he was convinced that it had been an optical illusion. That was until the day before the wedding when he woke me out of a deep sleep with a frantic phone call telling me to turn on the TV. There came the images of the devastation of the Japanese earthquake and the near total destruction of the city of the town of Okuma, where my friend was living and working. The day of the wedding the news came of the explosions at the local nuclear power plant and as CNN broadcast the report, we were both a gasp as the same power plant where we had seen the strange bird-like object was not being shown on the television set. The Fukushima Daiich was the exact same plant we had seen the strange bird like creature circling. Was it pure coincidence or was it the mythical Moth-Man doing his strange work of predicting disasters? I may never know and may go to the grave wondering that, but one thing is certain for sure, I don’t think that neither of us is going to forget this event, no matter how long we live.
Thank you so much for your time.
Townspeople also reported that they were having psychic visions and dreams. Basically, it was a weird time for Mount Pleasant that eventually ended in disaster. The Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, killing 46 people. And immediately after, sightings of The Mothman abruptly came to a halt.
On November 12, 1966, five workers were preparing a grave at the cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia. As they were digging, they spotted something flying over their heads. They described it as manlike with wings.
Just three days later, two married couples driving near an abandoned TNT plant in Point Pleasant, West Virginia had an encounter with a winged man creature with glowing red eyes. They described the creature as being tall, 6 or 7 feet. It’s red bright eyes were “hypnotic.” The witnesses panicked and sped away, only to see this thing again on a hillside. They watched it rise into the air and follow them. Their car was traveling at over 100 mph and “That bird kept right up with us,” said one of them to Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead. The creature easily followed them down Highway 62 right up to the Point Pleasant city limits.
That same night, several other Point Pleasant residents nervously spoke with local authorities about seeing this strange creature. What made it even more weird was the other phenomena that coincided with this winged monster. Televisions went out, electricity and motors stopped, strange and wild high-pitched screams accompanied sightings. One dog, Bandit, went missing as his owner slept with his rifle in his bed.
On November 16, Deputy Halstead held a press conference at the courthouse. So many law abiding and normally reliable witnesses came forward with their experiences. Deputy Halstead had grown up with these people, and he believed them. Reporters worldwide came to Point Pleasant and dubbed the creature The Mothman.
For 13 months, there were extraordinary sightings and scary incidents…The Mothman was making his presence known to the people of Point Pleasant. John Keel, a New York writer, chronicled the testimonies. He interviewed over 100 individuals that had witnessed The Mothman from November 1966 to November 1967. People also reported stories about strange lights in the sky and the infamous Men in Black visiting Point Pleasant residents. Keel’s book, The Mothman Prophecies, became the basis for the movie.
As if UFOs, Men in Black, and The Mothman wasn’t enough, many residents told Keel that they were experiencing strange psychic phenomena. Several individuals told him of nightmares they had of The Mothman’s red eyes followed by visions of tragic events. These events supposedly include the stabbing of the Pope, Robert Kennedy’s assassination, and something terrible happening where many lives were going to be lost in Point Pleasant.
Unfortunately, on December 15, one of “The Mothman Prophecies” came true. The 700 foot bridge between Ohio and West Virginia in Point Pleasant collapsed. 46 people lost their lives that evening. One of the strange reports that evening prior to the bridge collapse was the sighting of lights in the sky. It was such a tragedy, and Keel reported that many of those that died were first-hand witnesses of The Mothman.
As quickly as encounters with The Mothman started, they ended shortly thereafter. There have been sporadic sightings in the area since then, but nothing paralleled those 13 months in Point Pleasant. The mystery and tragedy of Point Pleasant is far from forgotten, and many people associated with the incident and investigations have died in very sudden, tragic, and mysterious ways.
Just one story is that of Mothman investigator Susan Wilcox of Columbus, Ohio. Susan reported that she had witnessed a creature with wings near her home in 2001. She visited Point Pleasant often during 2001 and 2002 to do her research, but was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of brain tumor that mostly strikes children under 12. Ms. Wilcox passed away two months later. Her son, Brent Fair, was also a budding Mothman researcher had a sealed envelope with her research logs Susan had given him ten months prior to her passing. She left a note on the envelope that read, “B.R., Do not open until December 2002.” Susan Wilcox had died on December 8, 2002.
Many say the land where Point Pleasant stands today is cursed by a Shawnee chief. On November 10, 1777, he lay dying from gunshot wounds from soldiers and said, “For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.” A monument in Point Pleasant to commemorate that time period was later erected. In 1909, lightning struck the crane that was to place it. And on July 4th, 1921, the monument was destroyed by yet another lightning strike.
Since 1967, there have been worldwide reports of this Mothman appearing prior to major disasters:
* People reported seeing the Mothman just days before the Mexico City earthquake in 1985.
* There have been many interviews in Chernobyl from those that said they saw a winged man-creature, right before the nuclear reactor disaster in 1986.
* Minutes after the Twin Towers’ destruction on September 11th, 2001, observers reported seeing “winged, flying men” flying near both towers. The picture (at left and right) shows that the flying creature is much too big to be any kind of bird.
* Newspapers in Tbilissi, Georgia wrote about how some guy said he got information from a “winged phantom” concerning the Church of St. David being in danger. Soon thereafter, there was a major earthquake striking Tbilissi on April 25, 2002. The church suffered massive damage.
* Months after the Tbilissi quake, Chinese citizens reported seeing The Mothman. Shortly after reporters published their stories, a Chinese MD-82 in the northeastern part of China. There were further reports from people saying they knew the plane was going to crash because of information given to them by “a man that looked like a moth.”
* There are reports all over the world, even in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So what is The Mothman and why does it seem to follow major disasters? Is it trying to warn us of impending doom? Or is there something sinister involved? Or perhaps, it’s simply the human imagination trying to cope with tragedy.
Although the tragedy of Mount Pleasant was 40 years ago, it seems the myth of The Mothman is still one that captures our attention and our imagination. Whatever you believe, catch Sci Fi investigates this Wednesday night, as the crew goes to Mount Pleasant, WV to investigate The Mothman (Sci Fi Channel).
I was in Charleston, WV this summer and no one would take me on the hour drive to Mount Pleasant. As one local resident told me, “For us, it’s all very real Too real.” For those that live in the area, The Mothman represents a very scary and uncertain time in their town’s history.
People have pondered dates, disasters, and deaths linked to Mothman from 1966, to the present. Since it has become fashionable in recent years to create lists of those who have died by association to the JFK assassination, Bill Clinton, and even the movie Poltergeist, here is “The Mothman Death List” of events and deaths linked to the original series of Mothman sightings of 1966-1967, to the release of the movie in January 2002, to the various cable premieres, and VHS/DVD releases later in 2002 and 2003.
In 1975, John Keel wrote in The Mothman Prophecies that “there would be many changes in the lives of those touched by” Mothman, and a “few would even commit suicide.” Those people remain unidentified, but we have gathered information on the following souls who seem linked to the events radiating out of Point Pleasant.
#1 – 46: The Silver Bridge Victims
At 5:04 PM, on December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed during rush hour.
Forty-six lives were lost, and forty-four bodies were recovered.
These are the names of those whose bodies were recovered:
Albert A. Adler, Jr, Gallipolis, OH
J. O. Bennnett, Walnut Cove, NC
Leo Blackman, Richmond, VA
Kristye Boggs, Vinton, OH
Margaret Boggs, Vinton, OH
Hilda Byus, Point Pleasant, WV
Kimberly Byus, Point Pleasant, WV
Melvin Cantrell, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
Thomas A. Cantrell, Gallipolis, OH
Donna Jean Casey, Gallipolis, OH
Cecil Counts, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
Horace Cremeans, Route 1, Gallipolis, OH
Harold Cundiff, Winston-Salem, NC
Alonzo Luther Darst, Cheshire, OH
Alma Duff, Point Pleasant, WV
James Hawkins, Westerville, OH
Bobby L. Head, Gallipolis, OH
Forrest Raymond Higley, Bidwell, OH
Alva B. Lane, Route 1, Gallipolis, OH
Thomas “Bus” Howard Lee, Gallipolis, OH
G. H. Mabe, Jamestown, NC
Darlene Mayes, Kanauga, OH
Gerald McMannus, South Point, OH
James Richard Maxwell, Gallipolis, OH
James F. Meadows, Point Pleasant, WV
Timothy Meadows, Point Pleasant, WV
Frederick D. Miller, Gallipolis, OH
Ronnie G. Moore, Gallipolis, OH
Nora Isabelle Nibert, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
Darius E. Northup, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
James O. Pullen, Middleport, OH
Leo “Doc” Sanders, Point Pleasant, WV
Ronald Sims, Gallipolis, OH
Charles T. Smith, Bidwell, OH
Oma Mae Smith, Bidwell, OH
Maxine Sturgeon, Kanauga, OH
Denzil Taylor, Point Pleasant, WV
Glenna Mae Taylor, Point Pleasant, WV
Robert Eugene Towe, Cana, VA
Victor William Turner, Point Pleasant, WV
Marvin Wamsley, Point Pleasant, WV
Lillian Eleanor Wedge, Point Pleasant, WV
Paul D. Wedge, Point Pleasant, WV
James Alfred White, Point Pleasant, WV
The two whose bodies were never recovered are:
Kathy Byus, Point Pleasant, WV
Maxine Turner, Point Pleasant, WV
Mary Hyre-The date (or Mothman math) game played a role in the next death. The first sighting (acknowledged by the media and first filed by reporter Mary Hyre) occurred when the Scarberrys and Mallettes saw Mothman on November 15, 1966, in the TNT area, Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Then exactly thirteen months later, the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967. Twenty-six months later (13 x 2) exactly, Mary Hyre died on February 15, 1970, at the age of 54, after a four-week illness. Hyre was the Point Pleasant correspondent for the Athens, Ohio newspaper The Messenger, and during the 1960s’ investigations, became a close friend of John A. Keel. (Her husband Scotty had died on December 1, 1968.)
1970 – Two novels were published on events linked to the 1967 collapse of the bridge at Point Pleasant. One was a novel, Beyond the Bridge (NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1970) by Jack Matthews, about a man that had survived the disaster and began life anew. The other, a book with heavy doses of fiction and fact, was The Silver Bridge (Clarksburg, WV: Saucerian Books, 1970) by Gary Barker. Mothman figures in Barker’s book, but not specifically in Matthews’.
Ivan T. Sanderson-Naturalist, cryptozoologist, and television animal man Ivan Sanderson served as John A. Keel’s main consultant on the natural history behind the reports of Mothman. Keel was on the phone often with Sanderson, who was a well-known writer and at the time of the Mothman sightings, also the director of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in New Jersey. Sanderson was one of the first researchers on the scene, to report on the Flatwoods Monster seen in West Virginia in 1952. He was more involved with the Mothman situation that is often remembered. Sanderson, 62, died on February 19, 1973, of a rapidly spreading cancer.
1974 – Keel wrote in his 1975 book: “Only one subsequent report [of Mothman] is known, from Elma, New York, in October of 1974.” (Of course, we know today this is no longer true.)
Fred Freed-Mary Hyre and Ivan Sanderson were named in John A. Keel’s book as having died before the tenth anniversary of his Mothman investigations. He also mentioned Fred Freed, who is little known today. In television histories, however, Freed’s documentaries, the NBC White Paper, which began in 1960, are acclaimed as groundbreaking. The series would be successful until they ended with Freed’s death. In September 1973, Keel and Freed began meeting regularly to discuss a White Paper that would concentrate on the Ohio Valley UFO flaps and other activity (Mothman) in the area. This documentary would never be made. In March 1974, Freed died swiftly and suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 53.
1984 – New reports of Mothman are recorded for West Virginia, including a close encounter by witnesses Brenda and James DeVore.
Gray Barker-Besides John Keel, no other person was as on scene in Mason County, during 1966-1967, as often as West Virginian Gary Barker. Barker was a theatrical film booker and educational-materials distributor based in Clarksburg, West Virginia, who became interested in UFOs after he investigated the Flatwoods Monster in 1952. In 1956, Barker was the first person to write a book (They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, Clarksburg, WV: Saucerian Books, 1956).on the Men in Black (which Keel would later call MIBs). Barker and Keel interviewed Woodrow Derenberger, the contactee who was visited by Indrid Cold. Barker noted in Spacecraft News #3, in 1966, that when he was investigating Mothman near Point Pleasant, he found a note on his door with this ungrammatic message, “ABANDON YOUR RESEARCH OR YOU WILL BE REGRET. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.” Over Labor Day, 1968, Barker held a Mothman Convention in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. This displeased Keel, and after Keel wrote to Barker about it on March 15, 1969, a rift developed between them that would never heal.
UFO humorist and researcher James Moseley, Gray Barker’s closest friend, noted in his recent book, Shockingly Close to the Truth, that Barker died on December 6, 1984, “after a long series of illnesses” in a Charleston, West Virginia, hospital. But the cause was somewhat mysterious and the diagnosis was always unclear. Moseley wrote that “the more or less simultaneous failure of various organs, due most probably to AIDS (though it was not diagnosed as such in those days)” killed Barker. In filmmaker Ralph Coon’s documentary about Barker, Whispers from Space, the Clarksburg investigator is depicted as a closeted gay man. Barker was only 59 when he died.
D. Scott Rogo-Parapsychologist and author D. Scott Rogo, 40, was found stabbed to death on August 18, 1990, after a neighbor in the 18100 block of Schoenborn Street, Northridge, California, noted that Rogo’s backyard sprinklers had been on for two days. Police arrived to discover Rogo dead on the floor. The home had not been ransacked. While most of Rogo’s early work focussed on parapsychology, he also had written about this theories on Mothman in The Haunted Universe (NY: Signet, 1977) and Earth’s Secret Inhabitants (NY: Tempo Books, 1979), the latter book written with his friend Jerome Clark.
October 1, 1991 IllumiNet Press published the first reprint of The Mothman Prophecies in decades. It is this edition that screenwriter Richard Hatem “discovered” in an old book store, and decided to get someone interested in producing a movie from the book.
Donald North-Donald I. North, a Point Pleasant native who saw Mothman in the TNT area in the 1990s, died in an automobile crash in 1997.
Spring 1997 – Struck by insomnia one night during the Spring of 1997, Richard Hatem drifted into a Pasadena bookstore. He saw and grabbed a used copy of The Mothman Prophecies from a shelf, and soon was engaged in reading it through the night. The next day, he contacted John Keel, and immediately began work on the screenplay that Lakeshore Entertainment bought in 1998.
Jim Keith -Conspiracy author Jim Keith, at the age of 50, died mysteriously, on September 7, 1999, during routine knee surgery, after falling off the stage at the annual Burning Man pagan arts festival in Nevada. Jim Keith was responsible for first writing about a CIA-Men-in-Black connection to the initial Mothman events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. He held the notion that Point Pleasant was being used as a “test tube.”
Gene Andrusco-Born in Ontario, Canada on April 6, 1961, Gene Andrusco relocated to Southern California when he was young, then soon became a actor on television programs such as “Bewitched” and “Cannon.” In the mid-1980s, under the pen name Gene Eugene, he started a second career as a Christian alternative rock producer, engineer, and musician as a member of Adam Again, the Lost Dogs, and the Swirling Eddies. It was as a musician that his life crossed paths with Mothman, in the late 1990s. Andrusco, 38, was found dead in The Green Room, his production studio in Huntington Beach, California, during the early morning of March 30, 2000, of a brain aneurysm or heart attack.
The only movie Gene Andrusco ever worked on was Douglas TenNapel’s elusive independent film, Mothman (2000). Andrusco was the music editor, and performed some of the music, as a member of the Lost Dogs. The film was the first feature directed by Douglas TenNapel, produced by Mark Russell and Jay Holben, and executive produced by Martin Cohen of DreamWorks SKG. It was shot on location in Orange County, California, and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on 35 mm in fifteen days throughout the month of December 1997. Jay Holben, the film’s head cinematographer, would go on to do Minority Report; Mark Russell would produce Minority Report. A sneak preview of TenNapel’s Mothman was held at San Diego Comic-Con on August 12, 1999, but, although the date of final release is listed as 2000, no one really knows whatever happened to the film, and TenNapel refuses to discuss it to this day.
Ron Bonds-The publisher of most of Jim Keith’s books and of John Keel’s 1991 reprint of The Mothman Prophecies, Ron Bonds of IllumiNet Press, died under strange circumstances, at 48, on April 8, 2001. He was being rushed to the hospital for food poisoning, apparently contracted at the Mexican restaurant, El Azteca, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta. (Before becoming a publisher, Bonds had been a rock promoter and producer. Intriguingly, April 8th is also associated with the date that Kurt Cobain, grunge rock star, was found dead from suicide in Seattle.)
Robin Chaney Pilkington-On October 24, 2001, Marcella Bennett who was an eyewitness to Mothman on November 16, 1966, the oft-noted “second sighting,” lost her daughter, Robin Pilkington, 44. Marcella Bennett’s remark about Mothman’s “terrible”, glowing, red eyes” is a frequently quoted description. Her daughter’s death would signal the start of a wave of witness-relatives’ deaths during the time leading up to and during The Mothman Prophecies movie’s release. Pilkington died after a “long illness” at Bridgton (Maine) Hospital. Born January 26, 1957, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to Robert and Marcella Wamsley Bennett, Robin Pilkington, graduated from nursing school, and then moved to Denmark, Maine. Besides her parents, Robin was survived by her husband Ross, son Robert Chaney and daughter Kristen Chaney, both of Connecticut, and a sister Kristina Bennett of Naples, Florida. Robin’s younger sister, Kristina (also known as Tina or Teena) was the child in Marcella’s arms when Marcella had her sighting on November 16, 1966. Robin Pilkington is buried at the Mount Pleasant (!) Cemetery in West Denmark, Maine.
January 1, 2002 – Paraview Press published Mothman and Other Curious Encounters.
Agatha Bennett-On January 12, 2002, at the Pleasant Valley Nursing and Rehab. Center, Agatha Eileen Bennett, 93, Point Pleasant, died. While her age would indicate a long and rich life, the timing of her death is noteworthy, coming just as the publicity for the new Mothman movie is beginning. Her son Robert Bennett, who along with his wife Marcella Bennett (the often-interviewed witness), saw Mothman on the second night of the beginning of the 1966 flap. Mrs. Bennett was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Sr.; a daughter, Geraldine Bennett; a son, James Bennett; two sisters; three brothers; and a granddaughter. We are uncertain if any of her brothers were named Julius. An individual named Julius Oliver Bennett perished when the Silver Bridge collapsed in 1967.
Ted Demme-The up and coming rock video filmmaker and movie director Ted Demme (Blow, 2001) suddenly died on January 13, 2002 at age 38, while playing in a celebrity charity basketball game at the private Crossroads School in Santa Monica, CA. A few years earlier, when Ted Demme was the director of Yo! MTV Raps and Mark Pellington was one of the show’s producers, they became friends. Mark Pellington, of course, would go on from his MTV award winning days, to become the director of Arlington Road (1999) and The Mothman Prophecies (2002). Demme’s uncle is Jonathan Demme, director of Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004).
John A. Keel (not yet)
On January 14, 2002, a story rapidly circulated via the Internet communities that John A. Keel had just died. Loren Coleman quickly put the rumor to rest by calling Keel, and confirming that Keel was, indeed, still alive, although Keel quipped that everyone should be told, “his funeral is on Saturday and he will be wearing black.” Keel noted that this happened to him at least once before, in 1967.
January 23, 2002 – North America’s FX cable channel screened the documentary, Search for the Mothman.
January 25, 2002 – The Mothman Prophecies opened across America. The music soundtrack CD is released on the same date.
Charles Mallette-As the movie began screening on January 25, 2002, the original witnesses, the Mallettes were attending a funeral in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Stephen Mallette, who was one of the first four witnesses, was mourning the passing of his brother, Charlie, due to a brain tumor. Charles Putnam ‘Charlie’ Mallette, 43 of Point Pleasant, died Thursday, January 22, 2002, at his home.
Mason County road deaths
The last week in January 2002, during that same initial movie release time period, there were five fatalities in and near Point Pleasant, in two crashes involving four automobiles on January 26, and three other fatal wrecks in the next five days. For rural Mason County, the eight road deaths in six days was the most in 40 years, according to the State of West Virginia. In one major crash, two tractor-trailer rigs and a Volvo resulted in the death of truck driver Richard Clement, 61, of Mukwonga, Wisconsin.
February 15, 2002 – Tor reprinted John Keel’s 1975 The Mothman Prophecies in paperback.
Gary Ury-On February 15, 2002, soon after the town was coming alive with all the Mothman promotions and attention, one of Point Pleasant’s better-known Mothman eyewitnesses, Tom Ury suddenly lost his 52-year-old brother Gary.
Ted Tannebaum-Ted Tannebaum, 68, the Executive Producer of The Mothman Prophecies, died of cancer, on March 7, 2002, in Chicago, Illinois. He founded the Lakeshore Entertainment Group (which produced the Mothman motion picture) with partner Tom Rosenberg in the early 1990s. The Mothman Prophecies would be Tannebaum’s last movie.
May 23, 2002 – The Mothman Prophecies opened in Australia.
Aaron Rebsamen-Aaron Stephen Rebsamen, 14, unexpectedly died by suicide on Thursday, May 23, 2002, in his Fort Smith, Arkansas home. He was the beloved son of the well-known cryptozoology artist, William Rebsamen, who did the cover illustration of Mothman for the book, Mothman and Other Curious Encounters. Under a tight deadline after the publisher rejected earlier images from another source, Bill Rebsamen created the Mothman painting, overnight, in one creative inspiration. Witnesses, such as Linda Scarberry, upon seeing the Rebsamen full-length, colored illustration of Mothman, said it is the best drawing, which most matches what was first seen on November 15, 1966.
Webber Falls Bridge collapse (14 died)
While no direct link to Mothman has been made to this tragic accident, after years of no major bridge collapses in the USA, the timing seemed “spooky” to some. Details are included here, although the victims are not counted in the Mothman Death List total, yet.
Near Webbers Falls, fourteen people died after a barge collided into an Interstate 40 bridge, sending cars, trucks and trailers into the Arkansas River early Sunday morning, May 26, 2002. The bridge crossed the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River waterway in eastern Oklahoma. Seven women, seven men and at least 10 vehicles were pulled from the river after one of two barges pushed by a tugboat struck a pillar, collapsing a 500 to 600-foot section of the bridge.
Among those lost were Andrew Clements, 35, who was traveling from California to Woodbridge, Virginia; Jeanine Cawley, 48, of Lebanon, Oregon; Margaret Green, 45, of Stockdale, Texas; Gail Shanahan, 49, of Corpus Christi, Texas; Misty Johnson, 28, of Lavaca, Arkansas; James Johnson, 30, of Lavaca, Arkansas; Paul Tailele Jr., 39, of Magna, Utah; Wayne Martin, 49, of Norman, Oklahoma; Susan Martin, 49, of Norman, Oklahoma; Jerry Gillion, 58, of Spiro, Oklahoma; Patricia Gillion, 57, of Spiro, Oklahoma; David Mueggenborg, 52, of Okarche, Oklahoma; and Jean Mueggenborg, 51, also of Okarche, Oklahoma; The Johnsons’ three-year-old daughter, Shea Nicole, was found floating approximately one-half mile south of the bridge. She was one of the 14 victims pronounced dead. The Johnsons were on the way to the Tulsa Zoo.
The medical examiner ruled the manner of death an accident on all 14 victims. Drowning was the cause of death on 13 of the casualties. The medical examiner ruled Clements’ cause of death blunt trauma to the head.
Joe Dedmon, 62, Conway, Arkansas; Rodney Tidwell, 37, Ripley, Mississippi; Max Alley, 67, Stroud, Oklahoma; and Goldie Alley, 68, Stroud, Oklahoma, were all rescued from the murky water. Dedmon, captain of the tugboat, said he apparently “blacked out” minutes before the barge crashed into the bridge.
June 6, 2002 – The Mothman Prophecies simple DVD (theatrical version only) released in North America.
Sherry Yearsley-Along eastbound I-80 at Sparks, Nevada, near the railroad tracks, the partially clad body of Sherry Marie Yearsley, 47, was found on June 21, 2002. Passengers on a passing Amtrak train spotted the body and notified authorities. Police said Yearsley was a murder victim and her body had been dumped the previous day, June 20, 2002. At the time of her death, Yearsley was living with her mother in Reno. County records indicated Yearsley was issued a license in 1996 to marry Alfred Alsvary, who was incarcerated at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in May 2002, on a 1- to 4-year sentence on drug charges. It was unclear if the two ever had married.
Yearsley and author Jim Keith were partners for several years in the 1980s, and parented two daughters, Verity and Aerica. They separated around 1990, and engaged in a disruptive custody battle over their girls. Yearsley lost the custody case when Judge Mills Lane (later to become famous due to his court television show), discovered Yearsley had been lying to him. Today, the children live with their aunt Kathy, Jim’s sister, in Oregon.
July 29, 2002 – Lifetime Channel aired the first showing of the Mothman segment on Unsolved Mysteries.
November 15-17, 2002 – Point Pleasant, West Virginia, celebrated its first annual Mothman Festival.
Julia Harrison-Julie Harrison, 29, an associate and good friend of the members of the Portland, Oregon-based high-tech grunge band, King Black Acid, died from the complications of an operation, on November 17, 2002. King Black Acid did most of the songs for disc 1 of the soundtrack CD for the movie The Mothman Prophecies.
Susan J. ”Minga” Wilcox, 53, of Columbus, died of an extremely rare form of brain tumor, ependymoma, which mostly strikes children under 12, at Mt. Carmel East Hospital, December 8, 2002. Wilcox had only been diagnosed with the condition two months before. Wilcox saw a black “bat-like” bedroom invader in her Columbus, Ohio, home in February 2001, went on to be a Mothman investigator, traveled to Point Pleasant several times in 2001 and 2002, and created a personal website: “Mothman: A Life Changed Forever.” She left behind a large envelope of her investigative logs for her son, Brent Fair (also a researcher on such matters), on which she had penned a note to him that read: “”B.R. Do not open until December 2002.” He found the date chilling and prophetic, in light of when she passed away.
January 15, 2003 - The Mothman Prophecies premiered on Cinemax cable television in the USA.
April 19, 2003 – The Mothman Prophecies premiered on HBO cable television in the USA.
May 6, 2003 – The Mothman Prophecies – VHS released.
Robert Stack-Known for his portrayal of Eliot Ness of The Untouchables, and as the host of Unsolved Mysteries, Robert Stack, 84, died at his home, on Wednesday, May 14, 2003. Robust and relatively healthy, his death came as a surprise to many. Stack’s wife Rosemarie, who had just returned from a charity function, found him slumped over in the couple’s Los Angeles home at about 5 p.m. on that day. The actor underwent radiation treatment for prostate cancer in October 2002, but his wife said he died of heart failure. Unsolved Mysteries was the only regularly scheduled reality program to devote a serious segment to Mothman, which they first broadcast on July 29, 2002.
May 27, 2003 – The Mothman Prophecies: DVD Special Edition released. It contains the David Grabias documentary, Search for the Mothman. This DVD: SE began hitting stores a week later.
Jessica Kaplan-Jessica Kaplan, a crewmember on The Mothman Prophecies, died in the well publicized nose-dive plane crash into LA’s Fairfax neighborhood apartment building on June 6, 2003. The Los Angeles Times identified the pilot as Jeffrey T. Siegel, the owner of a Santa Monica construction firm Siegel’s family said that Siegel and his niece, Jessica Kaplan, 24, were flying to the family’s second home in Sun Valley, Idaho. Kaplan’s family described her as a screenwriter who had written for New Line Cinema. Jessica Kaplan is officially credited as one of the production crew for The Mothman Prophecies. As part of the Art Department working on that film about Mothman-linked disasters, Kaplan is listed as a “scenic artist.” Kaplan is also known as the genius teen that sold a script to Hollywood for $150,000, when she was 17. In 2004, that script will be released as the movie Havoc, directed by well-known documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple and starring Mandy Moore. The Los Angeles crash occurred on Friday 6/6/2003 (note 2 x 3 = 6, thus Friday’s date can be read as 666), but then, that’s probably only a coincidence.
Daniel Lee Carter II-On July 15, 2003, Daniel Carter, 34, died in Gallipolis, Ohio. Carter, born April 20, 1969, had a short but creative life, and died suddenly from a massive heart attack. He was involved with the group of artists, musicians, and photographers, all active people in the Gallipolis-Point Pleasant area who gave the Mothman investigations new life. His photographs of the old buildings of the TNT area were featured in Donnie Sergent’s and Jeff Wamsley’s Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend (2002).
August 25, 2003: The Mothman Prophecies premiered on British cable television network Sky Movies.
Robert Sanders-On August 26, 2003, Robert Sanders, 44, was one of four deaths that happened in and around Point Pleasant during the last week of August 2003, and he reportedly died by suicide. The Point Pleasant, W.V. Daily Register noted: “Robert Sanders, 44, of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, was dead on arrival Tuesday, August 26, 2003, at Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant. He was born February 28, 1959, in Mason County, West Virginia, son of the late Leon Allen Sanders, and Carol Louise See Parsons. He was self-employed as a dry-waller. In addition to his father, he was preceded in death by a half-brother, Leon Alton Saunders.”
Sanders gained membership on this list because he reportedly is related to “Leo ‘Doc’ Sanders,” who was killed when the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967, and perhaps a survivor, Donovan Sanders.
During this unusual “death flap,” the other people dying included Ricky J. Doss, 37, of Greenup, Kentucky, who drowned in a Mason County pond on August 27, 2003, and a couple who were killed in an auto accident on Highway 35, near the site of the old Silver Bridge. The paper reported: “Charles W. Black, 84, of Henderson, W.V., a former resident and business owner of Jackson County, Ohio, and Ella Fletcher, his close friend and companion for several years, died in an automobile accident on Tuesday afternoon [August 26] near Point Pleasant….Charles, a World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps and former mayor of the town of Hartford, W.V., and also the owner of a farm equipment dealership in Jackson, was a 1937 graduate of Oak Hill High School….Ella Mae Bechtle Fletcher, 75, of Henderson, W.V., was a retired employee of Holzer Hospital in Gallipolis, Ohio. She was born September 28, 1927 in Pennsylvania, the daughter of the late James T. and Evelyn (Earnest) Bechtle.”
Daman Bridge collapse (27+ died)-Just as with the Oklahoma bridge collapse, while no direct link to Mothman has been made to this tragic accident, the timing of such major bridge collapses seems intriguing. Details are included here, although the victims are not counted in the Mothman Death List total.
On August 28, 2003, 27 people, including 23 school children (who were all in a mini-bus), died in the collapse of a bridge in Daman, India. Daman is about 120 miles/200 kilometers north of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, and is a former Portuguese colony that was liberated in 1960. The 1105 foot (335 meter) long bridge suddenly collapsed when both ends crumpled inwards. Seven other individuals were missing and presumed dead. The majority of the children were from Our Lady of Fatima Convent High School. (The Mothman Prophecies had premiered in India earlier in August 2003.)
September 14, 2003: The Second Annual Mothman Festival was held at Point Pleasant, and an extremely large stainless steel sculpture of a butterfly-like Mothman created by Bob Roach of New Haven was unveiled. Hayrides and tours of the TNT area were given during the early evening, after a day of local speakers and a visit from Bill Geist of CBS Sunday Morning. The Geist report was originally broadcast on September 28, 2003, and then repeated on August 29, 2004.
December 15, 2003: The 36th anniversary of the collapse of the Silver Bridge is acknowledged in the Gallipolis-Kanauga, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, area, with a remembrance in honor of the victims of the accident.
December 26, 2003: A request by the Mason County Commission to place signs at both ends of the Silver Memorial Bridge identifying it as such is “reasonable,” the West Virginia Department of Transportation communicated in a letter announced on this date. The bridge has been “unofficially” known as the Silver Memorial Bridge for many years. The span was opened in 1969, less than two years after the collapse of the nearly 40-year-old Silver Bridge that previously linked downtown Point Pleasant with Kanauga, Ohio, and State Route 7.
Alan Bates-British actor Sir Alan Bates, 69, died the night of December 27, 2003, at a hospital in London after a long battle with cancer. Bates played “Alexander Leek” in the 2002’s The Mothman Prophecies. The character’s “Leek” was a name game based on author-investigator John A. Keel’s moniker. The activities and intellectualization portrayed by Richard Gere’s “John Klein” and Alan Bates’ “Alexander Leek” in The Mothman Prophecies were fashioned after the real-life John A. Keel. Bates was best known for his performances on screen in films like Women In Love and The Fixer, and more recently in The Mothman Prophecies. Bates’ very close friend, John Schlesinger died July 25, 2003, at age 77, at Palm Springs, California. In 2002, Bates accepted the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema¹s Artistic Achievement Award for Direction on behalf of John Schlesinger. Bates gained notice through appearing in Schlesinger’s films, especially these three: A Kind of Loving, An Englishman Abroad, and Far from the Madding Crowd. Schlesinger had also helped introduce Richard Gere, in the 1979 film Yanks to film audiences. Bates was born on February 17, 1934, in Allestree, Derbyshire, England, UK. Bates married actress Victoria Ward in 1970. Their twin sons, Benedick and Tristan, were born in 1971. Tristan died during an asthma attack in 1990; Ward died in 1992.
December 30, 2003: At Kittaning, Pennsylvania (population 4,787), a near suicide took place. In The Mothman Prophecies, the bridge collapse’s outdoor scenes were filmed on the Kittaning Citizens Bridge. The site was used as a stand-in for the Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant, which collapsed on December 15, 1967. On the evening of December 30, 2003, Christopher Shaffer, 30, of Kittaning, while walking home, discovered a man was preparing to jump into the frigid waters of the Allegheny River, off the Kittaning Citizens Bridge. After several minutes of conversation, the would-be jumper allowed Shaffer to help him back onto the bridge’s walkway. Shaffer suggested they go somewhere they could talk. As they walked off the bridge at the corner of Water Street, they were met by Kittaning police chief Ed Cassesse, who was off duty, but happened to be at Armstrong 911 (local rescue) when several phone calls concerning the incident came in. A life saved.
Betty Jane Mulligan-On March 8, 2004, Betty Mulligan, 82, of Pine Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, an engineer, gardener and actress, died. Her daughter, Judy Brant, also of Pine Township, noted her mother appeared as an extra in at least fifteen movies, including Lorenzo’s Oil, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Mothman Prophecies.
July 19, 2004: The August 2004 issue of Fortean Times went on sale in London, with distribution to the USA, late in July. It contains the first publication of “The Mothman Death Curse” by Loren Coleman.
Jennifer Barrett-Pellington-On July 30, 2004, Jennifer Barrett-Pellington, 42, wife of The Mothman Prophecies director Mark Pellington, died, in Los Angeles, and was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Ms. Barrett-Pellington was born December 18, 1961. The LA Times reported on August 3, 2004: “Costume designer Jennifer Barrett-Pellington died after an ongoing illness… Ms. Barrett-Pellington was born December 18, 1961. The LA Times reported on August 3, 2004: “Costume designer Jennifer Barrett-Pellington died after an ongoing illness at age 42. Ms. Barrett-Pellington began her career as a model, but switched to costume design. Her credits include Arlington Road and the short Jon Bon Jovi film Destination Anywhere. Ms. Barrett-Pellington was the wife of director Mark Pellington who directed Arlington Road. Her husband included a ‘Special Thanks’ credit in his film The Mothman Prophecies to his wife for her support of him on that film. Prayers of comfort for her family and friends, especially her young daughter.”
Then late in August 2004, Variety announced that Mark Pellington who had joined as the director of a new Harrison Ford movie in July, was bowing out. The reason was Pellington’s wife’s death after what was called a “brief illness” by Variety. “I am unfortunately stepping down from the job of directing the film The Wrong Element due to the recent tragic loss of my beloved wife Jennifer,” Pellington said in a statement to Variety. “It is a difficult time, and having suffered the loss of my life partner and mother to my child, I would not be able to commit the time and energy and focus at this point needed to truly successfully helm the film.”
Martin Becker-On August 13, 2004, Martin Becker, 49, a special-effects coordinator and the co-owner of Reel Efx, an innovative North Hollywood company, died of pancreatic cancer at his Glendale, California, home. Like Jennifer Barrett-Pellington, Becker received a special “Thank You” from director Mark Pellington for his assistance during the filming of The Mothman Prophecies. The LA Times detailed some of Becker’s accomplishments in its August 21, 2004 issue: “Reel Efx, which Becker co-owned with Jim Gill, specializes in creating mechanical effects for national commercial campaigns. The company, begun in Becker’s garage 20 years ago, was a pioneer in “frozen moment” multi-camera technology. It created a photographable man-made tornado that has been used in TV shows and commercials and is used on the “Twister” attraction at Universal Studios Florida. The company also created a man-made fire tornado (used by magician David Copperfield), as well as a high-speed wind machine and industry-standard diffusion hazers. A Glendale native, Becker launched his film career as a carpenter at Universal Studios. Among his special-effects film credits are Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Bachelor Party (1984), How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and four of the Friday the 13th films.”
August 20, 2004: The Mothman Prophecies premieres on the cable network TNT. The irony, of course, is that the first “media-acknowledged” sightings of Mothman occurred in the TNT area.
August 29, 2004: The CBS News Sunday Morning re-broadcast Bill Geist’s report on the Mothman Festival from 2003, in which John A. Keel is shown in one of his rare appearances, all dressed in a white suit.
Raymond H, Wamsley-On Wednesday, September 15, 2004 at 10:04 am, for some reason, I wrote to various Mothman associates and groups, asking questions about the relationship among the Wamsleys. There are two Wamslys involved in the Silver Bridge collapse – a survivor (William Frank) and a person who died (Marvin) – in two separate cars. Also the family name Wamsley comes up in the witness accounts from the early Mothman days, and more recently as one of the coauthors of a book on Mothman (see above).
On the 16th, I again wrote:
“Okay, I’m beginning to build a better picture of what is going on regarding the Wamsleys and Mothman.
“During the famed so-called ‘second sighting’ of Mothman, on November 16, 1966, in which Marcella Bennett had her famous encounter, Wamsleys were there too. Specifically, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley were with Bennett that night.”
Soon thereafter, it was learned that the local papers in Gallipolis and Point Pleasant had announced that Raymond Wamsley of Henderson died on Wednesday, September 15, 2004. Later Donnie Moore confirmed this was the same individual as had been an eyewitness on November 16, 1966, who had accompanied Marcella Bennett.
The Charleston, Daily Mail, discussing the funerals for 09-21-2004, noted:
Raymond H. Wamsley Raymond H. Wamsley, 57, of Henderson died Sept. 15, 2004. Service will be 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, at Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant. Friends may call from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.
Later, in 2004, I would confirm through information found in various archives about the passing of Robin Chaney Pilkington, who died on October 24, 2001 (above), and that Raymond H. Wamsley was Marcella Bennett’s brother.
September 18, 2004: Point Pleasant’s annual Mothman Festival took place in the wake of the worst local flooding in decades, thanks to Hurricane Ivan. The annual Mothman Festival kicked off with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Mothman Statue in Point Pleasant¹s Gunn Park, under sunny skies. One of the well-publicized highlights was the debut of Point Pleasant¹s Mothman comic book by Chad Lambert, and the Waterford (Ohio) High School Marching Band performing music from “The Mothman Prophecies” And, of course, the famed hayrides, which depart from the West Virginia State Farm Museum toured the home of The Mothman ‹ the TNT area. Media covered included a local television station (Channel 13), Animal X’s Australian crew, and independent filmmakers from Michigan and California.
December 24-30, 2004: The LA Weekly column, “The List 2004: Mike Davis’ 6 Remarkable Ways to Die,” picked this “Mothman Curse” as his #3.
Mark E. Chorvinsky-On July 16, 2005, Mark Chorvinsky of Rockville, Maryland , died after his relatively quiet battle with cancer. Chorvinsky was born in Philadelphia, on March 4, 1954. A magician from the age of seven, Chorvinsky acquired an interest in mysteries, and a desire to explain them. He founded and edited Strange Magazine from 1987 until his death. Three investigations of his overlapped with Mothman mysteries – his interest in the missing Thunderbird photograph, his debunking of the Owlman reports of Tony “Doc” Shiels, and his interviews with people who sighted what Chorvinsky called the “Potomac Mothman.”
The “Potomac Mothman” involved a sighting on July 27, 1944, at 8:30 p.m., by Father J. M. Johnson, pastor of St. John’s Church in Hollywood, Maryland. Johnson, who was outside watching an approaching storm, and saw in the sky, “the outspread form of a huge man with wings.” Chorvinsky learned of this in January 1990, then ten months later, in October, he interviewed actor Mike Judge (apparently *not* the actor-creator of Beavis and Butthead, and King of the Hill), a resident of Potomac, Maryland. Judge recalled that in 1968 or 1969, when Judge was eight or nine years old, a big Mothman flap took place in the area. These two cases became the foundation for Chorvinsky’s “Return of the Mothman” inquiries, which we recalled anew with the release of The Mothman Prophecies in 2002.
Chorvinsky’s death at the early age of 51 was a shock to the Fortean and cryptozoological communities, few of whom knew he was ill.
On August 10, 2005, the Travel Channel visited Loren Coleman at his museum, interviewing for almost three hours for their program, “Weird Travels.” A major concentration was the many questions about Mothman. At the end of the interview, as the camera crew were beginning to do B-roll taping, they asked Coleman to raise a window. A cracked pane of glass split and sliced the palm of Coleman’s hand, resulting in three hours in the hospital and stitches