By Matthew Wendler
A lone set of headlights drifted down a dark West Virginia road on Nov. 15, 1966. The car was a black 57 Chevy Bel Air and was being driven by a local named Roger Scarberry. It was near midnight and Scarberry was driving back to the town of Point Pleasant with his wife Linda and their friends, Steve and Mary Mallette. The two couples were passing close to an abandoned TNT munitions plant used during World War II. Suddenly, Steve Mallette noticed two glowing red lights in the distance. Standing by the road was a tall humanoid figure nearly seven feet in height with wings folded on its back. Its eyes were bright red and it appeared to have no neck. As the car got closer, the creature slowly walked away from the road. Scarberry slammed his foot down on the pedal and sped off.
What had they just seen? It was almost human, but the size, those eyes, and the wings. What kind of creature like that exists? Scarberry turned south onto Route 62 and proceeded further down the road. As they ascended up a small slope, the panic in their minds once again ensued. On the far left of the pavement stood the same creature. It was as though it was hunting them, stalking its prey in the night.
The car’s headlights flashed upon it and the creature spread its wings, darting into the sky. A high pitched screech could be heard from behind as Scarberry began to increase the car’s speed. The Mallettes turned their heads and saw it flying through the air, soaring straight towards their vehicle. Scarberry pressed harder on the pedal and the car began exceeding over 100 miles per hour. Despite Roger’s efforts, the creature was able to keep up, flying at fast speeds without even flapping it’s wings. By the time they got to Point Pleasant, the creature was gone.
The couples were in a state of shock and fear, not believing what they had seen. After they felt they were safe, the group debated whether they should report the incident to the police. They thought it was unlikely their claims would be believed, so they decided to further investigate. They went back north up Route 62, but gave up on the idea after driving a short distance.
Scarberry began to turn the car around and the couples noticed a dead dog lying next to the road. The sound of something hitting the back of the car was heard as they passed it by, causing them to shudder. The thing flopped and sputtered against the trunk before falling to the pavement. It darted away from the vehicle and disappeared into an adjacent field.
They drove into town and pulled into a diner, asking for the owners to call the police. Deputy Millard Halstead arrived shortly afterwards. He had known all four individuals and didn’t perceive them as troublemakers, but their claims left him baffled. All he knew was that the fear in their eyes was real.
Police investigated the munitions site, but nothing was found, although the police reported strange static sounds emitting from their radios.
The Scarberry’s and the Mallette’s were interviewed separately, being asked to describe the incident and provide a sketch of the figure they had seen. Their statements and drawings corroborated each other.
Linda Scarberry had to be treated medically for shock following the incident. She later claimed to have been visited by strange men in black suits. They asked about her encounter with the creature and warned her not to discuss what she witnessed with anyone.
A local newspaper published an article on the couples story a day later. Numerous more sightings of the creature were soon reported by other residents around Point Pleasant.
Three days before the couple’s encounter, five men were digging graves for burial at a cemetery in the nearby town of Clendenin. One of the men, Kenneth Duncan, claimed to have witnessed a large man-like figure with wings emerge from the trees and fly down low over their heads.
A woman named Marcella Bennett and her infant daughter had been visiting a friend who lived close to the old munitions dump. As she was approaching her vehicle to leave, she saw a tall dark figure with glowing red eyes standing beside her car. She dropped her baby out of fright, quickly picking her up and running back into the house. Throughout the night, the creature peaked through the house’s windows. By the time police arrived, it was gone. Bennett claims to have seen the creature at her own house several nights following the encounter.
A local contractor named Newell Partridge claimed to have seen the creature in a meadow close to his home. He shined a light at it, later mentioning it’s eyes glowed like red bike reflectors. Partridge’s German Shepherd ran after the creature and never returned.
Another local resident named Connie Carpenter claimed to have been driving home from church when she saw something fly straight towards her vehicle, nearly causing her to crash. She said its eyes were as red as the devil. Like Linda Scarberry, Carpenter also claimed to have had an encounter with men in black suits.
Over 100 sightings of the creature were reported over the course of nearly a year. Armed residents of Point Pleasant went on to hunt for the creature, which had eventually been given the name Mothman.
In early December, witnesses claimed to have seen Mothman hovering over the Silver Bridge that lies above the Ohio River and spans from Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio.
Traffic levels on the bridge were high around 5 p.m. Dec. 15, 1967. It was around this time that the bridge suddenly collapsed. A total of 37 vehicles fell into the freezing water, resulting in 46 deaths. Sightings of Mothman rapidly decreased following the bridge’s collapse.
Many people began to speculate that Mothman was responsible for the Silver Bridge’s destruction. Others believe the creature acted only as a warning. Alleged sightings of Mothman have been reported around the world at times that preceded mass tragedies. Some examples include the collapse of a mine in Frieberg, Germany, the Chernobyl explosion, the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Mississippi and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Some people theorize the creature was nothing more than some sort of bird such as a heron, sandhill crane, or an owl. This idea; however, has too many inconsistencies. None of these birds would be able to fly at the speeds described by witnesses and none of them match the height description. The creature was said to have a humanoid shape and no neck. It also doesn’t make sense for so many people to mistake a bird for a creature like this.
So, what is Mothman? Where did it come from? These questions are left unanswered and its appearance in the town can not be explained. Regardless, something spooked the inhabitants of Point Pleasant between 1966 and 1967. The mystery has left a big impact on the town and many people believe the creature is still out there.