An Enigma Unsolved
The Case of the Mothman
Continuing the theme of doing some case studies that have fascinated me for quite some time, I figured it might be fun to throw a few more of these cases out there. Most people have heard something about them. But I’d like to dive in a little bit further to really explore all the events surrounding it, and I how I stumbled across these.
While in high school, I had been active in my school’s gymnastics program. We had a pretty tight group of people who really respected each other. My freshman year, the people at the top really supported the new guys who maybe hadn’t been doing the sport since the beginning. Since most of the team had completely different schedules outside of gymnastics, we decided it’d be fun get a group of people to meet up for a movie. A more or less antiquated idea by today's standards, but it was a good way to build some team rapport and get to know a few I usually just saw during practice. Since I had gotten my license not too much earlier, I was excited drive out to meet everyone on my own terms. It’s one of those stupid goals you have as a teenager, but driving up by yourself felt awesome. The title we collectively agreed on was called The Mothman Prophecies, and admittedly I didn’t know too much about the film. After the movie ended, we all parted ways, and I headed back home. During the drive home, I couldn’t help but think about what I had just seen.
The movie itself was a complete mind-bending trip. The first thing I found interesting was that it took place largely in the east coast, which seems to be pretty rare for a thriller/horror film. Although there was a scene that did take place in “Chicago,” it was clear the production went with a substandard location. Being a sucker for decent thrillers, I found this movie to be quite slick, the way it keeps a slow burn, but also hooks you early on. The next thing that came to mind on the drive home that the movie was “based on true events.” Like most movies I figured one thing was probably real, and the rest was fabricated. I checked into it more recently, as I couldn’t find much back then about the events. Luckily for me, the internet has gotten better since 2002. Indeed there was a time where people couldn’t stop seeing the Mothman…
Let’s wind the clocks back to 1966. The area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Late in the evening, 5 cemetery workers had been making room for a casket on the site grounds, when they spotted something about 7 feet tall flying through the trees. It was described as a manlike figure with wings folded into its back. The second sighting happened just three days later, in what is known as “the TNT area.” The location — an old explosives storage facility leftover from World War II. The site is a hodgepodge of sanctioned wildlife forests, cement domes, and abandoned tunnels. As two couples were joyriding parallel to the plant, they noticed someone standing near the plant’s doorway. The couples slowed down and caught the creature’s big blood-rich eyes described as “hypnotic.” Upon seeing this, like every other sane person would do, they drove like hell outta there. While escaping quickly, their car swerved around a deceased dog lying in the middle of the road. While still gunning it, they spotted the creature rise into the chilly air and begin to follow them. The driver stepped on the gas, doing 100 mph, but “the bird kept right up with us.” The creature followed them all the way to the Point Pleasant city limits. Immediately driving to the sheriff’s office, the couples tried to stay calm. While not really easing their worries, he did reassure them they weren't the only ones who had seen the creature that evening.
That same night, Newell Partridge, was watching television when suddenly the screen went dark. He then heard a loud, whining sound from outside that raised in pitch and then went quiet. “It sounded like a generator gearing up.” Partridge’s dog, Bandit, began to howl on the front porch. When Newell went out there, the dog had been facing the hay barn about 150 yards from the house. Curious, Newell turned a flashlight in the direction of the barn, and saw two big eyes that looked like bicycle reflectors staring back at him. Bandit, a trained hunting dog, took off at the glowing eyes. Newell had seen nothing like that, and urged Bandit to stop. The dog paid no attention. Newell ran inside to grab his gun, and then decided it was too scary to go back out there. He slept that night with the gun propped next to his bed. Two days later, while searching the papers for Bandit, Mr. Patridge noticed the article about the sighting at Point Pleasant. When they mentioned the dog, he immediately assumed it was Bandit, who he never saw again.
Over 100 people witnessed the Mothman between November 1966-November 1967. Dubbed the mysterious flying creature, The Mothman, after a character from the 1966 Batman television show. According to most reports the creature stood between 6 and 7 feet tall, eyes that were set near the top of its shoulders, and had bat-like wings that glided, rather than flapped, when it flew. It also had the distinction of traveling straight up like a helicopter, rather than like an airplane. The Mothman sightings came to an abrupt halt. Most people believed it to be a textbook case of mass hysteria. Then it happened-
About a month or so after the sightings stopped, at 5:00 p.m. on December 15, 1967 the 700 ft. Silver Bridge that connected Point Pleasant to Ohio collapsed unexpectedly, filled with rush hour traffic. In total, 46 people were killed, just minutes away from the old storage facility. Since that time, people have concluded that the creature wasn’t meant to terrorize the town of Point Pleasant, but instead issue a warning that something awful was about to occur. The film does an excellent job depicting this philosophy.
As sort of a quasi-dedication to the unknown creature, Point Pleasant has a Mothman statue in the town square to ring in the Annual Mothman Festival started in 2002. The fest is a weekend-long event held the third weekend of September every year. It’s a place where people from all over the world come to enjoy the unique surroundings and learn about the history of the Mothman.
Since later cases have been reported during the earthquake of Mexico City of 1985, Chernobyl, the 9/11 attacks, and numerous other instances, the verdict is still out as to what everyone witnessed. I’ve seen a few photos that people claim have captured the Mothman in print, but they’re either so blurry, or it’s from such a distance you mine as well have taken the photo from Mars. Which I heard now, have some really clear images. Anyways, the question, much like the Enfield Horror, did the people really see what they think they visualized in some sort of weird foreshadowing? Or is it simply humans trying to fill the void of the unexplained.
As for the movie…I haven’t seen it in years, but now thinking about it might be worth me revisiting. Check it out, but keep the lights on.