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Encounters of the Unknown—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, August 2017

The Creature on Washington Street
One Man’s Peculiar Encounter and My Investigation of the Mothman of Knox County

by: Nomar Slevik

The first time I heard about Mothman was from a 1997 episode of the television show, The X Files. Entitled Detour, it was one of the series’ self-contained “monster of the week” programs. Even though I preferred the show’s UFO/alien story arc, this episode is monumentally fantastic. It showed the quintessential odd couple in all their glory. The story combined a perfect balance of humor with masterfully scary elements and it remains one of my favorites to this day. The episode featured two terrifying monsters that could camouflage themselves which allowed for them to hide in plain sight. The tension built throughout the episode, and there was just no way to prepare for the “jump scenes” despite knowing when they were about to occur. I remember reading an article somewhere that described the episode as if Stephen King had written a ‘made for T.V.’ Predator movie.

Mothman Origins
The creatures from The X Files episode bore absolutely no resemblance to the mysterious figure sighted in Point Pleasant, West Virginia during a thirteen-month period that started in 1966. But Mulder mentioned that these beings could be related to the Mothman because of their seemingly supernatural tendencies. It wasn’t until about five years later when there was an explosion of Mothman popularity due to the release of the movie, The Mothman Prophecies. The movie was based off John Keel’s book of the same name with the former taking numerous liberties with its vast discrepancies from the book. Regardless, the movie did manage to convey the whimsical, odd, and downright macabre atmosphere the book had accomplished. Furthermore, while not the best representation of Keel’s work, it did bring me and others to the enigmatic, true life events surrounding Mothman. I immediately rushed out to get Keel’s book but found it had been out of print for quite some time. However, not long after the movie came out, a new edition was published using the movie’s art as its cover (I hate when that happens). No matter, I had to have it, and I must have read that copy over one hundred times (not really, but a lot). Other publications came out that year about Mothman as well including Loren Coleman’s, Mothman and Other Curious Encounters, and Fortean Times (a British paranormal magazine) released a special Mothman edition. Again, I had to have both, and both I had. (Mr. Coleman signed my copy of his book when I first met him in Prospect, Maine at the Paranormal Fair hosted by “Friends of Fort Knox”, 2009, be jealous, lol).

The story of Mothman and the townspeople of Point Pleasant is a measureless and complex series of otherworldly and cryptid events. The thirteen-month ordeal started in November of 1966. It culminated with the devastating collapse of the town’s main bridge which resulted in the deaths of forty-six people. John Keel, who had a “Scully” in local journalist Mary Hyre, investigated encounters, interviewed witnesses, and had their own strange happenings throughout that timeframe. Both journalists sighted UFOs, Mary had encounters with a “man-in-black”, and John received odd phone calls from a peculiar man who called himself Indrid Cold. The “abstract” of the book states, “A journalist recounts his investigation of a bizarre winged apparition, mysterious lights in the sky, mutilation deaths of domestic animals, and other eerie and unexplained events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.” I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of Mothman in Point Pleasant, so I would encourage you to read Keel’s work on the events that transpired. You can find a copy in almost every mom & pop bookstore, and of course, from online book sources as well.

One of the more famous encounters occurred on November 15, 1966. The story is of two young, married couples who were driving in a part of Point Pleasant called, “the TNT area”. The place was once used as a munitions plant during World War II, but had since turned into the local teenage hangout. Mary Hyre posed the following question in her article about the incident, “What stands six feet tall, has wings, two big red eyes six inches apart, and glides along behind an auto at 100 miles an hour?” With this question, she referenced the description of the creature the witnesses observed. They certainly saw something odd that night, and almost thirty-five years to the month, a man saw something similar in October of 2001. He was not in West Virginia, he was living in the beautiful, coastal town of Camden, Maine.

“What caught me was the wings…”
Finding the full story of the man’s encounter was difficult at first. Most of my research could only manage short descriptions which lacked significant detail. With the help of fellow author, and friend Michelle Souliere, she tracked a bit more to the story and uncovered a name for the witness. I located the gentleman on Facebook in May of 2017 and contacted him about the encounter. He was open to sharing the entirety of the events; a pseudonym has been used by request.
This incredible tale began when Camden resident, Robert Osbourne walked down Washington Street at around 6 PM on an early evening in October of 2001. As he walked toward his apartment, he heard a squeaking sound coming from somewhere nearby. In our discussion, I asked him to elaborate, “I heard this very distinct squeak. I thought it was a rodent of some sort, but it surprised me because it was so loud and clear. I thought it must be right underfoot or in front of me.” As he looked for the source of the sound he was startled to see a large, humanoid shape fly above him, he explained, “It was a roundish body with long, translucent wings, and what I could have sworn was a funny-looking head (small and weird... like it was a nub with tubes on it?). I can't say I got a good look at that. What caught me was the wings, which were very, very long. Even at that age, (17 years-old) I knew enough about the wildlife in the area and it was not familiar with any local animals that had wings like that, (outside of bats), but this was way too big for that.” Osbourne was wholly bewildered by the uncanny sight, and watched as it flew low, near his home. “It's wings sort of... fluttered a little,” he told me. “But just sort of like it was moving the tips, and it tilted and flew over the house, into the woods and swamps out behind it. It passed right over the eves where my apartment was, so I got a perfect comparison for wing-span, and that thing stretched easily from edge to edge of the slant. Definitely over 24-25 feet…” The sighting confused Osbourne, he knew that it was clearly mammalian, but felt that it couldn’t be real. Author’s note – I visited the location in June of 2017, and the eve was easily twenty-five feet across.
He thought about the encounter often, and shared his experience with some friends and family. Most dismissed the being as a large bird, but he knew that what he saw was entirely different. “I've seen big birds,” Osborne said. “I've seen huge turkey buzzards before, and since then I've seen all sorts of wildlife in this state and more, I've never seen anything like this.” He wanted to share his experience or at the very least have it logged somehow. He reached out to Cryptozoology.com (the website now points to their Facebook presence) to share his story. His post sat dormant for years, though various reports and webpages would site the encounter as, “Mothman seen in Camden, Maine,” but lacked Osbourne’s original story.
A few months later, Osbourne was again walking on Washington Street and saw the figure once more! It was much farther away this time, and said, “I was walking up Washington Street from downtown, and as I crested the top of the hill I looked down towards the house, I saw the thing again! It did a near identical maneuver, sweeping across the street, and pivoting up into the swamps and woods behind the houses. It didn't fly as low as last time, and I didn't hear it, but I saw it. Now, this was a distance away from the previous sighting, probably a good three hundred feet.” Despite this second sighting, Osbourne doubted its original size and believed the large bird theory as others said about his first encounter. During the second sighting he thought, “Well, I probably just saw a big bird.”
He thinks little of this most recent encounter, goes on with life, and eventually enrolled into college. A couple of years go by without incident, and in the summer of 2003 he returned to Camden on a summer break from school. One mid-afternoon, he got together with an old friend and the pair drove around town. During their drive, an odd occurrence took place that reminded him of the creature he saw prior. Osbourne explained, “I'm driving through town with a friend, and we're just enjoying the weather. We're down in a section of town I don't usually go to, and I didn't mean to go out that way, we were just puttering around. Well, we're driving along, when out of nowhere we hit something. It smacked into the windshield, and we came to a stop. Both of us thought it was a paper mache or something like that. It was sorta gray, lumpy, and vaguely translucent on the wings.” Stunned, the pair sat in the car and just stared at the oddity. It splayed across the windshield seemingly deceased. As the car rolled to a stop the creature suddenly came to life and flew off! Osbourne and his friend were confounded, and both admitted to having an eerie feeling they couldn’t quite explain during the event. That feeling coupled with the translucent wings brought Osbourne back to that first encounter, and he was not as dismissive of the events any longer. Also, a concurrent theme to these sightings was a reoccurring dream that Osbourne had. In that dream, he found himself back on Washington Street, in the same spot as his first encounter. While he stood on the street, he suddenly realized that an object was overhead and looked up to see a large UFO that hovered silently. He told me, “I actually had a repetitive dream for a bit about walking back home at night across town, stopping at that stop, looking up, and realizing there was a floating house above me. Then it lights up suddenly and makes a horrible noise, and I wake up.” I expressed to Osbourne that it could simply be a UFO dream, but perhaps it was a repressed memory. He agreed with the latter. Keel also wrote about concurrent themes that occurred in Point Pleasant during the Mothman sightings which included numerous reports of UFOs and men-in-black encounters.

About a year later, Osbourne was back in town again visiting his girlfriend. That evening, they sat outside together and watched the sky as the Aurora Borealis was visible in Camden on that rare night. Later, the pair heard squeak-like sounds that were all too familiar to Osbourne. The sounds emanated from nearby woods that he originally saw the creature fly into. His girlfriend mostly ignored the squeaks, but he knew better and looked toward the woods knowing it was near. He discussed with me, “We both heard that high-pitched squeaking noise coming from the far woods across from the field. It would be the same patch of marshes and woods that ran behind my house where I kept seeing the thing. My girlfriend (now wife) was from Boston, so she just assumed it was bats or deer or whatever we have up here, but it sounded exactly like that damn thing again. We heard it a few different times that night.”
It’s been years since Osbourne had been witness to anything quite as odd as the winged figure. He lives in Wells, Maine now, and oddly enough, right next to a marshy area. I asked him if he still thought about the creature, he said, “I can actually still picture it in my head perfectly.” He still wonders what the being could have been. I mentioned Mothman and he said, “I've occasionally wondered if it was something like that. Keel used the term "ultraterrestrial", and I'm inclined to think it was that. I've often called it the "big birdie" when I've thought about it, but I don't think it was a bird or anything like one really.” And what about the UFOs? Osbourne did mention that just last year the reoccurring dreams started again, he stated, “I did have a series of weird repeating dreams last year about walking into my bathroom, looking out the window, and seeing a disc just over the tree-line. Then I'd wake up. I really didn't give it much thought for some reason... we had just moved into the new house, and we had so much on our plates, I guess I just put it aside.” Could Osbourne be a beacon for such strange phenomena? Maybe it is just a large bird, the Sandhill Crane is large and seen in parts of the state. Or, perhaps he was at the right place at the right time when he sighted the creature on Washington Street. And the UFO dreams, well maybe that is all they are. Despite this, he is adamant that he saw something peculiar during those encounters. I’d like to think that a version of the Mothman enjoys the salty air of Camden, Maine occasionally.

Investigating the Mothman of Knox County

On June 22nd, 2017, I accompanied my lovely family to the beautiful Camden Riverhouse Motel. It is situated right in the heart of downtown Camden and is approximately a two-minute drive to where the creature was sighted. On our first day in town, we enjoyed a walk around the grounds of the library, we took the kiddo to the high school so he could skateboard, and we went for a swim in the hotel’s indoor pool (rain was in the forecast). As night fell, I quietly planned for my evening investigation. I went to the car to check my gear, which included a flash light and night vision camera. What? I’ve never investigated Mothman before, what else would I need? Anyway, I kissed my goodbyes and drove to the police station. I explained to a friendly officer of my intentions to look for the elusive beast in the areas off Washington Street. Some of the areas do not allow visitors after 10pm, and I wanted to make sure I had their blessing. He granted me permission, and I was off. First stop: Shirt Tail Point Park, time: 11:30pm. By day, Shirt Tail is a small, but gorgeous family swimming area with picnic tables, one rustic hibachi grill, and shallow waters. By night, the area changed into a creep filled breeding ground for unnamed ghouls. Oh, is that just me? Anyway… I’m never one to shy away from an investigation so I parked my car, shut off the lights, and stepped outside. A bench sat about ten feet in front of the water on a grassy area. I sat quietly and listened. From time to time, I would do a scan of the area with my night vision camera, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. After about an hour, I decided to take a drive up Washington Street. I drove in silence while I waited for the Mothman to divebomb my car like in that scene from The Mothman Prophecies when Debra Messing crashed her car. It never happened, so back to Shirt Tail I went. I sat once more on the bench and observed some mist rolling in as the weather started to turn. After about three hours, I called it night and headed back to the quaint hotel room that housed my loves. Time: 2:30am.
After arriving back to the room, I went through the pictures I took and continued working on this book. I had one more night in the area, so I planned another outing. This time, I had a guest investigator with me, my son! The 11-year-old (at the time) boy is the kindest soul you’d ever meet, and he went with me in the afternoon to scout for a new location. I found a marshy area situated roughly behind the apartment of the first sighting, and found that it had ample parking away from the sights and sounds of the main road. At around 10:30pm, the crypto-kid and I headed out and drove to the location. We sat in the dark as the kiddo munched on some Sour Patch Kids. I explained the story of the Point Pleasant Mothman to him, and he asked some great questions about its authenticity and we watched a trailer to the movie. After a little while, we both got out of the car to listen for anything walking in the marshy area or the woods beyond it. We heard a lot. Most likely deer (there’s a ton in the area) however, the kiddo did see some odd movement and a glowing red light from deep within the woods. He said, “It’s like its watching us. I can see it come and go. See!” Just then, he pointed out a glowing red light (for about the fifth time or so) but I finally saw it for myself this time. It was fleeting, but certainly out of place in relation to the area that we were in. With that said, it truly could have been the glow of brake lights from a car as we are not familiar with the area, and an unknown road could be closer than we thought. We took pictures and the pareidolia (when the mind makes familiar patterns when nothing is there) was on max as we saw faces and shapes in the pixilation. After a time, I took him over to Shirt Tail and we sat in the car with the lights off and the windows down. We kept hearing something walking in the water, it was just far off enough into the darkness that we were unable to see it. I did turn on the headlights a few times, but the source of the phantom walker eluded us, but it was probably a deer.

After a couple of hours, tired and ready for bed, we headed back to the hotel room. The kiddo fell fast asleep as I went through the pictures again and had The Golden Girls television show on in the background. I yawned loudly, and my eyes watered afterwards. I took that as my cue to turn in. Despite a valiant effort, and some excellent company on my second night. The Creature from Washington Street remained hidden. Rest well, old boy. I’ll be back.

Author Name: Nomar Slevik Book Title: Otherworldly Encounters: Evidence of UFO Sightings and Abductions Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd Publish Date: 07/08/2018


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