TheMothMan Wikia

He speaks without talking, you listen without hearing.

The Initial Encounter:

Coloring Book artwork by Terrence E. Hanley

Woodrow Derenberger was a typical Appalachian man and a salesman for a sewing machine company, who lived in Mineral Wells, West Virginia. On Wednesday November 2nd 1966, about 7:30 PM, while was returning from Marietta Ohio to his home, he had a strange experience. He was driving in his red panel truck on Route 77 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He claimed that he saw a flying metallic cigar shaped craft. The ship traveled right by his truck and blocked the roadway ahead and gradually made him slow down to a stop onto the side of the road.

Woodrow also described the vehicle as resembling a "kerosene lamp chimney". The aircraft was hovering about 12 inches off the road. A door opened on the craft and a being exited ship and the door shuts with a loud "thunk" behind him. Later, the vehicle climbed about 50 feet into the air above the highway. The being walked right up to Derenberger's truck window.

Derenberger described the being as looking like any ordinary man off the street, six feet tall, about 35 years of age, olive complexion, dark brown hair and wearing a glossy metallic dark blue coat. The man spoke to Woodrow telepathically. His mouth did not move, instead he had a fixed smile on his face. The man looked in through the trucks window and said without saying, something along the lines of "Roll down your window, I want to talk to you". During their communication, The man called himself "Indrid Cold". He told Woodrow that he meant him no harm.

In the famous Derenberger Interview, he said "I was very frightened and as far as I can understand, this was all mental, there were not spoken words from him. I knew what he was asking me but yet he stood there and his mouth did not move. He had a smile on his face, he appeared very courteous and friendly".

Indrid Cold and Mr. Derenberger's conversation lasted about ten minutes. Cold told him "We eat, we breathe, we sleep, we bleed even as you do" before returning to his flying craft he said "We will see you again". Derenberger later reported this event to the police.

The Media Storm:

Woodrow's story gained traction in the media gaining news coverage and attention after the Parkersburg police were convinced of his story. A representative of the Air Force even contacted him soon after his accounts were documented. On November 3rd 1966, during this media storm, he went on LIVE TV in Parkersburg WV where he was interviewed by the state police, the wood county airport, the city police and representatives from the Dayton Ohio Air Force base.

Woodrow Derenberger

After the interview aired, an older man claimed that he too saw a figure matching the description of Indrid Cold on Route 77 trying to flag him down but he was afraid to stop. Derenberger's conversation with Cold could be corroborated, other people claimed to see lights and "fluttering vehicles" at the same instant on the road. There were several witnesses that reported seeing Woodrow Derenberger stopped on the highway talking to this man and some even saw the flying craft parked on the road. Reports poured in of strange lights in the sky and beings. All at the same time, at the same place, on highway I-77 on that night of November 2nd 1966.

It was big news in the area. For almost three weeks, The Parkersburg News chronicled Derenberger's story and a number of forthcoming witnesses, many of whom asked to remain anonymous or have their names withheld.

John Keel talked with Woodrow Derenberger and conducted his own interview and investigation. Gray Barker, a science fiction writer from Braxton county West Virginia, also talked with Woodrow.

Continuing Encounters:

Over the course of the month that followed, Derenberger claimed he was visited by Indrid Cold many times and that he even took him on a spaceship to his planet. Indrid Cold would also appear at Woodrow's front door. His wife and children even knew that this "Indrid Cold" was paying him visits and they even eventually came forward saying they too saw Indrid Cold and other strange beings.

Woodrow's wife was terrified and stated that these being were much like us, traveled in everyday cars, dressed in everyday clothes but were not human in origin. There was even one time where Mr. Derenberger disappeared for six months and said he was with Indrid Cold. This is what members of his family actually believed. He would also receive mental messages from his long distant friend, they would come suddenly and leave piercing migraine headaches.

"Eyes of The Mothman" Dramatization

His residence would often receive strange unknown phone calls. Sometimes they were threats to stop speaking about his experience, other times they were odd beeps and electronic hums, sometimes it was just silence. The family changed their number to an unlisted one but somehow, they calls continued.

His story gained such media attention that locals would flock to his house all hours of the day and night and wait in crowds in his driveway to catch a glimpse of his friend Indrid Cold. Bogal ridge is another location associated with the story. Derenberger claimed to go there to meet with Indrid Cold and go on rides into outer space. Some locals claim to actually have seen spaceships land there.

On one occasion, two men armed with loaded rifles were hiding in the woods by Derenbergers property. They observed a Black Volkswagen enter his front yard. A peculiar man dressed in an all black suit with tan skin, exited and talked with Woodrow before leaving. The hunters were disappointed, they waited even longer, wanting to see something truly terrifying, but maybe they already had. Woodrow hadn't heard of The Men In Black, but after his visit, he was extremely frightened by them.

Derenberger eventually decided to seek medical attention and the opinion of a Parkersburg psychiatrist. He not only leaves with a clean bill of health and absolutely no evidence of chemical imbalance or disruption but his very doctor endures a reaction soon after their meeting, he is contacted in December by a most peculiar man, his name, "Indrid Cold". He doesn't reach out by phone but telepathically.


Woodrow Derenberger later related his stories to an author. In 1971, they published a book titled "Visitors from Lanulos" which told of Woodrow's visits from Indrid Cold. The book contained a foreword dated October 12th 1968 by John Keel. Here are excerpts from John’s Foreword:

There are many who will scoff at this book and reject it entirely. Woodrow Derenberger will be called a liar, a psychopath and many other unpleasant things. He has already suffered considerable ridicule and condemnation, even from those who believe in 'flying saucers' but do not wish to believe that someone is actually riding around in them. I cannot endorse his story but I do feel I know the man well enough to give him a character reference. The important thing is that he seems to be telling the truth as he knows it. He sincerely believes that these things happened to him. And he is willing to expose himself to ridicule and condemnation in order to make himself heard."

"I have talked to ‘contactee’ claimants who are doctors, lawyers, newspapermen, police officers and pilots. Woody has a lot of company; sane, reputable people. Perhaps we are the ones who have been insane for ignoring them for so long. Strange, unbelievable things are now happening to people all over the world. By listening to the handful of courageous ones, like Woodrow Derenberger, we may at last gain some real insight into what is really behind the UFO phenomenon.  I’m not asking you to believe any of it. But I am asking you to listen to what he has to say. Incredible though it may seem, it is very possible that these very same things could happen to you tomorrow.

In 1975, John Keel published his book Mothman Prophecies which detailed his experiences in West Virginia investigating UFOs and The Mothman. The book mentions Woodrow Derenberger and his encounters with Indrid Cold along with the many other strange things that are said to have happened in West Virginia 1966 and 1967.

Overall Aftermath:

Woodrow's overall experience as a "contactee" didn't just negatively affect him but his family and his closest friends. It came by the way of years of harassing phone calls, losing jobs, losing friends, people trespassing on his property, ridicule, embarrassment, painful headaches and depression. He suffered a bitter divorce and had to move away from the area because of his notoriety.

He would later tell how his writing would disappear from his locked house and letters he sent would never reach their destination. He felt he was being watched. He moved away to escape his past and lived elsewhere for a long time. Years later he moved back to the area and pasted away in 1990 at the age of 74. Derenberger never denied his earlier claims, he simply stopped discussing them.

In 2002, The Mothman Prophecies Movie loosely adapted John Keel's book. The film used the idea of Indrid Cold and even had a character named Gordon that was based on Woodrow Derenberger.

The Woodrow Derenberger Interview tapes now sit in public view at The Mothman Museum. Glenn Wilson who worked at WTAP-TV had these reel to reel tapes for close to 30 years. He was going to throw them away on his retirement but instead gave them to Susan Sheppard, the creator of "Haunted Parkersburg Ghost Tours" who loaned them to the museum.

In 2011, a documentary called "Eyes of The Mothman" featured the Indrid Cold story. It told of Woodrow Derenberger's encounters, had Susan Sheppard to comment on it and even including a dramatization of the event.


The Derenberger Interview (1966)

Visitors from Lanulos by Woodrow Derenberger (1971)

"Eyes of The Mothman" Documentary (2011)