Jeff Wamsley was born and raised in Point Pleasant in 1961, growing up on the 30th Street during the November 1966 Mothman phenomenon.
Jeff has been featured on many documentaries, television shows, print publications and is the author of two books, Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend and Mothman: Behind The Red Eyes. He also runs The Mothman Museum and founded the Mothman Festival.
Childhood / Schooling: 1961 (Birth) - 1985 (Age 24)
As a child, Jeff was a neighbor of the Scarberrys. In 1966 and 1967, Mothman terrified residents of Point Pleasant. Doors were locked at night in the small town. Men patrolled the TNT area with rifles.
But in modern day its a different story and Wamsley became a key figure in transforming Point Pleasant's most infamous resident, The Mothman, from something that goes bump in the night into the town's beloved star and mascot.
"Even thought I was only five years old at the time, I remember the stories told by my mother. My father (Dale Wamsley) worked as full-time officer in the National Guard Armory which, at the time of the sightings, was located within what locals refer to as the 'TNT area.'" Jeff later said in his book.
Jeff Wamsley first heard the Mothman story when he was in junior high. "I picked up John Keel's book and realized a lot of places and people in his book were people here in Point Pleasant, and I knew a lot of those people from it being a small town," Wamsley said referring to Keel's 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies. "I just thought it was cool that it had happened to people that lived in our street".
While in junior high and high school, Jeff was a local paperboy delivering the afternoon Point Pleasant Register to about 200 customers near my house on 30th Street. He delivered papers to Mothman Witnesses Linda Scarberry and Bob Bosworth along his paper route. Jeff Wamsley started playing music at age 15. He began performing with the metal band Annex in 1977.
He graduated Point Pleasant High School at the age of 19 in the class of 1980. He then graduated of the University of Rio Grande, Ohio in 1985 with a bachelors degree in art and design.
He was an avid KISS fan and memorabilia collector. His first concert was seeing KISS on January 11th 1978 in Huntington, WV. Some of his favorite bands were; KISS, Rush and Iron Maiden.
Rock and Roll! 1986 (Age 25) - 1999 (Age 38)
A lover of music and the guitar, Jeff became a performer and a teacher. In 1987 he recorded an album called "Breaking Ground" with his band, Annex.
In the fall 1989 he opened his own small chain of record stores called "Criminal Records". The first store location was in Gallipolis, Ohio. The second store, in Jackson, opened in spring of 1994 and the third, Point Pleasant, opened in the winter of 1995. Passers-through at the Point Pleasant location frequently asked about the Mothman story.
"A buddy of mine (Donnie Sergent Jr.) was graphic designer," Wamsley explained. "We did a couple T-shirts to sell in the store, and I saw the interest was there."
"I had been talking to Linda Scarberry, one of the original witnesses off and on, and I thought it would be cool to do a book that was mostly archives of early newspaper reports. She offered to let me use a lot of the stuff that she had kept."
Jeff Wamsley began selling Mothman T-shirts at the store as well as John Keel's Mothman Prophecies book. In the year 1990, Jeff recorded another album with Annex, entitled "Powers That Be".
Mothman Website: 2000 (Age 39)
In the year 2000, Wamsley and his friend Donnie Sergent Jr. started a website dedicated to the legend, www.Mothmanlives.com.
"In October 2000, Donnie Sergent, Jr., and I were discussing the Mothman legacy. We were planning some new designs and ideas for the Mothman merchandise carried at Criminal Records, the independent record store chain I founded in 1989." said Wamsley.
"It seemed as if we were being asked almost daily in our Point Pleasant location about Mothman by many customers, both local and visiting out-of-towners. Many of these questions were about the location of TNT area."
"Still others asked: Did we know anyone who actually saw the Mothman? (The answer is yes.) What did it look like? Was it still around today? I thought about having Donnie create a website designed to basically answer questions and provide information about the Mothman legend."
"A few days later, I picked up the phone, called Donnie and ran the idea by him for such a website (he is a website developer, with his own web solutions business.) An hour later Donnie called back and told me how he had our "Mothman Lives" website already up and running - Within days, the site had attracted thousands of curious visitors from all around the world. We knew at that moment the Mothman legend was bigger than ever."
Mothman Festival Begins: 2001 (Age 40) - 2004 (Age 43)
Jeff and Donnie released a scrapbook-style book in December of 2001. It was titled Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend. The book reached #27 in the Amazon Hot 100 Bestsellers List in February 2002. The timing was good because The Mothman Prophecies Movie caused the interest in the Mothman story to rise.
In 2002, authors Donnie Sergent Jr. and Jeff Wamsley went to west Kittanning, Pennsylvania, the filming location of The Mothman Prophecies film. They were invitation by Butch Kane and Bernie Bowser Jr. of the Kittanning Foodland to set up a book signing at their store location.
Publicity consultant for the movie, Loren Coleman, says he encouraged Point Pleasant to take advantage of the Hollywood spotlight. "I kept going down there before the movie, I met with the people from the [Lowe] Hotel and Jeff Wamsley, and I said, 'You don't know what this movie is going to go for your town. You've got to do a museum or a festival'". Wamsley decided to spearhead both.
On Saturday November 16th 2002, The First Annual Mothman Festival was held in downtown Point Pleasant, WV. The event was founded by Jeff and Carolin Harris. There were about 2,000 in attendance and approximately 200 people who took part in the eerie TNT Hayride. Jeff Wamsley and the other festival organizers had just over 2 weeks to prepare for the year's event.
In 2003, the Mothman Statue by Bob Roach was unveiled. Jeff helped decide what the description on the base of the statue should read. The text paraphrases what Jeff wrote in the introduction to his book, Mothman: Facts Behind The Legend.
Mothman Museum and Documentaries:
In 2005, Jeff Wamsley opened The Mothman Museum. In addition to his museum and festival, he followed his first book with a similar second book in 2005, Mothman...Behind The Red Eyes.
In 2011, an interview with Jeff was featured in the Eyes of The Mothman Documentary. Later, in 2017, he appeared in The Mothman of Point Pleasant Documentary. His archive footage of Mothman witness interviews and his family's footage of the silver bridge was also included.
Jeff Wamsley sees himself as someone trying to preserve and research his town's interesting lore. He now also works as a high school graphic design teacher. He admitted that, despite all his research, it was all a mystery that he didn't have the answers to. "I'm still searching, just like everyone else. I know there was something that people were seeing, but I don't know what it is".
"Everyone's entitled to their opinion" Wamsley said when asked about skeptics. "I've run into plenty of skeptics. Some of them come in the museum and kind of laugh about it, but then we have people who stay and look around for four hours. All I can say is, I know there was something people were seeing, too many people describing the same thing, too many witnesses." Whatever the Mothman was, he certainly become intertwined with the identity of Point Pleasant.
Source(s): Mothman: Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley (2002) https://web.archive.org/web/20020406105101/http://www.mothmanlives.info:80/ booksigningkittanningpa.html https://web.archive.org/web/20030211041204/http://donniesergentjr.com:80/ Search for the Mothman Documentary (2002) Mothman..Behind The Red Eyes By Jeff Wamsley (2005) Monter Hunters by Tea Krulos Eyes of The Mothman Documentary (2011) The Mothman of Point Pleasant Documentary (2017)