"I wish we had never seen it, I wish someone else had seen it." - Linda Scarberry, Mothman Witness, 1966
November 15th 1966 - "MOTHMAN" Sighting
One of the most famous Mothman stories is the Scarberry and Mallettte sighting which is said to have occurred on November 15th 1966 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
It was this sighting that was first got writer of The Mothman Prophecies, John Keel interested in the creature.
On November 15th 1966, two young couples were joyriding around in a Black 1957 Chevy to a remote hangout spot north of Point Pleasant known as The TNT Area. One of the couples was Linda Scarberry and Roger Scarberry, the other was Steve Mallette and Mary Mallette.
When they got there next to the abandoned North Power Plant they suddenly saw two large red eyes which reflected the light from the car's headlights. Steve noticed it first and pointed it out to the group. That is when they are said to have noticed that the glowing red eyes belonged to a strange creature. They claimed to have seen a grey man-like figure with wings go around the corner at the old power plant. They said that the creature didn't run, but wobbled like it couldn't keep its balance. Linda described the creature as having circular fiery red eyes and a body like a man but with wings. They said the creature was about 6 or 7 feet tall with wings folded against its back. Half Man, Half Monster. She said "You could see muscles in its legs".
The couples couldn't believe what they had seen. They quickly drove off onto Route 62. Linda yelled for Roger to hurry. The couples then saw the creature on a hill by a large billboard as they went around a curve. It spread its wings and went straight up into the air.
They were all terrified and kept yelling for the driver to go faster. The Mothman began gliding back and forth over the back end of their car. "We didn't know what it was. I don't think we've ever been so scared" said Linda.
As they went along a straight stretch of road, they were going over 100 miles per hour but the creature was still able to follow them. They saw it in the back window and saw the shadow go across the car as it flew, they couldn't get away from it. They could also hear the wings hitting the top of the car as they drove. It's even said to have left scratch marks on Roger's '57 Chevy.
"It squeaked like a big mouse" said Mary Mallette. They were only able to get away from the Mothman when they reached the edge of Point Pleasant. The creature disappeared, veering off into a field, as they went into town.
The couples continued going into town. They stopped at the local Dairyland as they tried to figure out what to do next. Linda suggested they go to the police but Steve and Roger thought they'd just laugh at them and wanted to go back to make sure the thing was still there first. The group ended up being too afraid to do that, so they turned around.
As they were turning around, they saw a large dead dog laying along the road which was gone when they went by again later. According to the couples, the winged creature jumped out as they passed where the dead dog was, went over the top of the car, and went through the field on the other side.
They drove back into town and parked at Tiny's Diner and decided to contact the police. The teens told their story to Deputy Millard Halstead. They told police that they saw a large winged creature whose eyes "glowed red" when the car headlights picked it up. They described it as a "flying man with ten foot wings" following their car.
Halstead didn't believe them at first but knew that weren't troublemakers and saw that they were genuinely terrified, so he actually went out to investigate their story. The couples drove back out to the TNT area with the deputy. Millard shined a spot light around the area including the tree lines.
Deputy Halstead is said to have heard strange static disturbances coming from his radio that he couldn't explain but he found no clear sign of the creature itself. The witnesses were sitting in their car and said that they saw shadows circling nearby and a cloud of dust kick up from an adjacent coal yard. The Mallettes were too scared to go back to their homes, they stayed at the Scarberry's trailer, turned all the lights on and stayed awake all night from fear.
The following day, Sheriff George Johnson held a press conference to discuss the sightings, the local press began printing the story and named the creature "Mothman" based on the comic book character, Batman, who had just gotten a television series at the time. Steve Mallette told the local newspaper "We understand people are laughing at us. But we wouldn't make up all this to make us look like fools".
That same day the couples went back to The TNT Area during daylight and found odd looking tracks resembling "Two horseshoes put together" but smooth. Steve saw something fly up inside a boiler when a door was kicked open. No one stayed around long enough to see what it was.
After this original sighting, more and more people began reporting seeing similar things such as Marcella Bennett's sighting which happened a day later. Hundreds of cars full of eager people swarmed out to the TNT area at night in hopes of seeing the Mothman. A shadow was cast of the valley of Point Pleasant and the thus began the legacy of West Virginia's Mothman.
The story was immediately picked up by the newspapers and spread quickly, large crowds had already gathered in The TNT Area by the next night. Within the week, the papers had already named the creature and were picking up on similar sightings as well as speculating different explanations for what was going on. The media storm continued throughout 1966 and 1967. The story was printed locally, nationally and internationally. It went over the Associated Press wire and was even featured in the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper which went out to the American troops in Vietnam.
In 1970, author John Keel released a book called Strange Creatures From Time And Space which contained a chapter about Mothman and included this sighting. Then in 1975, he released his book The Mothman Prophecies.
The story has since been detailed in several books, articles, newsprint, TV shows and documentaries. Information can be found at The Mothman Museum and a retelling of this story was even immortalized on Bob Roach's Mothman Statue in Point Pleasant.
- 1966 Local News print from November 16th 1966: "Couples See Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something"
- 1966 Local News print from November 17th 1966: "Four Pt. Pleasant Car Occupants See 'Bird-Like Creature'"
- 1966 Local News print from November 18th 1966: "Monster No Joke For Those Who Saw It"
- 1966 The Original Mothman Police Reports
- 1970 Strange Creatures From Time And Space by John Keel (Chapter 18)
- 1975 The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel (Chapter 6)
- 2002 Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley and Donnie Sergent Jr.
- 2002 Mothman And Other Curious Encounters by Loren Coleman (Chapter 3)
- 2002 Search For The Mothman Documentary
- 2003 The Inscription on Bob Roach's Mothman Statue
- 2005 The Mothman Museum Is Opened
- 2005 Mothman...Behind The Red Eyes by Jeff Wamsley
- 2010 MonsterQuest's Mothman Episode on TV
- 2011 Eyes of The Mothman Documentary
- 2012 Monsters of West Virginia by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Chapter 3)
- 2013 The Tale of The Mason County Mothman by George Dudding
- 2017 The Mothman of Point Pleasant Documentary
The Scarberry and Mallettes
Linda Scarberry, born Linda McDaniel, (June 10th 1947 - March 6th 2011) was the child of Park and Mabel McDaniel. She was 19 years old during the initial Mothman sighting on November 15th 1966. She was married to Roger Scarberry who was 18 at the time. They were friends with Steve and Mary Mallette. The teens attended Point Pleasant High School.
The Scarberry and Mallettes gave police reports of their Mothman encounter in 1966 and were interviewed by the local press in the morning after their sighting. The couples later had many conversations and correspondence with New York author John Keel who took several trips to Point Pleasant WV during his investigation of the story.
The Scarberry couple said that they experienced strange occurrences and Poltergeist activity in their homes throughout 1966 and 67. Linda claimed to have seen the creature many times including once on the roof. She said "It seems like it doesn’t want to hurt you. It just wants to communicate with you".
On September 12th 2001, when David Grabias produced the documentary Search For The Mothman, the crew interviewed Linda Scarberry on location at The TNT Area for ten minutes but then had to stop as Linda became too overwhelmed by fear to go any further. Her now ex-husband Roger refused to be interviewed, as did the Mallettes.
Linda Scarberry appeared on the TV show MonsterQuest on February 10th 2010. She later died at the age of 63 on March 6th 2011. The story of the Scarberry and Mallettes continues to be told and repeated in various forms of media.
Source(s): "Couples See Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something" Newspaper from November 16th 1966 "Four Pt. Pleasant Car Occupants See 'Bird-Like Creature'" Newspaper from November 17th 1966 "Monster No Joke For Those Who Saw It" Newspaper from November 18th 1966 Mothman Newspapers 1966-67 The Original Mothman Police Reports (Details) The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel (1975) (Page 76, Chapter 6 - Nov 15th) Search for the Mothman Documentary (2002) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothman Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley and Donnie Sergent Jr. (2001) (Newspaper Archive) (Page 81 - Pacific Stars and Stripes November 19th 1966) "Mothman and other curious encounters" by Loren Coleman (2002) (Page 40, Ch3 - Nov 15th) (Page 8, Intro - AP Wire) Mothman... Behind The Red Eyes by Jeff Wamsley (2005) (Newspaper Archive) The Mothman Episode of The "Monster Quest" TV Show (2010) Eyes of The Mothman Documentary (2011) "Monsters of West Virginia" by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (2012) (Page 34 - Nov 15th)
Poltergeist Activity In The Scarberry Homes
The Scarberry couple were living on their own in a rented trailer near Tiny's Diner at the time of their initial Mothman encounter at The TNT Area on November 15th 1966. They began experiencing strange occurrences in the home. They are said to have repeatedly heard the sound of a sped-up phonograph record and other peculiar activity that are similar to reports of Poltergeists. Linda and Roger later relocated when they moved in with Linda's parents, the McDaniels, but the strange activity seemed to follow them.
Other Mothman witnesses also claimed similar things to be going on at their homes in 1966-1967. Such as Connie Carpenter who heard loud beeping sounds outside her bedroom window. This was most likely not printed in the newspapers at the time but these personal stories were touched upon in the works of author John Keel. Specifically, Strange Creatures From Time and Space in 1970 and The Mothman Prophecies in 1975.
In The Mothman Prophecies, Keel wrote: "Roger and Linda Scarberry were living in a house trailer at the time of their Mothman sighting. In the week that followed they were suddenly plagued by strange sounds around the trailer at night. Beeps and loud garbled noises like a speeded-up phonograph record. They could not locate the source of the sounds outside or inside the trailer[. The couple later] settled in the basement apartment in the home of Linda's parents, [Park] and Mabel McDaniel".
John Keel discussed the McDaniel family's troubles in his book, Strange Creatures from Time and Space: "The McDaniel family had been living in the twilight zone ever since their daughter and others had first glimpsed 'Mothman'"
Odd lights appeared in the house, objects moved by themselves, and the heavy odor of cigar smoke was frequently noted even though no one in the family smoked. Adding to the strangeness, the couple is also said to have had encountered the Mothman on their roof.
One night at about Midnight, Linda, her aunt and her 5 month old infant daughter Dani were all sleeping in her bedroom. Linda awoke and distinctly saw the shadowy form of a man in the room. The kitchen light had been left on and dimly flowed into the room enough to see. Linda said that the man wore a black and white checkered shirt with black pants. He had coal-black crewcut hair and dark unblinking eyes. He just stood there staring at her. Linda said she was numb and couldn't move.
He then took a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and lit it. There was a gold crucifix which Linda had hanging above Dani's bed. When the strange man lit the cigarette, the crucifix reflected the light and caught his eye. He turned to look at it, as did Linda. When she turned back he was gone. Linda claimed that her aunt later woke up and said that she had dreamed the exact same events that happened in the room. The house was searched. All the doors were still locked. There was no sign of an intruder.
Source(s): The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel (1975) (Page 85, Chapter 6 VI. - Scarberry/Sounds) (Page 119, Chapter 8 VI. - Connie/Sounds) Strange Creatures From Time And Space by John Keel (1970) (Page 221, Chapter 18) Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley and Donnie Sergent Jr. (2002) (Page 29-31 Intruder) (Page 32 - Housing)
"At first we were afraid of it. After it was out of sight, we wanted to know more about it." - Linda Scarberry
Mothman On The Scarberrys' Roof
Linda Scarberry said that she and her then husband, Roger Scarberry, had seen the Mothman on several occasions after their initial encounter on November 15th 1966. Many other Mothman witnesses are said to have seen the creature more than once. The story of the Scarberrys' secondary sightings are often told during The TNT Area bus tours at the Mothman Festival.
The couple's continued sightings were most likely not printed in the newspapers at the time but these personal stories were recounted in correspondence and interviews.
In 2002, Linda did an interview for the book Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley and Donnie Sergent Jr. In this interview she described an instance in which she saw the Mothman on her roof in December of 1966. There home at the time was on Thirteenth Street in Point Pleasant, WV.
She said: "[We saw it again] about a month after we first saw it, when we lived on 13th Street. The Roof slanted down at an angle from the upstairs bedroom window. I looked out that window. It was sitting down"
"'[It's] wings [were] folded around itself, like it was trying to keep warm. It had its head turned sideways, looking in through the window, as if it was curious. By then, I had figured out that it didn't want to hurt me. I could just tell by the way it looked at me. I was very curious and wanted to try to communicate with it, but I still didn't know what it was, or where it came from, and was a little scared of it, still. It looked so lonely, but not scared anymore. It looked cold, too. It was really cold out that night."
This wasn't the only supposed encounter with the Mothman on the Scarberry's roof. In local reporter Mary Hyre's letters to author John Keel on July 2nd 1967, she wrote about Roger and Linda experiencing more activity of Mothman on the roof. She mentions Linda's Mother, Mabel McDaniel, and says that roof activity occurred over three nights. Those three nights being June 29th 1967, June 30th 1967 and July 1st 1967.
She said: "Mabel said that Roger and Linda swear that the monster has been on their roof the past three nights. Linda even claims that she sees it red eyes and has been a nervous wreck according to Mabel. I really don't know what to think of this deal, if they really see something or just think they do."
When asked about if Mothman was good or bad, Linda Scarberry said: "I don't think it ever had evil intentions. It had numerous chances to harm, or even kill me and some other people, but it didn't. "I think it's main intention was to not get hurt itself. A lot of people tried to kill it, or capture it. I don't think it would have hurt anybody or anything."
"A lot of dogs - started turning up missing. A lot of people blamed that on the Mothman, but I don't think it was him."
Source(s): Mary Hyre's letters to John Keel from July of 1967 Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley (2002) (Page 21, Page 22 and Page 24) The TNT bus tours during the Mothman Festivals
Strange Connection: Mothman = Batman = The Shadow
The 1930's pulp novel character The Shadow is mentioned in Chapter 1 of John Keel's The Mothman Prophecies. This is interesting because The Shadow heavily inspired the creation of the character Batman and Batman of course inspired the newspapers to coin the name Mothman.
To bring it full circle, the author who wrote most of The Shadow novels and was credited with the creation of the character was a man named Walter B. Gibson who knew John Keel. They both lived in New York and had an interest in the art of illusion. They also shared a mutual respect for the work of Magician Harry Houdini. John Keel seemed to be a fan of The Shadow. The character of The Shadow was created as a radio advert but the books were inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dracula.
Source(s): The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel (1975) (Page 18, Chapter 1 III.) The Shadow http://www.johnkeel.com/?p=2390 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow The Living Shadow by Maxwell Grant (April 1st 1931) (Walter Gibson under pseudonym) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_B._Gibson The Shadow Scrapbook by Walter B. Gibson (1979) The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel (1975) (Page 78, Chapter 6 I.) Batman https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman#Creation