Sightings of Mothman have been reported from all over the world, but it became famous after this portender of doom was seen by several people in Point Pleasant, West Virginia just a few months before the Silver Bridge collapsed in December, 1967.
Fifty years later it is being seen in Chicago. Could the high amount of homicides that the city has recently become notorious for be enticing this eerie creature?
For some willing to suspend disbelief, the sightings of "Mothman" portend an ominous tale of foreboding. Others may pass them off as pure fiction.
Some say it looks like a large bat or owl. Others say it resembles a man in a winged suit. Some say it's silent, but others describe a sound like brakes screeching.
Some people who claim to have seen the creature in Chicago recently reported it had glowing red eyes and they felt a sense of dread when they saw it.
"I believe the witnesses are seeing something," paranormal researcher Lon Strickler, of Pennsylvania said. "Because the descriptions don't compare exactly, I think there could be at least two or three different beings."
The more than 20 reports since April of a "winged humanoid" spotted in Chicago are drawing comparisons to the "Mothman" legend. Journalist and UFO researcher John Keel wrote the 1975 book, "The Mothman Prophecies," which was made into a 2002 movie starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney.
The book and movie were based on events that occurred in Point Pleasant, W.Va. Numerous people reported seeing a red-eyed, "Mothman" creature in the months before the Silver Bridge carrying U.S. Highway 35 over the Ohio River collapsed on Dec. 15, 1967, killing 46 people.
Like the town of Roswell, N.M. — which holds an annual festival commemorating a 1947 UFO incident — Point Pleasant celebrates its local legend each September by hosting a Mothman Festival.
Strickler, who chronicles reports of ghosts, UFO sightings and other paranormal activity on his Phantoms and Monsters website, says the recent alleged accounts of a creature spotted in Chicago represent the largest cluster of possible Mothman sightings in the 50 years since the Point Pleasant tragedy.
"I cannot find any other grouping like this," Strickler said.
Strickler has chronicled 21 alleged Mothman sightings in Chicago this year. The earliest was on April 7 in Oz Park. Strickler said it was reported to a colleague, Manuel Navarette, at UFO Clearinghouse.
A woman walking her dog claimed she encountered a creature standing in the park.
"I saw a large man, probably 7 feet or taller standing on the ground," according to the account published by Strickler. "It was solid black, but what really stood out were the large, and I do mean large pair of wings that were folded behind him."
The account said the creature looked at the woman before spreading its wings and flying off.
"I felt like this thing could see right through me, read me, it knew what I was thinking, like it could stare right into my very soul. It was the most terrified I have ever been in my life."
Most of the alleged sightings have occurred at night, near water. A man fishing with his son along the Little Calumet River in Hegewisch Park reported seeing a man-sized black bird around 7:30 p.m. April 30. Another man walking with his 6-year-old son in Calumet Park around 8 p.m. May 5 reported a similar encounter.
A man said he was with a group near Adler Planetarium on June 23 when they saw something that looked like a large bat.
The most recent alleged sighting occurred Monday, during daylight, at about 5 p.m. at Willis Tower. A witness smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk outside a tavern reported looking up and seeing a human-like figure with large wings perched near the top of the building.
"As he watched, the being leaped off the building, stretched out the wings, dipped and swooped upwards. It gained altitude as it flapped its wings and headed off in a northern direction," Strickler wrote.
Strickler was asked about the credibility of reports. If one accepts the reports as authentic, could people be seeing a large owl, a man in a winged suit, or a drone decorated to look like a monster?
"We've looked into everything," he said. "People say it moves its head and its legs. It acts like it's living. If it was a suit it would need some kind of jet pack. It's got some propulsion to it. It flaps its wings and accelerates."
One of the more convincing accounts is alleged to have occurred at about 11:15 p.m. June 29 at 81st and Throop streets in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. Strickler published an account allegedly received by Navarette from a man claiming to be a Chicago police officer on routine patrol with his partner.
"We were flagged down by a group of a people who were pointing up to the top of an apartment building that was on the corner," Strickler wrote, relating the alleged account.
The man claiming to be an officer reported seeing a large creature with wings on top of the building. They shined flashlights on it and it flew away. People crowded around said they had seen the creature flying over the neighborhood the previous two nights.
"We initially were doubtful about filing a report because we thought we would be made fun of for seeing Little Green Men. We finally filed a report as we did not want to violate protocol," Strickler wrote of the alleged sighting.
I checked with the Chicago Police Department to see if any reports were filed about the alleged Auburn Gresham incident or any other recent Mothman sightings.
"Our database did not reveal any reports or any incidents regarding the aforementioned," a spokesman said.
The reported sightings of Mothman in Chicago, are something that Carl Kolchak played by actor Darren McGavin in the 1974-75 TV show "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," would have looked into.
This was an ABC show in which a newspaper reporter investigated mysterious cases involving monsters and strange creatures. It was like "The X-Files" of its day.
Strickler believes Mothman is a being from another dimension.
"I have long theorized that the Mothman, and other unknown winged beings, are multidimensional lifeforms ... that can be summoned by high-energy incorporeal entities that reside on our Earth plane," he wrote.
Article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune
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