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While searching for some interesting Bigfoot stories I came across an entry on Wikipedia listed under cryptid/extra-terrestrial that caught my attention.  An extra-terrestrial cryptid?  A space monster?  So I read on and here is the gist of the story of the Flatwoods Monster.


The sighting took place near Flatwoods in Braxton County, West Virginia on the 12th September 1952 at around 7:15pm.  Two bothers called Edward and Fred May were with their friend called Tommy Hyer, aged 13, 12 and 10 respectively when they saw a bright object in the sky.  They followed its progress and it came to settle on the land of a local farmer named Fisher.  The boys went to the May household and told Kathleen May, the mother of the two boys, what they had seen.  She took the three, along with three other boys to see what had crashed into the field.  They were Neil Nunley (14), Ronnie Shaver (10) and National Guardsman Eugene Lemon (17).

As they approached the field, Lemon’s dog ran ahead of the group and began barking then returned to them with tail between its legs, frightened.  When they reached the top of the hill overlooking the field they saw a pulsating ball of fire some 50 feet to the right of their position.  They also noticed a mist that had a pungent smell which made their eyes and noses burn.

Lemon was the one who noticed two small lights to the left of the object, beside an oak tree and turned his flashlight onto them.  This revealed the creature that then gave a shrill hissing noise.  It then appeared to glide towards them and banked at the last minute, heading off towards the red light.  Wisely, the group decided that they had seen enough – they fled.

Official reports

Original newspaper report

Original newspaper report

Once back at home, Ms May contacted the local sheriff Robert Carr as well as the local newspaper owner the Braxton Democrat, Mr A Lee Stewart.  Stewart conducted interviews and returned with Lemon to the site where he also smelled something odd that he described as a sickening, burnt metallic smell.  Both the sheriff and his deputy searched the area but found no signs of the encounter but when Stewart returning the next morning, saw elongated tracks in the mud as well as traces of a strange, black liquid.  Later investigations revealed that the tracks were from a Chevrolet pickup that local Max Lockard had left when investigating the sightings himself.

Other reports

Two investigators with the Civilian Saucer Investigations association conducted a series of interviews with locals after the event and found other witnesses who had also seen something that night.  One included a mother and her 21-year-old daughter who had seen a creature with a similar description around a week before the September 12th incident.  The daughter was so badly affected by the encounter that she had to be kept in hospital for three weeks.  Eugene Lemon’s mother also gave a statement in which she said at the time of the crash, her house had violently shaken and her radio had stopped working for 45 minutes.  Finally, a director of the local Board of Education said he saw a flying saucer leave the field at 6:30am on the 13th, the morning after the initial sighting.

An interest side note to the sightings is the apparent sickness experienced by some of the witnesses after the event.  They all attributed the sickness to the mist that they had smelled at the scene and symptoms included an irritation of the nose and swelling of the throat.  Lemon suffered convulsions and vomiting all that night and had trouble with his throat for a number of weeks afterwards.  A local doctor who treated the group reported that the symptoms were similar to those who had encountered mustard gas.

What was the monster?

There were differing descriptions of the creature from the various witnesses but there were elements that all reported the same.  They estimated it was around 7 feet in height with a black body and a glowing face.  It had an elongated head that looked like a diamond shape and its eyes were not human.  It had a circular cowling behind its head and a dark shadow around its body was also described as an exoskeleton by some.  Some witnesses said they were unable to see its arms while others said it had long and stringy arms that came from the front of its body and had claw-like fingers.

One of the standard explanations give for what the witnesses saw was that they saw some kind of owl.  While owls flying across a field can be unnerving and hard to identify momentarily, this explanation doesn’t cover the light from the sky, the burning object in the field or the strange smell.  Similarly, the idea of the meteorite being the cause of the light is also possible but doesn’t cover the remainder of the encounter.

Finally, an interesting connection is made between the description of the creature and that of the Mothman of Point Pleasant.  Both were said to be owls and both were described as having glowing eyes.  Whether there is a connection between the two sightings may never be known – unless another sighting comes to light.