John A. Keel, a paranormal researcher and author, was visiting Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1975 to investigate and write an article for Playboy magazine about UFO sightings in the area. He interviewed people of the area about weird events such as mysterious lights moving across the sky, people’s pets and cattle being found slaughtered and mutilated , and sightings of a mysterious part-man part-moth like creature. His findings led to his book, The Mothman Prophecies, which inspired the movie in 2002 starring Richard Gere.
The legend of the Mothman started on November 15, 1966. When two couples, Steve and Mary Mallette and Roger and Linda Scarberry, reported to police, that while driving through the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, 6 miles north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia; a creature flew over their car. The group got out of the car to investigate and saw a six or seven foot man with a ten foot wingspan and it had red glowing eyes. The creature started to walk on what appeared to have two sturdy legs with a shuffling gait towards the group. The scared couples quickly got into their car and drove away from the mysterious man-like bird. However, while driving away this creature took off of the ground and started following them while flying in the air without flapping it’s wings and was making high pitched squeaking noises. After filing a report with the local authorities, the local media picked up on the story and gave the creature the name, Mothman. One of the witness’, Mrs. Scarberry stated that the creatures eyes didn’t start glowing red until their lights hit the creature’s face. Three days later, two Point Pleasant firemen visited the same area of the first sightings of the Mothman, near the TNT compound within the wildlife refuge. They also reported seeing the huge creature but stated that it was just a bird.
In 1967, during the holiday season, the Silver Bridge collapsed killing 46 people who were commuting over the Ohio River. The bridge was built in 1928 and connected Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio. Days before this tragic event, sightings of the Mothman were reported near the top of the bridge. Some of the locals believe that the Mothman was to blame, while others interpreted the appearance of this mysterious creature as a warning sign of impending doom.
Wildlife experts and other skeptics claim that the description of the Mothman fit the description of a few types of birds that are common in the area of where the sightings have been reported. A barn owl, a horned owl, or the sandhill crane were suggested to be the culprits of the many sightings of the Mothman. All three species of birds have eyes that will glow red when light is directed to them. However, the locals of Point Pleasant celebrate the Mothman every September by holding a Mothman festival. A Mothman statue was erected in the middle of the town in front of the Mothman museum.