Since I started this column a few years ago I have never had anyone come to me with newsworthy information. Until now.
On Sunday January 5th, 2013 a gentleman came to my office in Harpers Ferry, WV which in the county of Jefferson with a fantastic claim. He said that he and his family were out hiking near a long abandoned campsite about 1.5 miles west of Harpers Ferry. It was near dusk and getting dark (I would estimate around 5:00 PM EST). It was himself, his wife and two daughters. They carried only snacks, bottled water, two iPhones and an SLR digital camera between the four of them. The gentleman (who I will call "George" from now on although, for privacy, it is not his real name), claimed they could hear "rustling in the branches above us". He estimated that they were less than one quarter mile from their car, but far enough away that they became a bit "frightened".
He estimated that they were less than one quarter mile from their car, but far enough away that they became a bit "frightened".
I was familiar with this areas having lived here since 2009. I asked George why they chose this area since certain parts were closed to the public. "I went there when I was a kid. My parents took me there in the 70's. It used to be a [location deleted for safety reasons] back then and we went for a few consecutive years," he said. "I remember there were these really cool caves you could tour and I was curious if they were still there. They were, but [in]accessible because of the lack of maintenance I guess."
George went on to tell me that as it go darker, the noises above came closer and seemed to become "angry almost". They looked up and around. About thirty feet away and about fifteen feet up they saw "two great big glowing circles - eyes", he exclaimed. "I've been hunting dear around here with my dad and then my brother and friends for years. I have never seen anything like that." I asked him if it could have been an owl or other known night creature. He held up his hands about eighteen inches apart and said they were "this far apart. No way it was and owl, mountain lion or bear. They were like this big too," he said making an OK sign with his fingers, about the size of a standard D-battery flashlight lens.
I was at this point that George showed me an iPhone and a Fuji 14MP digital camera. He said that before it set in that there was something not quite natural about the glowing circles in the trees, they tried to take some pictures with the iPhone and camera. I offered to plug the camera in to our presentation monitor or computer and look at them in detail, but declined. George works for the government and was concerned about his job if it got out he was 1. trespassing and 2. taking pictures of "demons". He noted that the iPhone in particular had information on the owner encrypted into the photos and, until he could remove this encryption himself and be 100% sure they could not be traced back to him, he would not take the chance.
We turned the devices on and I looked at their view screens starting with iPhone. The phone belonged to George's wife and she took the picture. It had a bit of motion blur, but you could see a "mass", some branches and two red glowing circles. On the Fuji we saw a little more detail. A large mass in the trees, obscured by branches and two circles that seemed to "emit" light as opposed to simply reflecting it. From the central mass you could see what appeared to be extremely tattered feathers or maybe ragged strips of cloth.
George went on to say that after he took the pictures the "thing in the trees" started "float from tree to tree" very quickly. It would appear to push off one tree than dart to the next in a quick glide. "Then it screamed at us," George claimed with a swallow. He continued, "I never heard anything like that - ever. I have heard owls scream and a mountain lion sound like a baby crying. This weren't those."
George and his family than ran as fast as they could to car. "My wife and kids were crying. You'd a thought we were running from the devil."
My wife and kids were crying. You'd a thought we were running from the devil.
George told me that they were definitely being chased by it. When they finally got to their car, they could hear it stalking above, circling them. They pulled away as fast they could. He said this had happened two weeks earlier on a Saturday. It took him this long to decide if he should tell anyone about this. He found me online. I asked him a few more questions to flesh out my notes. He said he would stay in contact and drop the photos off within a few days when he decrypted them.
Before he left, I asked George if he could describe in anymore detail. "It was a monster. I couldn't see the face and I'm glad. But it did remind me of a bat."
So, is this a hoax? I have interviewed dozens of people with claims of the paranormal over the years and "George" seemed very scared when recounting parts of this tale. Was is the Mothman? I don't know. It didn't seem like the drawings I have seen in the past.
George has not been back since. I will be investigating the area he reported within the next few days. Although I will keep his identity secret to protect his privacy and job, I am revealing his story with hope of learning of more eyewitnesses. I have also started a file on the Jefferson County Phantom.
Please contact me via email or phone.