The Dover Demon


April 21st, 1977, was the date that a group of teenagers in Dover, Massachusetts, first encountered the creature that cryptozoologist Loren Coleman would eventually dub the Dover Demon.  That night, William (Bill) Bartlett was driving in his Volkswagen with friends Mike Mazzocca and Andy Brodie, all of whom were 17 years old.  At about 10:30 p.m., the three young men were headed northward on Farm Street when Bartlett spotted what he at first thought might be a dog or cat on top of a low stone wall.  He quickly realized that his initial impression was inaccurate when the VW's headlights illuminated the entity. 

The creature Bartlett saw stood three and a half to four feet tall and had a large, watermelon-shaped head, with two large, round eyes that shone like "two orange marbles"; its over-sized head was supported by a thin neck that led to an oblong torso from which sprouted long, spindly limbs.  It was humanoid, with two arms and two legs, and unusually large hands and feet.  The being's skin had an odd texture, "like wet sandpaper," said Bartlett, and was peach colored; although it whitened somewhat at the extremities.  Neither Mazzocco nor Brodie saw the creature, both claiming to have been distracted by other things at the time; although they both vouched for the sincerity of their friend's emotion at his sighting.

A drawing Bartlett made of the creature he saw.

A drawing Bartlett made of the creature he saw.

Around two hours later, 15-year-old John Baxter was walking home from his girlfriend's house along Millers Hill Road.  After walking for about a mile, Baxter said that he noticed a silhouetted figure approaching him on the side of the road.  At first, he suspected that it might be a local boy who lived on the street.  Baxter called out to the shadowy being, but received no response.  When they were approximately 15 feet apart the the silhouette stopped.  Baxter again called out, and again received no response; when he stepped towards the figure, it scurried quickly off of the road.  He chased it down the roadside ditch, but stopped as he saw it outlined against an open field.  

Baxter described roughly the same creature as Bartlett, with its over-sized head, and long, spindly limbs.  This time, though, the being was standing, using its long fingers to grasp the trunk of a tree it was leaning on; its weirdly long toes contoured to the rock beneath its feet.  Baxter didn't report any glowing eyes, but the creature made him very uncomfortable all the same, and he backed up to the road and quickly walked away.

Baxter's sketch of his sighting.

Baxter's sketch of his sighting.

The next night, Abby Brabham, 15, was being driven home by Will Taintor, 18, when she spotted something in the road.  Brabham, too, described a strange creature with a large, ovoid head, and long, spindly limbs; she said that the being was missing all facial features except for its eyes, which were round and glowed bright green--a color which she steadfastly insisted on to investigators, despite its idiosyncrasy.  Taintor caught only a fleeting glimpse of the creature, and said he saw something with a large head and tan body crouched in the road.

Investigators Loren Coleman, Walter Webb, Joseph Nyman, and Ed Fogg were unanimously impressed by the witnesses, especially Bartlett and Brabham.  The Dover Police Chief, Carl Sheridan, went so far as to describe Bartlett as an "outstanding artist and reliable witness."  Parents, teachers, and other community members came out in support of the teenagers, and it was generally agreed that they were ordinary kids who had witnessed something extraordinary.

Explanations for the Dover Demon range from an escaped monkey to a baby moose to a fox with mange; although those mundane conclusions never held much water with investigators.  A paranormal hypothesis was equally difficult to present, since, as Webb wrote in his report on the case, "Nor does it fit the known patterns of ghosts, fairies, or ufonauts."

"The Dover Demon is a true enigma," wrote Webb.  "An animate anomaly that intersected the lives of four credible young people that lonely week in April, 1977."

Tobias Wayland