The Flatwoods Monster

On September 12th, 1952, seven eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a monster "worse than Frankenstein" in the hills outside of Flatwoods, West Virginia.  That night, Kathleen May, her two nephews Edward, 13, and Fred, 12, along with their friend Tommy Hyer, 10, neighborhood boys Neil Nunley, 14, and Ronnie Shaver, 10, and West Virginia National Guardsman Eugene Lemon, 17, headed into the wooded hills in search of a bright object--referred to by the media at the time as a flying saucer--that Edward, Fred and Tommy said they'd seen land at a nearby farm.  Lemon's dog ran ahead, out of sight, and was heard barking at something before returning in fear, its tail between its legs.

As they crested a hill, the group saw what Kathleen described as a "fire-breathing monster, 10 feet tall with a bright green body and a blood red face" float towards them from between the trees, backlit by a large, pulsating "ball of fire."  

"It looked worse than Frankenstein," she said.  "It couldn't have been human."

Lemon said that he initially thought it might be an opossum or raccoon until he shined his flashlight on it.  It was then he saw the monster, complete with its green body that he said "seemed to glow."

The group stared at the monster in terror for a moment before screaming, turning tail, and promptly running away; looking back over their shoulders to make sure that it wasn't giving chase.  

The monster, they said, gave off an overpowering metallic odor that the witnesses found nauseating, and according to Kathleen they vomited for several hours after the encounter.

Subsequent investigation turned up little physical evidence, although local Sheriff Carr and his deputy Burnell Long did claim to smell the strange metallic odor while searching the area.

A. Lee Stewart, co-publisher of the Braxton County Democrat, a local newspaper, returned to the site later that evening with Lemon, and also admitted to noticing an odd odor.

"The odor was still there," Stewart said.  "It was sort of warm and sickening.  And there were two places about six to eight feet in diameter where the brush was trampled down."

Stewart, for his part, seemed convinced that the group had seen something strange.

"Those people were the most scared people I've ever seen," he said.  "People don't make up that kind of story that quickly."

"I hate to say I believe it, but I hate to say I don't believe it," added Stewart.

"Those people were scared--badly scared, and I sure smelled something."

A search performed by Stewart the following day discovered two elongated tracks in the mud, along with a thick, black liquid, but the tracks were found to have been made by the truck of a man who had come in search of the monster prior to Stewart's return to the scene, and the liquid was likely motor oil.

However, in the days after the event, other witnesses came forward.  A mother and her 21-year-old daughter claimed to have encountered a similar creature with the same strange odor a week prior to the original sighting, which reportedly resulted in the daughter being shaken so badly that she spent three weeks in the Clarksburg Hospital; Eugene Lemon's mother said that at the approximate time of the saucer sighting her house had been violently shaken and her radio cut out for 45 minutes; and the director of the local Board of Education claimed that he had seen a flying saucer take off at 6:30 a.m. the morning of September 13th.

The authorities ultimately decided that the "flying saucer" the May boys had seen was a meteorite, since the sighting took place during a meteor shower that was occurring over a three-state area at the time, and the monster sighting itself was reportedly written off as mass hysteria involving a mundane animal--possibly a barn owl.  Despite that, the witnesses did not recant their testimony, and the Flatwoods Monster is widely considered one of the most fascinating reported encounters with a UFO occupant to emerge from the 1950s. 

Tobias Wayland