November 27, 1966, was a Sunday. That morning, as Connie Jo Carpenter passed the chilly links of the Mason County Golf Course in New Haven, West Virginia, she saw something strange. It hulked over the road, vaguely man-shaped, but by her later account "at least seven feet tall and very broad." It was pale gray, lacking a recognizable head, with two gaping red eyes set square and lidless in its torso.

Her car slowed. Two wide wings spread from its back. It rose into the air ("like a helicopter," she'd later say) and with an aura of hypnotic menace, swooped barely over her windshield and out of sight.

It was gone. Terrified, she floored it down the road.

It was not the first time the thing that would come to be known as the "Mothman" had been seen. In the nearby town of Point Pleasant, a group of four people walking an isolated lover's lane had seen a "man with wings... with muscular legs... and fiery red eyes." It had followed their car, as they drove frightened back through the dark woods at speeds (they claimed) of up to 100 miles an hour, leaving them only when they reached a lit section of the highway. The light deterred it, it seemed. Perhaps because it would have allowed a clear look.

Despite the literally incredible nature of the stories, reports snowballed over that winter. They came from more couples on midnight strolls, whole families terrorized on dark roads, wild-eyed recluses in the West Virginia woods. Newspaper articles sensationalized the encounters. "Couple Sees Man-sized Bird … Creature … Something." "Mysterious 'Mothman' Said Still at Large." Over 100 stories of sightings accumulated, and with them, all manner of oddities ...

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