At about 7:15 p.m. on September 12, 1952, at Flatwoods, a little village in the hills of West Virginia, some youngsters were playing football on the school playground. Suddenly they saw a fiery UFO streak across the sky and, apparently, land on a hilltop of the nearby Bailey Fisher farm. The youths ran to the home of Mrs. Kathleen May, who provided a flashlight and accompanied them up the hill. In addition to Mrs. May, a local beautician, the group included her two sons, Eddie 13, and Freddie 14, Neil Nunley 14, Gene Lemon 17, and Tommy Hyer and Ronnie Shaver, both 10, along with Lemon’s dog.
There are myriad, often contradictory versions of what happened next, but UFO writer Gray Barker was soon on the scene and wrote an account for Fate magazine based on tape-recorded interviews. He found that the least emotional account was provided by Neil Nunley, one of two youths who were in the lead as the group hastened to the crest of the hill. Some distance ahead was a pulsing red light. Then, suddenly, Gene Lemon saw a pair of shining, animal-like eyes, and aimed the flashlight in their direction. The light revealed a towering “man-like” figure with a round, red “face” surrounded by a “pointed, hood-like shape.” The body was dark and seemingly colorless, but some would later say it was green, and Mrs. May reported drape-like folds. The monster was observed only momentarily, as suddenly it emitted a hissing sound and glided toward the group. Lemon responded by screaming and dropping his flashlight, whereupon everyone fled.
The group had noticed a pungent mist at the scene and afterward some were nauseated. A few locals, then later the sheriff and a deputy (who came from investigating a reported airplane crash), searched the site but “saw, heard and smelled nothing.” The following day A. Lee Stewart, Jr., from the Braxton Democrat discovered “skid marks” in the roadside field, along with an “odd, gummy deposit” – traces attributed to the landed “saucer”.
This brief account of the Flatwoods Monster encounter is an excerpt from an article written by Joe Nickell, which was originally published in Skeptical Inquirer November/December 2000. Read this article and others by Nickell, in full, by visiting csicop.org.
Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and “Investigative Files” Columnist for Skeptical Inquirer. He is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has also appeared in many television documentaries . His personal website is at joenickell.com.
Below you will find a link to rare newspaper and magazine articles, some going as far back to 1952. These records were kept by John Gibson and he shared them with the Braxton County CVB to be archived, digitized, and shared. Click below to start an immediate download of a compressed file. For best results download to a desktop or laptop computer.