Flatwoods Monster, also known as the
Braxton County Monster or the Phantom of
Flatwoods, is an alleged unidentified extraterrestrial or cryptid reported to be sighted in the town of
Flatwoods in Braxton County, West
Virginia, USA on September 12, 1952.
Stories of the creature are an example of a purported close encounter of the third
There are two entities associated with the Flatwoods Monster. The
first was described as being a large pulsating red ball of light
that hovered above or rested upon the ground. Ufologists
believe that it may have been a powered
craft that was piloted by the second entity.
Various descriptions of the second entity exist. Most agree that it
was at least 10 feet tall and that it had a red face which appeared
to glow from within, and a green body. Witnesses described the
creature's head as having bulging, non-human eyes and as either
being shaped like a heart/an Ace of
, or as having a large heart/Ace of Spades shaped
behind it. The creature's body was
described as being man-shaped
and clad in a dark pleated
; later described as being green. Some
accounts record that the creature had no visible arms, while others
describe it as having short stubby arms; ending in long claw-like
fingers, which protruded from the front of its body.
The Flatwoods Monster
7:15 PM on the evening of September 12
, two brothers, Edward and Fred May, and
their friend Tommy Hyer (ages 13, 12, and 10 respectively)
witnessed a bright object cross the sky. The object appeared to
come to rest on land belonging to local farmer G. Bailey
Upon witnessing the object, the boys went to the home of the May
brothers' mother, Kathleen May, where they reported seeing a
crash land in the hills. From there, Mrs.
May accompanied by the three boys, local children Neil Nunley (14)
and Ronnie Shaver (10), and 17 year old West Virginia National Guardsman
'Gene' Lemon, traveled to the Fisher farm in an effort to locate
whatever it was that the boys had seen.
Lemon's dog ran ahead out of sight and suddenly began barking, and
moments later ran back to the group with its tail between its legs.
After traveling about ¼ of a mile the group reached the top of a
hill, where they reportedly saw a large pulsating "ball of fire"
about 50 feet to their right. They also detected a pungent mist
that made their eyes and nose burn. Lemon then noticed two small
lights over to the left of the object, underneath a nearby oak
tree and directed his flashlight towards them,
revealing the creature. The creature was reported to have emitted a
shrill hissing noise before gliding towards them, changing
direction and then heading off towards the red light. At this point
the group fled in panic.
Upon returning home Mrs. May contacted local Sheriff Robert Carr,
and Mr. A. Lee Stewert; co-owner of the Braxton Democrat
a local newspaper. Stewert conducted a number of interviews and
returned to the site with Lemon later that night where he reported
that "there was a sickening, burnt, metallic odor still
prevailing". Sheriff Carr and his deputy Burnell Long searched the
area separately, but reported finding no trace of the
Early the next morning; on Saturday September 13
, Mr. A Lee Stewart visited the
site of the encounter for a second time and discovered two
elongated tracks in the mud, as well as traces of a thick black
liquid. He immediately reported them as being possible signs of a
landing based on the premise
that the area had not been subjected to vehicle traffic for at
least a year. It would later be revealed that the tracks most
likely belonged to a 1942 Chevrolet
driven by local Max
Lockard; who had gone to the site to look for the creature some
hours prior to Stewert's discovery.
After the event, Mr. William and Donna Smith; investigators
associated with Civilian Saucer Investigation, LA, obtained a
number of accounts from witnesses who claimed to have experienced a
similar or related phenomena. These accounts included the story of
a mother and her 21 year-old-daughter, who claimed to have
encountered a creature with the same appearance and odor a week
prior to the September 12
encounter reportedly affected the daughter so badly that she was
confined to Clarksburg Hospital
for three weeks. A statement from the mother of Eugene Lemon, in
which she said that, at the approximate time of the crash, her
house had been violently shaken and her radio had cut out for 45
minutes, and a report from the director of the local Board of
Education in which he claimed to have seen a flying saucer taking
off at 6:30 on the morning of September
(the morning after the creature was sighted).
After encountering the creature, several members of the September 12
group reported being overcome with
similar symptoms which persisted for some time, which they
attributed to having been exposed to the mist emitted by the
creature. The symptoms included irritation of the nose and swelling
of the throat. Lemon was reportedly the worst affected. He suffered
from vomiting and convulsions throughout the night, and had
difficulties with his throat for several weeks afterwards.
A doctor who treated several of the witnesses is reported to have
described their symptoms as being similar to victims of mustard gas
, though such symptoms are also
commonly found in sufferers of hysteria
which can be brought on by exposure to a traumatic or shocking
After examining the case, Joe Nickell of the paranormal
concluded that the bright light in the sky reported by
the witnesses on September 12
likely a meteor, that the pulsating red light was likely an
aircraft navigation/hazard beacon, and that the creature described
by witnesses closely resembled an owl
latter two of which were distorted by the heightened state of
anxiety felt by the witnesses after having observed the former.
Nickell's conclusions are shared by a number of other
investigators, including those of the Air Force. The Mothman
has also been explained by this.
A Barn owl; seen with "claw-like hands
" and a face shaped
"like the Ace of Spades
The night of the September 12
a meteor had been observed across three states, Maryland,
Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and had been mistakenly reported as
flaming aircraft crashing into the side of a hill at Elk River
; approximately 11 miles
southwest of the location of the Flatwoods sighting. Three flashing
red aircraft beacons were also visible from the area of the
sightings, possibly accounting for the pulsating red light seen by
the witnesses, and for the red tint on the face of the
The shape, movement, and sounds reported by witnesses was also
consistent with the silhouette, flight pattern, and call of a
startled barn owl
perched on a tree limb;
leading researchers to conclude that foliage beneath the owl may
have created the illusion of the lower portions of the creature
(described as being a pleated green skirt). Researchers also
concluded that the witnesses' inability to agree on whether the
creature had arms, combined with Kathleen May's report of it having
"small, claw-like hands
" which "extended in front of
" also matched the description of a barn owl with its talons
gripping a tree branch. However, some have asked that if it was an
owl then why did the witnesses not see it as such, even after
shining a searchlight right at it. Many investigators have
countered that this and the creature's supposed 'gliding' can be
ascribed to hysteria and the heightened state of tension amongst
the witnesses causing them to be panicky and irrational.
Alternative explanations included those put forward by the local
media; that the September 12
witnessed the impact of a meteor which resulted in a man-shaped
cloud of vapor, and those of Kathleen May and her sons (recorded
some time after the incident); that they had seen some kind of
covert government aircraft.
town of Flatwoods holds an annual, three-day festival dedicated to
the "Green Monster in downtown Flatwoods", near or on the
anniversary of the sighting.
- Braxton County has printed a brochure about the monster in an
effort to attract tourists.
- The Monster is also known as the "Green Monster". Flatwoods
displays a road sign that reads "Welcome to Flatwoods, Home of the
In popular culture
Japan, the Flatwoods Monster was introduced to children
by Hiroshi Minamiyama (Science fiction editor, occult writer) and
other writers as "3-meter alien". Many children in the 1970s
- when the "UFO boom" took place - were influenced by this "alien".
The Flatwoods Monster is one of very few US-based entities that is
regularly depicted in the Japanese toys known as kaiju. Artist David Horvath has created a series of
vinyl art toys that includes the
Flatwoods Monster, the Mothman, etc.
- In the NES game
Amagon, the final boss appears to be based on an artist's
rendering of the Flatwoods monster created for the September 19 edition of "We the People".
- The Flatwoods Monster appears as the second boss in the
Sega Genesis game Space Harrier II.
- In the video game The Legend of Zelda: Majora's
Mask, enemies called "They" or "Them" by the character
Romani resemble the Flatwoods Monster.
- In Sgt. Frog, 3M, an alien TV show host is said to
look like the Flatwoods Monster. As a reference to the Flatwoods
Monster's Japanese name ("3-meter alien"), the character constantly
measures various objects in terms of meters.
- In episode 4 of the anime series
Negima?!, the Flatwoods Monster
appears for a brief moment.
- Appears as a boss in level 9 of the video game Tumblepop.
- Creeping Chaos, a creature resembling the common description of
the Flatwoods monster, is a recurring enemy in the Wild Arms series of video games.
It is usually described or represented as an extraterrestrial being. In
Wild Arms XF it appears as a
boss in a stage called "The Flatwoods".
- In the trading card game
.hack//Enemy the Flatwoods
Monster appears as an enemy called "Dejected".
- In the Sega Saturn game Keio Flying Squadron 2, it
appears as an end-level boss. The game is intensely comedic, which
leads to the monster shooting chunks of cooked meat at the player
while suggesting "beef stew for dinner."
- In the 2009 Nintendo DS game
Scribblenauts players can
summon and interact with the Flatwoods Monster by typing in
"BRAXTON COUNTY MONSTER" or "FLATWOODS MONSTER". The monster does
nothing but hissses and gives other characters a scared emotion, as
well as having a scared emotion itself.