Mothman Death List
© Loren Coleman 2003-2005
revised August 20, 2005
People have pondered dates, disasters, and deaths linked to Mothman from 1966, to the present. Since it has become fashionable in recent years to create lists of those who have died by association to the JFK assassination, Bill Clinton, and even
the movie Poltergeist,
here is "The Mothman Death List" of events and deaths linked to the original series of Mothman sightings of 1966-1967, to the release of the movie in January 2002, to the various cable premieres, and VHS/DVD releases later in 2002 and 2003.
Mothman and Other Curious Encounters
more detailed information on the movie and the events from the
In 1975, John Keel wrote in
The Mothman Prophecies
that "there would be many changes in the lives of those touched by" Mothman, and a "few would even commit suicide." Those people remain unidentified, but we have gathered information on the following souls who seem linked to the events radiating out of Point Pleasant.
- #1 - 46: The Silver Bridge Victims
At 5:04 PM, on December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed
during rush hour.
Forty-six lives were lost, and forty-four bodies were
These are the names of those whose bodies were
Albert A. Adler, Jr, Gallipolis, OH
J. O. Bennnett, Walnut Cove, NC
Leo Blackman, Richmond, VA
Kristye Boggs, Vinton, OH
Margaret Boggs, Vinton, OH
Hilda Byus, Point Pleasant, WV
Kimberly Byus, Point Pleasant, WV
Melvin Cantrell, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
Thomas A. Cantrell, Gallipolis, OH
Donna Jean Casey, Gallipolis, OH
Cecil Counts, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
Horace Cremeans, Route 1, Gallipolis, OH
Harold Cundiff, Winston-Salem, NC
Alonzo Luther Darst, Cheshire, OH
Alma Duff, Point Pleasant, WV
James Hawkins, Westerville, OH
Bobby L. Head, Gallipolis, OH
Forrest Raymond Higley, Bidwell, OH
Alva B. Lane, Route 1, Gallipolis, OH
Thomas "Bus" Howard Lee, Gallipolis, OH
G. H. Mabe, Jamestown, NC
Darlene Mayes, Kanauga, OH
Gerald McMannus, South Point, OH
James Richard Maxwell, Gallipolis, OH
James F. Meadows, Point Pleasant, WV
Timothy Meadows, Point Pleasant, WV
Frederick D. Miller, Gallipolis, OH
Ronnie G. Moore, Gallipolis, OH
Nora Isabelle Nibert, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
Darius E. Northup, Gallipolis Ferry, WV
James O. Pullen, Middleport, OH
Leo "Doc" Sanders, Point Pleasant, WV
Ronald Sims, Gallipolis, OH
Charles T. Smith, Bidwell, OH
Oma Mae Smith, Bidwell, OH
Maxine Sturgeon, Kanauga, OH
Denzil Taylor, Point Pleasant, WV
Glenna Mae Taylor, Point Pleasant, WV
Robert Eugene Towe, Cana, VA
Victor William Turner, Point Pleasant, WV
Marvin Wamsley, Point Pleasant, WV
Lillian Eleanor Wedge, Point Pleasant, WV
Paul D. Wedge, Point Pleasant, WV
James Alfred White, Point Pleasant, WV
The two whose bodies were never recovered are:
Kathy Byus, Point Pleasant, WV
Maxine Turner, Point Pleasant, WV
The date (or Mothman math) game played a role in the next
death. The first sighting (acknowledged by the media and first
filed by reporter Mary Hyre) occurred when the Scarberrys and
Mallettes saw Mothman on November 15, 1966, in the TNT area,
Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Then exactly thirteen months
later, the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967.
Twenty-six months later (13 x 2) exactly, Mary Hyre died on
February 15, 1970, at the age of 54, after a four-week
illness. Hyre was the Point Pleasant correspondent for the
Athens, Ohio newspaper The
during the 1960s' investigations, became a close friend of
John A. Keel. (Her husband Scotty had died on December
1970 - Two novels were published on events linked to the 1967 collapse of
the bridge at Point Pleasant. One was a novel, Beyond the Bridge (NY:
Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1970) by Jack Matthews, about a man that had
survived the disaster and began life anew. The other, a book with heavy
doses of fiction and fact, was The Silver Bridge (Clarksburg, WV: Saucerian
Books, 1970) by Gary Barker. Mothman figures in Barker's book, but not
specifically in Matthews'.
Ivan T. Sanderson
Naturalist, cryptozoologist, and television animal man Ivan Sanderson served
as John A. Keel's main consultant on the natural history behind the reports
of Mothman. Keel was on the phone often with Sanderson, who was a
well-known writer and at the time of the Mothman sightings, also the
director of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in New
Jersey. Sanderson was one of the first researchers on the scene, to report
on the Flatwoods Monster seen in West Virginia in 1952. He was more
involved with the Mothman situation that is often remembered. Sanderson,
62, died on February 19, 1973, of a rapidly spreading cancer.
1974 - Keel wrote in his 1975 book: "Only one subsequent report [of
Mothman] is known, from Elma, New York, in October of 1974." (Of course, we know
today this is no longer true.)
Mary Hyre and Ivan Sanderson were named in John A. Keel's book as having
died before the tenth anniversary of his Mothman investigations. He also
mentioned Fred Freed, who is little known today. In television histories,
however, Freed's documentaries, the NBC White Paper, which began in 1960,
are acclaimed as groundbreaking. The series would be successful until they
ended with Freed's death. In September 1973, Keel and Freed began meeting
regularly to discuss a White Paper that would concentrate on the Ohio Valley
UFO flaps and other activity (Mothman) in the area. This documentary would
never be made. In March 1974, Freed died swiftly and suddenly of a heart
attack at the age of 53.
1984 - New reports of Mothman are recorded for West Virginia, including a
close encounter by witnesses Brenda and James DeVore.
Besides John Keel, no other person was as on scene in Mason County, during
1966-1967, as often as West Virginian Gary Barker. Barker was a theatrical
film booker and educational-materials distributor based in Clarksburg, West
Virginia, who became interested in UFOs after he investigated the Flatwoods
Monster in 1952. In 1956, Barker was the first person to write a book (They
Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, Clarksburg, WV: Saucerian Books,
1956).on the Men in Black (which Keel would later call MIBs). Barker and
Keel interviewed Woodrow Derenberger, the contactee who was visited by
Indrid Cold. Barker noted in Spacecraft News #3, in 1966, that when he was
investigating Mothman near Point Pleasant, he found a note on his door with
this ungrammatic message, "ABANDON YOUR RESEARCH OR YOU WILL BE REGRET. YOU
HAVE BEEN WARNED." Over Labor Day, 1968, Barker held a Mothman Convention
in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. This displeased Keel, and after Keel
wrote to Barker about it on March 15, 1969, a rift developed between
them that would never heal.
UFO humorist and researcher James Moseley, Gray Barker's closest friend,
noted in his recent book, Shockingly Close to the Truth, that Barker died on
December 6, 1984, "after a long series of illnesses" in a Charleston, West
Virginia, hospital. But the cause was somewhat mysterious and the diagnosis
was always unclear. Moseley wrote that "the more or less simultaneous
failure of various organs, due most probably to AIDS (though it was not
diagnosed as such in those days)" killed Barker. In filmmaker Ralph Coon's
documentary about Barker, Whispers from Space, the Clarksburg investigator
is depicted as a closeted gay man. Barker was only 59 when he died.
D. Scott Rogo
Parapsychologist and author D. Scott Rogo, 40, was found stabbed to death on
August 18, 1990, after a neighbor in the 18100 block of Schoenborn Street,
Northridge, California, noted that Rogo's backyard sprinklers had been on
for two days. Police arrived to discover Rogo dead on the floor. The home
had not been ransacked. While most of Rogo's early work focussed on
parapsychology, he also had written about this theories on Mothman in The
Haunted Universe (NY: Signet, 1977) and Earth's Secret Inhabitants (NY:
Tempo Books, 1979), the latter book written with his friend Jerome Clark.
October 1, 1991 IllumiNet Press published the first reprint of
The Mothman Prophecies in decades. It is this edition that screenwriter Richard Hatem
"discovered" in an old book store, and decided to get someone interested in
producing a movie from the book.
Donald I. North, a Point Pleasant native who saw Mothman in the TNT area in
the 1990s, died in an automobile crash in 1997.
Spring 1997 - Struck by insomnia one night during the Spring of 1997,
Richard Hatem drifted into a Pasadena bookstore. He saw and grabbed a used
copy of The Mothman Prophecies from a shelf, and soon was engaged in reading
it through the night. The next day, he contacted John Keel, and immediately
began work on the screenplay that Lakeshore Entertainment bought in 1998.
Conspiracy author Jim Keith, at the age of 50, died
mysteriously, on September 7, 1999, during routine knee
surgery, after falling off the stage at the annual Burning Man
pagan arts festival in Nevada. Jim Keith was responsible for
first writing about a CIA-Men-in-Black connection to the
initial Mothman events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
He held the notion that Point Pleasant was being used as a
Born in Ontario, Canada on April 6, 1961, Gene Andrusco
Southern California when he was young, then soon became a
television programs such as "Bewitched" and "Cannon." In the
under the pen name Gene Eugene, he started a second career as
alternative rock producer, engineer, and musician as a member
of Adam Again,
the Lost Dogs, and the Swirling Eddies. It was as a musician
that his life
crossed paths with Mothman, in the late 1990s. Andrusco, 38,
was found dead
in The Green Room, his production studio in Huntington Beach,
during the early morning of March 30, 2000, of a brain
aneurysm or heart
The only movie Gene Andrusco ever worked on was Douglas
independent film, Mothman (2000). Andrusco was the music
performed some of the music, as a member of the Lost Dogs. The
film was the
first feature directed by Douglas TenNapel, produced by Mark
Russell and Jay
Holben, and executive produced by Martin Cohen of DreamWorks
SKG. It was
shot on location in Orange County, California, and Point
Virginia, on 35 mm in fifteen days throughout the month of
Jay Holben, the film's head cinematographer, would go on to do
Report; Mark Russell would produce Minority Report. A sneak
TenNapel's Mothman was held at San Diego Comic-Con on August
12, 1999, but,
although the date of final release is listed as 2000, no one
whatever happened to the film, and TenNapel refuses to discuss
it to this
The publisher of most of Jim Keith's books and of John Keel's
1991 reprint of The
Mothman Prophecies, Ron Bonds of IllumiNet Press, died
under strange circumstances, at 48, on April 8, 2001. He was
being rushed to the hospital for food poisoning, apparently
contracted at the Mexican restaurant, El Azteca, Ponce de
Leon, Atlanta. (Before becoming a publisher, Bonds had
been a rock promoter and producer. Intriguingly, April 8th is
also associated with the date that Kurt Cobain, grunge rock
star, was found dead from suicide in Seattle.)
- Robin Chaney Pilkington
On October 24, 2001, Marcella Bennett who was an eyewitness
to Mothman on November 16, 1966, the oft-noted "second
sighting," lost her daughter, Robin Pilkington, 44. Marcella
Bennett's remark about Mothman's "terrrible, glowing, red
eyes" is a frequently quoted description. Her daugther's
death would signal the start of a wave of witness-relatives'
deaths during the time leading up to and during The Mothman
Prophecies movie's release. Pilkington died after a "long
illness" at Bridgton (Maine) Hospital. Born January 26,
1957, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, to Robert and
Marcella Wamsley Bennett, Robin Pilkington, graduated from
nursing school, and then moved to Denmark, Maine. Besides
her parents, Robin was survived by her husband Ross, son
Robert Chaney and daughter Kristen Chaney, both of
Connecticut, and a sister Kristina Bennett of Naples,
Florida. Robin's younger sister, Kristina (also known as
Tina or Teena) was the child in Marcella's arms when
Marcella had her sighting on November 16, 1966. Robin
Pilkington is buried at the Mount Pleasant (!) Cemetery in
West Denmark, Maine.
1, 2002 - Paraview Press published Mothman and Other Curious
On January 12, 2002, at the Pleasant Valley Nursing and
Rehab. Center, Agatha Eileen Bennett, 93, Point Pleasant,
died. While her age would indicate a long and rich life, the
timing of her death is noteworthy, coming just as the
publicity for the new Mothman movie is beginning. Her son
Robert Bennett, who along with his wife Marcella Bennett
(the often-interviewed witness), saw Mothman on the second
night of the beginning of the 1966 flap. Mrs. Bennett was
preceded in death by her husband, Robert Sr.; a daughter,
Geraldine Bennett; a son, James Bennett; two sisters; three
brothers; and a granddaughter. We are uncertain if any of
her brothers were named Julius. An individual named Julius
Oliver Bennett perished when the Silver Bridge collapsed in
The up and coming rock video filmmaker and movie director Ted
Demme (Blow, 2001)
suddenly died on January 13, 2002 at age 38, while playing in a
celebrity charity basketball game at the private Crossroads
School in Santa Monica, CA.
A few years earlier, when Ted Demme was the director of
Yo! MTV Raps and
Mark Pellington was one of the show's producers, they became
friends. Mark Pellington, of course, would go on from his MTV
award winning days, to become the director of Arlington
Road (1999) and The
Mothman Prophecies (2002).
Demme's uncle is Jonathan Demme, director of Silence
of the Lambs (1991) and The
Manchurian Candidate (2004).
John A. Keel (not yet)
On January 14, 2002, a story rapidly circulated via the
Internet communities that John A. Keel had just died.
Loren Coleman quickly put the rumor to rest by calling
Keel, and confirming that Keel was, indeed, still alive,
although Keel quipped that everyone should be told, "his
funeral is on Saturday and he will be wearing black."
Keel noted that this happened to him at least once
before, in 1967.
23, 2002 – North America’s FX cable channel screened the
documentary, Search for
25, 2002 - The Mothman
Prophecies opened across America. The music
soundtrack CD is released on the same date.
As the movie began screening on January 25, 2002, the original
witnesses, the Mallettes were attending a funeral in Point
Pleasant, West Virginia. Stephen Mallette, who was one of the
first four witnesses, was mourning the passing of his brother,
Charlie, due to a brain tumor.
Charles Putnam 'Charlie' Mallette, 43 of Point
Pleasant, died Thursday, January 22, 2002, at his home.
Mason County road deaths
The last week in January 2002, during that same initial movie
release time period, there were five fatalities in and near
Point Pleasant, in two crashes involving four automobiles on
January 26, and three other fatal wrecks in the next five
days. For rural Mason County, the eight road deaths in six
days was the most in 40 years, according to the State of West
Virginia. In one
major crash, two tractor-trailer rigs and a Volvo resulted in
the death of truck driver Richard Clement, 61, of Mukwonga,
15, 2002 - Tor reprinted John Keel's 1975 The
Mothman Prophecies in paperback.
On February 15, 2002, soon after the town was coming alive
with all the Mothman promotions and attention, one of Point
Pleasant's better-known Mothman eyewitnesses, Tom Ury suddenly
lost his 52-year-old brother Gary.
Ted Tannebaum, 68, the Executive Producer of The Mothman Prophecies, died of cancer, on March 7, 2002, in
Chicago, Illinois. He founded the Lakeshore
Entertainment Group (which produced the Mothman motion
picture) with partner Tom Rosenberg in the early 1990s. The
Mothman Prophecies would be Tannebaum's last movie.
23, 2002 - The Mothman
Prophecies opened in Australia.
Aaron Stephen Rebsamen, 14, unexpectedly died by suicide on
Thursday, May 23, 2002, in his Fort Smith, Arkansas home.
He was the beloved son of the well-known cryptozoology artist,
William Rebsamen, who did the cover illustration of Mothman
for the book, Mothman and Other Curious Encounters. Under a tight deadline
after the publisher rejected earlier images from another
source, Bill Rebsamen created the Mothman painting, overnight,
in one creative inspiration. Witnesses, such as Linda
Scarberry, upon seeing the Rebsamen full-length, colored
illustration of Mothman, said it is the best drawing, which
most matches what was first seen on November 15, 1966.
Webber Falls Bridge collapse (14 died)
While no direct link to Mothman has been made to this tragic
accident, after years of no major bridge collapses in the USA,
the timing seemed "spooky" to some.
Details are included here, although the victims are not
counted in the Mothman Death List total, yet.
Webbers Falls, fourteen people died after a barge collided
into an Interstate 40 bridge, sending cars, trucks and
trailers into the Arkansas River early Sunday morning, May 26,
2002. The bridge
crossed the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River waterway in eastern
Oklahoma. Seven women, seven men and at least 10 vehicles were
pulled from the river after one of two barges pushed by a
tugboat struck a pillar, collapsing a 500 to 600-foot section
of the bridge.
those lost were Andrew Clements, 35, who was traveling from
California to Woodbridge, Virginia; Jeanine Cawley, 48, of
Lebanon, Oregon; Margaret Green, 45, of Stockdale, Texas; Gail
Shanahan, 49, of Corpus Christi, Texas; Misty Johnson, 28, of
Lavaca, Arkansas; James Johnson, 30, of Lavaca, Arkansas; Paul
Tailele Jr., 39, of Magna, Utah; Wayne Martin, 49, of Norman,
Oklahoma; Susan Martin, 49, of Norman, Oklahoma; Jerry Gillion,
58, of Spiro, Oklahoma; Patricia Gillion, 57, of Spiro,
Oklahoma; David Mueggenborg, 52, of Okarche, Oklahoma; and
Jean Mueggenborg, 51, also of Okarche, Oklahoma; The Johnsons’
three-year-old daughter, Shea Nicole, was found floating
approximately one-half mile south of the bridge. She was one
of the 14 victims pronounced dead. The Johnsons were on the
way to the Tulsa Zoo.
medical examiner ruled the manner of death an accident on all
14 victims. Drowning was the cause of death on 13 of the
casualties. The medical examiner ruled Clements’ cause of
death blunt trauma to the head.
Dedmon, 62, Conway, Arkansas; Rodney Tidwell, 37, Ripley,
Mississippi; Max Alley, 67, Stroud, Oklahoma; and Goldie
Alley, 68, Stroud, Oklahoma, were all rescued from the murky
water. Dedmon, captain of the tugboat, said he apparently
“blacked out” minutes before the barge crashed into the
6, 2002 - The Mothman
Prophecies simple DVD (theatrical version only) released
in North America.
Along eastbound I-80 at Sparks, Nevada, near the railroad
tracks, the partially clad body of Sherry Marie Yearsley, 47,
was found on June 21, 2002. Passengers on a passing Amtrak
train spotted the body and notified authorities. Police said
Yearsley was a murder victim and her body had been dumped the
previous day, June 20, 2002.
At the time of her death, Yearsley was living with her
mother in Reno. County records indicated Yearsley was issued a
license in 1996 to marry Alfred Alsvary, who was incarcerated
at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in May 2002, on a
1- to 4-year sentence on drug charges. It was unclear if the
two ever had married.
and author Jim Keith were partners for several years in the
1980s, and parented two daughters, Verity and Aerica. They
separated around 1990, and engaged in a disruptive custody
battle over their girls. Yearsley lost the custody case when
Judge Mills Lane (later to become famous due to his court
television show), discovered Yearsley had been lying to him.
Today, the children live with their aunt Kathy, Jim’s
sister, in Oregon.
29, 2002 - Lifetime Channel aired the first showing of the
Mothman segment on Unsolved
15-17, 2002 - Point Pleasant, West Virginia, celebrated its
first annual Mothman Festival.
Julie Harrison, 29, an associate and good friend of the
members of the Portland, Oregon-based high-tech grunge band,
King Black Acid, died from the complications of an operation,
on November 17, 2002. King Black Acid did most of the songs
for disc 1 of the soundtrack CD for the movie The Mothman
Susan J. ''Minga'' Wilcox,
53, of Columbus, died of an extremely rare form of brain
tumor, ependymoma, which mostly strikes children under 12, at
Mt. Carmel East Hospital, December 8, 2002.
Wilcox had only been diagnosed with the condition two
months before. Wilcox saw a black "batlike" bedroom
invader in her Columbus, Ohio, home in February 2001, went on
to be a Mothman investigator, traveled to Point Pleasant
several times in 2001 and 2002, and created a personal
website: "Mothman: A Life Changed Forever."
She left behind a large envelope of her investigative
logs for her son, Brent Fair (also a researcher on such
matters), on which she had penned a note to him that read:
""B.R. Do not open until December 2002."
He found the date chilling and prophetic, in light of
when she passed away.
15, 2003 - The Mothman
Prophecies premiered on Cinemax cable television in the
19, 2003 - The Mothman
Prophecies premiered on HBO cable television in the USA.
6, 2003 - The Mothman
Prophecies - VHS released.
Known for his portrayal of Eliot Ness of The Untouchables, and
as the host of Unsolved Mysteries, Robert Stack, 84, died at
his home, on Wednesday, May 14, 2003. Robust and relatively
healthy, his death came as a surprise to many. Stack's wife
Rosemarie, who had just returned from a charity function,
found him slumped over in the couple's Los Angeles home at
about 5 p.m. on that day. The actor underwent radiation
treatment for prostate cancer in October 2002, but his wife
said he died of heart failure. Unsolved Mysteries was the only
regularly scheduled reality program to devote a serious
segment to Mothman, which they first broadcast on July 29,
27, 2003 - The
Mothman Prophecies: DVD Special Edition
released. It contains the David Grabias documentary, Search for the Mothman.
This DVD: SE began hitting stores a week later.
Jessica Kaplan, a crewmember on The Mothman Prophecies, died in the well publicized nose-dive plane
crash into LA's Fairfax neighborhood apartment building on
June 6, 2003. The Los
Angeles Times identified the pilot as Jeffrey T. Siegel,
the owner of a Santa Monica construction firm Siegel's family
said that Siegel and his niece, Jessica Kaplan, 24, were
flying to the family's second home in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Kaplan's family described her as a screenwriter who had
written for New Line Cinema. Jessica Kaplan is officially
credited as one of the production crew for The Mothman Prophecies. As part of the Art Department working on
that film about Mothman-linked disasters, Kaplan is listed as
a "scenic artist." Kaplan is also known as the
genius teen that sold a script to Hollywood for $150,000, when
she was 17. In 2004, that script will be released as the movie
Havoc, directed by
well-known documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple and starring
Mandy Moore. The Los Angeles crash occurred on Friday 6/6/2003
(note 2 x 3 = 6, thus Friday's date can be read as 666), but
then, that's probably only a coincidence.
Daniel Lee Carter II
On July 15, 2003, Daniel Carter, 34, died in Gallipolis,
Ohio. Carter, born April 20, 1969, had a short but
creative life, and died suddenly from a massive heart
attack. He was involved with the group of artists,
musicians, and photographers, all active people in the
Gallipolis-Point Pleasant area who gave the Mothman
investigations new life. His photographs of the old
buildings of the TNT area were featured in Donnie
Sergent's and Jeff Wamsley's
Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend (2002).
August 25, 2003: The Mothman Prophecies premiered
on British cable television network Sky Movies.
On August 26, 2003, Robert
Sanders, 44, was one of four deaths that happened in and
around Point Pleasant during the last week of August
2003, and he reportedly died by suicide. The Point Pleasant, W.V.
Daily Register noted: "Robert Sanders, 44, of Point
Pleasant, West Virginia, was dead on arrival Tuesday, August
26, 2003, at Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant. He
was born February 28, 1959, in Mason County, West Virginia,
son of the late Leon Allen Sanders, and Carol Louise See
Parsons. He was self-employed as a drywaller. In addition to
his father, he was preceded in death by a half-brother, Leon
Sanders gained membership on this list because he
reportedly is related to "Leo 'Doc' Sanders," who was
killed when the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15,
1967, and perhaps a survivor, Donovan Sanders.
During this unusual "death flap," the other people dying
included Ricky J. Doss, 37, of Greenup, Kentucky, who
drowned in a Mason County pond on August 27, 2003, and a
couple who were killed in an auto accident on Highway 35,
near the site of the old Silver Bridge. The paper reported:
"Charles W. Black, 84, of Henderson, W.V., a former resident
and business owner of Jackson County, Ohio, and Ella
Fletcher, his close friend and companion for several years,
died in an automobile accident on Tuesday afternoon [August
26] near Point Pleasant....Charles, a World War II veteran
of the Army Air Corps and former mayor of the town of
Hartford, W.V., and also the owner of a farm equipment
dealership in Jackson, was a 1937 graduate of Oak Hill High
School....Ella Mae Bechtle Fletcher, 75, of Henderson, W.V.,
was a retired employee of Holzer Hospital in Gallipolis,
Ohio. She was born September 28, 1927 in Pennsylvania, the
daughter of the late James T. and Evelyn (Earnest) Bechtle."
#00: Daman Bridge collapse (27+ died)
Just as with the Oklahoma bridge collapse, while no
direct link to Mothman has been made to this tragic
accident, the timing of such major bridge collapses
seems intriguing. Details are included here, although
the victims are not counted in the Mothman Death List
On August 28, 2003, 27 people, including 23 school
children (who were all in a mini-bus), died in the
collapse of a bridge in Daman, India. Daman is about 120
miles/200 kilometers north of Mumbai (formerly Bombay),
India, and is a former Portuguese colony that was
liberated in 1960. The 1105 foot (335 meter) long bridge
suddenly collapsed when both ends crumpled inwards.
Seven other individuals were missing and presumed dead.
The majority of the children were from Our Lady of
Fatima Convent High School. (The Mothman Prophecies
had premiered in India earlier in August 2003.)
September 14, 2003: The Second Annual
Mothman Festival was held at Point Pleasant, and an
stainless steel sculpture of a butterfly-like Mothman
created by Bob Roach of New Haven was unveiled. Hayrides and
tours of the TNT area were given during the early evening,
after a day of local speakers and a visit from Bill Geist of
CBS Sunday Morning. The Geist report was originally
broadcast on September 28, 2003, and then repeated on August
December 15, 2003: The 36th anniversary of the collapse of
the Silver Bridge is acknowledged in the Gallipolis-Kanauga,
Ohio, and Point Pleasant, West Virginia, area, with a
remembrance in honor of the victims of the accident.
December 26, 2003: A request by the Mason County Commission
to place signs at both ends of the Silver Memorial Bridge
identifying it as such is "reasonable," the West Virginia
Department of Transportation communicated in a letter
announced on this date. The bridge has been "unofficially"
known as the Silver Memorial Bridge for many years. The span
was opened in 1969, less than two years after the collapse
of the nearly 40-year-old Silver Bridge that previously
linked downtown Point Pleasant with Kanauga, Ohio, and State
British actor Sir Alan Bates, 69, died the night of December
27, 2003, at a hospital in London after a long battle with
Bates played "Alexander Leek" in the 2002's The Mothman
Prophecies. The character's "Leek" was a name game based on
author-investigator John A. Keel's moniker. The activities and
intellectualizations portrayed by Richard Gere's "John Klein"
and Alan Bates' "Alexander Leek" in The Mothman Prophecies
were fashioned after the real-life John A. Keel.
Bates was best known for his performances on screen in films
like Women In Love and The Fixer, and more recently in The
Mothman Prophecies. Bates' very close friend, John Schlesinger
died July 25, 2003, at age 77, at Palm Springs, California. In
2002, Bates accepted the Philadelphia Festival of World
Cinema¹s Artistic Achievement Award for Direction on behalf of
John Schlesinger. Bates gained notice through appearing in
Schlesinger's films, especially these three: A Kind of Loving,
An Englishman Abroad, and Far from the Madding Crowd.
Schlesinger had also helped introduce Richard Gere, in the
1979 film Yanks to film audiences. Bates was born on February
17, 1934, in Allestree, Derbyshire, England, UK. Bates married
actress Victoria Ward in 1970. Their twin sons, Benedick and
Tristan, were born in 1971. Tristan died during an asthma
attack in 1990; Ward died in 1992.
December 30, 2003: At Kittaning, Pennsylvania (population
4,787), a near suicide took place. In The Mothman
Prophecies, the bridge collapse's outdoor scenes were
filmed on the Kittaning Citizens Bridge. The site was used as
a stand-in for the Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant, which
collapsed on December 15, 1967. On the evening of December 30,
2003, Christopher Shaffer, 30, of Kittaning, while walking
home, discovered a man was preparing to jump into the frigid
waters of the Allegheny River, off the Kittaning Citizens
Bridge. After several minutes of conversation, the would-be
jumper allowed Shaffer to help him back onto the bridge's
walkway. Shaffer suggested they go somewhere they could talk.
As they walked off the bridge at the corner of Water Street,
they were met by Kittaning police chief Ed Cassesse, who was
off duty, but happened to be at Armstrong 911 (local rescue)
when several phone calls concerning the incident came in. A
Betty Jane Mulligan
On March 8, 2004, Betty Mulligan,
82, of Pine Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, an
engineer, gardener and actress, died. Her daughter, Judy Brant, also of
Pine Township, noted her mother appeared as an extra in at
least fifteen movies, including Lorenzo's Oil, The
Silence of the Lambs, and The Mothman Prophecies.
July 19, 2004: The August 2004 issue of Fortean Times
went on sale in London, with distribution to the USA, late
in July. It contains the first publication of "The Mothman
Death Curse" by Loren Coleman.
On July 30, 2004,
Jennifer Barrett-Pellington, 42, wife of The Mothman
Prophecies director Mark Pellington, died, in Los
Angeles, and was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.
Ms. Barrett-Pellington was born December 18, 1961. The
LA Times reported on August 3, 2004: "Costume designer
Jennifer Barrett-Pellington died after an ongoing
illness... Ms. Barrett-Pellington
was born December 18, 1961. The LA Times reported on
August 3, 2004: "Costume designer Jennifer Barrett-Pellington
died after an ongoing illness at age 42. Ms. Barrett-Pellington
began her career as a model, but switched to costume design.
Her credits include Arlington Road and the short Jon
Bon Jovi film Destination Anywhere. Ms. Barrett-Pellington
was the wife of director Mark Pellington who directed
Arlington Road. Her husband included a 'Special Thanks'
credit in his film The Mothman Prophecies to his wife
for her support of him on that film. Prayers of comfort for
her family and friends, especially her young daughter."
Then late in August 2004, Variety announced that Mark
Pellington who had joined as the director of a new Harrison
Ford movie in July, was bowing out. The reason was
wife's death after what was called a "brief illness" by
Variety. "I am unfortunately stepping down from the job
of directing the film The Wrong Element due to the
recent tragic loss of my beloved wife Jennifer," Pellington
said in a statement to Variety. "It is a difficult
time, and having suffered the loss of my life partner and
mother to my child, I would not be able to commit the time
and energy and focus at this point needed to truly
successfully helm the film."
On August 13, 2004, Martin Becker, 49,
a special-effects coordinator and the co-owner of Reel
Efx, an innovative North Hollywood company, died of
pancreatic cancer at his Glendale,
California, home. Like Jennifer Barrett-Pellington, Becker
received a special "Thank You" from director Mark Pellington
for his assistance during the filming of The Mothman
Prophecies. The LA Times detailed some of
Becker's accomplishments in its August 21, 2004 issue: "Reel
Efx, which Becker co-owned with Jim Gill, specializes in
creating mechanical effects for national commercial
campaigns. The company, begun in Becker's garage 20 years
ago, was a pioneer in "frozen moment" multi-camera
technology. It created a photographable man-made tornado
that has been used in TV shows and commercials and is used
on the "Twister" attraction at Universal Studios Florida.
The company also created a man-made fire tornado (used by
magician David Copperfield), as well as a high-speed wind
machine and industry-standard diffusion hazers. A Glendale
native, Becker launched his film career as a carpenter at
Universal Studios. Among his special-effects film credits
are Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Bachelor
Party (1984), How to Make an American Quilt
(1995) and four of the Friday the 13th films."
August 20, 2004: The Mothman Prophecies premieres on
the cable network TNT. The irony, of course, is that the
first "media-acknowledged" sightings of Mothman occurred in
the TNT area.
August 29, 2004: The CBS News Sunday Morning re-broadcast
Bill Geist's report on the Mothman Festival from 2003, in
which John A. Keel is shown in one of his rare appearances,
all dressed in a white suit.
Raymond H, Wamsley
On Wednesday, September 15,
2004 at 10:04 am, for some reason, I wrote to various
Mothman associates and groups, asking questions about the
relationship among the Wamsleys. There are two Wamslys
involved in the Silver Bridge collapse - a survivor (William
Frank) and a person who died (Marvin) - in two separate
cars. Also the family name Wamsley comes up in
the witness accounts from the early Mothman days, and more
recently as one of the coauthors of a book on Mothman (see
On the 16th, I again wrote:
"Okay, I'm beginning to build a better picture of what is
going on regarding the Wamsleys and Mothman.
"During the famed so-called 'second sighting' of Mothman, on
November 16, 1966, in which Marcella Bennett had her famous
encounter, Wamsleys were there too. Specifically, Mr. and
Mrs. Raymond Wamsley were with Bennett that night."
Soon thereafter, it was learned that the local papers in
Gallipolis and Point Pleasant had announced that Raymond
Wamsley of Henderson died on Wednesday, September 15, 2004.
Later Donnie Moore confirmed this was the same individual as
had been an eyewitness on November 16, 1966, who had
accompanied Marcella Bennett.
The Charleston, Daily Mail, discussing the funerals for
Raymond H. Wamsley Raymond H. Wamsley, 57, of Henderson died
Sept. 15, 2004. Service will be 1
p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, at Deal Funeral Home, Point
Pleasant. Friends may call from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
at the funeral home.
Later, in 2004, I would confirm through information
found in various archives about the passing of Robin
Chaney Pilkington, who died on October 24, 2001 (above),
and that Raymond H. Wamsley was Marcella Bennett's
September 18, 2004: Point Pleasant's annual Mothman Festival
took place in the wake of the worst local flooding in
decades, thanks to Hurricane Ivan. The annual Mothman
Festival kicked off with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at
the Mothman Statue in Point Pleasant¹s Gunn Park, under
sunny skies. One of the well-publicized highlights was the
debut of Point Pleasant¹s Mothman comic book by Chad
Lambert, and the Waterford (Ohio) High School Marching Band
performing music from "The Mothman Prophecies" And, of
course, the famed hayrides, which depart from the West
Virginia State Farm Museum toured the home of The Mothman ‹
the TNT area. Media covered included a local television
station (Channel 13), Animal X's Australian crew, and
independent filmmakers from Michigan and California.
December 24-30, 2004: The LA Weekly column, "The List
2004: Mike Davis' 6 Remarkable Ways to Die," picked this
"Mothman Curse" as his #3.
Mark E. Chorvinsky
On July 16, 2005, Mark Chorvinsky of Rockville, Maryland
, died after his
relatively quiet battle with cancer. Chorvinsky was born
on March 4, 1954. A magician from the age of seven,
Chorvinsky acquired an
interest in mysteries, and a desire to explain them. He
founded and edited
Strange Magazine from 1987 until his death. Three
investigations of his
overlapped with Mothman mysteries - his interest in the
photograph, his debunking of the Owlman reports of Tony
"Doc" Shiels, and
his interviews with people who sighted what Chorvinsky
called the "Potomac
The "Potomac Mothman" involved a sighting on July 27,
1944, at 8:30 p.m., by
Father J. M. Johnson, pastor of St. John's Church in
Johnson, who was outside watching an approaching storm,
and saw in the sky,
"the outspread form of a huge man with wings."
Chorvinsky learned of this in
January 1990, then ten months later, in October, he
interviewed actor Mike
Judge (apparently *not* the actor-creator of Beavis and
Butthead, and King
of the Hill), a resident of Potomac, Maryland. Judge
recalled that in 1968
or 1969, when Judge was eight or nine years old, a big
Mothman flap took
place in the area. These two cases became the foundation
"Return of the Mothman" inquiries, which we recalled
anew with the release
of The Mothman Prophecies in 2002.
Chorvinsky's death at the early age of 51 was a shock to
the Fortean and
cryptozoological communities, few of whom knew he was
On August 10, 2005, the Travel Channel visited Loren
Coleman at his museum, interviewing for almost three
hours for their program, "Weird Travels." A major
concentration was the many questions about Mothman. At
the end of the interview, as the camera crew were
beginning to do B-roll taping, they asked Coleman to
raise a window. A cracked pane of glass split and sliced
the palm of Coleman's hand, resulting in three hours in
the hospital and stitches.
Do you know others? Contact Loren