PRUFON NEWS (Puerto Rico UFO Network News) is an English
language site, which publishes news articles about the UFO
phenomenon and other paranormal events, serving the
island's English speaking community, the U.S. mainland
and the world.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Flatwoods Monster


This sighting commonly known as the Flatwoods Monster and sometimes as the Braxton County Monster or the Phantom of Flatwoods, which occurred near the town of Flatwoods in Braxton County, West Virginia (United States). It is one of the most bizarre alien encounters or close encounters of the third kind ever recorded in the history of ufology and one of the earliest UFO and alien encounters, which occurred about 5 years after "Roswell UFO crash" and about 9 years before the famous "Alien abduction of Betty and Barney Hill", but still remains a mystery. UFO investigators are divided into pros and cons with refuting evidence on both side, but one thing is certain, the surviving witnesses have adamantly stuck to their encounter to this day.

Chronology of the events:

On September 12, 1952, at 7:15 pm (19.15 hours), at the little village of Flatwoods, with a population of only 300 inhabitants, located in the hills of West Virginia, some youngsters were playing football on a school playground when they suddenly noticed a fiery object streaking across the night sky and headed towards a nearby hill. One of the boys, Neil Nunley, said that the glowing object might be a meteorite. He knew that fragments of meteorites are collected by scientists, so he suggested they all go look for it.

However, the bright red light had slowed down when it got to the nearby hill, then went around it, crossed the valley and appeared to hover momentarily before descending on the hilltop adjacent to a farm belonging to G. Bailey Fisher.

The boys watched attentively as the bright orange flare faded to a dull cherry glow near where the object had descended. As three of the boys, two brothers: Edward May (age 13) and Fred May (age 12) and their friend Tommy Hyer (age 10), headed up the hill toward the lights, they saw them circling in sequence a couple of times. The lights served as a beacon for them, showing them where the object was.

They ran up the main street, crossed a set of railroad tracks and came to a point where there were three houses; one of them belonging to the two brothers’ mother, Mrs. Kathleen May (32 years old at the time). She came out of the house to learn what was happening and where the boys were going. They informed her about the lights on the hill and that "A flying saucer has landed." She said that she wanted to go with them. Before they left, Mrs. May suggested to Eugene 'Gene' Lemon, a 17-year-old West Virginia National Guardsman, that he should go and get a flashlight.

Mrs. Kathleen May, accompanied by the three boys and other local youngsters Neil Nunley (age 14), Ronald Shaver (age 10), and Eugene Lemon found the path that lead up to the hill. They opened and then closed a gate and continued along the winding path. Lemon (who brought along his dog) and Nunley were in the lead while Mrs. May and her son Edward were following and they were being trailed by Ronald Shaver and Ted Neal (age 10). Tommy Hyer was in the rear, not far behind the others.

An unnerving encounter:

As they approached the final bend in the path, Lemon’s large dog, which had been running ahead, suddenly began barking and howling and moments later ran back to the group with its tail between its legs, obviously frightened. Lemon noticed, as the dog passed him, that a mist (perhaps smoke) with an awful smell was spreading around them. As they got closer to the top of the hill, they all detected a pungent metallic odor that made their eyes and noses burn.

On the hilltop they suddenly saw in front of them, a big "ball of fire" about 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter at a distance of about 50 feet (15 meters). It was pulsating orange to red and hovered above or rested upon the ground. The night was completely dark and Mrs. May later remarked that as they neared the area, "It was foggy and there was a mist in the evening air ".

Mrs. May spotted two small lights by a nearby tree and thought that they were the eyes of an owl or some other animal. Lemon looked to his right and also noticed the two small lights underneath an oak tree and to the left of the pulsating object. Both lights were separated about a foot (30 centimeters) apart. When Lemon  directed his flashlight towards those two lights, an animal was not revealed, but a towering 12 foot (3½ meters) tall figure with a round, bright red "face" surrounded by a hood-like headgear pointed on top (resembling the ace of spades). It had large bulging and glowing pale blue non-human eyes which shot out beams of light. Its body was described as being human-like and clad in a bright green pleated skirt. It also had short stubby arms ending in long claw-like fingers, which protruded from the front of its body.

The creature was observed temporarily and then it suddenly lit up and glided towards them soaring a few inches off the ground and emitting a shrill hissing sound. It then changed direction and headed off towards the pulsating red sphere. At that moment Lemon screamed, dropped his flashlight and fainted. As the group fled in panic, they instantly grabbed Lemon’s limp unconscious body and scurry in terror back down the hill as fast as they could to the May house.

Mrs. May was so scared, that while running, she jumped over a 4 foot (one meter) high wooden gate in one leap. Some of the kids when they got to a six foot (1.82 meters) tall metal gate, they climbed over it, crawled under it or went around it running as fast as they could for their lives.

They finally reached May’s house where they were able to regain Lemon’s consciousness. Mrs. May attended to the kids, as they were hysterically crying. Some of the kids’ noses were bleeding and were all scraped up from falling. She immediately thereafter, called the local Sheriff Robert Carr and Mr. A. Lee Stewart, co-owner of the Braxton Democrat, a local newspaper. Stewart convinced Lemon to lead them back to the spot of the sighting. He agreed when a number of adults arrived at the May house armed with rifles, shotguns and flashlights.

About a half-hour to an hour later they all headed back up the hill including Stewart, Lemon and another reporter from a different newspaper to search for the strange creature. None of the men seemed to be too excited about going up the hill and in less than a half an hour they were back, claiming that the grass at the scene appeared to have been trampled down and there was the strong sickening burnt metallic odor was still prevailing, but there was no sign of the monster.

Stewart conducted a number of interviews and later reported that all of the observers were trembling and extremely frightened by what they had encountered.  

Investigation of the reported encounter:

Still others, including the sheriff, eventually arrived. Most of them didn't bother to mount any sort of search and the sheriff, who was clearly skeptical, refused to investigate further than talking to May and the boys. But since the sheriff had been searching for a downed light aircraft reported earlier, he and deputy, Burnell Long, did report to the area separately, but apart of the foul odor, no evidence of an aircraft accident was found and no one reported an aircraft missing. 

The next day, there were some follow-up investigations. Some people reported that they had found an area where the grass had been crushed in a circular pattern. Ufologist and biologist Ivan T. Sanderson, who visited the scene a week later, said that he and his fellow investigators were able to see the crushed grass and a slight depression in the ground. No one bothered to photograph this reported physical evidence.

Gray Barker, a UFO researcher, also arrived a week later and coincidently on the same day as Sanderson, also found others to interview. He talked with A. M. Jordan, Neil Nunley’s grandfather who said that he had seen the flash of an elongated object flying overhead. It was shooting red balls of fire from the rear and it seemed to hover before it fell toward the hilltop.

Barker also interviewed Nunley, whose description of the object disagreed with that of his grandfather though he did say the object seemed to stop and hover before falling to the hill. This disparity may have come from the different perspectives of the witnesses. Sometimes the angle from which something is viewed seems to change the shape and the direction.

Other witnesses:

Despite several refuting explanations presented by skeptics, the eyewitnesses were not dissuaded from what they had seen.  And due to their inflexible beliefs prompted well-known ufologists from around the United States to do thorough investigations and found other witnesses in the vicinity that were not present at the hill the night of September 12, but have seen a UFO and/or the creature before or after that date. 

Two Californians, a married couple that investigated the UFO phenomenon, William and Donna Smith, associated with Civilian Saucer Investigation L.A., obtained a number of accounts from witnesses who claimed to have experienced similar or related phenomena. These accounts included the story of a mother and her 21 year-old-daughter that lived about eleven miles (17.7 kilometers) from Flatwoods. She claimed to have encountered a creature with the same appearance that gave off the horrible odor a week prior to the September 12 incident. The encounter reportedly affected her daughter so badly that she was confined to Clarksburg Hospital for three weeks.

William and Donna Smith also gathered 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. In addition, the director of the local Board of Education reported that he has seen a flying saucer taking off at 6:30 on the morning of September 13 (the morning after the creature was sighted).

The following night after the encounter other unusual incidents occurred. A resident of Birch River testified that he had seen a "bright orange" object circling over the Flatwoods area. Well-known investigator, John Keel, made observations from the Flatwoods incident and found another couple who had observed the monster and had also seen unusual objects over the area. The case was also investigated by the ufologist and biologist Ivan Sanderson who gathered soil samples and eyewitness reports. His findings were not made public. 

 The illnesses of the witnesses:

Those who encountered the creature on the night of September 12 reported being overcome with similar symptoms that lasted for a while. These illnesses were said to have been caused by being exposed to the mist (or smoke) emitted by the creature. The symptoms included irritation of the nose and swelling of the throat. Lemon suffered from vomiting and convulsions throughout the night and had difficulties with his throat for several weeks afterward.

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 event.

Please note: The dog that had run first to the top of the hill and returned to the group with its tail tuck behind its legs, vomited and then died two days later.

1952 a year of UFO sightings:

If this bizarre incident were not enough, the year 1952 was filled with waves of UFO sightings around the world. But the most affected country was the United States of America where the first atomic bomb was exploded. Therefore, it was in an era that had practically caused hysteria among the people and the flying saucers were seen over military and nuclear installations, including the airspace over the White House. Consequently, the U.S. Air Force attempted to identify the sightings in two forms.

1) Project Blue Book to interview witnesses and to amass data.

2) To launch jet fighters to pursue and identify the numerous unidentified aerial objects that had flown over civilian and military installations.  

Skeptics argue that the UFO was a meteor and the creature was an owl. Obviously they saw something that scared them to death and they stubbornly stuck to what they have seen despite the skeptics’ assertions.

Was the flying object a meteor?

The skeptics and the U.S. Air Force declare that what they saw was a meteor. This declaration does not match the eyewitness accounts that the object was seen circling around Flatwoods, hovering over the hill before making a smooth landing.  This was not only witnessed by the kids, but by other residents in the area. A meteor (also called a shooting star or falling star) dashes across the sky hardly visible, usually goes in a straight line and when it hits the ground, it makes a loud noise and a big hole, scattering debris. Nothing like that was seen, heard or found.

Was the creature an owl?

The senseless explanation that it was an owl has been disproven by some of the most renowned UFO investigators (Like nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman and Frank Feschino, Jr. who has investigated this case for over 25 years) because the monster was seen way under the lowest branches on the 100 foot (30 meters) tall oak tree and the lowest branches exceeded 12 feet. This creature was estimated to be about 12 feet (3.5 meters) tall. Some have asked that if it were an owl, then why the witnesses not saw it as such, even after shining a flashlight right at it? Owls aren’t 12 feet (3.5 meters) tall and if it were an owl perched on a tree branch, how can the tree and the owl come charging at them? According to the witnesses, this creature’s eyes were light blue and were shooting out beams of light. The creature was identified as having a bright red face surrounded with a hood-like headgear pointed on top (resembling the ace of spades). Again, this is not a description of an owl.

A local reporter, Mr. Stewart, had 5 of the kids to draw the monster separately and the drawings made by each one are remarkably similar (see the images on the left).  Do these drawings look like owls?

Frank Feschino, Jr., who has been investigating the Flatwoods encounter, has concluded that the fiery object seen flying over Flatwoods was engulfed in flames and pieces were falling off from it, obviously was in trouble. The object appeared to be looking for an isolated place to land since it kept circling the area before deciding to land on a well-chosen spot, being one of the highest hills in Braxton County.  Feschino also said that the 12 foot tall Flatwoods monster was actually a mechanical type device (a robot) and the sulfur smell was actually part of an exhaust system that made the particular machine hover. In other words, the bright green "pleated skirt" was actually some types of vertical tubes that shot downward the noxious gas that made the mechanical device hover and being the noxious odor which they encountered on the hill making the kids sick the entire night.  

The 100 foot (30 meters) tall white oak tree, closest to where the Flatwoods monster was seen hovering and where the gassy smoke seemed to originate from began to die and rot shortly after the incident, exposing its core.

Charred organic matter was found strewn near the tree and where the monster was seen, giving credibility to what the witnesses saw.


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Although there have been many unexplained sightings in the town of Lajas, the situation there has been hyped by the amount of lies and exaggeration by a group of so-called, "ufologists" who ignore other areas of Puerto Rico to promote tourism in Lajas. That was evident when my wife and my daughter confronted a terrifying experience in the town of Aguada with extraterrestrials and that group of charlatans refused our plea for help. Of course, if it happened in Lajas they would have jumped on the opportunity for fame and tourism for that town. Those hoaxes and lies were approved and sanctioned by the then mayor of that town who named route 303 "The extraterrestrial route". The idea of building an "UFOport" (ovnipuerto), “la llorona sightings" and the biggest hoax of them all, "that a UFO crashed there" all this could only be found in a science fiction novel.

By Nelson C. Rivera
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The dancing alien

About me

Ufologist, criminal investigator, musician, artist and writer.

I worked 20 years for the New York City Department of Correction. First as a Correction Officer for 4 years, Captain for 12 years, and as a Deputy Warden for 4 years. As a law enforcement officer and supervisor, I have conducted countless of criminal investigations, some for unimaginable allegations.

On June of 2005, after my retirement, I moved to Puerto Rico with my family where my wife and my daughter faced extraordinary experiences with extraterrestrials. These alien encounters, subsequent abductions of my wife and the lack of help from so-called, "ufologists" here on the island, prompted me to become involved in the field of ufology and in the need to help others who have had similar experiences.


PRUFON, Puerto Rico UFO Network, Inc., is a nonprofit organization which conducts serious no nonsense UFO investigations. Our aim is to find the truth and answers to some of the toughest questions pertaining to UFO sightings, alien encounters and alien abductions, etc. We are not affiliated with any other ufology organization in Puerto Rico or in the world. PRUFON was founded in the city of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico on September of 2009 to share with the public what we have accomplished and researched in the related fields of ufology.

This internet network ( offers a different perspective on life, and works hard to keep you informed about unexplained phenomena occurring on the island of Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean. We collect and gather information dealing with the Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and other unusual events that the mainstream news media and science fail to expose to the public, fail to study or acknowledge.

Any unusual encounter or sighting that you have had and wish an investigation and/or wish to publish it on this website, contact PRUFON at You will remain anonymous if you state it in writing.

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