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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

Image credit: stockxpert

Night jumpers

Posted on Saturday, 3 April, 2010 | 5 comments
Columnist: William B Stoecker

Since time immemorial people have reported encounters with fabulous and often terrifying creatures, many of them seemingly supernatural and able to appear, haunt a region for a time, and then vanish. Even the ones that appear to be real, live physical animals are, apparently, never killed or captured. People all over the world have legends of dragons and of sea and lake monsters, most of them described in remarkably similar terms, and usually they resemble recent accounts of lake monsters supposedly haunting the depths of Loch Ness, Lake Champlain, Lake Okanogan, and other locales. People almost everywhere have legends of other races of humanoid beings living here on Earth or in some realm very near to us, often located underground, or reached by journeying underground. These include a bewildering array of giants, dwarves, gnomes, fairies, elves, and leprechauns, many of them resembling the beings that, today, are associated with UFOs. UFO experiencers have reported diminutive grays, reptoids (also reported in swamps and other desolate areas even when no UFOs are observed), mantis-like insectoids, seemingly human “Aryans,” and, less commonly, a variety of other creatures. In ancient times people saw trolls and wild men; today they report Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and the yeti.

Sometimes these hairy humanoids are associated with UFOs. Then there are the Men in Black, or MIBs that reportedly question or even harass or threaten UFO witnesses; some suspect that these beings may themselves be UFO entities and possibly supernatural. In addition, there are seemingly normal, well known animals that appear out of place, like the phantom “panthers” and other big cats seen in England. The term “panther” refers to a big cat with a black coloration, most common among the spotted cats like leopards and jaguars. Somehow these big cats always seem to elude capture, rather like the kangaroos reported in the US; I shall have more to say about them later.

Writers such as Loren Coleman and the late John Keel have researched and written entire books on this subject, but a brief summary can be useful, and helps us to see similarities between many of these creatures. With a little study, intriguing connections and patterns emerge.

One of the classics is a thing called Springheel Jack, so called for its ability to leap to great heights and over long distances. For the sake of argument, let us assume that at least some of the reports of this terrifying apparition are more than just hoaxes or hallucinations. Jack, usually described as a tall, thin, muscular man (or humanoid) with glowing red eyes and claws, was first reported in England in 1837. He, or it, was always clad in a black cloak, and some witnesses reported tight white or gray clothes beneath the cloak. Some believed he wore a kind of helmet, and a few mentioned a lamp. Almost all the witnesses said that he had pointed ears (like elves and other legendary humanoids) and an evil, even demonic face. At least one person reported that Jack spoke English. In October, 1837 one Mary Stevens said that he tried to rape her, and that his skin, when he seized her, felt clammy and cold. Several women reported receiving minor injuries from him, and many people said that he breathed what seemed to be white or blue flames, which never seemed to burn anyone. He was once seen leaping out of a cemetery. Whatever he was, he was remarkable for his longevity, for he was reportedly seen by a British soldier at Aldershot barracks in 1877, and was seen in Liverpool in 1904. Jack or something very similar was seen by a number of people in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1939; he was referred to as a “spring man,” and called “Perak.” On 6/18/1953 in Houston Hilda Walker, Judy Meyers, and Howard Phillips described a being resembling Jack perched high in a pecan tree by an apartment complex; they described the tight clothes and the cape. In the nineteen seventies in Cornwall people reported an “Owlman” during a period of numerous UFO reports. This may have been Jack or something more nearly resembling Mothman, or, possibly, just an owl. In 1997 a man named Marshall claimed that he saw Jack, complete with the high jumps, in South Herefordshire near the Welsh border. In Coloma, Chile on 4/5/2001 there was a report of a wingless, flying humanoid. In addition, there have been a number of such reports from Mexico. Jack’s spectacular leaps may well be described as flight; there may be no real division between creatures that perform great leaps and those that fly or even hover.

Skeptics will no doubt point out the resemblance of allegedly paranormal or extraterrestrial entities to the descriptions and illustrations of such creatures in popular fiction, even in comic books. Capes, hoods, helmets, pointed ears, and glowing eyes are common characteristics for such fictional creations, and the skeptics are prone to suggest that the reports were inspired by the literature. But, given the antiquity of such descriptions in popular folklore, it could just as well be the other way around.

Another creature reported over and over by literally hundreds of witnesses over more than a century is the Jersey Devil. A popular legend tells us that a certain “Mother Leeds,” back in the eighteenth century, had twelve children and announced that the Devil could have number thirteen. When the thirteenth baby arrived it was a grotesque monster that promptly flew away and has haunted the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey ever since. There is not a shred of evidence for this rather improbable tale, but there is massive evidence for the Jersey Devil’s existence. It is usually described as a winged, flying biped with hooves. Sometimes it is said to have a face rather like that of a horse, or, possibly, a kangaroo. It was supposedly witnessed by Commodore Steven Decatur and by Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s brother).

And then there is Mothman, also able to fly. Numerous residents of Charleston and Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia from about 11/1966 through 12/67 reported encounters with a winged flying monster with glowing red eyes. Some witnesses said it had no head separate from the body, and its eyes seemed to be at the top of its chest area. It was most often seen near an abandoned WWII era explosives factory in the McClintic Wildlife Management Area about seven miles north of Pt. Pleasant. On 11/12/66 five gravediggers saw it in a graveyard; note that Springheel Jack was also reported leaping (or flying) out of a cemetery, and these are traditionally regarded as haunted places. Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette said that it chased their car, flying alongside as the four of them tried to escape. Some witnesses reported a humming sound (as with some UFOs) and said that its wings never flapped and that it could rise straight up in the air. Skeptics have said that a large owl, seen at night, would resemble Mothman, and that its eyes, reflecting (for example) car headlights, would have a red shine. All of this is true, and it is also true that people unconsciously exaggerate the size of things they see, and are sometimes prone to panic and misidentify common objects or animals. But the vertical flight and stationary wings are hard to account for, and owls do not chase cars. In addition, there were a good many UFO reports in the area at the time, and several people reported mysterious strangers somewhat resembling MIBs. On the night of 12/15/67 the James Lilley family, who lived near the explosives factory, reported UFOs. That night the Silver Bridge that spanned the Ohio River collapsed, apparently due to a poorly made suspension chain component, killing 46 people. There is no reason to suspect that Mothman caused the collapse, but many residents of the area feel that the creature was an omen, a warning of impending catastrophe.

Regarding the skeptics’ suggestion that Mothman was merely an owl, remember the “owlman” reported in Cornwall. Owls, in folklore, are regarded as witches’ familiars, and at the mysterious Bohemian Grove north of San Francisco there is a huge stone owl; reportedly the wealthy and powerful people who attend gatherings at Bohemian Grove perform strange rituals around the owl; videotapes are available as evidence of this, and I have personally seen the picture of the owl on the door of the Bohemian Club (they own and operate the Grove) in San Francisco.

And then there is Chupacabra, Spanish for “goat sucker.” The animal is so named because it reportedly sucks the blood from domestic animals, which are often found dead, with all their blood gone, and only one or two small holes in the carcass. Note the overlap here with other UADs (unexplained animal deaths), particularly cattle mutilations where no blood is present, as if it had somehow been sucked out. The first known Chupacabra reports were in Puerto Rico in the early nineteen nineties; skeptics were quick to claim that the animals killed were the victims of feral dogs and that the witnesses were hoaxers or were hallucinating. Again, this is certainly possible…but how do we explain the absence of blood? Chupacabra was soon reported all over Latin America and beyond, from Chile to the Carolinas. The animal is usually reported as being fairly small, somewhat humanoid, with fangs, a forked tongue, and glowing red eyes. It is often said to have a reptilian appearance, with gray-green skin and a row of spines down its back. It has a sulfur smell, often reported in paranormal encounters, and associated with demonic activity. It is possible that people are actually smelling ozone, caused by ultraviolet radiation or electrical discharges, but no one knows for sure. Bigfoot is often reported as having a foul (but not sulfurous) smell. Puerto Rico, next to the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, has a lot of limestone rock and a good many caves, so perhaps the creature, if it really exists, dwells underground . And one more thing. Like Springheel Jack, Chupacabra is said to leap or hop about…rather like a kangaroo.

And just as big cats are reported in England, where they are not native, kangaroos are reported in places like Chicago…only they may not really be kangaroos, but something disguised as kangaroos. On 10/19/1974 an unidentified woman supposedly called the Chicago authorities to report a missing kangaroo, but there was no explanation of why she had a kangaroo to begin with. Whether or not such a report was even made, Chicago police officers Leonard Ciangi and Michael Byrne did in fact try to capture a large kangaroo between two houses on Meade Avenue between Cornelia Avenue and Eddy Street near Jefferson Park, but it escaped after kicking and scratching them. They had been called by homeowners, several of whom saw the creature. The next day a boy named Kenneth Greishamer saw it while delivering newspapers. Later reports were in Plano, fifty miles from Chicago, and, only a half hour later, back in Chicago. Unless every last one of those people, including the police officers, were lying or hallucinating, where could such a kangaroo come from? How could it travel fifty miles in thirty minutes? How could it vanish from a large urban area, never captured, never killed, never struck by a car or attacked by dogs? But there have been a good many such reports of phantom kangaroos, mostly in the Midwest, in Wisconsin (in the late 1800s), Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and Kentucky. Some witnesses reported that the kangaroos vanished into thin air or even hopped through walls with no damage done. In 1934 people in Tennessee reported seeing a kangaroo and blamed it for killing and eating rabbits, geese, and even large dogs. Now, Kangaroos, far from being harmless, cuddly creatures, can, in fact, turn violent, and have even attacked people in Australia with no real provocation, injuring several. But they are not carnivores…they do not eat meat or drink blood.

So, once more, we are seeing strange connections and patterns. There is a connection between strange creatures and unexplained animal deaths. Some seemingly ordinary but out of place animals seem to have supernatural powers and may even kill domestic animals. And Springheel Jack, Chupacabra, and the phantom kangaroos are all described as hopping or making great leaps. As mentioned previously, there is no sharp line between what seem to be long jumps and actual flight, between the leaps of Springheel Jack and the flights of Mothman. And, again and again, there seem to be connections between UFOs and strange creatures and ghosts and poltergeists. Could all of these rather disturbing phenomena, including cattle mutilations, have one common cause? Could there be evil, even demonic entities that fly about or jump in the night and attack us or our pets and livestock?

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

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