The Monster and the Saucer


By Gary Barker

January 1953


The huge shape with the weirdly glowing eyes was seen by seven witnesses. Was it an alien life form?

On September 12, 1952, the nation’s wire services crackled with news of a 10- foot, red-faced monster, which sprayed a foul, sickening gas and frightened seven Flatwoods, W.Va., residents into panic.

“It looked worse than Frankenstein,” Mrs. Kathleen May, one of a party who climbed a hill to investigate a flying saucer sighting, told reporters.

Shortly afterward I went to Flatwoods, a small town of 300, and spent three days subjecting these seven people, and other residents of the area, to rigorous questioning. If this story were true, I felt it deserved factual reporting; if it were a hoax I wished to explode it.

The stories obtained from the seven different persons who had been present were heard separately. Although their accounts did not reach the terrifying proportions originally reported, and some of them had taken on color through retellings and leading questions, their stories agreed, except in very minor details. And try as I might, I could not break these stories down.

On that terrifying night reports of strange lights and objects in the skies were prevalent from Ohio eastward to Washington D.C., and from Virginia northward to Pennsylvania. About seven o’clock, just as it had become dark, Mrs. May, a beautician, was told by her two small sons, Eddie 13, and Fred 12, that they had seen a “flying saucer” land on a hilltop above their house. The two May children had been at a nearby playground with Gene Lemon 17, Neil Nunley 14, Ronnie Shaver 10, and Tommy Hyer, also 10.

The “saucer” which the children described to me, “looked like a silver dollar rushing through the sky,” spouting an exhaust which looked like red balls of fire. It came southwestward across the sky and, directly over the hilltop, paused, seemed to hover, and descended out of view on the other side,

The group ran to Mrs. May’s home, at the base of the hill, and the two May children told their mother about the object. She insisted it was “just their imaginations,” until she looked upward and saw a strange red glow. Gene Lemon found a flashlight and led the party up the hill after Mrs. May agreed to accompany them.


Although not definitely timed, not more than a half-hour could have elapsed from the time of the sighting and the movement Lemon screamed with terror and fell backward, and the party fled from the sight before them.

I am now listening to tape-recorded interviews, correlating details, and sifting out those which do not exactly agree or might be colored by the horror and excitement of the moment.

The story told with least emotion is that of Neil Nunley, and the exact words I will quote will be his. Nunley impressed me as being a very level-headed and unimaginative youngster. He was very definite on what he saw and what he did not see.

He and Lemon were ahead of the others. Before them, up a roadway leading to the hilltop, they could see a reddish light pulsating from dim to bright. As they approached they encountered a mist which resembled fog but which carried a pungent, irritating odor. It seemed to become denser as they walked farther.

As they went over the hilltop, through a gateway, they saw a globular object down over the hill to their right, about 50 feet away.

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