Editor’s Note: The following post, written by Guest Author Dr. Vhitz of Monster Digest (drvhitz.com), is a rebuttal to the speculation presented in our previous post The Many Faces of the Derenberger Incident, wherein a connection was drawn between the characters Indrid Cold and the Grinning Man. Dr. Vhitz is a popular blogger at Monster Digest and is something of an authority on characters such as are included in these tales.
For at least six months I have been studying everything I can find dealing with the Point Pleasant Mothman case for a project I’m working on. I read John Keel’s “The Mothman prophecies” years ago and thought I had a good understanding of the story, but there is much more to the Mothman mythos than just the Keel book, and there are many questions and misunderstandings. One of these issues involves the connection between the so-called “Grinning Man”, and the strange man who seemed to come from nowhere, “Indrid Cold”.
John Keel was traveling around the country interviewing UFO witnesses for a series of articles he was writing for Playboy magazine when he learned about a story involving two boys in Elizabeth, NJ. The boys had reported an encounter with a very large Grinning Man. The tip came from a guy named Gray Barker. Barker was an early UFO investigator and a known hoaxer, Barker was also the one who investigated the Flatwoods Monster case back in the 1950′s. After hearing of the story Keel and two others traveled to NJ to interview the two boys, Martin Munov and James Yanchitis. The boys said that they were walking near the NJ Turnpike at about 9:45 pm on October 11th, 1966, when they saw a man standing behind a tall chain link fence. At first the man had his back towards the boys, but then he turned around and the description given by the two is bizarre. The Grinning Man was said to be very tall, over 6ft 2in, with a broad build and wearing a sparkly green one piece jumpsuit with a big black belt. Strangest of all however was his face, the man had a broad ear to ear grin which the boys said appeared to be permanently fixed and did not seem to have ears or hair, just broad set beady eyes. Keel seemed to have been impressed with Munov and Yanchitis and believed they were relating a real event as they had experienced it. The John Keel account of the Grinning Man is the beginning and the end. If you search for more you will find no other story of the Grinning Man, only a retelling of Keel’s story and perhaps recent urban myth that has no connection to the original report.
About three weeks after the Grinning Man report, a man named Woodrow “Woody” Derenberger was returning to his home in Mineral Wells, West Virginia, after a successful sales trip to Athens, Ohio, it was about 7:30 pm on November 2nd, 1966, Derenberger was driving on Interstate 77 and he could see the lights of Parkersburg in the distance. Derenberger then noticed a vehicle approaching from behind at a high rate of speed and as it passed he could see that this was no ordinary vehicle, it had no wheels, it was floating a short distance above the road. The strange-looking craft was like a cylinder with a big bulge in the middle and fire shooting out both ends according to Woody. The craft moved over into Derenberger’s lane and forced him to stop. A man then exited the craft and approached Derenberger’s truck. Woody described the man as being close to 6 ft tall with dark brown hair combed straight back and having a good suntan. Woody said the man had a smile on his face and was wearing a dark overcoat and a dark blue suit that was somewhat shiny. Derenberger made it clear that the man whom he would later call Indrid Cold was a very normal looking guy. John Keel spoke with Derenberger on several occasions and did not believe his story and I would have to agree with Keel. Woody’s story continued to grow, eventually Woody even claimed to have been taken by Indrid Cold to a non-existent planet called Lanulos.
As you can see the Grinning Man and Indrid Cold are not related in any manner. In the end I think while both stories are interesting, there’s really not a lot of substance. Munov and Yanchitis saw a big strange-looking man and got scared. Woody Derenberger either made up a story or was suffering from some rather serious mental illness.