Unsolved Mysteries of the World

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The Grafton Monster, Grafton West Virginia

Season 4, Ep. 12

Grafton, West Virginia is a unique town that showcases its railroad boomtown years and wealthy mining history through extraordinary architecture, landscaped parks and pop-up mansions. The small city center is surrounded by small farms and extremely dense forests. Its big city living in rural America. The humble populace is quick to point out two claims to fame for the town. The invention of Mother's Day there in 1908 and well...the other claim to fame...the thing that prowls on the outskirts of town, the thing in the forest...the Grafton Monster.


This is Unsolved Mysteries of the World Season 4 Episode 12 The Grafton Monster.


It was late at night, around 11pm on June 16th, 1964 when Robert Cockrell, a reporter for the Grafton Sentinal newspaper was heading home from the office. Driving along Riverside Drive, which parallels the Tygart River, he pressed his accelerator down picking up speed to about 50 Mph. He knew the road well, and knew that there would be no traffic this late at night. He rounded a wide curve and began accelerating when he exited the corner on the long stretch of straight pavement that lay before him.


Suddenly, he laid off the gas as his headlight beams hit something out of place. According to Robert Cockrell it appeared to be “a huge white obstruction on the right side of the road standing between the road and the riverbank on a cleared-off section of grass.”


Instinctively, he applied the brakes and noted that the out of place object was in fact a living beast, the likes of which he says he had never seen before. He claims the beast was stark white, with slick, seal like skin, or a covering, at least, that appeared to resemble seal skin. More oddly, it appeared to have no head.


His foot quickly went from brake peddle, back to the accelerator and he pressed it down to the floor board. He raced home, parked his car, went inside, locked his door and sat down on his sofa with a drink. His hands were trembling.


Twenty minutes later, with his nerves back he decided he should at least investigate. He called on two friends to join him and together they returned to the straight stretch of road where Robert claims to have seen the beast but after searching up and down the roadway, along the riverbank and into the forest a short distance they concluded that whatever was there was no where in sight.


They found no tracks but noted that where Robert had seen the beast, the grass was firmly mashed in to the ground. As they were about to give up on the search and call in a night, they heard an odd, low whistling sound coming from the direction of the river. The three noted that the whistling sound seemed to follow them no matter what direction they went to investigate. First, it was by the river, then down the road, then in the forest. They could not find the source and with the evening turning into the morning hours they decided it would probably be best to return in daylight and concluded the search.


Robert Cockrell went to work the next day, but did not mention his sighting, nor his search there afterwards. He sat at his typewriter and finally, after talking himself into it, he walked into his editor's office and told him about the encounter. The editor told Robert that they would publish a small piece about the incident and perhaps the public would be intrigued or have a possible answer to the mystery.


The June 18th edition of the Grafton Sentinel had a small article written by Robert about the sighting. The newspaper was quickly bought up that morning and word of the beast spread through town creating anxiety, hysteria and bravado. Suddenly, the small town of Grafton turned into the base for one of the largest monster hunting expeditions ever. More than a hundred adults and teens, armed with flashlights, mallets, crowbars, pitchforks, baseball bats, shotguns, revolvers and hunting rifles started searching the river bank and forested area where the monster was first sighted.


More than twenty searchers said they saw it while out monster hunting. Robert Cockrell interviewed the witnesses in detail and one teen suggested the creature was an escaped polar bear, but no one could determine where or what a polar bear was doing in Grafton, West Virginia.


The next day, with the town in a frenzy, local police started their own investigation. With the hysteria of the Grafton Monster now making news across West Virginia, county and state authorities also joined in on the hunt. Together, they made an extensive search of the area and found no evidence of a monster.


Police had more potential issues arising, however, as more than a few hundred people now descended on the town with an extensive armament of firearms. The roads were bumber to bumper with monster hunters.


It is by no coincidence, then, that The Grafton Sentinel printed off another article that day dismissing the monster as a “wildly imaginative story” inspired by “spring fever” and the areas “lack of recreational facilities.”


Authorities were relieved as the monster hunting wound down and no one was accidentally shot or hurt in the process.


Robert Cockrell, however, knew what he saw, and quietly pursued his investigative reporting. He found reports, both earlier than his own, and some afterwards, of a creature matching his description up and down the Tygart River as far as 180 miles away. He never reported these in print.


As he collected more evidence, he contacted a native West Virginian named Gray Barker, who was a writer and researcher into the UFO phenomenon. He was best known for his 1956 book They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers which introduced the now known phenomenon as The Men In Black. Gray Barker was also interested in strange creature sightings like the Flatwood's Monster that may have a direct correlation with his study of UFOs.


Robert convinced Gray Barker that his sighting was not a practical joke and what he had seen, indeed was real. Soon after, Barker drove to Grafton and interviewed Robert as he wanted to write up the case for a popular UFO Magazine. Gray wrote the article, but for some reason it never made print. The letters, notes, photographs and newspaper clippings were placed into record with the Gray Barker Collection in West Virginia.


In the notes, Robert goes into much more detail about the monster explaining that it was between seven and nine feet tall, four feet wide, had a seal like texture to its skin, and no visible head. He noted the monster did not move as he passed by.


Gray indicated that the monster may be headless or that because of its bulk, its head was tucked close to its chest. He made notes indicated further investigation would be required.


In 2014, a highly sensationalistic and ridiculous television show called Mountain Monsters featured the Grafton Monster. They showed very hazy images captured at a long distance of spooked cattle and what appears to be a tall creature like form moving through the trees. The personalities on the show got excited to see the creature first hand, but, as it turns out, the camera never shows what they are looking at and instead, and purposefully, simply shows the men's poorly acted reactions.


In 2018, gaming company Bethesda developed the next game in the popular Fallout Series, Fallout 76, which takes place in West Virginia. In the game, players can visit the Moth Man Museum and encounter various creatures born of a post nuclear era. And with West Virginia folklore melted into gameplay, The Grafton Monster makes an appearance as well.


The towering mutant is headless, has seal-like skin and is a formidable opponent best suited for the more hardened vault dweller.


As Fallout 76 has placed a spotlight on West Virginia, stories once forgotten about The Grafton Monster are now emerging.


“I have seen the creature called 'The Grafton Monster' several times when I was a young man and it is very real. My first encounter I was with my Father cutting wood. We had finished and we’re loading the truck, when our two dogs started barking. We stood there and listened, something was walking, getting closer. My Dad told me to get the gun from the cab (He carried a double barrel 10 gauge with 00 buckshot).Whatever it was had picked up it’s pace and continued toward us. All we knew for sure was, it was big and wasn’t scared of us, the dogs or the chainsaws. It stopped about 50-55 yards from us in the tree’s and went quiet. My Dad pulled both hammers back and stood in front of me, told me to be ready. The next thing that happened I’ll never forget. It stepped out, looked at us, took 3 strides in our direction, turned and walked back into the tree line. That was my first sighting of the beast and I’ll never forget it. My 2nd encounter was about 2 months later at night, fishing alone. I spotted him on the opposite bank and I got the hell out of the area” says an eyewitness.


“I saw the monster near the river early in the morning. It saw me and instantly froze. It did not move. I was fishing at the time and left all my gear there and started to run away. As I ran, and turned I saw that it, too, turned away and started running off. As I got near my truck and began opening the door I heard a whooshing sound and a bright light appear above the tree line. I drove off and got my gear two days later.” says another witness.


Robert Cockrell may have been on to something when he started corresponding with Gray Barker. It seems every time an eyewitness has seen the Grafton Monster, other eyewitness in the area reportedly have seen strange lights in the sky or even saucer shaped discs flying at incredible speeds. Grafton, itself has been a hotbed for UFO activity.


West Virginia is also no stranger to weird creature sightings from Moth Man to the Flatwood's Monster to the Apple Devil's. But these stories will have to wait for future episodes.


More Episodes

10/7/2019

The Haunted Old Idaho State Penitentiary Part Three

Season 6, Ep. 15
Welcome to Unsolved Mysteries of the World Season 6 Episode 15, The Old Idaho Penitentiary Part IIIIn the 1940s and 1950s the Idaho Penitentiary again was suffering from overcrowding and a new cell house was constructed. Cell Block #5 held the worst of the worst with maximum security cells, a death row, its very own indoor gallows and drop house.This housing unit is rumoured to be the most haunted of all the buildings on the property, even though, only one official hanging took place within. It was also that last State sanctioned execution in Idaho taking the life of Prisoner # 9509 Raymond Allen Snowden in the most unethical way.On the evening of September 23rd, 1956 Cora Lucille Dean drove to the Hi-Ho Club in Garden City, where she intended to have a few drinks and play the slot machines. Here she met a young man named Raymond Snowden who she found no only attractive, but fun to be around. When the two had a few drinks, Snowden wanted to take things a bit further and pressured Cora. When his advances were denied he threatened Cora in a frightening manner asking her to choose between rape and death. Cora obviously taken aback chose neither and that made Snowden angry who produced a pocket knife and stabbed Cora 29 times.The body, which was found the next morning by a paper boy, was viciously and sadistically cut and mutilated. An autopsy surgeon testified the voice box had been cut, and that this would have prevented the victim from making any intelligible outcry. There were other wounds inflicted while she was still alive — one in her neck, one in her abdomen, two in the face, and two on the back of the neck. The second neck wound severed the spinal cord and caused death. There were other wounds all over her body, and her clothing had been cut away. The nipple of the right breast was missing. There was no evidence of a sexual attack on the victim; however, some of the lacerations were around the breasts and vagina of the deceased.Snowden took the dead woman's wallet hailed a passing motorist and rode back to Boise. There he went to a bowling alley and changed clothes. He dropped his knife into a sewer at a Cigar Shop and threw the wallet away. Then he went to his hotel and cleaned up again. He put the clothes he had worn that evening into a trash barrel outside the hotel.Police narrowed in on Snowden almost immediately as eye-witnesses pointed out that Snowden had left with Cora that evening from the Hi-Ho Club. Police also, remember Snowden from a previous encounter as to which he boasted he was going to sever the spinal cord of his then girlfriend because she was irritating him.They found the weapon, the same one they remember him previously threatening with, still covered in blood in a sewer grate near Hannifin's Cigar Shop. Another eye-witness placed Snowden there and that was enough for an arrest to be made.During the trial it was brought to the attention of the media that Snowden had boasted of two other murders, but they were never confirmed. A detective magazine at the time dubbed Snowden, "Idaho's Jack the Ripper" in view of the viciousness of the crime.Snowden was found guilty and sentenced to death. He took up residence in Death Row with his door in view of the indoor gallows to which he would make his way to on October 18th, 1957.At 12:05 he was brought into the gallows room and met with the Chaplain. The noose was placed around his neck and the witnesses in the viewing room got their first look at Snowden. The door sprung just 45 seconds later. Down went Snowden and the crowd gasped. It seems the Warden and those responsible for carrying out the deed did not measure Snowden's height or weight, and s such the counter-weight was not calculated correctly. Snowden fell, but he did not break his neck instantly. Instead, in the catch room, he struggled and swung about for 15 minutes until he finally died. Some say it was an oversight, while others believed the authorities did this on purpose to make Snowden's death one of suffering.Snowden's hanging was the last of a total of ten men to occur at the prison and his body was buried in an unmarked grave on prison property. Some believe that Snowden haunts his Cell, Cell Block #5 and the hanging room. But Snowden may not be the only soul still doing time at the Pen. There are a total of 129 recorded deaths within the walls.Due to overcrowding and the treatment of prisoners serious riots occurred in 1952 and again in 1971. The 1973 riots proved to be the end of the Old Idaho Penitentiary as riots burned down several buildings and damaged others beyond repair. The 416 resident inmates were moved to the new Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise and the Old Idaho Penitentiary was closed on December 3, 1973, never to see another living soul imprisoned behind its stone walls.If you are interested in the Old Idaho State Penitentiary you can visit them daily where tours are conducted by volunteer staff. Special events around Halloween turn the prison into one goulish haunted attraction. More recently, the Pen has been giving Paranormal Investigation Tours.Special thanks to all those volunteering to keep such a historic gem alive. Thank you to the Idaho State Historical Society for their excellent resources and dedication. We will attach a bonus episode that was produced by the staff of the Idaho State Pen with funding from the Idaho State Historical Society.It focuses in on the prison's only double hanging. If you like what you hear, head over to their youtube page to see additional videos.We will leave you now with the words and memories of prisoners and staff from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.Until Next Time.....Be good.