MAD GASSERS!
Phantom Attackers in Virginia & Illinois

Books on the Unexplained from Whitechapel Press

INTO THE SHADOWS
American Unsolved Mysteries & Tales of the Unexplained by Troy Taylor


MYSTERIOUS ILLINOIS
The History, Mystery & Unexplained of the Prairie State 


Myth or Real Card Series
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There is no greater phantom attacker in the history of the unexplained in America than the legendary “Mad Gasser of Mattoon”, a bizarre figure who wreaked havoc in a small Illinois town in 1944. This creature turned out to be so elusive that law enforcement officials eventually declared him nonexistent, despite dozens and dozens of eyewitness reports and actual physical evidence that was left behind at the scene of some attacks.
 
Making matters even more interesting was a series of nearly identical attacks that took place in Botetourt County, Virginia in 1933 -1934. Social scientists declared that the attacks in Mattoon had been nothing more than mass hysteria, but how could the Illinois residents have known anything about the events in Virginia, which were barely publicized, in order to duplicate them so closely?

Both of these series of attacks involved a mysterious figure (dressed in black) who came and went without warning, left little in the way of clues behind and for some reason, sprayed a paralyzing gas into the windows of unsuspecting residents. The gas was never identified in either case and both cases involved fairly isolated areas where the attacks took place. The homes that were attacked in Virginia were in a rural county and Mattoon, at that time, was a small, Central Illinois town with no large cities in the vicinity. Also, police officials were totally stumped in both cases.

So, who (or what) attacked the unsuspecting citizens of Illinois and Virginia? Was it a mad scientist? A government agency? A visitor from another planet? No one will ever know for sure, but the annals of the unknown are plagued with cases of inexplicable attackers who appear and vanish without explanation, prey on the unsuspecting without warning and then vanish completely, leaving no trace behind. Could such attackers come from another time and place? Another dimension? I’ll let the reader judge that for himself. Just remember though, if these attacks can happen in the places that follow - they are capable of happening anywhere… even where you live!

The Mad Gasser Strikes!
The story of Illinois' Mad Gasser begins not in Mattoon in 1944, but rather in Virginia in 1933. There is no proof to say that the work in the two cases was completed by a single attacker, but the events were so similar that it would be ridiculous of us not to admit that the coincidence of it being two attackers is extreme.

In 1933, Botetourt County, Virginia was a quiet area of the state and had never really experienced much out of the ordinary. That all began to change on December 22 when the home of Mrs. and Mrs. Cal Huffman, near Haymakertown, was attacked by a mysterious figure that was unlike anything seen, or even heard of, in the region before.

At around 10:00 that evening, Mrs. Huffman stated that she grew nauseated after smelling a strange gas that had been apparently sprayed into her house. She decided to go on to bed, but her husband remained awake and alert to see if the lurker who had sprayed the gas might return. A half-hour later, another wave of gas filled the room and Huffman immediately went to the home of his landlord, K.W. Henderson. Here, Huffman telephoned the police. An Officer Lemon was dispatched to the scene and he stayed until around midnight. Immediately after he left, another gas attack was launched on the property, filling both floors of the house. All eight members of the Huffman family, along with Ashby Henderson, were affected by the gas. Ashby and Cal Huffman had been keeping watch for the return of the prowler and thought that they saw a man running away after the attack.

According to reports, the gas caused the victims to become very nauseated, gave them a headache and caused the mouth and throat muscles to restrict. Alice, the Huffman’s 19 year-old daughter, was most affected by the gas and she had to be given artificial respiration in order to revive her. She was said to have experienced convulsions for some time afterward. Her doctor, Dr. S.F. Driver, later reported that while part of her condition was caused by extreme nervousness over the attack, he had no doubt that the gas attack was responsible for the fact that her condition continued.

However, no one could determine what kind of gas was used (Dr. W.N. Breckinridge, who assisted with the police investigation, ruled out ether, chloroform and tear gas) or who could have sprayed it into the house. The only clue that Lemon found at the scene was the print of a woman’s shoe beneath the window the attacker was thought to have sprayed his gas through.

The next attack took place in the Botetourt County town of Cloverdale. Clarence Hall, his wife and two children came home from a church service at around 9:00 on Christmas Eve. Five minutes after they entered the house, they smelled a strange odor. Hall went into one of the back rooms of the house to investigate and came back moments later, staggering and swaying. His wife, who also felt nauseated and weak, had to drag him outside. The effects of the gas did not linger with Mr. Hall but Mrs. Hall experienced eye irritation for the next two days. Dr. Breckinridge again helped the police and he noted that the gas “tasted sweet” and that he detected a trace of formaldehyde in it. He still had no idea what the gas was though and investigators again found only one clue at the scene. Apparently, a nail had been pulled from one of the windows. Was this to make is possible to spray the gas inside?

Another attack occurred on December 27 when A.L. Kelly, a welder from Troutville, and his mother were sprayed in their home. Oddly, the police learned that a man and a woman in a 1933 Chevrolet had been seen driving back and forth in front of Kelly’s house around the time of the attack. A neighbor managed to get a partial plate number on the car but the police were unable to locate it.

No attacks took place over the next two weeks but on January 10 the Gasser struck again at the home of Homer Hylton, near Haymakertown. Hylton and his wife were upstairs asleep and their daughter, Mrs. Moore, whose husband was out of town on business, was sleeping downstairs. Around 10:00, she got up to attend to her baby and later recalled that she heard mumbling voices outside and someone fiddling with the window. Moments later, she said that the room filled with gas and as she grabbed her child, she experienced a “marked feeling of numbness.” The window where the noises came from had been slightly broken for some time and this may have allowed the Gasser access to the house. Author Michael T. Shoemaker, in an excellent article on the subject for Fate magazine in 1985, suggests that we could theorize that Mrs. Moore was simply spooked by the wind blowing through the crack in the glass if not for the voices that she heard. Again, some might say this was only her imagination as well but for the fact that a neighbor, G.E. Poage, also heard voices around the same time.

Also on January 10, a Troutville man named G.D. Kinzie was also attacked. This case was not reported until later and was different from the others. Apparently, Dr. Driver investigated his case and stated that the gas used in the attack was chlorine. Chlorine was then mentioned in several subsequent accounts until a Roanoke chemistry professor later ruled it out as a possible cause.

After a few quiet nights, the Gasser returned on January 16, this time attacking the home of F.B. Duval near Bonsack. Duval left the house to summon the police and as he reached a nearby intersection, saw a man run up to a parked car and speed away. He and Officer Lemon spent several hours driving around searching for the car, but they found nothing. The next day, Lemon again found the prints of a woman’s shoes, this time where the car had been parked.

On January 19, the Gasser struck again. This time, gas was sprayed into the window of a Mrs. Campbell, a former judge’s wife, near Cloverdale. She was sitting near the window in question and moments after seeing the shade move, became sick.

A few nights later, the gas attacks reached their peak with five attacks taking place over a period of three nights. The first attack took place on January 21 when Howard Crawford and his wife returned to their home between Cloverdale and Troutville. Mr. Crawford went into the house first to light a lamp but quickly came stumbling back out. He was overwhelmed by the gas, which Dr. Driver again said was chlorine. Police officers were again able to find only a single clue at the house - the crank of an old automobile. The metal crank seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the attack, but it was simply to strange of an item to be left behind. On the other hand, it was also too common of an item in those days to be traced.

On January 22, three separate attacks occurred in Carvin’s Cove. In just one hour’s time, the Gasser covered a distance of about two miles, attacking in order moving southward, the homes of Ed Reedy, George C. Riley and Raymond Etter. In each of the houses, the victims all claimed to have numbness and nausea. Riley called his brother, a Roanoke police officer, and a blockade of the nearby roads was quickly put into place. Although the Gasser managed to elude the authorities, one of Mr. Etter’s sons claimed to see a figure disappearing from the direction of the house. He gave chase and even fired a few shots at the man from a distance of 30 yards, but he got away.

On January 23, Mrs. R.H. Hartsell and her family spent the night with some neighbors and when they returned to their Pleasantdale Church home at 4:30 a.m., they discovered that the house had been filled with gas. For some bizarre reason, someone had also piled wood and brush up against their front door during the night. The only possible motive that I can see for this would have been to keep the family from easily escaping once the house was filled with gas. This means that the elusive Gasser must have believed the family was home at the time of the attack.

This new series of gassings had the entire community in an uproar. Families who lived in more isolated areas began spending the night with friends and neighbors, hoping to find security in numbers. Local men began patrolling the roadways at night, armed with shotguns and rifles. The local newspaper, the Roanoke Times, stated that it was sure the gassers would be caught and it pleaded with the farmers not to shoot anyone.

The authorities were now growing more concerned. Prior to this, they had believed the gassings had been nothing more than pranks played by some mischievous boys. Now the county sheriff’s office was forced to admit that if this had been the case, the boys would have been caught long before. They had begun to investigate the idea that a mentally deranged person might be the culprit, perhaps even an unhinged gas victim from World War I.

On January 25, the Gasser may have attempted to strike again, but this time was foiled. Around 9:00 on that evening, a dog at the home of Chester Snyder began barking. Alerted, Snyder jumped out of bed and grabbed his shotgun. Darting outside, he ran across the yard and fired a shot at a man that he saw creeping along a ditch that was about 20 feet from the house. Apparently though, the shot went wide and Snyder only had one shell in his gun. He ran back inside for more ammunition but by the time he returned, the man was gone.

He called the police and a deputy sheriff named Zimmerman investigated the scene. He managed to find footprints that led from the road to the ditch and signs that the prowler had hidden behind a tree on the property for some time before the dog sounded the alarm. More tracks led from the tree to the house and then stopped, marking the point where the man had retreated. Visitors who had left the Snyder home shortly before the happening recalled seeing a man about a half-mile away on the road. There was, of course, no real evidence to say that the prowler was actually the Gasser, but based on the events that had been occurring, any sort of incident like this was immediately suspect.

On January 28, the Gasser did manage to pull off another attack and he would actually return again to this same residence and attack again. The home belonged to Ed Stanley of Cloverdale and Stanley, his wife and three other adults were all affected by the still mysterious gas. Frank Guy, a hired hand on the farm, ran outside immediately after the gas filled the house and stated that he saw four men running away in the direction of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He ran back inside to get his gun and when he returned to the yard, he couldn’t see the fleeing figures, but could hear them in the woods. He fired several shots in the direction of the voices but felt that it was unlikely that he hit anything.

The Gasser returned again two nights and again attacked the Stanley House. This time however, Stanley heard a sound outside the window before the attack took place. What happened after that remains a mystery as no further details were reported in the contemporary accounts.

The last of the likely authentic gas attacks took place in Nace, two miles from Troutville, on February 3. The house that was attacked belonged to A.P. Scaggs and he and his wife, along with five other adults were all affected by the gas. The group was so badly hurt by the gas that Sheriff Williamson would tell the skeptics who later emerged over the gassing cases that “No amount of imagination in the world would make people as ill as the Skagges are.”

The attack became as dramatic as the first attack on the Huffman family and author Michael T. Shoemaker noted that perhaps the Gasser wanted to mark his entrance and exit with large attacks. Another similarity to the Huffman attack was that it seemed as though the gas was sprayed into the house two times that evening, although investigator Lemon stated that he believed lingering gas near the ceiling could have been responsible for what seemed to be a separate attack. The gas had some pretty strange effects on the people in the house, as one of Scagg’s nephews began screaming hysterically that he was “trapped” in the house, and on the family dog as well. Officer Lemon returned to the house to continue his investigation the next day and one of the children came in crying that the dog was dying. Lemon went out and saw that the animal was rolling over and over in the snow, just as dogs do when they are sprayed by a skunk. As no skunk odor was present, this certainly seemed odd. A witness later told Michael Shoemaker that the well-trained dog was sick and would not pay attention to commands for some time after the incident.

It was at this point that the story began to deteriorate. During the following week, there were 20 attacks reported in nearby Roanoke County and a number of other reports in Lexington, about 30 miles away. And while a few of the later “attacks” may have been genuine, they lacked the detail of the original incidents and most were likely hysterical reactions to ordinary odors or the result of hoaxes perpetrated by pranksters. In one of these hoaxes, a teenager threw a bottle of insecticide into a woman’s window and a similar incident on February 9 gave the police and the newspapers the opportunity to declare that the Gasser mystery was over.

The last “insecticide” case did have some interesting aspects to it however. At the time when J.G. Shafer of Lithia believed his house was gassed on February 9, he went outside and scooped up some snow that contained a sweet-smelling substance. It was analyzed and was determined to contain sulfur, arsenic and mineral oil, which was commonly used in insecticide sprays. This caused the police to dismiss the attack as a hoax, but was it really? Strangely, investigators found footprints leading from the front porch of the house to the barn, but no trail that led away from this building. It was as if whoever had been on the porch had then walked into the barn and simply vanished. Also, as with some of the other earlier cases, a “woman’s tracks” led from the yard to the road.

The later cases that came along led the general public to swallow the unconvincing theory that faulty chimney flues and wild imaginations had caused the entire affair. Those who were attacked and police officers involved, like investigator Lemon, never accepted this explanation. However, the ongoing cases of panic did not help to convince the non-believers to reconsider. Actually though, looking back on the case now, the later cases actually helped to show that the original cases were not hysteria. The later cases did not follow the pattern of the original attacks, occurred outside of the already established area, took place at no particular times and did not cause any lasting physical effects. It should also be noted that the original attacks, while taking place in Botetourt County, were spread out enough throughout the area that neighbors could not infect one another with hysteria.

So if mass hysteria was not the answer in the Mad Gasser of Botetourt County case, then could a natural explanation have been to blame? This also seems unlikely for explanations like pollution and faulty chimney flues don’t hold water when the reader examines the factors in the case, including the selection of victims, times of the evening, intense police investigations and of course, the fleeing figure (or figures) that were seen running away from the residences in question. The hoaxer, or even the lone lunatic, theories are not much better either. Even though a mysterious figure was often seen, there were never any useful clues left behind and the identity of the Gasser was never discovered.

It was almost as if the strange figure left Virginia and vanished without a trace, never to return again. And while perhaps the Gasser did not return to Botetourt County, could he have possibly surfaced in Illinois 11 years later?

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon
Mattoon, which is located in the southeastern part of Central Illinois, is a fairly typical example of a rural Midwestern town. The strange events that took place here in 1944 however, were anything but typical. These events would place the small city under the scrutiny of the entire nation and would one day become a textbook case of what authorities and psychologists called "mass hysteria". But was it really? Could the legendary “Mad Gasser” be simply starting over again in a new location?

The whirlwind of events would begin in the early morning hours of August 31. A Mattoon man was startled out of a deep sleep and complained to his wife that he felt sick. He questioned her about leaving the gas on in the kitchen because his symptoms seemed very similar to gas exposure. The woman tried to get out of bed and check the pilot light on the stove, but found to her surprise that she could not move. Just minutes later, according to published reports, a woman in a neighboring home also tried to get out of bed and discovered that she too was paralyzed.

The next evening, a woman named Mrs. Bert Kearney was awakened by a peculiar smell in her bedroom. The odor was sweet and overpowering and as it grew stronger, she felt paralysis creeping into her legs and lower body. She began screaming, and drawing the attention of her neighbors, was able to alert the police. The following day, she would complain of having burned lips and a parched mouth and throat from exposure to the gas. A hasty search of the yard by police officers, and her shaken neighbors, revealed nothing. But that would not be the last strange event to occur at this particular house...

Later that night, when Mr. Kearney returned home from work, it was just after midnight. He spotted a man lurking near the house who would later fit the descriptions of the "Mad Gasser". The stranger, according to Kearney, was tall and dressed in dark clothing and a tight-fitting black cap. He was standing near a window when Kearney spotted him and the odd man ran away. Kearney pursued but was unable to catch up with him.

The events in Mattoon soon became public knowledge and panic gripped the town. The story was badly handled by the authorities and the local newspaper reported the Kearney case, and subsequent others, in a wildly sensational manner. The newspaper is believed by many to be the culprit behind the "Gasser hysteria". Years later, the newspaper would be blamed for everything that happened in the case and for manufacturing the scare. The frightened citizens, according to these skeptics, took leave of their senses and began to imagine that a “mad gasser” was wreaking havoc in the town. This particular approach has been considered by many to be the simple explanation for the affair, but it certainly does not eliminate all of the evidence for something very bizarre to have happened in Mattoon.

By the morning, of September 5, the Mattoon police department had received reports of four more "gas attacks". All of the victims complained of a sickeningly sweet odor that caused them to become sick and slightly paralyzed for up to thirty minutes at a time.

That night would be the occasion when the first real clues in the "Mad Gasser" case would be discovered. They were found at the home of Carl and Beulah Cordes, but what these clues meant has yet to be discovered. The Cordes were returning home late that evening when they found a white cloth lying on their porch. Mrs. Cordes picked it up and noticed a strange smell coming from it. She held it up close to her nose and was overwhelmed with nausea. In minutes, she seemed to have a severe allergic reaction to it as her lips and face swelled and her mouth started to bleed. The symptoms would disappear in about two hours. The police investigated and took the cloth into evidence. They also found a skeleton key and an empty tube of lipstick on the porch. They decided the prowler was probably trying to break into the house but had failed.

The police believed that the cloth was connected to the other gas attacks. It should be noted however, that the odor on the cloth caused different symptoms in Mrs. Cordes than in the other victims. She did feel sick to her stomach but there were no sensations of paralysis. The case itself is also different because if this was the Gasser, it is the only time when he actually tried to gain access to the home of his victims. Could his intentions in this case have been different?

The Gasser attacked again that same night, but he was back to his old tricks and sprayed his gas into an open window. There would only be one other report that even hinted that the attacker tried to break into the house. The woman in this instance claimed that a "person" in dark clothing tried to force open her front door. Was it really the "Mad Gasser"?

The attacks continued and Mattoon residents began reporting fleeting glimpses of the Gasser, always describing him as a tall, thin man in dark clothes and wearing a tight black cap. More attacks were reported and the harried police force tried to respond to the mysterious crimes that left no clues behind. Eventually, the authorities even summoned two FBI agents from Springfield to look into the case, but their presence did nothing to discourage the strange reports. Panic was widespread and rumors began to circulate that the attacker was an escapee from an insane asylum or was an odd inventor who was testing a new apparatus. Interestingly, I was sent a letter in 2002 from a woman who explained to me that her father grew up in Mattoon during the time when the gas attacks were taking place. He told her that there had been two sisters living in town at the time who had a brother who was allegedly insane. A number of people in town believed that he was the Gasser and so his sisters locked him in the basement until they could find a mental institution to put him in. After they locked him away, her father told her, the gas attacks stopped.

Armed citizens took to the streets, organizing watches and patrols to thwart any further attacks, but several took place anyway. The gas attacks were becoming more frequent and the attacker was leaving behind evidence like footprints and sliced window screens. This evidence would become particularly interesting after the revelations of the authorities in the days to come.

A group of citizens did manage to arrest one suspect but after he passed a polygraph test, he was released. Local businessmen announced that they would be holding a mass protest rally on Saturday, September 10 to put more pressure on the already pressured Mattoon police force. Now, the Gasser was becoming more than a threat to public safety, he was becoming a political liability and a blot on the public image of the city.

The Gasser, apparently not impressed with armed vigilantes and newspaper diatribes, resumed his attacks. The first residence to be attacked was that of Mrs. Violet Driskell and her daughter, Ramona. They awoke late in the evening to hear someone removing the storm sash on their bedroom window. They hurried out of bed and tried to run outside for help, but the fumes overcame Ramona and she threw up. Her mother stated that she saw a man running away from the house.

A short time later that night, the Gasser sprayed gas into the partially opened window of a room where Mrs. Russell Bailey, Katherine Tuzzo, Mrs. Genevieve Haskell and her young son were sleeping. At another home, Miss Frances Smith, the principal of the Columbian Grade School, and her sister Maxine were also overwhelmed with gas and fell ill. They began choking as they were awakened and felt partial paralysis in their legs and arms. They also said that as the sweet odor began to fill the room (as a thin, blue vapor), they heard a buzzing noise from outside and believed that it was the Gasser’s “spraying apparatus” in operation.

By September 10, "Mad Gasser" paranoia had peaked. FBI agents were trying to track down the type of gas being used in the attacks and the police force was trying to not only find the Gasser, but also to keep the armed citizens off the streets. None of the law enforcement officials were having much luck with any of these tasks. By Saturday night, several dozen well-armed farmers from the surrounding area had joined the patrols in Mattoon. In spite of this, six attacks took place anyway, including the three just mentioned. Another couple, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart B. Scott, returned to their farm on the edge of Mattoon late in the evening to find the house filled with sweet smelling gas.

This period seemed to mark a turning point in the case and it was almost if the idea of the gas attacks moving from the city of Mattoon to the country outside of it had pushed the scales of official acceptance in the wrong direction. In the words of Thomas V. Wright, the City Commissioner of Public Health: “There is no doubt that a gas maniac exists and has made a number of attacks. But many of the reported attacks are nothing more than hysteria. Fear of the gas man is entirely out of proportion to the menace of the relatively harmless gas he is spraying. The whole town is sick with hysteria and last night it spread out into the country.”

At this point, newspaper accounts of the affair began to take on a more skeptical tone and despite claims by victims and material evidence left behind, the police began to dismiss new reports of attacks and suggested that local residents were merely imagining things. The episode had gone so far that it was really the only thing left for them to do. The Gasser, if he existed at all, could not be caught, identified, or tracked down. They started to believe that if they ignored the problem, it would just go away. After all, if the man were real, how could he have possibly escaped detection for so long?

Psychology experts opined that the women of Mattoon had dreamed up the "Gasser" as a desperate cry for attention, as many of their husbands were overseas fighting in the war. This theory ignored the fact that many victims and witnesses were men and that this so-called "fantasy" was leaving behind evidence of his existence.

On the night of September 11, the police received a number of phone calls but after half-hearted attempts to investigate, dismissed all of them as false alarms. Just days before, a crime specialist with the State Department of Public Safety named Richard T. Piper told reporters that “This is one of the strangest cases I have ever encountered in my years of police work” but now new calls were only worthy of perfunctory examination. This is in spite of the fact that a doctor who appeared on the scene shortly after one of the evening’s attacks stated that there had been a “peculiar odor” in the room. The officials were just no longer interested.

The Mattoon police chief issued what he felt was the final statement on the gas attacks on September 12. He stated that large quantities of carbon tetrachloride gas were used at the local Atlas Diesel Engine Co. and that this gas must be causing the reported cases. It could be carried throughout the town on the wind and could have left the stains that were found on the rag at one of the homes.

As for the "Mad Gasser" himself, well, he was simply a figment of their imaginations. The whole case, he said “was a mistake from beginning to end.”

Not surprisingly, a spokesman for the plant was quick to deny the allegations that his company had caused the concern in town, maintaining that the only use for that gas in the plant was in their fire extinguishers and any similar gases used there caused no ill effects in the air. Besides that, why hadn’t this gas ever caused problems in the city before? And how exactly was this gas cutting the window screens on Mattoon homes before causing nausea and paralysis?

The official explanation also failed to cover just how so many identical descriptions of the "Gasser" had been reported to the police. It also neglected to explain how different witnesses managed to report seeing a man of the "Gasser’s" description fleeing the scene of an attack, even when the witness had no idea that an attack had taken place!

The last "Gasser" Attack took place on September 13 and while it was the last appearance of the attacker in Mattoon, it was also possibly the strangest appearance. It occurred at the home of Mrs. Bertha Bench and her son, Orville. They described the attacker as being a woman who was dressed in man’s clothing and who sprayed gas into a bedroom window. The next morning, footprints that appeared to have been made by a woman’s high-heeled shoes were found in the dirt below the window. And while this report does not match any of the earlier attacks in Mattoon, readers will undoubtedly recognize the claims of a woman’s shoe prints from several attacks in Botetourt County in 1933.

After this night, the "Mad Gasser of Mattoon" was never seen or heard from again...

The real stories of what happened in Mattoon and Botetourt County are still unknown and it is unlikely that we will ever know what was really behind these strange events. It is certain that something did take place in both locations, however strange, and theories abound as to what it may have been. Was the "Mad Gasser" real? And if he was, who was he? And if he was real, could he have been the same figure in both cases? It’s hard to ignore the similarities between the two cases, from his method of operation to the unusual form of attacks. In Virginia though, the Gasser was not always reported as being alone as he was in Mattoon, but then again, what about the identical reports of prints left by a woman’s shoe?

Stories have suggested that Mattoon’s Gasser was anything from a mad scientist to an ape-man (although who knows where that came from?) and researchers today have their own theories, some of which are just as wild. Could he have been some sort of extraterrestrial visitor using some sort of paralyzing agent to further a hidden agenda?  Or could the "Gasser" have been an agent of our own government, who came to an obscure Midwestern town to test some military gas that could be used in the war effort? It might be telling that once national attention came to Mattoon, the authorities began a policy of complete denial and the attacks suddenly ceased...

Whoever, or whatever, he was, the "Mad Gasser" has vanished into time and, real or imagined, is only a memory in the world of the unknown. Perhaps he was never here at all - perhaps he was, as Donald M. Johnson wrote in the 1954 issue of the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, simply a "shadowy manifestation of some unimaginable unknown."

But was he really? How do we explain the sightings of the “Mad Gasser” that were made by people who did not even know the creature was alleged to exist? Or identical sightings from independent witnesses who could not have possibly known that others had just spotted the same figure. Was the “Gasser”, as some have suggested, a visitor from a dimension outside of our own, thus explaining his ability to appear or disappear at will? Was he a creature so outside the realm of our imaginations that we will never be able to comprehend his motives or understand the reason why he came to Mattoon?

Sources & Bibliography:

Bartholomew, Robert - Phantom Menace (Fortean Times - 131) (March 2000)
Chicago American Newspaper
Clark, Jerome - Unexplained! (1999)
Coleman, Loren - Mothman & Other Curious Encounters (2002)
Coleman, Loren - Mysterious America (1983/2000)
Decatur Herald & Review Newspapers
Fortean Times Magazine - Various Issues
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen - Atlas of the Mysterious in North America (1995)
Hauck, Dennis William - Haunted Places: The National Directory (1996)
Keel, John - Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings (1970 / 1994)
Pohlen, Jerome - Oddball Illinois (2000)
Rath, Jay - I-Files (1999)
Scott, Beth & Michael Norman - Haunted Heartland (1986)
Shoemaker, Michael T. - The Mad Gasser of Botetourt (Fate Magazine - June 1985)
Taylor, Troy - Haunted Illinois (2001)
Taylor, Troy - Into the Shadows (2002)
Westrum, Ron - Phantom Attackers (Fortean Times - 45) (Winter 1985)
Personal Interviews Writings & Correspondence

Any materials not listed have been left off unintentionally from the list and may have a bibliographic listing in one of Troy Taylor’s book if the material on the website was excerpted from the book. If you recognize a reference that has not been listed. Please Email us!

© Copyright 2002 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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