Around 10:30 pm the night of April 21, 1977 three teenage boys were driving along an area outside of a bar when their headlights illuminated a bizarre creature that appeared to be crawling along a wall near Farm Street. Originally one of the witness, Bill Bartlett, thought that they were looking at what could have been a dog or cat. Yet as he got a better look at IT he quickly realized this was no creature he had ever seen before. Later Bartlett would be quoted as saying
It was not a dog or a cat. It had no tail. It had an egg-shaped head. It looked like a baby's body with long arms and legs. It had a big head about the same size as the body, it was sort of melon shaped. The color of it was... the color of people in the Sunday comics.The witness was unable to see anything that resembled a nose, ears, or a mouth on the creature. It's also interesting to note that evidently the driver, Bartlett, was the only one of the three in the vehicle who was able to see the creature as his two friends were too busy laughing and talking to notice it. Once Bartlett had returned home he drew a sketch of the creature that he had seen.
This was not to be the last sighting of the mysterious creature however. About an hour after Bartlett sighted the creature, John Baxter aged 15 was walking home from his girlfriends
As I was looking really close there I could see the eyes it was looking at me I just stared at it for another few minutes and then I just got all these thoughts that maybe it was something really strange. 'Cause, you know, nothing ever happened to me like this before, so I didn't know what to think.The final sighting of the creature occurred the following night, sometime around midnight. Will Taintor, 18, was driving his girlfriend Abby Brabham, 15, home when Abby spotted something on the side of Springdale Avenue. According to Brabham:
So I finally got the thought that maybe it wasn't as safe as it looked, 'cause the way it was staring at me it just seemed like it was - I don't know. I got all these feelings that it was thinking to itself, or waiting to spring, or whatever, you know? And so I backed up the bank kind of fast, and my heart started beating really fast! (Source AmericanMonsters.com)
As I looked at it... it kind of looked a minute like an ape. And then I looked at the head and the head was very big and it was a very weird head It had bright green eyes and the eyes just glowed like, they were just looking exactly at me.
The final piece of information I will leave with is this Boston Globe article from 2006 in which the then 46 year old Bartlett was interviewed about the strange sighting that he had had some 29 years prior. From that article:
Dover--Twenty-nine years later, William Bartlett stands by his story of what he saw on Farm Street that night. It was an eerie human-like creature, he said, about 4 feet tall with glowing orange eyes and no nose or mouth in a watermelon-shaped head.The ''Dover Demon'' that Bartlett and two other teenagers reported seeing over a two-day span in April 1977 has since gained worldwide attention, not unlike Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and the Latin American goat-sucker, the chupacabra. Internet pages are devoted to the Dover Demon. You can play a video game featuring the creature, or buy a figurine of it as far away as Japan.
''I have no idea what it was,'' Bartlett, now a 46-year-old artist living in Needham, said in a recent interview. ''I definitely know I saw something.''
''In a lot of ways it's kind of embarrassing to me,'' said Bartlett. ''I definitely saw something. It was definitely weird. I didn't make it up. Sometimes I wish I had.''
He has made a career as a painter, his work displayed in galleries on both coasts, but a Google search on ''Bill Bartlett,'' he noted, invariably turns up his teenage encounter with the unknown.
Once, his wife, Gwen, browsing the horror section of a bookstore, flipped open an encyclopedia of monsters - and there was an entry about her husband and the Dover Demon.
''It's a thing that's been following me for years,'' Bartlett said. ''Not the creature - the story. Sometimes I dread every Halloween getting calls about it.''
Writing in the 1999 2nd edition of his Unexplained!,Jerry Clark notes that Martin S Kottmeyer has a possible explanation for what the teenagers saw those nights. Clark writes:
Martin S Kottmeyer has suggested that the witnesses were seriously mistaken about what they saw, and he knows what the Dover Demon may have been: a young moose .... He notes, "Bartlett's placing o fthe eyes matches the placement just above the hip of the muzzle on a moose's head. The lack of a discernable nose and mouth is easily laid to the fact that nostrils and mouth are very far down on the muzzle. A drawing of a young moose presents ears swept back along the line of the head and would not discernably stick out, thus accounting for the absence of visible ears." (pg 415)So what do you think? Was it a misidentified, but still wholly mundane, animal? An alien out for a little recon mission? Personally I'm not sure what to make of it. Unlike many of the cryptid stories that have circulated for years the Dover Demon had a mere 25 hour splash on history. Whereas Bigfoot has been seen for hundreds of years, if not more, to the best of my knowledge the Dover Demon was only sighted over the period of April 21 to 22 and no more. I don't think the kids made it up, after all it seems to have had a profound impact on Bartlett at least. I'm keeping an open mind on this one for now, be sure to let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Tony Morrill is interested in examining all things Fortean, with the hope to one day find the connection between them that Charles Fort was also looking for.