Dover Demon

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Bill Bartlett's original sketch of the Dover Demon

The Dover Demon is a creature reportedly sighted on April 21–22, 1977, in Dover, Massachusetts, a town about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of downtown Boston. While explanations have been proposed, the sightings remain unresolved.


17-year-old William "Bill" Bartlett claimed that while driving on April 21, 1977, he saw a large-eyed creature "with tendril-like fingers" and glowing eyes on top of a broken stone wall on Farm Street in Dover, Massachusetts. 15-year-old John Baxter reported seeing a similar creature on Miller Hill Road the same evening. Another 15-year-old, Abby Brabham, claimed to have seen the creature the following night on Springdale Avenue.[1]

The teenagers all drew sketches of the alleged creature. Bartlett wrote on his sketch, "I, Bill Bartlett, swear on a stack of Bibles that I saw this creature."[1] According to a local news report, "the locations of the sightings, plotted on a map, lay in a straight line over 2 miles [3.2 km]".[1] The sightings were not made public until the first half of May.[2] At that time, a local "investigator of unexplained phenomenon" noted similarities to creatures in the Kelly–Hopkinsville encounter of 1955.[2] While no witness reported seeing a UFO, the sightings were also investigated by the Mutual UFO Network and associated groups, given the descriptions of the creature.[3]

Possible explanations[edit]

A snowy owl, carrying prey

It has been suggested that the creature may have been a foal or a moose calf.[1][4]

Skeptic Joe Nickell believes the creature was likely a snowy owl,[a] based on size and plumage, which would have reflected in the yellow headlights of older cars as the peach color described by Bartlett. In addition, the "long spindly arms" and fingers of the supposed creature could be the partially opened wings and the splayed feathers at the wingtips of a snowy owl.[5]

Police told the Associated Press that creatures reported by the teenagers "were probably nothing more than a school vacation hoax."[6] Skeptic Ben Radford has suggested the sighting may have been influenced by the pop culture of the time, as 1977 was a year for "big-headed client-type creatures".[clarification needed][4][b]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2009, the Dover Demon was featured in an episode of the American horror television series Lost Tapes, which aired on Animal Planet.[7]

The Dover Demon appears as a character in the American comic book series Proof, which features various other creatures. In the comic, it is a creature able to see into the future. It appears in another similar comic book series called The Perhapanauts.[8][9] The Dover Demon also made brief appearances in the comic books The Pound: Ghouls Night Out and Hack/Slash: Entry Wound.[10] A Dover Demon also appears in the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court.[11]


  1. ^ One proposed explanation of the aforementioned Kelly–Hopkinsville encounter is a great horned owl.
  2. ^ Both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind were released in 1977, although after the alleged sightings. See also List of American films of 1977.


  1. ^ a b c d Sullivan, Mark (29 October 2006). "Decades later, the Dover Demon still haunts". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 26, 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2014 – via
  2. ^ a b "'Creature' reports worry Dover police chief". Holyoke Transcript-Telegram. Holyoke, Massachusetts. AP. May 16, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved October 15, 2023 – via
  3. ^ "What exactly was the 'Dover Demon?'". Milford Daily News. May 8, 2005. Retrieved October 15, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Radford, Benjamin (January 2023). "Deconstructing the Dover Demon". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 47, no. 1. Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 30 June 2023 – via
  5. ^ Nickell, Joe (July 2023). "Identifying the Enigmatic 'Dover Demon'". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 47, no. 4. Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 30 June 2023 – via
  6. ^ "Teeners report 'creature'". Bangor Daily News. AP. 16 May 1977. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Lost Tapes" Dover Demon (TV Episode 2009) at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  8. ^ The Perhapanauts #1, (April 1, 2008)
  9. ^ The Perhapanauts: Second Chances #3, 4 (December 1, 2006-January 1, 2007)
  10. ^ "Dover Demon (Character)". Comic Vine.
  11. ^ "Chapter 83: Page 4". Gunnerkrigg Court Archives.