An Interview with Timothy Frick: Writer, Cryptozoologist, and an MIB Impersonator (who the MIB may have impersonated!)
By Brent Raynes
Timothy Frick of Cumberland, Maryland, is a writer, cryptozoologist, and an MIB impersonator (who the MIB may have impersonated!). Well, they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Of course, with the MIB it’s kind of hard to gauge sincerity, but at any rate read for yourselves details of this strange experience and many others, as well as Tim’s close encounter with the legendary John A. Keel, his and his brother John’s role as MIBs in several television documentaries (and for the Mothman festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia), and their own sightings of mysterious fireballs, apparent Thunderbirds, possible time shifts, etc., etc.
Tim read The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel back in 1991. “We have a monster in our neighboring state of West Virginia,” Tim recalls he thought at the time.”That’s pretty cool.” The book ignited within him an intense curiousity about Mothman. “The Internet came along in the late 1990s and I studied up on cryptozoological creatures on the Internet. It was very interesting.”
“I am an aspiring writer,” Tim confessed. He came by an interest in something like Mothman rather naturally. Back in 1985 and 1986, he created several fictional vampire characters and decided to present them in a comic book. “I created the characters and I wrote the stories, and I had to pay someone to illustrate them,” he told me. “I paid like thousands of dollars to have a couple of issues produced, and sold a handful of copies. That really didn’t get me anywhere. I’m now trying to become a novelist, although I’m unpublished as far as that goes.”
One day a friend called Tim and told him that West Virginia’s Point Pleasant was having its first Mothman Festival in November 2002, on a weekend that would commemorate the famous initial encounters of two young couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette that started it all 36 years earlier on November 15, 1966. “It was the first one I went to,” he said. John Keel was a guest of honor at the 2003 Mothman Festival, the following year. “I had dinner with him like two or three times,” Tim stated. “It was the weekend and I hung out with him and talked with him for a total of probably eight hours. He was a fascinating person and was very pleasant to talk with.”
Over the years, Tim and his brother John have become regulars at the now annual Mothman Festival, have become good friends with the organizers and major players in the Mothman saga, mingled with the numerous and regular participants as well, and made some rather unique contributions of their own to these annual events. For one thing, Tim and John created and would rig up a life-size figure of the Mothman that as the annual hay riders were on the TNT circuit to view Mothman’s most famous haunt, they would send it across the road on a wire over the heads of startled and amused hay riders.
Another thing that Tim and John did was to impersonate the Men in Black! In fact, they they ended up in some Mothman documentaries on television! Jeff Wamsley, the author of Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend , co-authored with Donnie Sergent Jr., and Mothman: Behind The Red Eyes , and a principle organizer of the annual Mothman Festival, would call them whenever a film crew came to town and they needed MIB actors. Recalling how it began, Tim said, “My brother and I got our first gig as the Men in Black for the Travel Channel in August of 2005. We didn’t start appearing as the Men in Black at the Mothman Festival until two months later in September of 2005. A year later, in August of 2006, we played the Men in Black for the Sci-Fi Channel, who were producing a Mothman episode for Sci-Fi Investigates. Then later they also played the MIB for the Biography Channel, and for all three networks they also flew their life-sized Mothman figure to be included in the filming.
Tim and John have become real good friends with Mothman witness Linda Scarberry. “Whenever we’re in town and she has to do an interview, Jeff just has us drive by her house, pick her up, and provide her transportation to wherever she is to be interviewed at,” he stated. “She doesn’t like talking about the Mothman a lot, because she said that she’s afraid if she talks about it too much, it might bring it back.”
I know from my own visit to Point Pleasant way back in 1976, that I had paid a brief visit to the Parke and Mabel McDaniel home and met their daughter Linda Scarberry myself, at which time she was describing another Mothman encounter, so I asked her how many times she had seen the creature. I was startled when she informed me and fellow researcher Ron Schaffner that she had seen it “hundreds” of times! “It seems like it doesn’t want to hurt you,” she said. “But you’re too afraid when you see it to do anything.”
In 1993, when John Keel learned of my visit to Point Pleasant, he wrote me: “As you discovered, my book only covered a small part of the overall situation. It would have taken six books to discuss all of it. What happened there also happened (and is still happening) in many other parts of the country. I was flabbergasted by the scope and complexity of the phenomena in the 1960s. I found the same identical situations everywhere…from Long Island to Hartshorne, Okla. I spent some time in Fyffe, Alabama then and, as you know, they are still having UFO stuff along with many animal mutilations, poltergeist activity, etc.”
“Unfortunately, there was little interest on Madison Avenue in the 60s and there was no place to publish any of my findings. In addition, the hardcore UFO buffs, NICAP, APRO, et al, fought bitterly against things like mutes, abductions, lost time cases, etc. They chose, instead, to attack me and accuse me of making it all up.”
When I (Brent Raynes) was in Point Pleasant myself in 1976, everyone I spoke to who had known John Keel spoke very highly of him. This, of course, wasn’t long after his book The Mothman Prophecies had been published. At that time, the climate was a little different. “People actually called up some of those named in the book and demanded to know if it was true, if I had paid them to say such things,” Keel wrote me. “Others rushed to Point Pleasant, as you did, to pester the witnesses and sit up all night in the TNT area. The town finally adopted a policy of running all UFO buffs out whenever they appeared. In 1991, a team from a Baltimore radio station visited Point Pleasant. On their first day they interviewed a number of local people. On the second day they found that no one…absolutely no one…would even speak to them. The buffs blame me for this, of course. I haven’t been in West Virginia for over twenty years.”
Hopefully no one felt that I had pestered them back in 1976, but no doubt back then the sudden attention and intrusions from outsiders wasn’t always welcomed. Of course, today, like Roswell, Point Pleasant has turned things around and capitalized on this outside interest and today even tries to benefit from it commercially, and for a lot of participants the annual Mothman Festival is obviously a fun event for young and old alike.
But for some, like Tim Frick and his brother John, it’s not all just fun and games. They have a very serious interest in the stories and the investigative work that Keel chronicled in his various articles and books. I asked Tim why he felt ufologists at the time didn’t take Keel’s work more seriously. “When it comes to UFOs there are two kinds of researchers,” he pointed out. “There are the ‘nuts and bolts’ type where it’s a physical craft from another planet and then you have the kind like Keel who thought they’re not just coming from another planet, they may be coming from another dimension. I think that a lot of people couldn’t really wrap their mind around that.”
But for Tim it’s all more than just a little personal. Not only has he confronted the eerie and unexplained in his own life journey (in fact, a number of times in Point Pleasant itself) but one puzzling incident has left the MIB impersonator wondering if maybe the real MIB might have impersonated him and his fellow impersonator brother John!
“My brother John and I had visited a female friend of ours (Shirley) in northeastern Ohio back in November 2006,” Tim recalled. “About a week later, our friend sent John an email, asking if we had come back to her neighborhood since we had last visited with her, and John told her we hadn’t. She then told my brother that a few nights ago, while she was out walking her dog, a vehicle pulled into the church parking lot across the street from her house, and two tall guys got out. She thought that they were me and John, and she watched them until she noticed that they were watching her. This gave her the creeps, so she went back into her house and watched them from behind closed blinds. Shortly, another vehicle pulled into the lot, a man got out and talked to the two men who were already there (who, I remember, Shirley said were walking funny). Then the three people got into their vehicles and drove away. The following day, Shirley was checking out a baby monitor that she was planning to sell, and there’s something about baby monitors that allows them to pick up calls made by portable phones. What she heard was a conversation between two of her neighbors where one told the other that her (the speaker’s) son had seen some suspicious activity in the church parking lot, so he pulled into the lot and asked the two guys what they were doing. Shirley then heard on the baby monitor that the two mysterious figures told her neighbor’s son that their names were Tim and John, and that they were paranormal investigators. Well, whoever they were, it wasn’t us. When my brother told me this story, I was blown away and said, ‘Wow! We impersonated the men in black and now they’re impersonating us!’ Most people would be really freaked out by this, but I look at it like a badge of honor. The MIB posed as John Keel back in the 60s when he was investigating the Mothman sightings in Point Pleasant. Now they were posing as us. It’s like Alan Bates’ character Alexander Leek said in The Mothman Prophecies film. ‘We noticed them, and they noticed that we noticed them.’”
“Now I just remembered a small, but perhaps very significant detail regarding that trip. This particular occurrence happened the day after we visited and I had talked to Shirley in the church parking lot across the street from her house. (Actually, it may have been later the same day, since it was around midnight Friday that we were talking with her). After leaving her on Saturday (the date being November 4, 2006) we drove on to another city in Ohio and on the way there, we saw a white van with slightly shaded windows come up behind us, then pass us, and through the windows we could see three or four men in three piece suits (we didn’t notice if any of them were wearing sunglasses). When the van passed us, we saw that the license plate number read 111L, and above the license plate were the words UNREGISTERED VEHICLE (there were no other identifying features on the van). Also the van stayed within sight of us for more than half an hour, either in front of us or behind us, and we passed each other several times.”
“While all of this was happening, my brother and I were leery of the possibility that the people in the vehicle could be men in black, especially considering how unusual the license plate was, with the words “unregistered vehicle” being above it. Also, the incident where the men in black impersonated me and my brother had not yet occurred (this would happen about a week later), and it is interesting to note that, at this point in time, my brother and I had played the Men in Black at the Mothman Festival twice, and appeared on one Mothman documentary as the MIB. We would go on to appear in three Mothman documentaries as the MIB; one on the Travel Channel, the Sci-Fi Channel and the Biography Channel.”
Tim explained to me that he visualized alternate realities as being like guitar strings. “Imagine a guitar neck stretching out into infinity with an infinite number of guitar strings on it,” he stated. “Our reality is like one of those guitar strings and all of the other guitar strings are other realities, where something is slightly different than the way it is in our reality.”
He then recalled the experience of a lady friend. “She visited some friends in Bakersfield, California and they were driving along and looking for a diner. They found a nice roadside diner and they went in. The people were very friendly and for her whole meal, including the drink was like $2.50. She said, ‘Wow, what great prices! We need to come back here again!’ So six months later she was back in the area and she was looking for the diner and she found out that it burned down back in the 1960s!”
“I can’t really prove it, but I think that it’s possible that everyone at any given time could switch over into another reality or into something slightly different and then later on switch back,” Tim added. “Of course, sometimes they might not switch back. I don’t know.”
Tim recalled a personal episode that seems to relate to such a theory. “It was around 1:20 a.m.,” he explained. “I tossed my nail clippers onto the coffee table and when I did this, the clippers hit a pen that was laying on the table, causing it to roll towards the edge of the table at a 45 degree angle. I saw that my wallet, which was about four inches from the edge of the table, was laying a few inches away from the rolling pen, and thinking I had to quickly stop the pen before it fell on the floor, I went to grab it. Before I could move an inch, however, I saw the pen on the other side of my wallet, rolling away from the edge of the table, at the same angle but reversed, as if in a ‘V’ formation. It was like I saw a ripple in the fabric of space and time, where I saw the result of my action without having done anything. That was definitely the weirdest thing I ever saw.”
“Minutes before I had experienced this, my brother John had just finished telling John Keel’s niece, Nicole (who he was talking to on the internet) about time slips. Also, it is interesting to note that the day on which this occurred, September 11, 2009, was six years to the day that I first met John Keel.”
Tim seems to be no stranger to time/space anomalies. Steve, an alien abductee in Pennsylvania, brought Tim a couple of such experiences into his life. “He actually showed me a hospital report, and in the report it says that he has metallic objects in his body,” Tim told me. “One of the places where he claims to have been contacted is the George B. Stevenson Dam. It’s a place out in the middle of nowhere and it’s one of the places that he had encountered the aliens. He told us about it, and so every time that we go camping up there we go by the dam. We first visited the area in June of 2004 and we’d walk across the dam and there was a road for utility vehicles on the other side of the dam. It went a couple of hundred yards and then it dead ended at the base of a mountain. Me and my brother, we were there and followed the road to the base of the mountain. I said, ‘That’s weird. The road just dead ends at the base of the mountain. Why would they do that?’ I also remember seeing it like this probably at least a half a dozen times.”
“About a year later, we were at the dam with some friends of ours and we were hanging out watching for UFOs and watching the stars, and we were sitting on the other side of the dam where the gravel road starts. I had to take a leak, so I walked down to the end of the road to do my business and then came back. While I was gone, there was a vehicle that was driving down the road, and it was making some kind of real unearthly type noise, and one of our friends said, ‘What is that noise?’ John said, ‘It’s probably a car with squealing brakes’ or something like that. I didn’t hear it, but they heard it. Then I came back to where they were. The next day, we went back to the dam and our friend had John take some pictures of the area, to help document what they heard the previous night. Anyway, sometime during a future visit to the dam, I walked down to the end of the road that supposedly dead ends at the base of the mountain and I noticed that the road wrapped around and went down to the lake front and I said, ‘Cool. They finally did something with the road so that it doesn’t dead end at the base of the mountain anymore.’”
“Later I went and talked to one of the park rangers and I asked, ‘When was the road put in at George B. Stevenson Dam that goes down to the lake front?’ This was probably a couple of months later and I fully expected the park ranger to tell me that it was put in over the winter, or over the last couple of months, and the person told me that the road was put in when the dam was first built back in the 1950s.”
“I have a clear recollection of the road not being there, and I also remember that I had made a comment to my brother about the road dead ending at the base of the mountain, and had posed the question, ‘Why don’t they do something with it?’ I recall saying these actual words, and while my brother doesn’t remember the details of the landscape, he does remember me making this statement. Also I mentioned that one of our friends had my brother take some pictures of the area. Well, one of the pictures he took shows the gravel road stretching into the distance, and if you look closely, you can see the road curve at the end. This was not there the previous night. I think the car with the squealing brakes, while not directly responsible for the time slip, was a part of the phenomena. Also, it’s scary to think that if I had tarried at the end of the road, I might not have made it back to the reality I was supposed to be in, or worse yet, without knowing it, I could have switched places with a version of me from a different reality like something from an episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ and the other ‘me’ could have taken my place in this reality.”
“It’s like I said about the guitar neck stretching into infinity. Our reality is one of those strings and all the other strings are other realities, with there being minute differences from reality to reality.”
Tim remembered another odd experience he had in connection with Steve. “Back in 2008, he didn’t have a phone and he doesn’t have the Internet,” he explained. “At the time, the only way to contact the guy was through writing letters through the mail. So he had written me a letter to set up a time that we could go camping, and he wanted to go camping on the 15th of August. When I wrote him back, I had the letter written a week before I had sent it, and me and my brother were going out of town and I was thinking, ‘Should I mail the letter now, or should I wait and mail it when I return?’ And I thought, ‘What the heck. I’ll just hold on to it and mail it when I get back.’ And so we went out of town over the weekend. On Monday, August 4th, I went and mailed the letter at the post office, and in the letter I told Steve that the 15th wasn’t good for me, how about the 22nd, and the very next day in the mail I got a letter from Steve wherein he specifically told me that August 22nd doesn’t work for him, and that he was hoping I could make it on the 15th. The thing is, I had just mailed my letter to him the previous day and I got the reply on the very next day. The letter didn’t have a postmark on it at all; it was stamped, but no postmark, and I had previously gotten letters from Steve that were postmarked three days prior to when I received them, so when he sends me a letter, it takes about three days to reach me. He lives somewhere in Pennsylvania and so, naturally, it’s safe to assume that when I mail him something, it takes him three days to get it. He wrote me a seven-page letter (both sides), and on page two he told me that August 22nd wouldn’t work for him. Then he went on to write another five pages. I mailed him the letter on Monday and I got his reply the very next day.”
“I was totally blown away. I thought, ‘How is this possible?’ Then I thought, ‘Say, wait a minute. This is the guy who claims to be an alien abductee. He experiences all kinds of weird stuff. This just adds validity to his claims.’ I think what had happened was this. Remember I said that I had written the letter a week in advance and I was wondering if I should mail it, or just hold onto it and mail it when I got back? I think what happened was that in another reality I had mailed it a week in advance. In that reality, Steve had gotten the letter, wrote a reply, and mailed it back to me, and I had crossed over into that other reality. This explanation, as strange as it sounds, would give Steve time to write the seven-page letter and send it to me.”
Time slips and other high-strangeness and weirdness aside, Tim also has had his own sightings of curious things airborne that have occasionally made him stop and ponder their potential meaning in the ultimate scheme of these things. “The very first time we went to Point Pleasant, back on August 18, 2002, me, my brother John, and our best friend Danny checked into the Blue Fountain motel [John Keel stayed there during his visits back in the 1960s] across the river in Ohio. It was around 11:30 at night,” Tim recalled. “I said,“Let’s go to the TNT area. I’ve read all about it and I want to go and check it out.” Initially John was reluctant, as he had done most of the driving and was worn out, but Danny was for it, and pretty soon they both managed to talk him into it. “We were walking around and found one of the igloos,” Tim said. “It was right around midnight. I was facing the igloo, and my brother John and our friend Danny had their backs to it. All of a sudden, I saw this object shooting across the sky. It looked like a meteor in the earth’s atmosphere. It had a white head with flames shooting out of the back of it. I measured it out with my fingers and my thumb and it was like four inches long at arms length. It was flying from right to left, which was north to south, parallel with the Ohio River.”
“For a couple of years, I thought that was a meteor I had seen, then I remembered that John Keel, in one of his books, said that sometimes UFOs will disguise themselves as planes or meteors. So I was thinking, ‘Wow, I wonder if that could have been a UFO I saw?’ Now I tend to think that it was.”
“John Keel also believed that UFOs would often travel along rivers and I thought it was a bit strange that I would see something spectacular the very first time I visited the TNT area.”
“Now flash forward on to September 2007. It was like a week after the Mothman Festival. I was contacted by the Biography Channel and they wanted our help with their documentary. So my brother and I drove to Point Pleasant from where we live in Cumberland, Maryland. It was the night of the 20th, after the day’s shooting was over, and we were hanging out with friends at the TNT area as a friend named Brian and I were walking along igloo road #1. It was around 1:15 a.m. We were near the end of the road. I saw something shining from behind the tree cover. The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, is this a shooting star?’ I took a couple of steps backwards and I saw this object, and from the best of my estimation the thing was like an inch and a half long at arm’s length. It was rectangular, with very sharply defined edges on the front, and it had a huge tail behind it. We watched this thing for probably 10-12 seconds as it flew over our heads. It was in the earth’s atmosphere but there was no way to gauge how close the thing was. It was totally silent.”
“While the rectangular part of it was like an inch and a half long at arm’s length, including the tail it was like four feet long at arms length. By the time we saw this object, it was probably around 1:25 or close to 1:30 in the morning. It was moving south to north, angling toward the northwest. We ran back but my brother and our other friend with him didn’t see it. It was kind of surprising because we thought that if we had seen it then they would have too, but they didn’t. By the way, I was on the exact same road that I was on when I saw the ‘meteor’ back in 2002.”
Tim also believes that he may have witnessed the legendary Thunderbird on more than one occasion. “I had two (possibly three) Thunderbird sightings,” Tim stated. “Thunderbirds are large eagle-like creatures with wingspans anywhere from ten to twenty-five feet. My Thunderbird sightings all took place in 2004. Two in the summer and one in the fall.”
“My first sighting took place on June 2, and happened in the afternoon, right outside my house. I was out cutting the grass when I looked up and saw a flying creature that appeared to have bat wings about fifty to sixty feet away from me. When I saw it, I figured whatever it was, had a wingspan of at least ten feet. Unfortunately, I only saw it for about two seconds before it disappeared behind some trees. Because I only saw it for a few seconds and wasn’t able to observe it longer, I am skeptical of what I think I saw.”
“The second sighting took place on July 18, near Linn Run State Park in Rector, Pennsylvania. My brother John and I had just left the park around 4:30, and within minutes of leaving the park, that’s when we saw it. We were approaching an overpass (the top of the overpass was about thirty feet high), and about thirty feet above the overpass, we saw a bird that had a wingspan of four and a half inches at arm’s length. I clearly remember holding my arm out and taking measurements by holding my thumb and fingers apart. This bird was big, and I’d say its wingspan would have to have been anywhere from ten to fifteen feet across. Also, Linn Run State Park is located near the edge of the Black Forest region of Pennsylvania, and the Black Forest is well-known for being inhabited by Thunderbirds.”
“My last sighting took place on October 6 in the late afternoon around 3:00 or 3:30 on Interstate 77 near Mineral Wells, West Virginia. I was in the passenger seat and was looking at something on my lap when my brother John (who was driving) said, ‘A large bird just flew over the van!’ I then quickly turned around and looked out the back window, and back in the road, about a hundred and twenty feet away, I saw a huge bird soaring over the freeway, with its wings stretching from one side of the road to the other. Interstate 77 is a two-lane road and is about 22 feet wide. Also, the area where we saw this Thunderbird was the same area where Woodrow Derenberger claimed to have seen a space ship come down, and Indrid Cold exit the craft. John Keel talks about this encounter in The Mothman Prophecies book.”
“I would like to point out that in one of Pennsylvania researcher Stan Gordon’s reports, someone driving on a two-lane road outside the town of Clendenin, West Virginia claimed to have had a close, visual sighting of a giant bird whose wingspan took up the whole road, which was about 21 feet. It is interesting to note that Clendenin is the town where the grave diggers saw the Mothman, about a week before it was seen by the Scarberry’s and the Mallette’s on November 15, 1966. Clendenin is about an hour and a half drive from where I had my sighting near Mineral Wells back in 2004, and according to Stan’s report, the sighting took place in either late September or early October of 2007. I think this section of West Virginia, and possibly parts of Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania are parts of these bird’s migratory route in the fall. After all, two individuals (myself and the person in Stan’s report) saw them during the same time of year, near the same area. Also, my brother John and I have a good friend named Carolyn Harris who owns and runs the Harris Steak House (and who is also one of the main organizers of the Mothman Festival, along with Jeff Wamsley) in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and she has told us that she’s heard reports from different truck drivers who claim to have seen large birds fly over their rigs on Interstate 77, and I was on this roadway when I had one of my Thunderbird sightings.”
Editor’s Note: A special word of appreciation to paranormal researchers Bret and Gina Oldham for introducing Timothy Frick to me, for the purpose of this interview, after meeting him at a recent Ohio Bigfoot Conference sponsored by Don Keating. (See interview with Mr. Keating in AP #150, July).