On April 21, 1977, three 17-year-old boys were driving through the Boston suburb of Dover, Massachusetts, at about 10:30 p.m. The driver, Bill Bartlett, saw in his headlights an animal creeping along a low stone wall by the roadside. At first he thought it was a cat or dog, but as he came closer he saw that it was like no earthly creature he'd ever seen.
Bartlett said it had a large head the size and shape of a watermelon, with no visible features except for two round, orange eyes. The rest of its body was thin and spindly, with long, extended fingers and toes that wrapped around the rocks of the stone wall as it walked. It was between three and four feet tall, with peach-colored, hairless skin.
After his quick glimpse, Bartlett asked his two friends if they saw what they'd just driven past. As it turned out, they had been talking to each other at the moment, and didn't see the creature. They persuaded Bartlett go back for another look, even though he was so frightened he didn't want to turn around. They found nothing when they went back. Bartlett then headed home and made drawings of what he had seen (one of which is shown here).
That report alone would make for a pretty good monster story, but then something else happened. About two hours after Bartlett's sighting and a little over a mile away, 15-year-old John Baxter was walking home from his girlfriend's house when he saw a small figure walking towards him on the same side of the road. Baxter thought it was a neighborhood boy he knew, and called out the boy's name. He got no answer. The two walked closer together until Baxter saw the other figure suddenly stop. It then ran off down a gully and climbed up to the opposite bank. Baxter followed and got his first good look at the creature, which he said had a large, round head, a thin body and long, grasping fingers and toes. Baxter watched the creature for a moment, then became scared and ran away from it.
Baxter also drew pictures of what he had seen. Soon word spread of his and Bartlett's sightings, and when their stories and drawings were compared, it seemed that the two had seen exactly the same creature. By all accounts, Bartlett and Baxter had never met before, and there was no reason to suspect that they had conspired together on a monster hoax.
The day after the sightings, Bartlett told his 18-year-old friend Will Taintor about what he had seen. That night, Taintor was driving 15-year-old Abby Brabham home around midnight. Brabham claimed to see a creature matching the same description crouching by the side of the road as they drove past -- even though she had reportedly not heard about what Taintor's friend had seen. Taintor also caught a fleeting glimpse of the creature.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman happened to be living in the Dover area at the time of these sightings, and was among the first investigators to tackle the case. It was he who named the creature the Dover Demon, a name that was picked up by the press and has stuck with the creature ever since. Interviews with the witnesses convinced Coleman that their encounters were genuine, despite their youth and the weirdness of what they had seen. It has been suggested that the animal they saw may have actually been a newborn horse, but that seems an unlikely solution. The Dover Demon remains one of the most baffling and compelling of all unexplained creature sightings.