Eyewitnesses claim that the Grinning Man is a looming figure who stands well over 6-feet tall. His head is said to be devoid of any hair and his dark, beady eyes are nestled unnaturally far apart in his domed skull. Some observers are so perturbed that they are later unable to recall whether he even had a nose or ears, but — as disturbing as that may be — far and away his most disconcerting characteristic is the wide, hideous, shark-like grin that is perpetually plastered across his face.
Renowned paranormal investigator and “Mothman Prophecies” author, John Keel, is considered to be the first researcher to mention the creature (or, more likely than not, creatures) that have collectively come to be known as the Grinning Man. In his seminal tome on unnatural entities, “The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings,” Keel discusses what is believed to be the first modern run-in with this peculiar entity.The encounter occurred in Elizabeth, New Jersey, at approximately 9:45 pm. on the night of October 11th, 1966. Two boys — Martin “Mouse” Munov and James “Jimmy” Yanchitis — were walking home along New Jersey and 4th Street when they turned onto a road that ran adjacent to the elevated New Jersey Turnpike.
There was a treacherously steep 30-foot slant running from the hectic turnpike above them all the way down to the tall wire fence that ran parallel to the route that Munov and Yanchitis were walking. The decline on the other side of the fence was so steep that the boys had never even seen anyone attempt to scale it, nor had they ever seen anyone on the opposite side of the rusted fence… but this night would prove to be an exception to the rule.
Both Munov and Yanchitis were nervous as they slipped in and out of the pools of light cast by the street lamps above, as they had heard that a neighborhood woman had been chased by a “tall, green man” earlier that evening in the same area. Little could the boys predict when they stopped to catch their breath a few moments later that their date with the unknown would be about to begin.
It was Yanchitis who first noticed the ominous humanoid figure standing in the thick scrub brush behind Munov on the opposite side of the fence. He appeared to be ignoring the boys and staring at a house across the road. Yanchitis would later describe the smirking brute for both the police and Keel:
“He was strangest guy we’ve ever seen… He was standing behind that fence. I don’t know how he got there. He was the biggest man I ever saw.”
he anxious Yanchitis wasted no time in alerting his unwary pal about the scary silhouette that was stationed behind him. Munov slowly turned and saw a huge figure clad in a green, one-piece suit that seemed to be reflecting the streetlight above. Munov’s account is in his report to the police:
“Jimmy nudged me and said, ‘Who’s that guy standing behind you?’ I looked around and there he was… behind that fence. Just standing there. He pivoted around and looked right at us… then he grinned a big old grin.”
The two young men — evidently wise beyond their years — listened to their fight or flight instinct and wasted no time in exiting the scene before the eerie emerald apparition could scale the fence and take pursuit.
Just three days after their unusual encounter, Keel arrived at the scene with UFO investigator James Moseley and (oddly enough) famed actor and paranormal enthusiast, Chuck McCann. The boys were interviewed individually — in the home of one George Smythe — and, according to Keel, gave identical accounts of the event. Keel described what Yanchitis and Munov had told him, Moseley and McCann:
“The man was over six feet tall, they agreed, and was dressed in a sparkling green coverall costume that shimmered and seemed to reflect the street lights. There was a wide black belt around his waist… He had a very dark complexion, and little round eyes… real beady… set far apart. They could not remember seeing any hair, ears, or nose on this figure.”
McCann was a solidly built actor who stood 6’2 and both boys insisted that the Grinning Man was not only taller than the TV star, but much broader as well. This would make him an imposing figure indeed.
Keel and his fellow investigators went to the site of the encounter, wondering whether or not the menacing man behind the fence might actually have been a stranded motorist. Upon inspection of the scene, however, Keel and his crew concluded that the incline was not only too sharp to easily traverse, especially at night, but that any sane person with car troubles stuck behind a high fence would have called out for help rather than leer maniacally.
It wasn’t long before the boys’ bizarre tale spread throughout the neighborhood and folks began to speculate that this so-called Grinning Man might be associated with a UFO sighting that had occurred at exactly the same time just 40-miles north of Elizabeth, near a DuPont explosives factory outside of Pompton Lakes.
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