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The mysterious sightings of the Houston Batman

Courtesy Monica Gallagher

This spooky season, Texas Standard is Tracking Texas Cryptids. Some of these cryptids come with legends. But there’s very little known or understood about the Houston Batman.

Lubbock-based author Max McNabb wrote one of the few articles about this mystery. He says he first discovered the story about the Houston Batman from some Texas cryptozoologists and was intrigued because of the similarities in the sightings to those of a well-known cryptid: the Mothman.

“In the 1960s, in the little town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, multiple witnesses – well over a dozen – reported seeing a strange, winged creature that came to be called the Mothman,” McNabb said. “And because of a later bridge disaster in that town, people came to associate sightings of the Mothman was a sort of harbinger of coming doom or coming tragedy.”

Though the Mothman sightings are much more famous (they became the basis for the Richard Gere film), McNabb said sightings of the Houston Batman were actually reported earlier.

McNabb shared the following account.

The sightings of the Houston Batman

It all began one night in June 1953.

A young Houston housewife named Hilda Walker was sitting on the porch of her home on East Third Street, along with her neighbors Judy Meyer, age 14, and Howard Phillips, age 33. It was a peaceful, though very humid, night. What happened next shocked the trio.

Walker described what they witnessed: “25 feet away, I saw a huge shadow across the lawn. I thought at first it was the magnified reflection of a big moth caught in the nearby streetlight. Then the shadow seem to bounce upward into a pecan tree. We all looked up. And that’s when we saw it.”

A man-like form stood 6 1/2 feet tall with bat wings on its back. A strange yellow glow surrounded the Batman. He appeared to be dressed in gray or black, tight-fitting clothes. The witnesses were stunned. They watched for 30 seconds while the Batman swayed on the tree branch, and then light began to fade and the figure vanished. Judy Meyer let out an ear-piercing scream.

Immediately afterwards, Walker said, “we heard a loud swoosh over the housetops across the street. It was like the white flash of a torpedo-shaped object. I’ve heard so much about flying saucer stories. I thought all those people telling the stories were crazy. But now I don’t know what to believe. I may be nuts, but I saw it, whatever it was. I sat there, stupefied. I was amazed.”

Meyer said: “I saw it, and nobody can say I didn’t.”

Phillips stated: “We looked across the street and saw a flash of light rise from another tree and take off like a jet.”

The next morning, Walker made a police report of the terrifying encounter.

The location of Walker’s home where the sighting was made has been overtaken by Interstate 10 in the years since the encounter. But has something similar been witnessed more recently?

A close friend of cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard told him an intriguing story: Multiple employees of the Bellaire Theater in Houston are said to have witnessed a gigantic, helmeted man crouching on a rooftop downtown in the 1990s.

Was this the return of the Houston Batman?

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What we make of the tale

Though the Houston cryptid shares its name with a famous DC Comics character, McNabb says there’s no evidence that people had that Batman in mind when they made their reports.

“It was much more of a paranormal-type encounter,” he said.

While both the Houston Batman and the Mothman of West Virginia are humanoids with wings and share UFO or paranormal similarities, McNabb points out there are also some differences.

“I’m not aware of any negative connotations with the Houston Batman,” McNabb said. With just the two sightings, “it hasn’t been seen enough to really suggest any associations with coming tragedy like the Mothman is sometimes claimed to have.”

While he’s not sure whether what people may have seen was paranormal, he says he is attracted to the mysterious.

“I think that stories like this tell us that there’s something more to life and death than just purely material,” McNabb said. “You know, there are more things in heaven and earth – there’s something in the world we can’t see. Sometimes we brush up against that world. And these stories, they’re like mysterious little kernels. They’re little clues to unraveling the mystery of what life and death is really about. That’s the appeal they hold to me.”

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Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.