Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies, died Friday, July 3. Keel was born on March 25, 1930 and resided in New York City, N.Y.
According to Jeff Wamsley of the Mothman Museum and Mothman Festival, Keel last visited Point Pleasant in 2003 when the Mothman statue at Gunn Park was unveiled. In addition, Wamsley said he kept in contact with Keel up until his recent death.
“We were in contact up to the first of the year. He was admitted to a nursing home, but I stayed in contact with his caretaker,” he added.
Wamsley credited Keel for helping put the area on the map with the release of his The Mothman Prophecies book. He also praised Keel for helping him write his book as well as his continued support of the Mothman Museum and Mothman Festival.
“(Keel) was very supportive of my projects and the books that I did. It was nice to be able to call him and pick his brain about stuff that he explained in his book,” Wamsley said. “He was very supportive of the museum and festival...He always thought a lot of the people involved with (Mothman). He talked highly of the eye witnesses, and he thought a lot of Point Pleasant—coming from New York City, Point Pleasant was a nice change.”
Carolin Harris, Mothman Festival organizer and owner of Harris Steakhouse, also praised Keel for being supportive of both the town and Mothman Festival.
“He was a great friend of Jeff (Wamsley) and I...He was a swell guy and backed Jeff and I in all we did,” Harris said.
Although much of Keel’s work involves UFOs and other paranormal activity, he preferred to be called a Fortean, which encompasses a wide range of paranormal subjects, rather than a ufologist. In 1975, Keel published The Mothman Prophecies, which is an account of his 1966-1967 investigation of the Mothman sightings that were reported in Point Pleasant and surrounded areas.
The book was adapted into the 2002 movie, which stared Richard Gere. Although the movie was not filmed in Point Pleasant, the Mothman Museum features memorabilia from The Mothman Prophecies film.
Other works by Keel include Jadoo, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse, Strange Creatures From Time and Space, One Haunted Planet, The Flying Saucer Subculture, The Eighth Tower, Disneyland of the Gods, The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings (revised version of Strange Creatures from Time and Space) and The Best of John Keel, which is a collection of Keel’s Fate Magazine articles.