Myths And Legends: The Grinning Man

Indrid Cold, commonly known as The Grinning Man, is a purported humanoid entity. His name comes from his tendency to smile at those who encounter him.

The Grinning Man is reported to be human-like in appearance, though is commonly associated with UFO activity and is sometimes believed to be an alien. It is also believed possible that he is connected with the Men In Black. In his first sighting, he was described as being over six feet tall and wearing a reflective, green suit with a black belt. He had a dark complexion and small, beady eyes set far apart. He was described as not having any nose, ears, or hair. In his second known encounter, his suit was said to be blue instead of green, but still retained its reflective property.

Other 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 unsettled that they are unable to recall whether he even had a nose or ears, but far and away his most disconcerting characteristic is the wide, hideous, shark-like grin that is perpetually plastered across his face.

Indrid Cold was first seen on October 11th, 1966. The encounter occurred in Elizabeth, New Jersey, at approximately 9:45 pm. 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 busy 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.

Both Munov and Yanchitis were nervous as they had heard that a woman had been chased by a “tall, green man” earlier that evening in the same area. It was Yanchitis who first noticed the ominous 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.”

The 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 peculiar  man chased them until they got away from him. UFO sightings were also reported around the area. The boys were interviewed individually — in the home of one George Smythe — and, according to renowned paranormal investigator, John 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.”

It wasn’t long before the boys’ bizarre tale spread 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. The initial eyewitnesses to this event were a police officer and his wife. The officer and his spouse watched in amazement as the object — which they described as resembling a “blazing white light as big as a car” — nearly hit an almost 600-foot tall television tower, before vanishing over nearby hills at a leisurely pace. As if they weren’t credible enough witnesses, on the opposite side of the hills two additional police officers would also catch more than a glimpse of this incredible airborne anomaly.

The officers in question were Patrolman Edward Wester and Sergeant Benjamin Thompson of the Wanaque Reservoir Police. The pair watched as the luminous UFO soared over the reservoir at a low altitude. Sergeant Thompson was later quoted as stating:

“The light was brilliantly white. It lit up the whole area for about three hundred yards. In fact, it blinded me when I got out of the patrol car to look at it, and I couldn’t see for about twenty minutes afterwards.”

On November 2nd, 1966 in Parkersburg, West Virginia (around the same area and time as the Mothman came about) less than a month after Munov and Yanchitis had their disturbing encounter — sewing machine salesman, Woodrow Derenberger, was driving home after a long day of work when suddenly a bizarre vehicle dropped down from the dark sky and landed in the road in front of him. The vehicle was unlike anything that Derenberger had ever seen before. He described it as looking like:

“An old fashioned kerosene lamp chimney, flaring at both ends, narrowing down to a small neck and then enlarging in a great bulge in the center”.

The startled Derenberger slammed on the brakes and screeched to a halt. A hatch slid open on the side of the mystery vehicle before him and a tall, dark skinned man climbed out. The salesman later described him as having “slightly elongated” eyes, but his most notable attribute was the wide, creepy grin, which Derenberger claimed he could see glinting in his truck’s headlights. In fact, the one of the few disparities between the frightening Grinning Man described by Munov and Yanchitis and the one seen by Derenberger is that the latter described the humanoid’s clothes as blue instead of green, but — much like the New Jersey Grinning Man — his clothes were reflective and made of a material that the appliance salesman noted was: “quite shiny and had a glistening effect.”

Derenberger then claimed that this Grinning Man telepathically communicate with him, asking him a series of odd questions. Following this the entity simply stated that:
“My name is Cold… I will be visiting you again.”

Cold then returned to his unusual vehicle, which launched from the interstate and soared up into the sky. Following this encounter, both Derenberger and several other Point Pleasant residents would claim to have additional run-ins with the infamous Indrid Cold. Eventually Derenberger would reveal that Cold informed him that he was an alien from the planet Lanulos, which was nestled in the galaxy of Genemedes. He would further claim that Cold had taken him to his home planet where he saw people wearing “colorful shorts” and all the words on the signs appeared to be in a “squiggly, oriental-like writing.”

Cold was soon followed by two other ‘Grinning Men’ named Demo Hassan and Karl Ardo. Derenberger’s wife even met them and believed that their agenda was an “evil” one. Sadly, it wasn’t long after these events that his wife divorced him. Derenberger would go on to co-author a book about his experiences titled: “Visitors from Lanulos” with Harold W. Hubbard.

Another encounter occurred in Point Pleasant during that same period. The event happened at the rural home of the Lilly family. The Lilly’s were dealing with frightening poltergeist-like activity as well as seeing peculiar lights in the skies above their home on a nightly basis. According to Mrs. Lilly:

“We’ve seen all kinds of strange things… blue lights, green ones, red ones, things that change color. Some have been so low that we thought we could see diamond-shaped windows in them. And none of them make any noise at all.”

The incident involving the “Grinning Man”, however, did not happen to the entire family, but focused on the Lilly’s daughter, Linda. The young lady who stated that she had woken up one night to see a hulking figure leering down at her while she was in bed. In Linda’s own words:

“It was a man, a big man. Very broad. I couldn’t see his face very well, but I could see that he was grinning at me. He walked around the bed and stood right over me. I screamed again and hid under the covers, when I looked again he was gone.”

Linda then ran into her mother’s room shrieking hysterically: “There is a man in my room! There is!” She refused to sleep alone for months following the encounter.

In December of 1978, a 26 year-old night watchman, Pier Zanfretta, was on a routine patrol in the village of Torriglia, Italy, when he claims he was abducted by a trio of gigantic, yellow-eyed, semi-reptilian aliens. Following this incident would be a series of terrifying abductions that would continue for years, but one of his creepiest encounters was not alien but with a ‘Grinning Man’. On December 3rd, 1979, at approximately 9:30 pm, Zanfretta got out of his patrol car at a self-service gas station near downtown Genoa. He claimed that he heard someone calling out to him from the shadows outside the station. Zanfretta described entity that was speaking to him as a tall, humanoid figure with a bald, “egg-shaped” head, who was dressed in a checkered suit that included a chest plate made of “steel” He was also grinning from ear to ear.

Like Cold before him, this lanky creature spoke to the security guard without moving his lips and ordered him to drive his vehicle into a small cloud that was hovering just above the ground nearby. Zanfretta swore that the sound of the Grinning Man’s voice physically compelled him to obey the request. The young guard did as he was instructed and claimed that he and his patrol car were levitated within the cloud and deposited onto a colossal spacecraft. This ship, according to the watchman, was filled not only with the reptilian aliens that had been abducting him, but large, transparent cylinders filled with a weird blue liquid. One of the cylinders was said to have contained a “frog-shaped” body, which the aliens explained was: “An enemy of ours from another planet.”

In the years since 1978, there have only been a few sporadic — and unconfirmed — reports of the ‘Grinning Man’. The first is from April 23rd, 2009, when a blogger known only as H. R. Zapruder posted a very brief encounter with he believed to be a Grinning Man while driving near Roswell, New Mexico:

“Soon afterwards, I drove past a man standing in the brush, I thought he was hitchhiking so I sped past, you know, hitchhikers = bad news. Anyway, I didn’t think much of it at first but as I sped by, I noticed a green glistening so I inspected the rear view mirror. I saw the man from behind, he was bald and over 6-feet tall, wearing a sparkling green jacket, the rest was obscured by the brush. When I arrived in town I was told by some locals I’d just missed a UFO.”

Another report comes from author A.J. DiChiara, who told of his sister’s experience with a ‘Grinning Man’ in the late 1980’s. The unnamed woman was driving to her rural home in Connecticut on a dark autumn eve, when she claimed that an “entity” drove up next to her in what she described as a “phantom car with an eerie glow.” She looked over and saw what she described as a “hideous creature” staring at her with glowing yellow eyes and a toothy grin, which terrified her. As quickly and mysteriously as it appeared, the strange vehicle vanished. This incident served as inspiration for her brothers fictional novel “The Grinning Man.”

Whether you believe this story or not I do love this story, it’s so creepy and I’m surprised it hasn’t been used more in film or television.

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