My apologies for the lack of material over the last few weeks; long hours at a dull job combined with the malaise caused by the long hours at a dull job have seriously derailed my routine. Anyway, as a peace offering, I’m posting a couple of phantom attacker reports from January 1942. Enjoy!
A series of nocturnal and mysterious incidents which have occurred in Fintona and district recently have plunged the peaceful town into a state of extreme fear and dread. The first incident occurred to a maid who was on her way home at night from her employer’s house, and when passing through Kiln Street a light was shone suddenly on her face and she was struck on the cheek. The frightened girl returned to her employer’s house, where she was provided with an escort, but the mysterious assailant had disappeared.
Next the mystery man was seen in the hours of darkness, to enter and leave a local ambulance on several occasions, although the doors had not been opened. On one occasion the mysterious visitor, wearing a long light-coloured coat, was observed standing against a high hedge, but when the person to whom he appeared flashed a strong torch on his face the light failed to reveal anyone.
On resident declares that he saw the same figure in broad daylight walking right through an iron shed and entering by and emerging from unbroken walls.
He has been seen in several streets of the town, but he does not confine his activities to these, as his latest exploit was to pull a lady of her bicycle on the Barr Road, and when she called to her husband, who was ahead of her, no man could be discovered although a thorough search was made.
One of the most fantastic versions is that he has appeared on several occasions with the light coat but appeared to have no head at all. Many ladies are afraid to go out after dark.
Two weeks later, the Derry Journal provided the following update.
Latest reports show that there is still no solution to the mysterious happenings in the district by the appearance of a tall man with long white coat, whose doings have been agitating the public for several weeks. One resident thought he had discovered a clue to the hiding place of the mystery man when he noticed that straw provided for livestock had been carried away. This was traced to a vacant cottage in Ecclesville Demesne, where a bed of straw was found, but there is no sign of a man in the vicinity.
It would seem that the mysterious visitor has been guilty of minor assaults on his victims.
A report has come to hand that the mystery man was set upon by a resident of Tonagh, who got the better of the fight and left him hors-de-combat on the roadside. The Tonagh man went to a house for assistance to bring him to a place of detention, but when he returned the mystery man could not be found.
While no one yet would appear to have got a close-up view of his face, in every instance he is described as tall, with a light-coloured overcoat, muddy boots and a cap.
- Derry Journal, 2 & 16 January 1942