An artist's depiction
|Theories|| · Criminal|
· Mass hysteria
The Phantom Barber was a mysterious humanoid entity blamed for a series of nocturnal attacks that plagued the fishing town of Pascagoula, Mississippi (also the location of the Pascagoula Creature encounter), throughout the summer of 1942.
Witness Mary Evelyn Briggs later described the man as “sorta short, sorta fat, and he was wearing a white sweatshirt."
There are several explanations as to what the creature could be. Theories include:
- A human criminal
- Mass hysteria
His reign of terror began on Friday, June 5, 1942, when young Mary Evelyn Briggs and Edna Marie Hydel at the Our Lady of Victories convent were shocked to find a man climbing out of their bedroom window. The two girls were unharmed, although each of them was missing a lock of hair. (mentalfloss.com)
The Barber struck again on Monday at the Peattie home, where he cut a slit in the window screen and crawled inside to snip the hair of little 6-year old Carol Peattie as she lay sleeping next to her twin brother. This time the Phantom Barber had accidentally left a clue—a sandy footprint near the window. (mentalfloss.com)
The next incident occurred the following Friday night, when the home of Mr. and Mrs. Heidelberg was invaded. Like before, the window screen was cut and the invader came inside. But instead of taking his typical trophy tuft, he used a heavy iron bar to attack the couple, taking out some of Mrs. Heidelberg’s front teeth and knocking her husband unconscious. Unfortunately, it all happened so quickly that neither could describe their attacker.
The police deputized six men and brought in bloodhounds to pick up a scent. The dogs followed the trail to a pair of bloodstained gloves in the nearby woods, but that was as far as they got. The police theorized that the assailant might have stashed a bicycle in the woods to make his escape. (mentalfloss.com)
The final attack came on a Sunday night, when the hair of Mrs. R.R. Taylor was cut. She said she had been woken up by “something with a sickening smell” passing over her nose. The next thing she remembered, was waking up and getting violently ill. Police later determined the Barber must have cut the window screen, stuck a chloroform-soaked rag over Taylor’s face, and then collected his lock of hair. (mentalfloss.com)
- Two months after the final attack, police announced that they had arrested William Dolan, a 57-year old chemist, for charges of attempted murder. Police claimed a large bundle of human hair was found behind his home. The FBI later identified some of the hair as belonging to Carol Peattie, the Barber’s youngest victim. Dolan was quickly found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
- Six years later, Mississippi Governor Fielding Wright reviewed the case and asked that Dolan take a lie-detector test. Upon passing, Dolan was given a limited suspended sentence and then eventually set free in 1951.