Do entities from other realms really walk the face of the earth? Frank J. Bennett believes they do and he backs his belief with an experience he had one icy morning in 1980, as he stood along the shoreline near Aberdeen, Maryland.
Bennett recalls this event – amongst others – and delves into their theological repercussions, in his book, Encounter With The Aberdeen Wildman – A True Story (Self-Published 2015). We spoke with Bennett last weekend at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention about his life, his encounters, and his view on just what he saw that winter’s day. Encounter With The Aberdeen Wildman – A True Story is available directly from the author, and at Amazon.
LAPX: Please tell our readers a little about yourself and how you came to write your book.
Bennett: I am a Bible teacher and an author on the paranormal who grew up in this area – Baltimore County – close to the Gunpowder River and Essex way. While living there in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, I had encounters with many strange creatures and paranormal entities.
People who experience paranormal occurrences tend to forget about them after a while. That’s what I did. But in the late 90s, the paranormal became a hot topic again. It was then that I realized that many people went through similar experiences as I did.
That encouraged me to reexamine the things I’d experienced while living here in Baltimore County, which in turn led me to write the book, Encounter With The Aberdeen Wildman – A True Story.
LAPX: You said you’re a Bible teacher. Could you tell us a bit about your theological background?
Bennett: I’m non-denominational and hold a degree in Bible Studies.
LAPX: Approaching this subject of the paranormal from a theological standpoint, do you consider what you’ve experienced demonic in nature, as opposed to what some might see as benign paranormal activity?
Bennett: I’m always uncomfortable with the term demonic. It doesn’t appear in the Hebrew texts, so the Greeks – who had a word for everything – invented the term. To look at a word like “spirit”, which is what Jesus used quite often, to describe a mischievous spirit or an angry spirit, is where the term demonic comes into play. That’s not a literal translation, but that’s what they mean with it in the Greek. It’s something which comes with power and choler.
What many people attribute to demonic activity is simply spirit activity. It does not have to be demonic to put a hurtin’ on ya.
LAPX: How can one tell the difference?
Bennett: We know from scripture that there are different kinds of spirits. For instance, there is the occasion in the Book of Matthew, where Jesus sends the disciples out to cast out devils – which was another term that He used.
The disciples came back and said, “Lord, there is one we could not cast out!” So, Jesus had to go in person to this individual who was inflicted and cast that entity out himself. When the disciples asked him why they couldn’t do it, Jesus replied, “This kind is only removed through prayer and supplication.”
So, there are different kinds of spirits.
LAPX: Okay, let’s continue that thought and work it back into what you’ve personally encountered.
Bennett: The Encounter With The Aberdeen Wildman is about my personal experiences, but the reason the Wildman is the central character of the book is because – on the coldest day in 1980, out in the marshes of the Chesapeake Bay – I saw what appeared to be a very dark human being. He was wearing clothing, but it was nine degrees outside. I was wearing a B-52 flight jacket – he was only wearing a button-down shirt.
There are these little islands in the marshes that used to be part of the mainland. I saw him staring at me from one of those islands. To make a long story short, when it felt threatened by me, it launched into this long fit of rage and proceeded to run all over that island, screaming and hollering. It was not the voice of an ape – it was the voice of a deeply throated man.
The key point in this encounter is: I saw it reappear in the exact same spot where I had first seen it, look at me for about five seconds, and then jump up into the trees overhead and scamper off.
That was a jump of about fifteen feet, and there is no creature in nature capable of making a fifteen-foot vertical leap. None. And yet, I watched what looked like a human being make this leap, then it shimmied up 60-70 feet, into the tops of the trees, screaming and hollering, and it went through the trees rather quickly. There are only a handful of animals in nature that can move through trees like that, but I’m standing there watching what appeared to be a human being do that.
It never made a move to attack me – which is what I feared it might do.
The other reason it is the central character in the book is: I watched all of that physicality – the sounds and so-forth – but before I ever saw it, I actually sensed its presence.
LAPX: How so?
Bennett: It had a spirit quality to it – a powerful one. And that’s what caused me to notice it to begin with.
So, I can use comparisons of what I saw and experienced and match it up against, say, what people have reported about their encounters with the Sasquatch. What they sensed, what they felt, what they smelled. The size, the intimidation – all of that stuff. Then, match those encounters with creatures in the cryptozoology field and the paranormal realm. I’m looking to derive conclusions based on those characteristics.
LAPX: In your investigations, have you found some kind of spiritual quality to be a common thread?
Bennett: You can’t have the paranormal without it. By the way, I don’t ghost hunt. I want to make that clear.
If there was a ghost hunt, I would be the guy sitting in the driveway with the car running. That would be my role – I’m the get-away driver.
Bennett: I’d like to read those stories.
LAPX: What was your upbringing like?
Bennett: I grew up with horrible demonic oppression – powerful waves of suicidal thoughts. And I can use the word demonic in that sentence because of the activity necessary and what they intended to do. When they intend to overcome in force, that’s demonic. And when they send not just one but many powerful entities to effect an outcome, that’s demonic.
The only answer to them, in the end, for a teen-aged boy trying to sort things out, was “kill yourself.”
That’s what I grew up with: “Kill yourself.”
That was the message over and over again, in my mind and in my heart. It was just:
“You are a waste of time.”
“You were never supposed to be born at all.”
“Nobody likes you.”
“You should die.”
I would never go back into a situation where I would invite that upon myself. And that’s why I don’t ghost hunt. They will re-infest you, if they choose to.
LAPX: Do you believe these entities infest Ouija boards?
Bennet: No, I don’t.
LAPX: Are Ouija boards a portal?
He: No, they are not. Ouija boards are an apparatus. Two people can sit together in a room and do exactly what a Ouija board does. Jesus said, “Wherever two or three agree in my name, there so shall I be also.” That is the basis of how the Ouija board works. It is a contradiction and a mocking of the very phrase Jesus said.
LAPX: We’re sitting today – not in a Bible class – but at a nostalgia convention. Would you talk for a moment about sharing a Biblical view on paranormal activity with a secular audience?
Bennett: I speak at dozens of shows every year throughout the country. When I speak to paranormal groups especially, I quote the Book of Mark, chapter 5. There, Jesus encounters the man in a foreign land, who is possessed of many devils. Again, we have the term devils because scripture is about lineage. It doesn’t always use names so much as it identifies genealogy. Where it came from and how it got there. These things are of the devil, and the man in this story had many.
The possessed man recognized Jesus, and he ran to Him and begged for mercy.
Jesus asked the spirit – not the man, but the spirit – “What is your name?” And a voice replied. “I am Legion, for we are many.”
I always ask the people I talk to if they know what is a legion? The answer is: in the ancient Roman army, legion is a group of soldiers numbering 5,000 men. So, in this story, you have one large entity occupied by 5,000 smaller entities – all possessing this one man.
When a paranormal investigator goes into a house – looking for the little girl ghost or the lady in white – you think you are looking for one spirit, and so you try addressing one spirit. But where there is one, there are thousands – like cockroaches. That’s the nature of the paranormal.
LAPX: Do you ever address church groups?
Bennett: I have never to this day been permitted to, or invited to speak to, a church. In my business, I’m more welcome by paranormal groups, by curious Satanists, by Comic-cons and by Wiccans, who have defended me when I am attacked, than the church. I can’t get into a bible-believing church because of the nature of my work.
Understand — I don’t mean to label here, but that has been my experience. I crave to speak about scripture, but that door has been shut. And sometimes, that hurts.
LAPX: Don’t the individual denominations have their own approved speakers on various subjects?
Bennett: Yes, and the same is true outside of the church. But the problem is, there is no room for expansion of thought. Alternative ideas, alternative viewpoints. There is a politics to this, and it is unseemly, because once politics enters the picture, the truth suffers.
LAPX: What can a reader of your books expect to find?
Bennett: First, I am very scientifically minded, especially for physics. Plus, I have a love for history and a great sense of humor, so both of my books contain a large dose of those things.
Encounter With The Aberdeen Wildman contains a careful history of my encounter, along with a scientific breakdown of that incident and others. A Ghost in Philadelphia is my first attempt at writing paranormal science fiction and incorporates the science and history along with the paranormal.
LAPX: I’m sure your encounter with the Aberdeen Wildman remains foremost in your mind, but do any other encounters or stories color your views?
Bennett: Yes, the stories of the shadow people. Having encountered one in my own house in the summer of 1979, I can tell you, if you see one, you don’t need to see another. It’s something that rattles you to the core.
I would describe it this way: You are standing, looking in pitch blackness and you see a figure. You know it’s looking at you and the reason it is there is for you. It may be pitch black, but you see the figure has depth to it. It’s like a doorway into another place.
LAPX: What advice do you give people who tell you they have seen or experienced something strange or other-worldly?
Bennett: I ask a lot of questions, and thankfully, the paranormal shows already do this in a quasi-kind of way. You’ve got to ask questions because through the questioning, a lot comes out.
As for advise, I am not a preacher or a holy man – I am a Bible teacher. And as a Bible teacher, it is my job to instruct the uninformed of the Word of God as found in the scriptures and place them in context. It is not my job to use select verses as sound bites.
LAPX: Selling books is nice, but may I ask in closing, why are you doing this?
Bennett: By “this”, I assume you mean addressing paranormal groups, and the answer is pretty simple. I am trying to alert people who are interested in the paranormal of the danger they are flirting with; of messing with the paranormal and thinking you can’t be affected by it. Most people have no concept of what these spirits are and what they are capable of doing, nor of what you can be bringing upon yourself.
The Scriptural tie-in to all of this is classic, of course, and just beautiful. In that regard, I don’t have to do much work.
Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A former reporter at The Washington Herald and an occasional contributor to the Voice of Baltimore, Tony’s poetry, humor and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore; Magic Octopus Magazine; Destination Maryland, and Tales of Blood and Roses.