The Jersey Devil, described as a haunting cryptid, is said to stand at an alarming nine feet tall, with a goat-like head, wyvern-like wings, and hooved feet.
Legend has it that a woman named Jane Leeds already a mother of 12 - also known as Mother Leeds - in her frustration with her impoverished life, cursed her 13th child to be the devil.
On a stormy night in 1735, Jane gave birth to that child surrounded by loved ones.
As the story goes, the child initially appeared healthy but then transformed into a devil that would eventually disappear up the chimney.
Other versions of the story suggest that the devil had been growing inside Jane throughout her pregnancy and that local clergymen had unsuccessfully tried to exorcise it.
This so-called devil would then be birthed and live for almost three centuries to date.
Over this period countless individuals, including Pedersen, have ventured into the depths of the Pine Barrens in search of this elusive creature.
In his upcoming book, he chronicles his quest along with the many accounts he has of this beast he has stumbled on thus far.
One of these stories reveals a particularly harrowing incident involving the Jersey Devil's alleged interference with a plane.
The pilot’s trip to New York was successful but tragedy struck on his return journey when he encountered stormy weather.
As a result, Carranza's plane would crash in the Pine Barrens, ultimately costing him his life - but according to legend - not before he scribbled on a piece of paper the cause of his demise.
While it is widely believed that the stormy weather contributed to the pilot's death, Pedersen proposes an alternate theory.
He says “they found a paper that Carranza had written that he hit a creature that caused the plane to crash."
“He didn't die right away. He jotted down on a piece of paper that he hit the serpentine creature that caused his plane to crash.”
Alleged eyewitness testimonies have further corroborated the existence of the Jersey Devil.
Pederson also speaks of people who claim to have seen the monster bounding from tree to tree alongside a highway, while others share stories of the devil descending upon unsuspecting herds of deer.
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Pederson acknowledges that the beast could be a myth and attributes the spread of the Jersey Devil legend throughout the region to another factor.
During the Prohibition era, moonshiners reportedly circulated tales of this devil to deter people from approaching their illegal moonshine operations.
This was particularly effective as citizens already feared accidentally stumbling upon criminal activities in the depths of the Pine Barrens.
Also, at the time, rumors about poachers, fugitives, and runaway slaves were said to be propagated to dissuade women and children from venturing too far into the woods.
Today, the fear of the Jersey Devil still lingers.
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