Ohio is weird. We’ve got a lot of weirdness here in the swing state. Okay, maybe we’re not as weird as Louisiana, but there sure is some strange stuff going on in the heartland. Every state has unusual attributes that make it just a little bit different from the other 49. Besides being the birthplace of 7 presidents, Ohio is the birthplace of many bizarre urban legends.
First of all, we are one of the squatchiest states in the nation, somewhere in the top 5 according to BFROand Bigfoot enthusiasts. We are home to theOhio Grass Man. Other than a few physical differences and some choice personality quirks, The Grass Man is basically a Bigfoot.
Some Ohioans lay claim to The Mothman as well, due to the proximity of Point Pleasant and the Ohio River. If it’s got wings, what’s to keep it from coming over the border?
I’ve heard stories about a Dog Man or wild werewolf-type creature who’s been spotted not far from my very residential neighborhood! Yikes! And of course there’s “Bessie,” the Lake Erie sea monster spotted wading in the shallows of our northern shore.
But by far our most interesting and unusual urban legend is that of the Melon Heads, not to be confused with Bagel Heads — a self-inflicted body modification treatment that’s all the rage in Japan. Although Michigan and Connecticut have claimed their own versions of the Melon Heads, their origin is most commonly traced back to Ohio.
Melon Heads are described as a small humanoid creatures with extremely large, misshapen heads. They are often hairless with deformed limbs, razor-like teeth, and glowing red eyes – truly a horrific sight to behold, if you ever catch a glimpse of them.
What are the Melon Heads? Where did they come from? Why are they lurking in the deep woods of Lake County? Various versions of the story have surfaced over the years. The legend has been featured on shows such as Monsters and Mysteries in America (season 2, episode 11) with varying degrees of creepiness. But this is the one I know. This is the terrifying tale told to me at summer camp, the one that kept me up at night. The one that kept curious children from going into the woods alone.
A mysterious man known only as Dr. Crow lived in a secluded house on Wisner Road in Kirtland, Ohio, an eastern suburb of Cleveland. Some say he was married and that his wife was unable to have children. Other accounts say that the Crows had a child who suffered from hydrocephalus (water on the brain) which caused the youngster to be severely disfigured.
Dr. Crow may not have been a real doctor (or he may have been stripped of his medical license) but that didn’t stop him from his work. He was said to be the guardian of a number of orphaned children, or perhaps he was the staff physician, although there are no records of any orphanage ever being in the area. In either case, the children became the victims of his macabre medical practice.
Possibly in an attempt to help his own child, or maybe in some sort quest for a cure, Dr. Crow performed experiments on the children – horrific, painful experiments including injecting fluid into their heads. The repeated “treatments” caused the malformations that gave the children their terrifying appearance. The “Melon Heads,” as they were called, were docile, helpless victims of the mad man’s strange fascinations.
Years passed and Dr. Crow’s insanity raged. The escalating evil spilled out from doctor to patient. The children — those who survived — went mad. In an unexpected act of revolt, the Melon Heads attacked Crow, taking vengeance in a most violent manner. The doctor died at the hands of his children, who were now free from collective captivity.
(image by Randy Barrell)
The Melon Heads set fire to the doctor’s house and laboratory, destroying any and all records of the non-sanctioned experiments and deplorable abuse. They were free, but where could they go? The only home they had ever known was gone, as was the only adult they had ever dealt with.
The Melon Heads took to the woods, hiding together, scared, angry, seeking shelter and food whereever they could find it. They had no ability or desire to communicate with the outside world. Once again, they were alone.
Another version of the story paints quite a different picture of Dr. Crow. Instead of the mad scientist inflicting abhorrent abuse on orphans, Crow was a gentle, loving man seeking only to help children suffering from hydrocephalus. Maybe because of his personal history, maybe out of the goodness of his heart, Crow took in dozens of orphaned, abandoned, and unwanted children giving them a safe and secure place to call home.
The “Melon Heads,” as the ignorant neighbors called them, loved the good doctor. He was like a father who gave them unconditional love and acceptance. In his secluded hideaway on Wisner Road, Dr. Crow cared for the unfortunate children, shielding them from the cruelty of the outside world. All was well for the unusual family until the aging Dr. Crow suddenly died of natural causes.
Now, upset and frightened with no one to care for them, no one to feed or clothe them, the Melon Heads became enraged. They set fire to the house, burned Dr. Crow’s body, and fled to the woods. They took their anger out on anyone who crossed their paths. The locals knew to far stay away from the old Crow property, but other curiosity seekers went looking for trouble.
Here is where the two versions concur: an encounter with the Melon Heads always results in terror!
As the years passed, the Melon Heads grew. The ones who survived reproduced, creating more deformed offspring. The insanity was passed as well as the physical characteristics.
The Melon Heads guarded their territory from outsiders. They were blamed for numerous attacks and some kidnappings. Some accounts say they stole livestock, pets, even children, using them as a food source. Cannibalism was not out of the question in desperate times. Ick!
The Melon Heads have been spotted near the alleged site of the Crow residence for decades. Wisner Road is a hot spot for legend trippers and paranormal investigators. Teenagers trek to the Kirtland area hoping to catch a glimpse of the monstrous beings.
Michigan and Connecticut Melon Heads have oddly similar characteristics, with the latter tracing their ancestors back to colonial times. That story has its roots in witchcraft.
The legend grows with each passing decade. Reports of Melon Head sightings continue to pour into Internet websites and social media outlets. Movies (both amateur and “professional”) have been made about this most ghastly and heartbreaking cryptid.
A campfire tale or true story? Fact, fiction, or folklore? That’s the mystery of cryptids. No one has been able to prove that the Melon Heads are real. There is zero documentation to support the story. Excluding eyewitness accounts, no evidence has ever surfaced to support these claims. There are no records of a Dr. Crow (Crowe, Kroh, or Krohe) ever living in Lake or Cuyahoga County. No records of an orphanage in the area, no birth records, no medical accounts of local children with hydrocephalus or any similar condition.
But the legend continues. People claim they spot the Melon Heads, alone or in small groups, lurking in the woods, hiding their faces from the stinging glare of the public. Their sorrowful moans and cries echo in the darkness. The stillness of the night air is broken by the crunching of leaves and snapping of branches as someone or something unseen follows you through the thickets, watching intently with glowing red eyes.
Ghosts seem to be everywhere, Bigfoot gets around, but the Melon Heads are Ohio born and (in)bred. Take LeBron and leave us our legacy. Our state has many attributes, from thriving metropolitan areas to lush farm lands, to the many grand rivers that run through it. The great winding Cuyahoga wraps itself around our northern border reaching its watery limbs into the great Lake Erie… or should I say, Lake “Eerie”?