In the episode, Michael Orfe recalls travelling down an unpaved road as a South Jersey high school student with his date, a girl named Violet. Suddenly, he remembers, Violet spotted something unusual coming toward them.
“I get chills every time I see it,” Orfe says, holding a sketch of what he believes to be the Jersey Devil. “I hid it [the sketch] away from my children at home when they were little.”
The backstory of the Jersey Devil is as varied as the number of people who claim to have encountered it. For more than 250 years, tales have circulated about the creature from The Pine Barrens, whose origins allegedly can be traced back to a monstrous local birth.
Orfe, now an educator in New Jersey, recalls rolling down the window of his father’s car when he sensed that “there was something out in the woods, in the pines.
“I felt cocky and comfortable about being in the Pine Barrens, but I shouldn’t have,” he tells host Kacie McDowell. “There was a hand coming through the window, and that hand was big. It had sharp nails .”
“We heard a rustling and there was definitely something out in the woods. Suddenly, Violet opened her eyes and mouth wide and she started pointing to the window because there was a hand coming through the window. And that hand was big, it had sharp — almost like a claw, sharp nails coming right at Violet’s head.”
Orfe’s immediate reaction was “to roll the window up,” he says.
“I caught the arm in the window and blood spurted out, on her face, and on me,” recalls Orfe. ” I tried to start the car, she’s screaming … I got the car started and I tried to put it in what I thought was reverse but it was actually going forward, at the same moment that he had leaped on the front of my father’s car, picked up his right arm, and shattered the windshield.”
Orfe adds that the creature finally “tumbled off” the car after he put the vehicle in reverse, allowing the teenagers a narrow escape from an experience that continues to haunt them more than six decades later.