Lake County—There are multiple versions of the story of The Melonheads , but they all seem to involve a character named Dr. Crow in Kirtland, a small town of about 7,000 people in Lake County. Crow is either a malevolent or benevolent figure. In the stories where he’s a good guy, he takes in children suffering from some sort of dramatic macrocephaly—or, um, big-headedness—and cares for them, until a tragic accident sets his house aflame, and he dies in the fire, leaving the children alone.
In the more popular stories where he’s a bad guy, he acquires children to experiment on—sometimes from the government, sometimes on his own—and he injects their heads with water and performs other cruel experiments that lead to their melon-headed appearances. Again, there’s a fire and he’s killed—sometimes an accident, sometimes the children cause it, but, at any rate, when he’s dead they escape into the woods.
And they are said to still roam the woods, a nomadic tribe of feral, hunter-gatherers looking for potential victims. Or, in some stories, the Melonheads in the woods are the ghosts of the original children who died in the fire as well. Being an urban legend, there are plenty of variations on almost every aspect of the story.
Though actual, reliable sightings of the Melonheads are rare, driving around the lonely roads said to be their haunts and looking for them has long been a popular pastime for teenagers and young people in Lake County.
Illustration by Janie Walland
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