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The Mattoon Gasser: You Be the Detective!


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



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The Mad Gasser of Mattoon

In the first half of September 1944, a Phantom “Anesthetic Prowler,” a “Mad Anesthetist,” a “Mad Gasser” threatened the City of Mattoon, Illinois.

Police increased nighttime patrols, in an attempt to catch the gasser. Citizens began to keep nightly watch. The City brought in State and Federal authorities to assist in the case.

However, no law enforcement or vigilante could catch the phantom gasser.

The question remains: was the gasser real, as his or her victims believed, or was the gasser the result of mass hysteria?


Be the detective

Using the newspaper reports, a map of the area, and research on the subject...



You get to decide whether there really was a “Mad Gasser of Mattoon.”


Newspaper Headlines

List of Victims / Location of Attacks

Map of Mattoon (1940)

Common Symptoms





Site Created by:
Leslie Mio
Eastern Illinois University
Historical Administration Class of 2001