This month will see the finale of season 6 of the hugely successful Destination America reality TV show, Mountain Monsters. So far, the season has seen the intrepid AIMS team attempt to track down the Cherokee Death Cat (a vicious feline with a deadly curse), the Silver Giant of Boone Country, and the legendary Waya Woman of Jackson County. Regardless of whether you’re a believer in the mythical beasts and creatures the team claim inhabit the Appalachian Mountains or not, you can’t deny there’s a lot of fun to be had from watching them try to track them down… not to say the ever so slightly suspicious video evidence they use to prove they’ve done exactly that. Like ever, this season has bought us the usual gang of West Virginian trackers and hunters- a team whose wilderness prowess is overshadowed only by those mightily fine beards.
The heart and soul of the AIMS team is John Tice, a retired construction worker who’s chosen to see out his senior years tracking down the legendary creatures of the Appalachian Mountains (clearly no one’s thought to tell him about the joys of golf). Tice has given fans of the show some nail-biting moments over the years, not least when rumors started circulating that he’d died after a blood clot was discovered in his leg. Fortunately, Tice lives on (as after all, what kind of monster hunter would peg it to something like a mundane thrombosis?). Tice has been somewhat surprised at the success of the show, telling Hollywood Soap Box, “I am surprised. I am just an old country boy from Sugar Creek here in West Virginia.” Tice claims never to have been scared by any of the beast’s he’s sighted but does say a few have “surprised” him. “When you are after one creature and another one appears, that has happened,” he said. “That happened to me last season, and it is very dramatic.” We imagine.
As the youngest member of the team, Jacob Lowe has an unflinching desire to uncover the truth about the Appalachian Mountain’s legendary beasts, even if he does sometimes get a little shaky while he does it. “This rookie might have a weak stomach, but it is his desire to unravel the mysteries hidden within the mountains of Appalachia that makes him so essential”, producers have said, and with his quick wit and easy southern charm, few would disagree (at least, those who don’t believe he’s an actor in disguise would.. According to Screen Rant, rumors have been circulating that Lowe is just a gigging actor ever since keen-eyed fans noticed his name in the credits of an independent documentary about the Anthony Porter murder investigation).
Self-appointed head of security Joseph Lott developed his expert survivalist skills over the course of a 5-decade long military career. Since abandoning the forces for civilian life, Lott has taken to monster hunting like a duck to water… unfortunately for his criminal record, it’s not the only thing he’s taken too. In 2018, Lott hit the headlines after it emerged that police had charged him with possession of a bag of marijuana, six bags of methamphetamine, and a bag of fentanyl. Reports that he’d been trying to use them to entice the mythical beasts from their hiding places remain unconfirmed…
Jeff Headlee helped form the AIMS team and remains one of their core members. Widely considered to be the brains behind the operation, Headlee has the key responsibility of setting up the cameras and recording equipment the team relies upon to document the comings and goings of the mountain’s beasties. He’s also the main man in charge of digging through the backstories of those same beasties, in addition to tracking down and interviewing the West Virginian natives who claim to have seen them. Despite the hefty salary you’d expect Destination America to be paying the stars of one of its highest rating shows, Headlee hasn’t given up his day job, and continues to run his family antique shop, H&S Trading Post in Marietta, Rink’s Flea Market, with his wife Tammy and their two kids, Cody and Alex.
There are “trap builders” and then there are “master trap builders”. West Virginian native and AIMS founding member Willy McQuillian most definitely falls into the latter category. With decades of survivalist training and trap building experience behind him, it’s his way with a cage and some camouflage that makes all the difference to the AIMS team’s success. Widely known by his nickname of Wild Bill, McQuillian’s down to earth charm and cheerful energy has made him one of the team’s most popular members with fans. Prior to joining the show, McQuillian served 6 years in the US Army and spent a large portion of his service in Thailand, Philippines, and Japan. After leaving the forces, McQuillian took up what Realty Star Facts describes a “stable job with a 401K income”… although what that job was, no one seems quite sure. As with all the members of the AIMS team, McQuillian’s past is slightly shrouded in mystery, with many claiming that he, like some of the others, is simply an actor playing the part.
Right-hand man to Wild Bill and 6-year veteran of the US Marines, William Neff can’t quite seem to get over his delight at having been asked onto the show, even all these years later. “This has to have been one of the most awesome things I have ever done to be on a national TV show,” he told the Record Delta. “Out of millions of people they could pick, they interviewed seven hundred and they chose me to be one of the six.” He’s not averse to showing his appreciation to fans either. “Any time I can get a chance to come out and meet and greet the fans, tell them I appreciate them and let them see who I am and what I am about, I try to do that,” he’s said.
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