On June 22, 2013, Destination America bought us Mountain Monsters, a series that follows a group of intrepid West Virginian hunters on their mission to track down the mythical beasts and creatures that are said to live in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) team was founded by John “Trapper” Tice, Jeff Headlee, and Willy McQuillian with the mission of proving the existence of such legends as Bigfoot, Mothman, Hellhound, Werewolf, and Lizard Man. Their investigations usually follow a set format: firstly, they conduct their initial research, sharing their knowledge of the particular beast they’re set their horizons on and chatting to the people who claim to have seen it. After a night search around the beast’s stomping ground, two of the team lay their trap while the others seek out more evidence, talking to further eyewitnesses as they try to uncover photographic or video evidence of the beast’s existence.
Preliminary investigations completed, the team begins their final night hunt to capture the beast itself, or at least record its image. Some episodes of the show have seen the hunter’s claim victory, either capturing the beast itself (before, of course, releasing it back into the wild) or capturing it on film. Skeptics have claimed their fleeting, blurred images of the supposed beasties are nothing of the kind, and that the team is just a gang of actors masquerading as hunters. Fake or not, you can’t dispute the show’s popularity… something that can be credited in no small part to the team of hunters and trackers at its heart. To find out more about the cast before the show returns for its sixth season in August, keep reading.
As one of the team’s founding members, John Tice, a retired construction worker, is the heart and soul of AIMS. The tracker has been dealing in the paranormal for years and credits his superlative tracking and survivalist skills to his experiences in the Vietnam War, along with his childhood in the Appalachian Mountains. Tice has been at the center of the group’s activities in each season but sat out a portion of season 4 after undergoing emergency surgery for a blood clot in his leg. As soon as he could walk again, Tice was back on the show doing what he does best. Tice has a pragmatic attitude to the show’s skeptics, telling Hollywood Soap Box: “Well, there’s always going to be believers, and there’s always going to be skeptics. That’s just the way this world is. To the believers, we’re out there to prove that they’re correct. To the skeptics, just keep watching.”
The rookie of the show, Jacob Lowe, is known for his quick wit and bags of energy. He might be the youngest and most untested member of the team, but his unfailing desire to seek out and uncover the truth about the paranormal makes him one of its key members. As producers have said: “This rookie might have a weak stomach, but it’s his unflinching desire to unravel the mysteries hidden deep within the mountain hollers of Appalachia that makes him essential.”
Head of Security Joseph “Huckleberry’ Lott is a native West Virginian with a background in the US marines. With five decades of military experience, he can be relied upon to keep the team safe from the creatures of the Appalachian Mountains. According to CelebLiveUpdate, Lott had an unfortunate brush with the law in 2018 when he was caught with a bag of marijuana, six bags of methamphetamine, and a bag of fentanyl. Despite trying to conceal the evidence by throwing the bag into the woods, Lott was arrested and charged.
As one of the founding members of the AIMS, Jeff Headlee contributes the brains to the operation. As a technology whizz, he’s responsible for setting up the thermal cameras and recording equipment the team relies upon to capture their photographic evidence of the legendary beasts. As the resident researcher, he’s also responsible for digging through the realms of folklore and legend that surround the beasts and for tracking down eyewitness for the team to interview. When he’s not hunting down mythical creatures, Headlee can be found working at H&S Trading Post, a family-owned antique shop that’s been trading in Marietta, Rink’s Flea Market since 1990, or enjoying time with his wife Tammy and their 2 kids, Cody and Alex.
Master trap builder Willy McQuillian is one of the co-founders of AIMS and has chief responsibility for devising and making the elaborate traps the team uses during their night hunts. His decades of experience in hunting, trapping, and carpentry has equipped him with exactly the right kind of skill set needed in the AIMS, making him one of their most important members.
Willy McQuillian’s right-hand man William “Wild Bill” Neff is understandably proud of the achievements on the show and is grateful to the show’s fans for making it so successful. “This wouldn’t be the number one show if it wasn’t for our fans,” Neff told Record Delta. “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.” Although originally from Clay Country, the 6-year veteran of the US Marines now resides in Nicolas County. Despite leaving a highly paid job he’d worked for over 27 years to join Mountain Monsters, Neff has no regrets. “This has been one of the awesome things I have ever done in my life to be on a national TV show,” he’s said. “Out of millions of millions of people, they could pick, they interviewed 700 and they chose me as one of the six.”