The encounters began in May of 1981, in Boston, Brookline, and other Massachusetts communities. By the end of the month, the local newspapers in Kansas City were publishing warnings about "Killer Clowns," said to be after children at bus stops there. (See my review and roundup of Phantom Clowns, via the list at the bottom.)
"Police are investigating after numerous reports of kids being approached by people wearing clown masks driving a van earlier this week," the Mirror said.
Needless to say, St. John's Road is a roadway with a power name.
Head teacher Elaine Buchanan said some of her students had been approached on separate occasions. In a letter sent to the students' homes, she wrote:
Dear parents, It has been brought to our attention that some of our students have been approached in the vicinity on separate occasions (one outside Sainsbury's and another outside Olive's) by two people wearing black outfits with white clown masks. We have reported this to the police with whom we are actively working.
A law enforcement spokesman said:
The incidents started two weeks ago after several reports in Tonbridge. On October 5 in Hectorage Road, pupils reported they were scared by people in clown masks.
On October 7 and 8 there were also reports of a woman in the High Street wearing a clown mask.
The following week in Tunbridge Wells, on October 13 and 14 there are reports of people wearing clown masks in a van on St John's Road.
At the moment it doesn't appear anything sinister has been linked to these reports but we are continuing to investigate and trying to establish if any offences have been committed.
We are looking into it and putting out extra patrols to make sure people feel safe.
Chief Inspector Dave Pate of Kent Police remarked:
We are still working to establish whether any offences have been committed. However, I want to assure parents that we take the safety of all children very seriously and have extra officers on patrol around schools. I would also ask parents to make sure they remind children how to keep safe.
If any child is approached or has any concerns about people behaving suspiciously they should report it immediately to their parents or schoolteachers who can then report it to police.
The motif of clowns in vans, indeed, Phantom Clowns that are never caught, began in earnest, in 1981. And they are still with us.
Stephen King's IT terrorized children (as a novel in 1986 and a TV movie in 1990), after I published my notes on the discovery of the "Phantom Clown" wave of 1981 (first in magazine articles and later in my 1983 first edition of Mysterious America).
Phantom Clowns On Coast to Coast (2008)
Top Ten Evil Clown Stories of 2008
Evil Clowns: Summer 2009
Hobo Pantry & Evil Clowns (2011)
Northern Irish Clowns Attack (2011)
Top Evil Clowns of 2011
Idaho Phantom Clown Incident (2012)
Red Hook's Mask + Van Incident (2012)
Dutch Clowns Attack (2013)
Coulrophobia Alert: Send In The Clowns (2013)
Phantom Clowns Update (2013)
Top Ten Evil Clown Stories of 2013
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (2013)
Copycat Creepy Clowns Countrywide (2014)
Evil Clowns Reach France (2014)
Aurora's Phantom Clown (2014)
See also the "Phantom Clowns" chapter of Mysterious America.
Also, search this blog for other postings on the Joker, Joker Copycats, Hobos, Jesters, and other masked mysterious beings.
The above resulted in this contribution of one reader: