Jan 7, 2011
The DNR’s investigation into the Deerfield horse-killing Dec. 29 is concluded today with the release of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory necropsy, said DNR Deputy Spokesman Robert Manwell in a phone interview. He sent me a copy of the lab’s report, which said the wound was not consistent with an animal attack at all.
The official description: “The distance from the soles of the front feet to the midpoint of the wound
is four feet (120 cm). The laceration is consistent with that produced by a sharp linear or curvilinear metal edge, entering the ventral aspect of the neck with considerable force at an angle. The wound is consistent with a single, large laceration. The cause of death is exsanguination.”
It sounds to me as if some warped human tried to cut off the poor horse’s head with a big knife or sword, failed, and then the animal bled to death. Why? In October, 2007, someone beheaded a juvenile alpaca on a farm near Delavan for no apparent reason. Until the culprits are caught, it is only possible to speculate about such brutal acts. And there should have been boot or shoe prints in the snow.
I should mention that the tan quarterhorse weighed over 1,000 pounds and should not have been an easy target.
Still a mystery, still very sad!
DNR official Greg Matthews also said the attack was uncharacteristic of a cougar because no other marks were found on the horse, and no part of the horse was dragged It didn’t have to be a cougar; there are other large predators around. Black bears and timber wolves might make occasional forays into this part of the state, but a bear would have left distinct footprints. Wolves normally hunt large animals in packs, but do leave large, dog-like prints. A huge, feral dog would best fit the tracks. But none of these possible culprits seems to fit the facts of this case very exactly.
All of this reminded me of an incident in 1972 about two miles from Jefferson, Wisconsin, and only about fifteen miles east of Deerfield Township. In this instance, a horse received a thirty-inch slash in its neck and survived. But according to a DNR official I interviewed about 20 years later that had been on the scene, the horse owner saw an unknown, upright, hairy hominoid on her property immediately before the attack. The former warden, David Gjetson, told me she seemed very credible and sincere.
The woman first called him to report that she had seen a large, upright “apelike”
creature walking in her farmyard. He investigated the site but found nothing. Two weeks later, the creature returned and boldly walked up on her front porch and rattled the front door of her house. It left deep scratches in the siding seven feet off the ground. It then walked to the woman’s horse shed, and the woman heard her horse whinny in fear. The creature then crossed the farmyard and trampled her vegetable garden where it left foot-long tracks (no description of their appearance was given). When the woman finally dared run outside to check on her horse, she found it had a deep, 30-inch gash on its neck.
Gjetson said he remembered the incident very well, and that he had been able to provide no official explanation for the attack, and could not explain what the woman saw.
These are not the only strange creature sightings recorded in the vicinity. Jefferson is also the site of the former St. Coletta Institute where in 1936, night watchman Mark Schackelman encountered a tall, unknown hominoid with long claws digging in an ancient burial mound. The beast produced a polysyllabic utterance that sounded like “Gadarrah” to the man. Gadara is a region of old Judea where the New Testament says Jesus cast spirits out of two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8).
Moreover, in my latest book on the topic, The Michigan Dogman, Werewolves and Other Unknown Canines Across the USA,
I listed a total of about a dozen separate sightings of Bigfoot-like (as opposed to dogman-like) creatures that have occurred mostly within a corridor that runs from southwestern Jefferson County south into the western side of Walworth County and extends westward into northeastern Rock County. These incidents began with the 1936 St. Coletta sighting and span the decades until the most recent — which occurred at about 4 p.m. on July 15, 2010 just east of Fort Atkinson in 2010.
The entire region is filled with lakes, marshes and rivers and lies at the southwestern tip of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit. A few miles north of Jefferson and about 15 miles northeast of Deerfield is the restored ancient Mississippian village now known as Aztalan State Park with many ancient mounds, some of them flat pyramids. Nearby Rock Lake, Lake Ripley and Red Cedar Lake have all been rumored to harbor lake monsters, and a lane east of Jefferson called Paradise Road is a local spook lane where a large, winged humanoid was spotted in 2005.
In fact, my 2006 book Hunting the American Werewolf calls out a 13-square-mile area I dubbed the Jefferson Square of Weirdness because of these anomalies and more, concentrated in such a small area. Deerfield Township lies just west of my imagined square. It includes several small lakes and marshes which are present in a high percentage of anomalous creatures – but of course also provide hunting habitat for other predators.
I do NOT mean to imply that I think Bigfoot attacked Stelpflug’s horse. Bigfoot would, after all, have left those famed, ginormous tracks. Something canine seems more likely, although it would need to be a very large canine. The snow-prints from whatever it was have already disappeared due to a few days of unseasonal high temperatures, but I am hoping someone took pictures.
In the meantime, I am waiting for that necropsy.