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HillsboroHairlessI always feel a twang of chagrin when I find out more about a story long after it’s gone to press. But it’s also a chance to make good on the additional facts and keep faith with my readers that I’ll try to put forth the best information I have–late to the party or not. Such is the weird tale of the 1992 creature known as the Hillsboro Hairless Thing, aka the Hillsboro Mutant and the Hora Horror, which I wrote about briefly in my 2011 book, Monsters of Wisconsin.

The news accounts I’d found then that seemed the most consistent  told of a small, gray, hairless critter that jumped out of a hay mow in the barn on the Joe Hora farm and attacked a beagle owned by Hora’s grandson, Brian. But I have long-time Hillsboro, Wisconsin newspaper writer Steven Stanek to thank for a treasure trove of original news clippings that add much to the story.

In actuality, according to an article Stanek wrote two weeks after the first breaking story in the Hillsboro Sentry-Enterprise, the beagle was the aggressor as it pulled the creature from its hiding place in the hay. All the stories agree that the farmer hit the two-foot-long beastie with a pipe and quickly killed it. Left is a picture of Brian Hora holding the carcass. Below is a scan of the printed newspaper story and photo that includes the curious beagle and a better view of the creature.

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This later article also mentioned that not everyone agreed with the DNR’s conclusion that the creature was a raccoon with mange. Two veterinarians who examined its post-mortem photos said the hairlessness was too complete to be mange. The creature also lacked the strong smell and thickened skin associated with mange, according to witnesses. As for the animal’s identity, a raccoon (perhaps hairless due to genetic mutation) still seemed to be the top local contender although a few citizens suggested a quill-less porcupine or a Mexican hairless dog as possible candidates.

More surprisingly, it turned out that another one of the creatures, very similar except with larger ears, had been spotted on a farm in nearby Yuba twice in summer, 1991. The animal appeared to be very healthy despite its naked appearance, said property owner Phil Connors in Stanek’s article.IMG_20150130_0002

Even weirder, yet another one turned up in adjacent Juneau County along Highway 71 in July, 2011 (right after my book had gone to press, naturally). It was found dead by Highway Patrolman Jeff Potter. About the same size and shape as the previous animals, it also displayed the same long, raccoon-like toes and bare tail. The headline in the Juneau County Messenger read, “Does Wisconsin Have Chupacabras?”

So, does it?

My own opinion is that they were all raccoons with a genetic mutation for hairlessness. I learned during my research for American Monsters on the famed Texas blue dogs also  at first also termed Chupacabras that hairlessness is not a terribly unusual mutation in mammals and that it’s a dominant trait. If that’s true, there are likely more of them hiding in the woods and hollows of Juneau and Vernon Counties. I just hope that the next one will be preserved and subjected to scientific analysis so that the legend–if not the carcasses–of Hillsboro’s Hairless Horrors can at last be properly laid to rest.

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LouisProudCoverMost people who explore unknown phenomena also often spend just as much time looking for mundane explanations of the cryptids, UFOs and the other curious things they study. This is a mandatory exercise in any honest investigation; sometimes the raft of eerie lights in the night sky is really a flotilla of Chinese lanterns, or the big shaggy thing behind the tree turns out to be a common black bear. If so, it’s good to know.

Sometimes, however, “natural” solutions may involve things that require their own explanations — various types of energy fields, for instance. It’s easy for non-scientists like myself to bandy about terms like electromagnetic fields or microwave radiation without necessarily having a firm grasp on what these things actually are. Such ignorance can be not only embarrassing but detrimental to whatever theory a researcher may be trying to work out.

That’s why I was so delighted to discover the excellent resource, Strange Electromagnetic Dimensions; The Science of the Unexplainable by Louis Proud. Proud puts the whole panorama of electrically-related energies into unique, relatable perspective with easy-to-understand discussions of what they are and eye-opening accounts of how they affect the world around us, our bodies, and even our sensory (and perhaps extrasensory) perceptions. Who knew that electromagnetic fields can produce stress responses that lower our immune systems, or that people can actually become allergic to electricity?

Wikimedia Commons fair use

In addition, Proud includes many case studies that imply possible connections between electrical sources and phenomena such as poltergeist activity, psychokinesis, and people who attract lightning or whose presence “breaks” streetlights and other electric devices. In this light, he even touches upon the idea of the human brain as ultimate quantum computer. That’s heady (pun intended–sorry) stuff.

Readers don’t need to be paranormal investigators in order to find Proud’s book truly sobering. Anyone who lives and works in electrified buildings–almost everyone in the industrialized world–may want to think about just how many artificially generated EM fields surround modern humans every minute of the day and night. I admit that I have now stopped carrying my cell phone around with me as much as I used to, and that I am much better about taking breaks from my computer. The lights, TV, oven, microwave, furnace fans, bedside clocks and the jillion other electric devices that bathe us 24/7 are much harder to deal with. Maybe the electric-power-eschewing Amish people really do have it right!

Wisconsin Amish children playing non-electric game at non-electrified school - photo by Linda Godfrey all rights reserved.

Wisconsin Amish children playing non-electric game at non-electrified school – photo by Linda Godfrey all rights reserved.

As for links between these fields and UFOs, cryptids and the like, Proud leaves researchers to assemble their own connections, but provides plenty of basic circuitry for the task. I’ll be reading it a second time with my own batteries, switches and ground wires ready. Highly recommended!

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2014-12-09 GJpaperback 006It’s been some time coming, but due to popular demand there’s now a print edition of my fantasy novel God Johnson; the Unforgiven Diary as well as the original e-book. It’s ready for order on Amazon.com right now and will also be available from other vendors as soon as all the magical processes by which that happens have fallen into place.

And yep, I’m still working hard on the sequel!

I should add that it has little to do with my non-fiction roster, and there are NO WEREWOLVES involved. Sphinxes, yes, and a few other creatures (see disclaimer below).

Not that I’m neglecting the non-fiction. My next book for Tarcher is underway, and I’m currently looking into some fascinating reports included a red-eyed wolfman seen in Germany and a New Hampshire dogman. Happy holidays to all!

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Tonight at 8PM on 30 Odd Minutes: American Monsters LIVE with Linda Godfrey! Watch at: 30oddminutes.com

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Linda Godfrey at site of apparent deer and predator trails

Linda Godfrey at site of apparent deer and predator trails

More mulch churned up by deer and by whatever made those 4-5 inch tracks, a strange “paw” print on the house siding, and a family even more perplexed about what’s lurking literally in their back yard–these were what fellow investigator Jay Bachochin and I found on a return to the residential site in Hartland where a woman saw a six-foot tall, upright wolf-like creature cross her back yard at 1:30 a.m. the night of July 17-18, 2014.

I invited Bachochin, founder of the WPI (Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators) to help conduct a more thorough search of the grounds. The owners also graciously invited us to use their deck for a late night stakeout. We were able to sit quietly in the dark with a perfect view of the yard, cameras at the ready, and confirmed that the eyewitness would indeed have been able to see and identify a large creature from that position. We also spent some time viewing the neighborhood by foot and by car to see just how much cover there was for a large predator — and found a surprising amount of wooded ground that would allow it to make its rounds and then escape to a freeway corridor (US Hwy 16) when ready to return to the lake-and-park-rich surrounding area.

The mulched garden at the back of the yard had seen a lot more activity in the three days since my first visit. There were so many more prints–both from deer and the larger predator–that a lot of them had blended. But as can be seen in the above photo, there still were plenty of distinct trackways. The 5″ print size and the much smaller deer prints both remained consistent.

The owner hadn’t (and still has not) caught an image on her trail cam, but she did find a strange hartlandbearwolfpaw2mark on the house siding that looks like a partial paw print. It seems to be made with fine dirt, and measures a little over four inches. It’s located four feet above the ground, too high (and too big) for a raccoon or the family’s little dog. None of her family members have hands that size, and there was only one print. It may be entirely unrelated to the creature, but there are rear paw tracks in the mulch below and all around the house that tell us something large was there.

She also called the police again to ask whether there had been more sightings. The officer she spoke to this time said no, but that the department would be alerted.

As for our stakeout, we saw one small, scrawny and Hartlandbearwolfpawpossibly sick raccoon in the neighbor’s yard, and what appeared to be a smallish coyote sniffing around another neighbor’s garbage. Neither would ever be mistaken for an upright, six-foot dogman. I consider the case to be ongoing, and I’m staying in close contact with the family. 

I need to make one other note; I’ve received a comment or two from a couple of readers who assume I’m out hunting actual werewolves and using firearms and traps. That’s so very wrong. This is not Mountain Monsters!!! I don’t carry a rifle or create cages from the local junk yard, and Jay and I both left our long coats at home. I investigate with cameras, tape measures and Google maps, and I don’t believe the creatures I document are traditional lycanthropes in any way. And just for the record, July’s full moon was on the 12th. I’ll continue to keep you all posted!

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American Monsters: a History of Monster Lore, Legends and Sightings in America,is scheduled for August 28th! It’s a wide, wide world of unknown creatures out there, from giant birds to Sasquatch, and this book trails them all by air, water and land. 

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For 21 years, people have been telling me they’ve seen what they believe is Bigfoot around SE Wisconsin. Primate, not canine. Usually eight feet tall and 400-500 pounds. Flat-footed, bipedal, shaggy fur in either dark brown, reddish auburn, or light gray-beige. I’ve discussed many of these sightings in my books, and the witnesses keep coming.

A few weeks ago I heard from a Kenosha County woman and northern Illinois man who saw such a creature June 10, 2013 at a site in SE Wisconsin that I can’t disclose in deference to the property owner. On June 20, the same man was at the same place with two other people and they also all caught a glimpse of what appeared to be the same creature.

This video, alas, does NOT show the Bigfoot, but it features the first two witnesses on site, describing their experiences. Please keep in mind that the creature was in motion when they spotted it and that, between the two of them, they separately saw it doing several different things. There is also some reference to the other, later sightings which will all be more clear when I get the final report written up.

The video was made by my friend and colleague Jay Bachochin of the WPI or Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators at http://www.WPIhuntsthetruth.com. I called on Jay and fellow member Al Dunski to collaborate with me on this field investigation, and the video also takes you along with us as we scout the area and retrieve a trail cam (which came up empty, as often happens). We hope to keep filming as the investigation progresses and we continue to survey the area, place trail cams and search the fields for footprints and other possible evidence. As you can see, it’s a rural area, mostly farm fields but with some nearby water and plenty of game (watch for the shot of the generous dollop of deer scat). Perhaps most importantly, it is also the site of previous cryptid encounters by unrelated individuals.

Just to be clear, there’ll be no brandishing of rifles, no crazy cage contraptions, not even a weird noise in the distance, just us starting our actual investigation. (I did almost fall into a pond but Jay didn’t film it because he stopped filming to help save me from a dunking.) So please enjoy the scenery as we lay the groundwork, and who knows what may happen next time out as we interview the second set of witnesses!

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Illustration by Nathan D. Godfrey, all rights reserved

One question I hear a lot from radio callers, blog readers and conference attendees is whether I think that unknown, upright canine creatures are related to UFOs. It’s actually a concept that’s been around for some time and is also asked in regard to Bigfoot and other cryptids. My usual answer is that while I don’t have any reports from witnesses who’ve seen a dogman hopping directly off a UFO (although I know there are a few cases where people have claimed this about Bigfoot), it just so happens that places where mystery creatures abound are also often UFO hotspots.

A  perfect example of this type of area is the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest which stretches through Sheboygan, Fond du Lac and Washington Counties in Wisconsin. This wooded, well-watered and hilly terrain encompasses the Holy Hill region which has had numerous sightings of upright, wolf-like creatures — probably the most famous of which was the 2006 incident where the DNR’s carcass removal contractor saw one such beast drag a fresh deer from the back of his pickup truck. It’s also an area where many Bigfoot have been spotted, and includes old legends of a Goatman and ancient sacred places to boot.

It’s just as well known for its UFO activity. The city of Hartford, in fact, was named the site of one of the Top 10 UFO Cases of 2012 by the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON. The incident occurred July 13 when a woman in her 50s and her daughter both saw a silent, lampshade-shaped object equipped with lights and measuring about two hundred feet long zip over the trees in their yard before shooting away in classic UFO style. The sighting lasted about half a minute, which is actually longer than most sightings of unknown phenomena.

The little town of Dundee, one of Wisconsin’s three self-proclaimed UFO capitals (the others are Elmwood and Belleville), has a long history of unidentified flying objects in its skies. A woman I met at a library signing told me of one that she’d had just off Hwy. 67, about ten miles south of Plymouth, on her family farm at the age of ten in November, 1967. She had been sent to fetch some chickens, whose wings hadn’t been sufficiently clipped, from a tree. She was busy pulling them out when she saw a large, silent, cigar-shaped craft hovering just above a nearby tree only forty feet away. It had small portholes or windows, and on one end were two curved, pipe-like appendages that emitted yellow and blue, laser-like lights that appeared to float off on their own. It eventually zoomed off but the girl had quite a long look at it. She didn’t know if the craft’s occupants were aware of her. She also had an aunt who saw a round, disk-like craft over her fishing boat in the same general area.

Cheeseheads aren’t the only ones to see such things. The late Fortean investigator John Keel, best known for his in-depth investigation of, West Virginia’s Mothman of Point Pleasant, said in an interview for the Sept., 2007 issue of FATE Magazine that there were “countless” sightings of UFOs in that vicinity in the mid-1960s, and described seeing many unidentifiable lights himself when he inspected animal mutilations that were also associated with the strange goings-on. The part of the interview that grabbed my attention, however, was his statement that, “Mothman left tracks that looked like giant dog prints.”

That has pretty interesting implications, if true. I’ve never received a report of a dogman with wings, although plenty of people have claimed to have seen flying things with hairy, un-bird-like bodies. But it hints at some sort of Protean, multi-formed entity able to look like several different animals or a blend of them, with some connection to weirdly behaving lights. And yet, most dogman and Bigfoot witnesses believe they have encountered solid, flesh-and-blood creatures. Keel also thought the lights he saw in Pt. Pleasant were “mischievous masses of energy,” but the two witnesses mentioned above who saw UFOs in or near the weird-creature-infested Kettle Moraine both described craft-like forms with defined shapes. Perhaps they were entirely different phenomena – who can really say?

I have to confess that I’ve been working on a case for several months that involves large, bipedal canine prints that do such inexplicable things as appear suddenly in the middle of a secluded field, then track into nearby woods. They seem to belong to some large animal that is somehow able to obscure its image from multiple trail cams as it drags or carries off deer carcasses. The trail cams have caught weird, anomalous lights overhead when these things occur – all of it so far unexplainable. The investigation is still in active progress but I’ll admit it has me questioning some of my own biases at this point.

Still, even that case isn’t solid proof of a relationship between the unknown creatures and mysterious lights or sky vessels, to my mind. But I do believe that the fact that they often appear in the same areas and sometimes the same time frames, too, means that any open-minded investigator ought to take a serious look. Our universe is seldom simple or predictable, and perhaps there’s an unimagined answer out there that no one’s thought of. Yet. I think we’d best keep looking for it.

 

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