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Archive for the ‘monsters’ Category

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New cover by Nathan D. Godfrey

It’s been over 25 years since, as a Walworth County reporter, I broke the news that people were calling local animal control officers to say they had seen what looked like a werewolf around Elkhorn, Wisconsin on Bray Road. They’re still calling me, and yes, there are still sightings of  large wolves or other canines walking upright — as well as reports of what witnesses say looks like a reddish-furred Bigfoot! What could people possibly be seeing, and WHY Bray Road? I’ll be discussing these and other recent happenings in a free program hosted by the Walworth County Historical Society in Elkhorn, on Thursday May 11, 7-8 pm. I’ll also be selling and autographing several of my books, and welcome anyone who would like to share an encounter! Hope to see you there!

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I like to release book reviews in twos, for some reason. I think it’s because when I finish reading one really good book, it piques my appetite for another great read right away.

This time I’m pairing Ken Gerhard’s A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts and Barton Nunnelly’s Mysterious Kentucky, the Dark and Bloody Ground. These two gentlemen, and I mean that in the highest sense of that word for they are both truly gentlemen, have each written a book with the word “mysterious” in the title and a wide swath of unexplained beasts and phenomena cavorting through the interior pages. While Gerhard goes global, however, Nunnelly sticks to his home turf of Ol’ Kentuck. Together or one at a time, these books provide a rich harvest of unknown tidbits that will have readers gobbling every word Gerhard and Nunnelly have served up. To quote the immortal request of Charles Dickens’ urchin Oliver Twist, all I can say is, “Please, sir[s], I want some more.”

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts; Encounters with Cryptid Creatures by Ken Gerhard

Most people probably wouldn’t consider a quiet cluster of children more frightening than, say, a modern day version of a werewolf – until they look in the children’s eyes and Scan_20170428see only glistening black pools. At that point, for me, the Black-eyed Kids or BEK’s gain a few points on the mysterious creature horror scale. These and other creatures that are not your grandfather’s monsters are discussed alongside more traditional entities in Ken Gerhard’s “A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts.” Readers will find themselves contemplating the Polish Wilkolak, sort of a vampire/werewolf combo, for instance, or pondering whether a photo of an alleged Chupacabras is truly a depiction of the blood-sucking goat killer or something else that simply appears otherworldly but has a mundane explanation.

Mundane is not a word I’d use to describe any part of this book, however. Whether readers are newbies still wrapping their craniums around the vast array of beasties, or seasoned enthusiasts seeking to hone their knowledge of favorite cryptids or catch up on the latest reports, Gerhard’s ghoulish gathering provides an irresistible gateway to the unknown. It’s a volume I’ll be keeping close at hand.

Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 2; the Dark and Bloody Ground by Barton M. Nunnelly

20170410_211045This is it…the book I and many other fans of Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 1 have been pining for Barton Nunnelly to finish and deliver. Well, he has at long last delivered, and how!!

Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 2 covers more strangeness of each area of the huge state Native Americans considered cursed land, from historic lore to present day happenings. And joy of joys, the section on Kentucky Bigfoots alone comprises 118 pages of pure Sasquatch encounter bliss. It’s a hefty tome, packed chockablock from the first story which concerns, appropriately, Kentucky’s first people, to the last entry, Kentucky’s Chernobyl! The book must be seen and held to convey just how info-dense and well organized it is.

Nunnelly is also a gifted artist, and his illustrations enlighten the research and careful writing that take this book to the level of must-have permanent collection shelf of my personal library. The sense of immersion in the Blue Grass State is so complete, I almost looked around for a few blades of teal-colored grass as I sat and read. And as spooky as Nunnelly has revealed Kentucky to be, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a few stems materialized on my bookshelf. After reading this book, I can guarantee stranger things have happened.

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This beauty, Ken Gerhard’s Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts, recently arrived in my mailbox and will be my first big read of the new year! Can’t wait to dig into what looks like a thorough compendium of the wild world of weird creatures. Happy 2017 to all!

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photo from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Dept.

This time of year seems to be when reporters go looking for oddities — or oddities come looking for them. Such seemed the case yesterday when a bold young black bear was seen begging bipedally from cars passing on a highway near Gleason. It was eventually captured and taken to a wildlife refuge. It seemed utterly unafraid of humans, leading to speculation it was either a pet -YIKES – or someone had been feeding it in a habituation situation.

When Hannity Show Came to Bray Road

There’s also a short compilation of Wisconsin beasties in a 3-year old article in Whoo New online blog, including the Beast of Bray Road, Muskego’s Haunchies and others. I’ve had a few people ask where to see the Sean Hannity episode on The Beast (one of the best short documentaries on the subject, I think) and the blog included this handy link.

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This was another of those freewheeling dialogues that I so enjoy. Listen to The Paranormal View podcast recorded Nov. 4, 2016!

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A certain weird hayfield in SE Wisconsin threads its way throughout the pages of my latest book, Monsters Among Us; an Exploration of Otherwordly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena. Today I spent a few hours threading my own way through the weedy tree lines of that field with its owner, “Roy Smith,” who decided he would like to reveal his actual name and say a bit on camera. I’ll refer to him as Smith here, however, since that is the name used in the book. My video of his introduction may be found below, but first here’s an important postscript on one strange phenomenon in Monsters Among Us.

(All rights reserved on photos and video; may not be posted or printed elsewhere without written permission.)

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On April 29, 2015, one of Smith’s trail cameras caught a black figure silhouetted against the growing green field. At first we thought it was a blackbird or crow, but when we zoomed in (zoom view shown above), it looked more like the head, back and arm of some large animal presumably crouched in the hay. There were two other partial shots of it taken within one second that showed very fast progression across the screen from left to right.

I trudged out to what we judged to be the spot where this happened one dewy morning not long after, wearing a coat with hood, and Smith took photos from where the trail cam had been set up. We ended up concluding, based on comparison to trees in the background and to the original photo, that it was at least as big as me (five foot one) and much larger than a bird would have been from that distance.

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The creature’s shape also seemed to match the stance I took in my photo: crouched over, one arm reaching forward. I wasn’t able to crouch as well, but my lower legs were also hidden by the grass. It would have been heading straight for the treeline area where Smith had been noticing various wildlife carcasses, mostly deer, that displayed oddly munched and crunched areas or were carried off entirely by unknown predators.

Return of the Creature

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Skip ahead one year or so to early May, 2016, and a similar type of creature showed up on another trail cam in the same field, heading in exactly the same direction. It looked black, furry, and seemed to be in a kneeling position. There was an evident shadow around it in the grass.Unfortunately, book production was already well underway so there was no way to add it. But we still set up a comparison shot with Smith trudging out to the field this time.

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The 6-foot 3-inch tall Smith (left, in baseball cap) appeared almost the same height as the creature as he knelt in the hay, but only half as wide! Compare the sizes of Smith and the creature compared to the round-shaped tree at the right. Whatever this black thing is, it’s roughly human-sized or larger. Just one more mystery at this field of bad dreams.

Meet “Roy Smith,” otherwise known as Lee Hampel, a retired math and physics teacher from Illinois, and owner of the mysterious field featured in Monsters Among Us. Hampel had chosen that pseudonym himself, but has since decided to go public. I always feel the witnesses should be the ones to choose in this matter, and honor Hampel’s choice by posting this video taken Oct. 25, 2016 on site in the field.

 

 

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Before we start, I’d like to add a note to Part One of this story of a years-long dogman habituation in eastern Pennsylvania that continues to this day. The eyewitness I’ve nicknamed Jessie contacted me to say I had her permission to reveal the purpose of the family party she attended later in the day of her first sighting…it was her wedding! This fact has always seemed significant to her although she isn’t sure why. I had left that detail out as a possibly identifying factor–how many women have a dogman sighting on the day they get married? But I’m glad to be able to include it because if it’s important to her, it may also be important to the entire series of encounters. And I do consider this a case in progress.

It may seem odd that the bride-to-be would go hiking on her wedding day, but this bit of back story gives me a chance to add a few more of Jessie’s pertinent characteristics. She describes herself as an avid hiker and prefers sunrise and sunset, so this walk was part of her daily routine. She had worked for several years as a mechanic in the US military and was not afraid to be in the woods by herself. So that morning, she decided to begin her big day by de-stressing with a sunrise walk to a rock ledge where she could best see the colors of dawn. That was what led to the first encounter discussed in Part One.

It also sets the scene for another shock that occurred the next spring after her grandfather passed away, after Jessie’s second encounter in her own back yard. Jessie woke up one night to see her beloved grandfather, whom she described as a “a good Christian with his head on straight,” standing next to her bed. She rubbed her eyes, gulped down some water, and he was still there, watching her. And then he spoke. She wrote:

“‘Don’t,’ he said. ‘Don’t do it. Don’t go after them. You don’t know what they really are. Don’t,’ he said. And meant it. He disappeared after [that], but left me with a sense of horrible dread…To find answers [to what the creatures are] is to find something worse than death, is the sense he left me with.”

Needless to say, Jessie was very disturbed by the visitation and says she has had recurring nightmares ever since. She began awaking with the sense that something was just outside her window almost every night, and would often feel the hair rise on the back of her neck as her cat stared intently at the window for no reason she could see.

Mulch Ado About Something

On June 9, 2015, Jessie wrote me that she had found deeply indented prints in the mulch around her house, and scratches on her house siding. (See her photos, below. Note crushed flowers, too) She had also found a snow print that looked canine a few months earlier.

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She wrote that the activity was all next to her bedroom window. The prints were about four inches wide. (They resembled a similar case I called The Hartland Hairy Thing in Wisconsin.) Jessie also asked whether I knew anyone local who might come out to her place and have a look. I did, and made the connections but unfortunately they have not as yet been able to find a mutually workable time to get together. In the meantime, I advised her to get motion lights, a strong flashlight, and a trail cam, if possible, and to spread playground sand in a few strategic spots around the yard to try for a better footprint.

On June 11, 2015, she awakened to the familiar sense that the creature was outside. This time she got up and peeked through the side of the blinds, only to see it standing there. “I saw ears, eyes and teeth,” she wrote. “The ears are upright dog ears. The eyes were a bright yellow/orange. Like an amber color, and they kind of seemed to glow! The teeth…I don’t want to think about any more. It didn’t see me peeking at first, but once we locked eyes it let out a tremendous deep-throated growl and bared its teeth, then turned and ran into the woods behind our house. It ran on two legs, and leapt our fence like it was nothing. I stayed up the rest of the night but it didn’t return. At least, not that I know of.”

She estimated that it would have had to have been at least six feet tall to see into the window, and noted that it seemed partially hunched over which meant it was probably taller than six feet.

Near the end of June, Jessie managed to capture a howl on her phone camera and she gave me permission to share it. She did not see the creature at the same time so it’s not definite as to what this was, but given all the other sightings I think it is worth listening to. And she did see yellow eyes at her back gate that evening. The howl reminded me of some howls thought to be Bigfoot vocalizations that I’ve heard on other sites:

July 14, 2015, Jessie wrote me again to say,”A little after 2 am, I was starting to doze off in my bedroom after staying up late with a good book, and I heard this massive SLAM against the back door, as if a 7 ft., 400 lb. linebacker just threw himself full-force into the back of our house! It even rattled the chain on the deadbolt on the inside of the door! I jumped up and ran out to the kitchen and in the window of the back door was two bright glowing yellow eyes!!  The wolf-beast was standing on two legs, hunched and snarling through the door window at me, it growled and let out a sort or ROAR!”

She continued, “I ran to my bedroom to grab my phone and video it, and tried to wake up my husband, but no matter how bad I shook and yelled, he wouldn’t wake. I ran back to the kitchen and the beast was gone, no where in sight. Also, on a side note, I do special effect makeup as both a hobby, and a job. I’ve done work in theater, in film, not just with makeup but also as an actress and editor, so I know when it’s someone in a suit or makeup. But what’s outside my house, is a real living, breathing, whole animal. It’s alive, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. And it’s not a regular wolf, or a wolf coyote hybrid, or a neighbors dog. This is something else entirely.”

In mid-August 2015 she wrote that something was tapping and pounding on the back wall of her home all night. “These aren’t normal noises and it doesn’t sound like raindrops or acorns/pinecones falling, I know what those sound like and where they usually hit,” she said. “I can’t bring myself to look outside, I don’t think I could handle what I’d see,” she added.

Similar incidents have continued without her husband ever having witnessed the creature. Jessie did feel vindicated in early August 2016 when a visiting friend caught a glimpse of it at mid-day. The woman spied it lurking in its favorite place, the tree line at the back of the yard. Jessie wrote, “She saw its shadow. She didn’t see its face because he was under the shadow of the trees but she could see the furry outline, the ears, and the eyes standing out.”

Was it a supernatural or otherworldly creature? The fact that two people saw it at the same time means it is not a hallucination on Jessie’s part.

There have been more incidents than I can describe here, but Jessie hopes that one final action will end the visits: she and her husband are planning to move away from that house and yard. In other cases I’ve known of, putting some distance between witness and cryptid often does indeed do the trick. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this does it for Jessie, too. Dogmen just don’t make ideal neighbors.

 

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