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Every once in a while I’ll be going through my files and will  discover items that have never been resolved for various reasons, just crumbling away in the staid limbo of manila folders. Here are a couple of headscratchers that turned up recently.  While I also have a bunch of newer reports to share soon, I feel I should mention these oldies first, just in case anyone knows more:

Nashotah Bigfoot? July, 2006, Nashotah, Wisconsin report from three men driving on County C south of town described “something huge and brownish that turned to gray toward the back end” crossing the road in front of them as close as only six feet from the car. It was on all fours, had bigger legs than arms (or forelimbs) and its rear end was higher than its front end, giving it a posture “like a souped-up car” as it ran. They were sure it wasn’t a bear or a deer, and indeed, I’ve heard reports of Bigfoots running on all fours in just this manner.

The man who wrote me about it (second hand) in October, 2006, said he was investigating the incident for the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Research Organization) but it doesn’t appear on their site as far as I could discover. I sent him a recent email for an update and am hoping for a reply. I also have the name of the witness, but his contact info has changed.

I would say this sounded more like a Bigfoot than dogman, except the witnesses also said it had a 4-6 inch long tail.  They did not get a good look at its head. The driver said he’d also seen a large upright creature running through his back yard, and it was seven to eight feet tall. That by itself is not conclusive. I remain especially interested in this incident because of the “Hartland Hairy Thing” seen only two years ago in Hartland, Wisconsin, just five miles away. Both towns are about thirty miles north of Bray Road, Elkhorn.

Water Walker and Giant Swimming Animal: August, 2006, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the date of an old Yahoo conversation I printed and saved from another group because of a question from John Scherf asking if anyone had seen the “Lake Michigan Water Walker.” He said that a strange figure was sometimes sighted sitting on the beach in the very early morning hours. It would then rise up and walk out onto the lake waters until it disappeared. (A person wading out to swim, perhaps?”

The page also included a note from friend and long time cryptid quester Kimberly Poeppey: “I saw a big animal swimming in Lake Michigan! It was as big as a car. It was swimming in the bay by the Art Museum.” She added it was winter and the animal was swimming around blocks of floating ice, leaving a large wake behind. All she could see was its “big, dark, back.” Lake monster?

Anyway, I feel better having given these three mysteries a fighting chance. I penned out a rough map, above, just to give some idea of their relative locations–all in S.E. Wisconsin. I’m no cartographer, but I added a few representative bipeds and quadrupeds in appropriate places for interest. And I’m far from done going through my files. I’ll post again if anything else shakes out.

 

 

 

Scan_20160420 (2)Two men young were cruising around the towns and villages of northeast England on a later summer’s night in 1989 for lack of anything better to do, when they found an unexpected cure to their boredom in the form of an upright, unidentifiable creature that ran in front of their car. The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote me about it after having found one of my dogman sketches based on other eyewitness reports. He said he had searched for years afterward trying to figure out what he and his friend had seen that night, but my sketch came the closest.

The drawing you see here is my new rendering made to accommodate his exact description. I’ll quote his own telling of that night’s events, sent to me in two emails that I’ve combined here. He gave me permission to post his sighting but asked that I withhold his name:

***

The night of our encounter was not long after I bought the car. My friend Sean and I were out driving around the local towns and villages, playing some tunes on the cassette and generally just cruising about … It must have been late because it was dark by the time we passed through the small coastal village of Cresswell [Northumberland], so I’m assuming it was around 23.00hrs.
I remember we were heading SW from Cresswell to Ellington on Cresswell Rd., having just passed the entrance to the caravan site on our left. I had not yet had the opportunity to test the extra fog lights on the front of the vehicle and I wanted to see how bright they were in the dark. Sean was looking in the glove compartment for a different cassette and I told him I was going to switch the fogs on.
We were coming up to a slight right hand bend, there was a six-foot wall with dense foliage on our left and a normal hedgerow bordering a field to our right, that was when I saw something run out in the middle of the road. I wasn’t going very fast, probably 30mph maximum and had ample time to slow down so as not to hit it – even to stop but I’m not sure I did. I think I just crawled the car towards it as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
It had ran out onto the road from my right and had stopped in the middle of the road looking directly at the car. It was covered in thick, mousey grey/brown fur about 2-3 inches long and stood on its rear legs which were jointed with the knee at the rear like a horse or dogs. Its upper arms were down by its side and It held its forearms out in front of it with its hands and long fingers hung down at the wrist. (They may have been long hands or long fingers but I remember the hands from the wrist to the fingers as being very long).
It had one foot in front of the other as if in mid-step as it seemed I had caught it by surprise, and while its body was still facing in the direction it was travelling, the head was facing the car.
I remember the eyes which reflected the light back at me as being perfectly round and a green/yellow colour much like that of a cat’s eyes when caught in the light.
It stood about 5-6 foot tall but was hunched over, even then I’d say it wouldn’t have been over 6 foot tall stood erect. It had what seemed to have a very muscular body, not big or bulky, more wiry with powerful limbs, thick chest and small waist. It also had a short tail. maybe 4-5 inches long, definitely not as long as most dogs; personally I’d describe it as more like a goats tail. (After seeing this I mainly searched for sightings of satyrs in the region as this was the closest thing I could relate it to)
Its head and face were like that of a dog or goat, as in not flat like a humans face, but with a muzzle and quite large ears. I do not remember seeing any teeth and it did not have horns. The whole encounter could not have lasted more than a few seconds. I assume it regained its composure after being caught off guard as it took off over the 6 foot wall and through the foliage atop that in a single bound. Although I often drive by the same area, I have never seen it again.
As for how I felt, I was in shock at first, like when someone gives you a fright. I shouted, Sean!, Sean! to make sure he was looking as he was fishing around in the glove box for a tape. I just couldn’t take it all in. After it had gone we were still going slow. We were looking back to where it had disappeared and I felt terrified. I’ve always considered myself a fairly macho type and not easily scared, but there was NO chance of me getting out of that car to follow it.
In fact, as we drove on a ways, there was a guy walking his dog farther up the road, maybe half a mile and for a moment I considered telling him not to go down that way. We slowed down but we honestly didn’t know what the hell to say, and we decided he was far enough away from it, so we just kept going. We were still also really shook up at this point.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that neither myself nor Sean was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It’s very hard to talk about it, as quite frankly most people don’t believe it. I wasn’t sure if you would, or even do, as I imagine you must get a few folks who try and pull your leg.
But, hand on heart, all I have said is true to the very best of my knowledge. I want you to know that. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out someone else had seen it and I could actually put a name to the creature.

 

WerewolfofLondon

Sketch of Camberwell Old Cemetery creature submitted by eyewitness.

I’ve been waiting for many years for a report of a werewolf in London–just to quote the title of Warren Zevon’s famous song in a blog. One finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. And although the actual occurred 20 years ago on October 9, 1996 (the eyewitness says the date is etched in his memory), it’s a very compelling story. It includes a particular feature I’ve never heard before in any encounter, but that makes perfect sense in any encounter with an upright canine–werewolf or not.

The man, who asks that I refer to him as “Gary,” was 26 at the time and was on his way to meet a friend who lived on Underhill Road in southeast London. In order to walk there, Gary had to make a long trek heading southwest past  Camberwell New Cemetery and then down the entire length of Brenchley Gardens and around Camberwell Old Cemetery. He decided to cut through the older cemetery to save 20 minutes of walking time, even though it was already dark and the idea of walking through the cemetery at night was “freakishly scary” to him. He said he normally rode his bicycle to his friend’s house, but their plans for that evening precluded his usual means of transport.

He didn’t have a flashlight and the cemetery had no lighting system, so he could see only a few feet ahead of him as he made his way across the grounds. He was well into the middle of the graveyard when the movement of something very large and dark caught his eye. “I swear I saw what I thought was a dog, a big dog, move very quickly,” he said. He stopped and squinted into the darkness but decided his mind was playing tricks on him and started off again. He did not get very far.

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(Camberwell Old Cemetery used under Creative Commons Lic., website http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4711520 )

“It was then in a flash my life changed forever,” wrote Gary. “It was so quick that I never had a chance–I thought that somebody had literally run into me and knocked me over…Something had grabbed me by my arm VERY tightly and smashed me to the ground. It was big, it was powerful, and it had extremely bad breath and it smelt cold and awful.

“This thing was now bearing down on me looking directly at my face, dribbling onto me and growling,” said Gary. But it was the creature’s next action that truly frightened him. It began to eagerly sniff his body, up and down, exactly as a dog would do. “I was convinced I was going to die,” said Gary. “I am afraid to say that as brave as I think I might be I was not, at this point, and shamefully I soiled myself.  As I lay there being smelled I was waiting for the bite, but that never happened. Just as quick as it started it was over and the beast was gone and sprinted off in a flash.”

It sprinted away on its hind legs.

The fact that the beast ran off just as the witness felt he was about to be killed conforms with the overwhelming majority of dogman reports I’ve received over the years, but only a small handful of those reports have involved any physical contact. Gary added that he had a theory about the dog’s extremely close examination of his body. He suffers from an illness that happens to be one of the many diseases dogs can smell in humans. “I truly believe it was this that the creature could smell on me,” he said. “I think if I did not suffer from this, I would now be dead. I know some animals can smell sickness and I’m sure they wouldn’t eat anything infected if they could help it.”

Gary isn’t positive that was the case, however. “Maybe it had no intention of eating me at all? Maybe I was in its territory and it was just scaring me to say keep out.”

But there was another weird aspect of the creature that he has never been able to shake off.

THE HAND

Since he and the creature were very close, and face-to-face, he had quite a good look at it despite the low level of light. Its fur was a dark color. The head reminded him of a German shepherd, he said, but its body was more the size and musculature of a Great Dane. He couldn’t see its eyes very well, and they evidenced no eyeshine or glow. (He mentioned that he took “artistic license” when adding the eyes to his sketch because he didn’t see their shape very well.) It did growl in a low tone as it smelled him in what he described as “deep nasal sniffs.” The creature’s breath was like rotten fish but with a weird sweetness to it.

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“Hand of Anthropoid Ape” Dover Publications 1979 “1491 Copyright-free Illustrations of Mammals, Fish, Birds, Insects, etc.”

When I asked Gary how it held him by the arm, he said it was not with a paw. “When it grabbed me (this is the horrible bit and makes my skin crawl) it was a hand that grabbed me–a big hand, humanlike. Its whole hand went around my arm in a viselike grip. I will argue til the day I die that it was a hand that grabbed me. I don’t care who thinks that’s mad. It seemed to me that it had long nails; if they were sharp I can’t confirm, but they were long and clawlike. If you had to grow nails to a similar length, they would protrude 5-6 inches from your hand with a slight inward curvature.”

I asked Gary whether the long claws tore any of his clothing, and he said he was wearing a motorcycle jacket that was open so he only had one small tear on the front of his t-shirt.

The incident was not something that Gary was able to just brush off. He had something like post-traumatic stress disorder that caused him to take six months off work. He’s still terrified of woodlands and the dark. Strangely, the incident also made him afraid of fog although he says there was none in the cemetery that night. Even as he drew the sketch, he said he had to stop every now and then because it was causing him to have flashbacks. He said he has never told anyone but his wife about this incident, and that he only wrote me because she encouraged him to do so to get it off his chest and “lay the demons to rest.” He also has not set foot in the cemetery again.

“Part of me wants to be rational and say it was a strong man in a costume,” he said, “but that’s my mind wanting to say, stop being stupid. But if that’s the case it was the best costume I’ve ever seen, [that must have been] worn by an Olympic athlete due to the speed and strength.” He also felt strongly that the creature possessed a keen intelligence as it interacted with him.

What might the creature have been? I tend to agree with Gary that it was probably not some human in an amazing dog suit. The fact that it had its jaws open as it exhaled puffs of nauseating dog breath in Gary’s face doesn’t sound like anything a person wearing a mask could pull off, and neither does its action of deep-sniffing his body as it held him down.

It did appear to have physical mass, weight, odor, breath, and all the requisite characteristics of a living, breathing animal. Its eyes did not glow as do the eyes of phantom hounds, for which England has long been famous. It seemed to act rather like any guard dog might: First surveillance, then a take-down, an inspection, and an all-clear.

A normal guard dog would probably not have trotted off on its hind legs, however. Nor would it have been able to encircle and grip Gary’s arm with a big hand.

Could it have been an actual werewolf–that is, a human able to change its physical form into that of a wolf, while retaining a few human characteristics such as hands rather than paws? While I’m not one that believes in Hollywood-style werewolves, there have been occasional reports of upright canids that do not seem like they could be natural animals simply walking upright. (My next book will address this aspect!)

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Dog paws may appear “elongated” when held in front as in a begging position (Dover Books 1979)

The hands Gary describes definitely fit that latter category. But I also hear from many witnesses that the creatures they saw had  definite, clawed paws that were simply elongated. When witnesses do report seeing human-like hands, there are often other characteristics such as glowing red eyes or a very humanoid body more normally  associated with tales of shapeshifters or phantom hounds rather than most contemporary sightings. English folk lore is rife with such creatures.

One other possibility is the creature known as the “man-monkey” that has been studied extensively by Nick Redfern in books such as Man Monkey: In Search of the British Bigfoot. While most sightings of this fur-covered, upright and primatelike beast have occurred in Staffordshire rather than London, in a forested area called Cannock Chase. But there have been several encounters with the creature in a German cemetery in Cannock Chase. But although the man-monkey explanation would explain the “hands” Gary witnessed, it doesn’t account for the very canine face that he drew.

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“Fanciful Orangutan,” Dover Books 1979. (This is not a close depiction of an actual orangutan, I think, but reminds me of man-monkey descriptions.)

Redfern notes, however, at least one similarly ambiguous creature encounter that looked like a gorilla from the front, but displayed a long, dog-like muzzle from the side. Redfern asks (p. 59) whether the creature may have been a “shape-shifting Lycanthrope” or a “weird chimera that possessed the unique attributes of several beasts.” In Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, Redfern wonders whether such creatures may be a remnant of England’s legendary Cormons, “emotion-sucking vampires from an unholy realm.” He explains, “These shadowy entities generated imagery of bizarre monsters and beasts in an attempt to generate high levels of stress and emotion in the person that saw them…” (p. 35).

As I pointed out above, however, the creature that toppled and pinned Gary was no mere shadowy entity. And, again, the physical attack he suffered is extremely rare in my experience. In the 24 years I’ve collected reports, there have only been a hiker in Quebec Province with a superficial skin tear, a young man whose loose-fitting, cotton shirt was clawed as he was chased near the shore of Lake Michigan in South Milwaukee, and a few scratched automobiles that showed creature contact. I’ve heard of other attack-type incidents reported elsewhere, but they still are rather few and far between compared to most encounters.

I do have another recently received report from England (northeast), however, that will be the subject of my next blog article once I finish my own sketch of it. This one did not involve an attack, but was as mysterious as the Camberwell Old Cemetery creature in its physical attributes. Whether they are weird natural animals on the loose, werewolves, Cormons, or man-monkeys, the upright hairy beasts of England are definitely not confined to London.

 

D&D

“Gary Con,” an annual Wisconsin gaming convention held to honor the late Gary Gygax, creator of “Dungeons and Dragons” games, is a rapidly growing Lake Geneva event. A recent Atlas Obscura article discusses not only some possible reasons for the conference’s surging popularity, but revisits the anti-role-playing hysteria fomented by opponents of the game in the early 1980s. But D&D was not the only source of fantasy creature lore in the area. Fans of canine cryptids may be interested to know that Lake Geneva lies only a ten-minute drive from Bray Road, home of the upright, wolf-like creature known as the Beast of Bray Road.

BeastofBrayThe game and the creature arose quite independently, however. I didn’t break the Beast news story until the early 1990s, but Bray Road area sightings were already occurring in the early 80s (Marvin Kirschnik, 1981) — yet they were unknown to the public at that time. Still, there are some fun associations. The original cover of my book The Beast of Bray Road; Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf , for example, was created by one of D&D’s top fantasy artists, Jeff Easley, who painted the image based on his interpretation “just for fun.” Prairie Oak Press later paid him to use it as the cover art. (The cover for the second edition shown in the above link was painted by my son, Nathan Godfrey.) And of course the D&D games feature a “werewolf lord” in their pantheon of beastly characters.

There are probably many more such common threads between the game and the creature. While I doubt there are  any real associations between D&D and the Beast,  it’s always interesting to look for the coincidences that so often swirl around strange phenomena.

UPDATE: Another of those weird connections just came in. An Illinois man who owns property near Bray Rd., and whom I’ve been helping investigate large, bipedal canine tracks and other things there for 2 years, wrote me almost immediately. He happened to have been the math teacher of Gygax’s original business partner, and was recruited to help the original game designers with some of the required math calculations!

 

Scan_20160302From my scrap pile comes this 1920s newspaper portrait of Katherine Malm, Chicago’s infamous Wolf Woman, a.k.a. Tiger Girl, who established an early reputation as the “consort of crooks.” according to a Feb. 27, 1924 Times Daily article on her court case. When I first came across this picture, I was naturally hoping she had something to do with humanoid creatures. But as best I can tell from various write-ups, she was given the animal appellations for attacking and killing a night watchman when she was twenty. The Cook County judicial system found her guilty and sentenced her to life . That sentence ended when she died while incarcerated in Joliet Prison at age twenty-eight. She was mentioned in a 2010 book by Douglas Perry called The Girls of Murder City for her kindness in bringing a currant bun to a new inmate, with an admonition to pretend it was chicken. At least Katherine must have been a carnivore.

IMG_1542 (800x598)Sly of the old Sly and the Family Stone band  famously sang about “different strokes for different folks,” (1968) but I’ll riff on that line to describe two crypto-tomes I recently read: “Different Books from Different Blokes.”
Both authors are prolific writers and long-time investigators of strange creatures great and small. Each, though, has his own distinct style and writing goals. I’ll start with the book that is dedicated to one certain, well-known creature.

The meat of author Nick Redfern’s Chupacabra Road Trip; in search of the Elusive Beast, comes sandwiched in the colorful mini-memoir style his fans have come to crave from him. Redfern describes his far-ranging personal travels and experiences and provides research showing that these odd predatory creatures whose name means “Goat-sucker,” are not only quite different from some recent reports of beasts mis-labeled as chupacabras, but that they have been reported as early as the mid-60s in Puerto Rico. It’s a wild trip that covers all possible aspects of the creature.

The flavor of Albert Rosales’ Humanoid Encounters; the Others Among Us 2000-2009 is more along the lines of the old Dragnet TV series character Joe Friday — “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Rosales’ reports provide the important details of every encounter in an economical but convincing manner. And, similar to many of Redfern’s works, it’s a world-wide hunt. Rosales takes a far-ranging, multinational track to search out all types of mystery humanoids from the Ukraine to Bolivia to my own neighborhood of Jefferson County, Wisconsin. (The latter described a 2007 sighting of two yellow, seven-foot tall flying humanoids! I’ve described this area as the “Jefferson Square of Weirdness” in my own books.)

Rosales presents his subjects in chronological order, identified by location. The creature variety is terrific, and at 292 pages, it’s a massive assortment. Many of these reports haven’t been documented elsewhere. This book was preceded by the 1995-1999 volume, and I presume will be followed by a compilation of the most recent reports. I would love to see Rosales add a separate index (online, perhaps) by humanoid categories to make a wonderful resource even better.

Humanoid Encounters and Chupacabra Road Trip have both earned permanent spots on my shelves – highly recommended and vive la difference!

Goatman update

GoatmanLSGLast night on Sanjay Singhal’s Beyond the Forest radio show (archived podcast now up) I discussed an update to the Wisconsin Goat Man story published just previously here. The drawing in the post below was my original forensic sketch based on what the witness described, but at the time it was posted I didn’t yet have the witness’ confirmation as to the accuracy of the sketch. That came yesterday in an email. He said, “We saw that thing,” and characterized my drawing as very accurate.

Yikes!

And by the way, that radio show was one of the most fun programs I’ve done. The first 25 minutes were devoted to Sanjay’s tribute of his late friend, Joshua, who first got him started in blogging and radio, but after that we discussed everything from Sanjay’s and my UFO encounter last August while staking out a dogman site with a property owner, our own thoughts on Bigfoot awareness of humans in its territory, trail hike safety considerations, spook lights and more. I’ll be doing another show with my good friend and colleague Sanjay on January 26, 8-10 pm Central.

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