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Posts Tagged ‘wolfmen’

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Image by Linda Godfrey copyright 2017 all rights reserved

About eight years ago I did something I always try very hard not to do: I lost a file on a possible upright canine case alleging there were werewolves roaming the sewers of Minot, North Dakota. I remember having been intrigued by the story and setting my printout of the report aside  to investigate further. Much to my chagrin, it then disappeared. It had somehow slipped between two file folders, but I only just discovered that the other day while arranging my office after a recent move. I was delighted to find it, and decided it was about time I posted the short account  in case someone else might know more.

I’d received the email February 24, 2008, from a man who claimed to be a law enforcement agent in North Dakota, and who wanted to stay anonymous for fear of affecting his employment. The man I’ll call Pete said he’d been talking to an associate who told him about a recent interview he’d had with a burglary suspect. The associate said the suspect asked him if he had heard about the “werewolves” in Minot.

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Credit: City of Minot, by Bobak Ha’Eri, photo via Wikimedia Commons

“The guy [burglar] went on to explain,” said Pete, “that he and a friend of his were fooling around by a large culvert down by the river. (This particular culvert is about six feet across, easy for a man to walk in. It is inside the city of Minot and leads right out to the bank of the river.) The suspect said that he and his friend had seen something in the shadows that was about seven feet tall. He told my friend that they had also stepped on what they thought was a body while they were walking in the culvert. He stated that he and his friend had run out of there.

“The suspect had said that werewolves were living in the sewer system. While this sounds, of course, crazy…I have been noticing a few things since hearing the story: The city police department has had a couple of calls within the past couple of months concerning manhole covers being displaced, or off of manholes around town. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about those types of calls, but it now strikes me as odd.”

Pete said he put the information in the back of his mind until he heard me on the Coast to Coast AM radio show and suddenly wondered if there might be more to it. I’ve been trying to reach him, in return, but to no avail. I did confirm that he was indeed a law enforcement officer at the time and place he stated. But I like to have a bit more info when I post a case, especially when it’s a third-hand report and the original source is an alleged burglar. Since I’ve mentioned the report briefly in a book and on some radio shows, however, I decided to offer the information I have. I’ll be sure to update here if I do finally reach the original writer or find other sources.

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Manhole Steps, by Silenzio76, photo via Wikimedia Commons

Personally, I’ve never been able to shake that mental image of two criminals stumbling over a dead body as they flee the culvert after spotting a seven-plus-feet-tall “something” watching them from the shadows. And Minot may not be the only place where people should take extra care around city water and drainage systems. In “Monsters Among Us” I shared the story of a brother and sister who claim to have seen something similar in a Los Angeles suburb. And Minot does boast a river and lies near several wildlife refuges so the habitat is certainly there.

As I said, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime I wouldn’t blame anyone for deciding to give manhole covers a wider berth–just to be on the safe side.

 

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I’m always saying I don’t believe in TRADITIONAL werewolves, but almost every culture worldwide has its own, unique version of werewolves or something similar. That fact requires me to define “traditional.” What I usually mean by that are those moonstruck, hairy creatures  whose attributes are derived mainly from old European legends and Hollywood movies. But even these examples may vary. When I come across a legend with some interesting features, then, I like to note it for future reference.

Today while I was looking for something else, I happened across this charming artwork depicting a priest from Ulster named Gerald and his encounter with a couple of upright werewolves. The illustrations look a lot like many drawings made by modern day eyewitnesses and artists. The creatures appear completely canine, for instance, and they can walk either on all fours or upright. Muzzles, pointed ears and toe-pad-walking complete the pictures.

Royal 13 B.VIII ff.17v-18

(image from Creative Commons O, Europeana Collection, from the British Library Royal Collection, c. 1196-1223)

Their behavior, however, is the big surprise here.The story is written in Latin, but as I understand it from various translations, Gerald of Ulster was camping in the woods sometime around the year 1200 when he was approached by a large werewolf.

Short version: The creature begged Gerald to come with him and minister last rites to his mate. It seems they hadn’t always been werewolves. Their village had been more or less cursed to give up one couple every seven years to wander as Lycans, and it had been this pair’s turn to serve. They hadn’t yet completed their obligation when the missus fell ill. Gerald succeeded in tearing part of her fur away to reveal the shriveled elderly woman inside, and she was then able to eat a consecrated wafer. Happy ending.

There isn’t much more to the story. I simply thought it appropriate to begin the New Year with a tale from the era that still informs today’s lore. But I saw something both touching and brave about Gerald’s willingness to follow the wolfman into the woods and in the wolf couple’s determination to keep their faith. Most contemporary reports would have the witness fleeing the scene in terror (as I would be doing) while the wolf creature gave chase and then growled off into the night. That’s probably much closer to reality. But reality bites.

And I suspect they just don’t make werewolves like they used to.

Enjoy the art, anyway, and Happy 2017!

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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.

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By Cédric Boismain from France (centaure agonisant) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Centaurs, or creatures with the torso and head of a human and the lower part of a horse, occur in art and literature from very ancient times, but are today most commonly associated with Greek and Roman mythology. Nonetheless, I received a report this week from a woman whose co-worker urged her to call me after she told him about the encounter she and a friend and their siblings had as children. It occurred on the outskirts of southern Richmond, Virginia, in 1966 when she was 8. The now 54-year old former IRS employee and Greyhound bus driver spoke by phone with me on Sept. 1, and she seemed as serious and credible as any eyewitness I’ve ever talked to.

“I remember the sighting vividly,” she said. She and her friend, along with a few younger siblings, had sneaked out to play in a nearby four-acre park and rec area at dusk one summer night. A creek ran through the acreage, and the group followed a path from their apartment buildings through a tree line that opened onto the play area. The children had been there only a short time, however, when they heard a familiar sound that the writer described as between a movie-style, ghost-like moan and the whinny of a horse. They’d often heard the same thing from inside their apartment. Her parents always tried to blame it on a nearby trucking company, but the trucks were most active in the daytime, she said, and the weird moan was only heard at dusk and night time.

She looked around and saw a tall, dark figure watching her from about a block away. It looked human from the top of its head to the bottom of the torso, she said, but the rest of it resembled the bottom part of a horse — horse legs, hooves, tail and all. It was too dark to see its face, she said, but there were no ears and the head area looked much more hairy and shaggy than the smoothly furred remainder, but she knew at once that no human could imitate the thin legs with hooves. “This was not someone dressed in a costume, this thing was real. It was a creature. It was alive,” she said.

As soon as the beast noticed she was watching it, it began to run toward her, the human-like “arm” limbs being held in a bent position with elbows slightly to the side. She shrieked, grabbed her four-year old brother, and the whole group began running for the tree line with the creature in pursuit. It sounded like the beat of horse hooves even on the grass, she said. When they reached the tree-line that marked the edge of the park, she turned around to see where the creature was. It stopped too, about half a block away, its rear end and haunches partially turned as the torso and head twisted to watch her. She estimated it stood about seven to eight feet tall. The small group continued beating a hurried path to their home. Their parents, naturally, did not believe them but she says her friend and brother still talk about it with her to this day. She added that she was not one to believe in ghosts and never had any other weird or paranormal incidents.

Jacob Jordaens [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Half man, half horse? The creature the children saw in Richmond reminded me of classic depictions of a satyr, or goat man, although those are always two-legged. And satyr reports are a bit more frequent. Many parts of the US have their own goat man legends. I also receive an occasional deer man report. In both types, it sometimes happens that the witness will see one of my sketches of the upright wolf-like creatures I more often investigate, and will say, yes, that’s it! So perhaps some cases are examples of mistaken perception, but this writer was quite sure there was a total of six limbs.

So what, then, to make of a centaur report I received last May? This incident happened around 1970 in Arizona, between Sierra Vista and Benson, as two young men drove along Hwy. 90. They were forced to stop when their car’s engine suddenly stalled, and got out to take a look. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so they got back in and were sitting there when they heard the sound of hooves running right at them. They turned to look out the rear window, and there saw a “half man, half horse creature rear up and start smashing in the back end of the car with its front hooves.” There was no mention of separate arms, so I’m not sure about that point. His friend began screaming to get them out of there, and the driver’s frantic efforts to restart the engine somehow worked and they sped away. The driver told his parents when he finally reached home, and recalled that his mother said, “What were you doing that caused the devil to show you that demon?”  One family member added they remembered that the back of the car was deeply dented all over as if someone had been banging it with rocks.

One more came to me yesterday, except this was from a woman who was driving with her son on a mountain pass in the western US eight years ago. She wrote: This happened on the summit of Bridge Creek between Inchelium and Nespelem, Washington. It is on the Colville (Arrow-Lakes tribe) reservation. I was told by some of the elders that there has been sightings of a “deerman” who has been seen near Nespelem. The elders say that when he is seen, it’s a sign that the person is going to die. I don’t know anyone who has seen him, but I’ve heard stories. I’ve never heard of an elk man before. What my son and I saw was a herd of elk, and in the middle of them was one that from the neck up was a man. He was reaching up into a tree. There was no way it was a costume. He was ugly and had ratty black hair and a bare chest.  It was only for a brief second that we saw it but it was long enough that we both looked at each other and said, “Did you just see what I saw?”

I agree that her sighting is different than a “deer man.” Elk are MUCH larger, and it’s unusual to hear of such a creature traveling with a group of ordinary animals.

Perhaps I’ll hear more from others. Do these sightings relate in any way to those of dogmen? Perhaps. Centaurs, elk men and dogmen — none of these seem like normal animals, or even aberrations of natural animals. There are many speculative possibilities. For now, I’d simply like to thank those who shared these sightings for giving us the opportunity to ponder them.

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