Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Kanaima

The natives of the Carib islands have always been superstitious, but they have good reasons for being so. Danger lurks all around them in their rainforest home in one form or another, and some of these threats aren't of the natural world at all. The Carib people believe in a number of different ghosts, spirits, demons, and strange creatures. One of the deadliest of these spirits is able to shapeshift into animals and take bodily possession of mortal men, inciting them into committing murder. This spirit is known as the Kanaima, a shapeshifter that seeks to kill and wholly consume humans in body and soul.

The Kanaima is primarily associated with the Akawaio, Pemon, Carib, Patamona, and the Macushi tribes, all of whom inhabit the jungles of South America. There seems to be some confusion in the tribal folklore in regards to what the Kanaima (also known as Canaima or Kenaima, as some spell it) actually is, as it may vary from one tribe to another. Some say that it is a shaman who uses dark magic to take on the form of an animal in order to hunt, kill, and feed on people. On the other hand, other people say that the Kanaima is an evil spirit that passes silently through huts at night while the residents are asleep, seeking those whom it may possess. According to legend, however, the Kanaima can also take possession of animals. This causes the animals to become very aggressive and violent towards other animals and people in particular.

In some tribal traditions, there are some people who are so consumed by their need for revenge (usually for a murdered relative) that they willingly invite these evil spirits into their bodies through the use of powerful drugs or magic rituals. Those people literally become Kanaima, seeking out their enemies so that they may kill and devour those who did them wrong. There are others who believe that the Kanaima is a predatory animal possessed by a human's spiritual self, possibly through the magical practice of astral projection. In this case, the animal that is most often sought is the jaguar, a magnificent animal that was worshipped in the olden days by the Olmecs and the Maya for its strength, speed, and its prowess in the hunt. This big, vicious cat usually takes small to large animals as its prey, although humans are sometimes on the list as potential prey as well.

Whatever the case might be, the Kanaima is still a supernatural force to be reckoned with. This evil spirit gives possessed humans the power of shapeshifting, the ability to physically transform into any animal that they desire. The jaguar seems to be the most common choice, although there are also tales of the Kanaima assuming the form of a deadly anaconda as well. In addition, the possessing spirit gives its host unnatural strength, speed, endurance, and a murderous ferocity that only the most depraved serial killers may come close to matching. When the person takes on an animal's form, they also gain the animal's claws, teeth, its strength, and the animal's senses as well. It is also said that the Kanaima's gaze can cause a person to become irrevocably insane. Like other spirits, the Kanaima seems to be able to spread disease and cause bodily problems for its victims (like stomach ailments) as well. In addition to its powers, the Kanaima carries a bottle made from a gourd called a calabash. The gourd may contain poison, although this is uncertain. The creature also carries a magic bow that fires poisoned arrows. Presumably, this weapon assists the monster in bringing down its chosen prey.

The following story tells of an encounter with a Kanaima. Once there was an old man who lurked in the forests as a Kanaima, taking the shape of a tiger (although this may have simply been another term for a jaguar) in order to stalk and kill unwary humans. One day, the old man's son was out hunting with his bow and a quiver of arrows. His arrows were primitive, the points being carved bone bound to a wooden shaft with resin and sinew. It wasn't long before the young hunter encountered the big cat. Raising his bow, he fired an arrow that hit the animal squarely in its lower jaw. The tiger roared in pain and, raising its paw, snapped the wooden shaft and the bone point off. The animal then fled into the forest. The young man picked up what remained of his arrow and went home.

The next day, the old man came out of the forest. He groaned with pain, claiming that his mouth was on fire. Being a good son, the boy offered to take a look. The old man opened his mouth as wide as he could. Seeing something, his son carefully withdrew a piece of broken bone from the inside of his father's cheek. Now suspicious, the younger man retrieved his broken arrow from the day before. The piece of bone fit snugly into the arrow's shaft. At that moment, he knew the truth: his father was a Kanaima, a werebeast. The hunter's heart was heavy with sorrow, and he told his father that he had to take his wife and leave. The young man knew that as long as he stayed in his father's presence, neither he nor his beautiful wife would be safe from the monster within his father. With those words, the young man and his wife took their belongings and sought a home elsewhere to start a family.

The legend told above tells of the connection between the Kanaima and a phenomenon related to shapeshifters and werebeasts, which is known as sympathetic wounding. This belief states that if a shapeshifter is injured or wounded while in the shape of an animal, then that very same wound will appear on the shapeshifter's human body. This identifies the monster to others and enables those people to take action against it. Most often, this leads to death for the werebeast. In this case, the old man got off lucky and was only shunned. However, there are only a few people who can imagine the unbearable pain of being rejected by their loved ones because of their own mistakes.

There are no known methods of warding off or destroying the Kanaima while it isn't possessing a living body. Salt might be able to keep the spirit at bay for a time, although exactly how long that might be can't be said. As for dealing with the Kanaima while it is in possession of a body, one may be able to kill the body with everyday weapons. This could hypothetically release the inhabiting spirit, although it would be free to find another body at that point. However, because life is so precious, an exorcism might be somewhat more appropriate. A Christian exorcism wouldn't be out of the question in this part of the world, although finding a priest who is trained and can conduct the ceremony might be a challenge. Therefore, it might be more convenient to find a native shaman who can use his magic and his knowledge of the natural world to drive the invading spirit out of its host, while at the same time keeping the victim alive.

Although not much is know about the Kanaima and its habits, South American natives still believe in the existence of the creature and are still very much afraid of it. To them, it is death incarnate. Once a victim has been chosen, there is no escape. Even if the victim runs, the Kanaima will hunt them down without mercy. The beast is utterly relentless in its pursuit, and one cannot run or even hide for long. It just goes to show that, no matter how hard a person tries, they cannot outrun death itself.

Works Cited

Hamel, Frank. Werewolves, Bird-Women, Tiger-Men, and Other Human Animals. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1915, 2007.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Flying Heads

Within the annals of folklore, legend, and mythology, some truly bizarre monsters can be found. But being bizarre doesn't make them any less dangerous. In fact, it may make them even more deadly. One of the most bizarre of these creatures can be found in the oral traditions and folklore of the Iroquois. These creatures appear as decapitated human heads with wings that will devour anything that moves. They are known as Kanontsistóntie, the Flying Heads.

The Flying Heads are undead disembodied heads or demons that have the wings of a bird or a bat growing from their temples. They have fiery eyes that glow eerily in the darkness, while their heads are covered in a matted mess of long, tangled hair. Their heads vary in size, from being human-sized to being "four times as tall as the tallest man." The faces of the monsters are described as being "very dark and angry, filled with great wrinkles and horrid furrows." These creatures have large mouths that are filled with needle-sharp fangs, which they use for catching and devouring their prey. Their skin is thick and matted with dirty, greasy hair, so much so that no weapon can penetrate these disgusting defenses. Some legends say that they have long talons of great strength on their undersides for tearing flesh and seizing prey, but this trait is either absent or is simply not mentioned in other accounts. These monsters can be found in the dark forests of the Adirondack Mountains in New York.

The Flying Heads were once thought to kill primarily for revenge because of some wrongdoing on the part of the Iroquois. However, these creatures have since become so feral and debased that the only thing that they think about is what they're going to eat next. They are constantly hungry and, being only disembodied heads, they can never know the satisfaction that a full stomach brings. Hunger is now their only motivation, and it drives them at all times. These demons travel in groups and are entirely carnivorous, and they especially seem to savor the taste of human flesh. They are relentless predators, pursuing and devouring any living creature that makes the slightest movement. They appear to be nocturnal by nature, roosting in caves or desecrated ruins by day (much like bats). Some of them might make their nests in an abandoned village, where all of the original inhabitants were mercilessly slaughtered by the winged demons. By night, the Flying Heads soar through the darkened sky at speed, shrieking and laughing like madmen as they go.

While the Flying Heads are exactly what their name suggests (severed heads with the ability to fly, obviously), they are supernatural entities with powers beyond those of a mere mortal. They are most obviously able to fly, although there is no evidence of any limit to the distance or the speed of their flight capabilities. They are possessed of great strength, particularly in their jaws and the talons on their undersides. It is said in some legends that the stumps of their necks drip blood, and that this blood is both toxic and corrosive to human flesh. Some people say that they are able to spread disease by appearing in the dreams of their victims, which is always taken to be an omen of a coming illness or death. And wherever these monsters choose to dwell, the place eventually becomes corrupted by their evil. This unnatural taint gradually spreads to the surrounding countryside, rendering the area desolate and devoid of life for many miles. This corruption may attract other monsters, making such a territory both inhospitable and extremely dangerous to human beings.

There is one question that begs to be answered about the Flying Heads: where did they come from? Many people say that the Kanontsistóntie are the result of a horrible violent death, while others say that a human may become one of these creatures through an act of cannibalism (a trait shared with the more notorious Wendigo). Some folklore suggests that the Flying Heads are the decapitated remains of great sorcerers, sorceresses, or giants. Some stories, however, do not speak of the origins of the Flying Heads at all. This would seem to imply that these monsters are primordial in nature, having existed since prehistory with little to no purpose other than to terrorize and feed upon humans. In order to understand the origins of these monsters more clearly, one must look to Iroquois mythology for answers.

Long ago, there was a very severe winter on one particular year. The intense cold killed most of the plants, and it drove the deer, the moose, and the other game animals off to other regions in search of food. The local native tribes decided against following the animals, and decided to rely on their fishing skills to sustain them. But the fishing didn't last, for it seemed that the fish had abandoned the area. Eventually, a devastating famine swept through the area, becoming so severe that it killed entire families. What were the natives to do?

It wasn't long before the younger members of the tribe began to talk about migrating from the area that they had long called home. The young braves proposed a secret journey to a great lake to the west of them. The journey would be dangerous, as there were a number of hostile tribes in the area that always seemed to thirst for the blood of their enemies. But once they were beyond the borders of the lake, it would be a fairly simple matter to find a new home. However, not everyone agreed with this plan.

The elders of the tribe absolutely refused to make the journey, saying that it was madness to attempt such a feat. They argued that the famine had been orchestrated by the Master of Life to punish the people for their sins. They believed that if they could endure the famine, it would eventually pass. But if they tried to escape it, the consequences would follow them for the rest of their lives and beyond. They would rather die in their own homelands than to live in a strange place where they didn't belong. The young men were furious with the elders' decision, and they proceeded to slaughter the elderly men in their anger.

When the young men realized what they had done, they were faced with a dilemma: how would they dispose of the bodies? Seeking to justify their grisly deed, it was eventually decided that the bodies would be decapitated and burned as an offering to the Master of Life. The heads would be bound together and thrown into the lake (presumably with heavy stones), so that they would sink to the bottom and never be seen again by the eyes of man. Then they would be free to migrate to new hunting grounds, where food would be plentiful. Of course, things never go exactly as planned when murder is involved, do they?

When one of the chiefs involved in the murders tried to hurl the heads into the lake, he himself became entangled in the ropes and fell into the lake. Unable to break free of the ropes, the chief drowned. According to legend, the water started to bubble, and a sickening slime appeared on the water's surface. Then, something monstrous emerged from the lake: a gigantic head covered in matted hair, with the wings of a bat and a cavernous maw filled with needle-pointed fangs. The Iroquois would never be able to escape this horrible monster, which arose from the depths of the lake to avenge the deaths of the tribal elders.

It wasn't long, however, before the Flying Head began to attack other tribes in the area, seemingly for no apparent reason. The Flying Head would devour any living thing that moved, oftentimes while the victim was still alive. Over time, the Flying Head's attacks grew more vicious and its unceasing hunger claimed more and more lives. Eventually, people fled and hid themselves from the monster. All that remained was a woman and her baby inside of a longhouse, and she had a decision to make. "Someone must make a stand against this monster," she thought to herself, "It might as well be me." She began to build a large fire, and tossed in several large stones. And then, she sat down to wait for the monster.

The young mother watched and waited for the monster to make its presence known. Suddenly, the Flying Head appeared in the longhouse doorway! Looking inside, the monster grinned horribly when it saw the woman sitting within the dwelling. The woman pretended that she didn't notice the hideous creature and acted as though she was cooking a meal for herself (some versions of the legend say that she was roasting chestnuts or acorns over the fire). Picking up the now-glowing stones with a forked stick, she then pretended to eat the red-hot rocks. In reality, the woman passed the stones behind her beautiful face and simply dropped them on the ground. All the while, the woman smacked her lips and exclaimed, "Ah, how good this is! What wonderful food! Never has anyone feasted on meat like this before!"

The woman's ruse worked. Unable to control itself, the Flying Head rushed into the longhouse and seized the entire pile of glowing, red-hot stones in its mouth. But as soon as the creature had swallowed them, it let out a horrifying scream that echoed over the trees, the mountains, and the streams as it frantically flew off in agony. Its screams reached such volumes that the largest and oldest of the trees trembled, the earth shook, and even the very leaves fell from the branches of the trees. Every person throughout the land covered their ears and grimaced in pain from the monster's screams! Gradually, the screams faded into the distance, becoming fainter and fainter until they could no longer be heard. What became of the monster after that is unknown. Some people say that the Flying Head burst into flames and burned into ashes. Others say that the creature fled into the wilderness and never bothered humanity again. Could this demon still be out there somewhere?

There are very few known ways to deal with the Flying Heads in regards to warding off or even destroying them. They are said to be vulnerable to medicine charms (traditionally used by the Native American peoples to ward off sickness and evil) and seem to particularly hate ritualistic dancing and sacred songs. They do have one huge weakness, however: their lack of intelligence. Despite the fact that these creatures are little more than heads with wings, they aren't much smarter than the average wild beast. They are driven only by their voracious appetites for flesh. Because of their stupidity, they are easily deceived and will fall for the simplest of tricks. And while the Flying Heads are highly aggressive and dangerous predators, they are cowards and will retreat if the dominant member of their flock is destroyed or if their chosen prey proves to be more powerful than the creatures had anticipated.

It would seem that the only way to destroy the Flying Heads is fire. Decapitation is obviously out of the question here, although splitting the monsters in two with a bladed weapon or piercing the brain may also work. Gunshots to the head may also stop these flying demons, although the veracity of this theory will most likely never be proven. Cutting the wings of these creatures will most likely disable them, causing them to fall helplessly to the ground. There, they can easily be finished off by piercing the brain with a narrow spike or blade (like a bayonet). The remains should then be salted and burned, and the ashes cast to the four winds to prevent the Heads from possibly returning.

The Flying Heads have not been seen in the modern age, and one might be able to assume that they have died off. Either that, or encounters with such creatures are few and far between and may be so sporadic that people don't bother reporting them for fear of ridicule! But is it possible that the Flying Heads are still out there, flying out in search of prey when the sun goes down? It is certainly a possibility. Perhaps somewhere, deep in a forgotten cave in a dark forest, the Flying Heads sleep and await nightfall, when they may prowl the darkened skies once again in search of living prey...

Works Cited

Zenko, Darren. Field Guide to Monsters. Canada: Dragon Hill Publishing Ltd. Copyright ©2008 by Dragon Hill Publishing Ltd.

Flying Head (Wikipedia)

Legendary Native American Figures: Flying Head (Big Heads)

Flying Head (The Demoniacal)

The Flying Head


Flying Head

Big Giant Heads: The Importance of Being Monstrously Gluttonous

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tiyanak (The Demon Child)

When the average person sees a baby, they cannot help but be overwhelmed by feelings of love and caring. And why not? They're adorable and innocent, as yet uncorrupted by the selfish ways of the world. They rely on their parents and other appointed adults for nourishment and protection, because they are weak and vulnerable to harm at this point in their lives. In the Philippines, however, those feelings are tempered by a sense of caution and fear of the supernatural. These people know that the cries of an infant in distress don't always belong to a human child. Those cries may belong to a demonic monster known as the Tiyanak, which deceives people into taking them in and then feeds on their would-be saviors when they least expect it.

In Filipino mythology, the Tiyanak (or Impakto) is a vampiric monster that takes on the form of a human baby or a small child (it can appear as a boy or a girl) that dwells within the deepest, darkest parts of the forests and abandoned parts of small towns or villages. The Tiyanak is believed to be the ghost or the reanimated corpse of a child who died before it could be given the rites of holy baptism. These innocent souls are bound for Hell, where they will spend the rest of eternity in Limbo. Over time, these unbaptized innocents are warped and corrupted by the hellish environment and the evil of the Pit, and are thus transformed into evil spirits. Some of these spirits escape from their fiery confinement and return to the mortal plane as goblins, where they devour living humans. In modern times, this definition has been extended to include miscarried or aborted fetuses. Tiyanak who are "born" in this manner inevitably seek to exact their revenge on the people who deprived them of their right to live: their parents. But that vengeance may also extend to the doctor who performed the abortion.

There are also people who believe that the Tiyanak is the offspring of a human woman and a demon, possibly one that is related to the Incubus. Other legends say that this creature is created when a pregnant woman dies before giving birth. When the unfortunate woman is buried, the baby undergoes a transformation into an undead creature in the womb and then emerges from the grave to feed on humans. Thus, the Tiyanak is "born in the ground," neither living nor dead, but undead. It is interesting to note that a similar creature may be found in Malay folklore: the Pontianak, a vampiric ghost that preys upon men. This undead monster was once a woman who died before she was able to give birth. Although they are from different cultures, the Pontianak could be said to be the mother of the Tiyanak. Be aware that this is only speculation, and should not be taken at face value.

There seems to be some differences in opinion as to what the Tiyanak's true form looks like. Some say that the creature's natural form resembles a baby with claws, fangs, and red eyes. It may also be able to take on the appearance of a specific child. There are others who believe that the Tiyanak has more in common with the dwarves of Filipino folklore, sharing their elemental connection to the earth (although whether or not this connection to the earth grants the demon child any specific powers remains to be seen). In this instance, the Tiyanak appears as a short elderly man with wrinkled skin, a mustache and a long beard, a flat nose, and eyes that are said to be the same size as peseta coins. Oddly enough, the creature's right leg is said to be much shorter than its left one. This handicap forces the Tiyanak to move by leaping, and makes it very difficult for the creature to hunt or to otherwise pursue potential prey. However, the monster is able to compensate for its relative lack of mobility with its eerie ability to mimic the cries of a frightened baby.

There are other versions of the Tiyanak legend as well. In one instance, the demon child is thought to fly through the air under its own power, all the while still appearing to be a baby! On the island of Mindoro, the Tiyanak is thought to be able to assume the form of a black bird and soar through the skies in that form. In Pampanga, the legend changes yet again. Here, they are believed to be small people (like faeries, also known as the Little People) with nut-brown skin, large noses, wide mouths (presumably filled with sharp teeth), fierce-looking eyes, and "sharp voices." On a rather incredulous note, these Tiyanak don't walk on the ground like ordinary people do. Instead, they float in mid-air! This may yet be another connection to faery lore. But regardless of how the creature appears to humans, it is still a monster that seeks to kill people whenever it has a chance.

In order to lure its prey within striking distance, the Tiyanak cries like a baby. There are very few people who can ignore this disheartening sound, as only the truly heartless could ignore the sound of an infant in distress. The creature varies the sound of its voice, at times getting closer while seeming further away at other times. By doing so, it seeks to thoroughly confuse and disorient its prey so that they become hopelessly lost in the forests. Once the intended prey picks the creature up, the Tiyanak assumes its true form. The creature's claws and fangs extend, and the Tiyanak proceeds to feed on the still-living victim's flesh and blood. Additionally, the demon child takes great delight in leading travelers off of the beaten path before it entices them with its cries. The Tiyanak is also said to be fond of abducting children, much like the Changeling of European faery lore.

As frightening and dangerous as the Tiyanak is, there are ways to counter and drive the creature away. According to legend, the most effective way to break free of the monster's crying enchantment is simply to strip down, turn one's clothes inside out, and then put them back on. Apparently, the Tiyanak finds this to be hilarious, and will generally let the victim go before it heads back into its forest home. It is also thought that loud noises, like those from a New Year's celebration, will frighten the Tiyanak and cause it to flee back into the forest. According to legend, objects that are used to ward off the Aswang are also said to be effective against the Tiyanak as well. Such objects and substances include garlic, silver, a rosary, holy water, salt, and a crucifix. However, there are no given methods for destroying the Tiyanak. However, one may always fall back on decapitating the monster and then salting and burning the corpse afterwards. It never hurts to be careful.

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish sailed across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines and began to colonize the islands, starting with Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Over time, Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion through the Philippine Islands, and the legend of the Tiyanak was incorporated into that particular branch of Christianity, becoming the unbaptized, undead souls of children who had died. But many of the Filipino people still recall the old ways of life, which includes beliefs in monsters and spirits that pre-date the Spanish colonization. And encounters with these creatures of the night, such as the Tiyanak, continue to be reported to this day. It would seem that, as long as the Filipino people themselves continue to endure, then monsters like the Tiyanak are here to stay.


Tiyanak (Wikipedia)

Legendary Humanoids - Tiyanak, the Demon Child

Tiyanak - Demon Child

Monster of the Week: The Tiyanak of the Philippines


Tiyanak (Monstropedia)

Legend and Story of the Philippine Tiyanak Child Vampire

Friday, October 31, 2014

Kushtaka (The Otterman)

Alaska is one of the last remaining untamed wilderness areas in the world. It is extremely cold, very remote, and the sun doesn't always shine. It's no wonder that they call it the "Land of the Midnight Sun." The Tlingit and the Tsimshian have called this cold, beautiful country their home for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Here, they have lived by hunting, fishing, and foraging for food in the snowy forests and the freezing rivers. However, each time they go out to hunt or to forage for food, they have to be wary, armed, and on their guard, for Alaska is said to be home to a variety of terrifying monsters. Sasquatch, the Adlet, Thunderbirds, the Amarok, and even the notorious Sheepsquatch call this country home. But among the most sinister and the most dangerous of these monsters is a shapeshifting beast that is said to be half man and half otter. The Tlingit know this creature as the Kushtaka, the Otterman.

According to Tlingit legend, the Kushtaka (pronounced koosh-tuh-kuh) is a mythological shapeshifting beast that is said to be half man, half otter, and wholly monstrous. Loosely translated, the word kushtaka (or Kooshdakhaa) means "land otter man." This creature is believed to inhabit the hundreds of lakes, rivers, and ponds that lie scattered throughout the Alaskan landscape. The Kushtaka is thought to be especially prevalent in the temperate forests of Southeastern Alaska. In its native habitat, it can be assumed that this creature feeds on fish and mollusks like its animal kin, although it may be more than willing to devour the flesh of its victims if it feels so inclined.

Because the Kushtaka is a shapeshifter, pinning down exactly what the creature looks like is somewhat difficult. Most descriptions say that the Otterman is exactly that: half man and half otter. It is said to be bipedal and stands at around the height of a man, at around six to eight feet tall. The creature is covered in sleek, dark brown or black fur, having the hands of a man with taloned fingers, humanlike feet, a long tail, large glowing eyes, and a mouthful of needlelike teeth. Others say that the Kushtaka looks more or less like a Sasquatch, although there seems to be enough differences between these monsters for them to be two entirely different creatures. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as "Alaska's Other Bigfoot." When the Kushtaka has assumed another form, however, it becomes much more difficult to identify. It is said that the only thing that can differentiate the Kushtaka in another form (like that of a person) from the real deal is that its teeth never change, remaining long and very sharp.

The native peoples of Alaska are wary of the Kushtaka and the waters that it calls home to the point of paranoia, for the monster's cruelty and sinister nature seem to have no bounds. In other words, it is considered to be both malicious and very evil. The beast is said to be as intelligent as any human, and is more cunning. The Kushtaka is known for being able to eerily mimic the sound of a crying baby and the screams of a woman, and it uses these sounds to entice people into the forest or to the water's edge. Once the monster's prey is close enough, it tears them into pieces with its claws and teeth. Either that, or it will turn the victim into another Kushtaka. It will also lure sailors further away from the shoreline to their demise, much like the Siren in Greek mythology. The creature preys mostly on small children, as a child's innate curiosity makes it fairly easy to lure them in close enough to where the Kushtaka can reach them. On a more frightening note, the Kushtaka is said to abduct human babies as well, tying in with European tales of faeries and changelings. If the creature keeps the baby for long enough, the infant will eventually become a Kushtaka itself. Additionally, the Otterman is also known to emit a high-pitched three-part whistle, which consists of a low whistle, a high whistle, and another low whistle. Presumably this serves to entice any potential victims into coming closer, but it could also serve as a means of communication with others of its kind. And according to some legends, one should never speak the Kushtaka's name, especially three times in a row. This is said to summon forth the monster, and is very likely to make the Otterman very angry.

Paradoxically, there are instances of the Kushtaka behaving kindly or in an otherwise benevolent manner towards people. In some stories, the Otterman is portrayed as saving people from drowning or freezing to death by turning the person into another Kushtaka. It does this by creating illusions of the person's family and friends to distract them while the Kushtaka transforms them into one of its own. Strangely enough, these illusions are somewhat otterlike in appearance (which would alert any human with knowledge of such things). Exactly how the Otterman is able to transform people into more of its kind is unknown, but it undoubtedly involves magic. This sudden change allows the person to survive the extreme cold of the Alaskan rivers and seas, but this is viewed as being a decidedly mixed blessing at best. On one hand, they are gifted with supernatural powers that no human has. On the other hand, however, that person, now a shapeshifting beast, will never again be able to resume their lives as humans among their families and friends. Perhaps the Kushtaka, like people, varies in regards to temperament and personality from one individual to another. It is said that there is an entire race of these creatures, after all. But it would seem that the stories of the evil Kushtaka far outweigh any others.

The Kushtaka has a variety of supernatural abilities at its disposal. One of them, as already mentioned, is shapeshifting. The creature is said to be able to assume any form or guise that it pleases, and its most common form, of course, is that of an otter. Some say that it may become any species of otter (like a sea otter or a river otter), while others believe that it is limited to only one. The Kushtaka is also said to be able to take on human form and walk amongst humans if it so desires. Although most sources aren't very specific, it can be reasonably assumed that the monster is capable of assuming any form that it desires. Some say that it is able to take on the appearance of one's family, close friends, or even someone who has recently died!

In addition to its shapeshifting powers, the Kushtaka is possessed of supernatural strength, speed and agility in the water, and endurance. The creature is able to create illusions that enable it to deceive its victims and entice them into coming close enough for the Kushtaka to strike. It is able to appear and disappear at will, communicate telepathically, and it can (allegedly) manipulate time and space. The creature is able to survive in freezing conditions that would kill a person outright, and it can hold its breath underwater for long periods, although exactly how long is unknown. And finally, it is able to turn humans into others of its kind, a concept that is absolutely terrifying to the Tlingit. This is because the Tlingit believe that, in order to achieve reincarnation and eternal life after they die, they have to be human. Not only this, but their souls have to be intact as well. Being transformed into a Kushtaka deprives the victim of both of these things, and the transformation will last forever unless a shaman can be found who can rescue the victim. And not only that, but the shaman has to be powerful enough in the ways of magic and the spirits to reverse the transformation and change the victim back into a human. It might be reasonable to assume that medicine men with such powers are few and far between in the twenty-first century.

As dangerous and powerful as the Kushtaka is, it does have a few weaknesses. The creature both fears and despises dogs, and it is said that the animal's barking can force the Kushtaka to reveal its true form. That being said, it is also possible that dog bones can be used as weapons against the Otterman. A dagger carved from dog bone might be able to kill the creature, although this is purely speculation. But it must be emphasized that the bone should be taken from an animal that has already passed away from natural causes, as anything else is both immoral and unethical. In one way or another, dogs are not only faithful friends, but they are also willing to protect their human friends from the Kushtaka's evil. According to legend, the Kushtaka may be kept at bay with copper, human urine, and in some stories, fire. No reasons are given as to why these things hold sway over the Otterman. Theoretically, a copper blade may be able to wound or even kill the Kushtaka. It is also said that the monster doesn't like iron and steel. Shamanic magic could be used defensively against the creature and might be able to ward the monster off, although finding a shaman in this day and age who has the necessary power to do so would be a task in and of itself.

There are a great many stories and folktales that tell of the Kushtaka, and some of these stories may actually be true. One of the better-known of these stories is that of gold prospector Harry Colp and his three companions (their names are not given). In 1900, Colp and his associates set about exploring the Patterson Glacier north of Thomas Bay, in what was called "The Devil's Country" by locals. This place was known locally as "The Bay of Death" to the Tlingit, who recalled a horrible tragedy that took place there over one hundred and fifty years earlier. In 1750, an enormous landslide killed five hundred innocent villagers, and this incident was attributed to the evil of the Kushtaka. It is said that the village shaman broke his covenant with the monster, effectively sealing the fates of his people. Mr. Colp later returned with a disturbing story that he later wrote down. The manuscript itself wasn't discovered until after Colp's death by his daughter. She called it "The Strangest Story Ever Told."

Early in the morning one day, Harry Colp left his home, bringing his rifle along for the adventure. He came to a ridge, where he noticed some grouse frolicking about. Raising his rifle, Colp shot three of the birds. While on his way to pick up the third, he found a large piece of quartz. He hadn't been looking around much at the surrounding terrain, but he knew that it was densely wooded and full of brush. He noted that "the formation didn't show up," but he couldn't uncover the ledge without any tools. Fortunately, a snag had broken off and fallen to the ground, scraping off the moss and loose soil and leaving an area some eight feet wide and eighteen to twenty feet long. The entire ledge was made of quartz!

Colp noted that the ledge had been worked smooth by a passing glacier at some point in the distant past. Knowing that where there was quartz there might be gold, he searched for a rock or something to break a piece off of the ledge with. He couldn't find anything, so he used the stock of his rifle to get a piece of the quartz, and he actually broke the stock in the process (it always pays to carry a hammer). He wasn't too worried about it at the time, as there weren't any animals that he'd seen in the area larger than the grouse that he'd shot earlier that day. He admired the richness of the quartz, and he immediately thought of heading back to town and gathering up his associates so that they could begin their work. He'd made a rich find, and he concealed the ledge "with moss, limbs, and rotten chunk."

Colp began to think, pondering if he should climb the ridge that was standing directly over the quartz ledge to find some landmarks in order to guide himself back to that particular spot, or at least tell his companions where the ledge was in case something happened to him. He then decided that this was the best course of action, "climbing straight up over the ledge on the ridge" until he reached the top, some six hundred feet above the quartz ledge. Looking down below, he scouted out a tree that was taller than the rest and which had a thick, leafy canopy. It was fifty feet to the right of the ledge, and he gazed over the top of the tree. From where he was standing, Colp "could see out on Frederick Sound, Cape of the Straight Light, the point of Vanderput Spit; and turning to the left a little, I could see Sukhoi Island from the mouth of Wrangell Narrows." Colp turned halfway around to get a view of the mountain peaks, and below him on the other side of the ridge "was the half-moon lake the Indian had told me about." What Mr. Colp didn't know was that he was about to encounter something that would scare the wits out of him...

"Right there, fellows, I got the scare of my life. I hope to God that I never see or go through the likes of it again." Colp found himself confronted by a mob of "the most hideous creatures." Colp described them, saying that "I couldn't call them anything but devils, as they were neither men nor monkeys, yet looked like both." These creatures appeared to be genderless, "their bodies covered with long course hair, except where the scabs and running sores had replaced it." The creatures had their arms extended, trying to get ahold of him. He reported that "the air was full of their cries and the stench from their sores and bodies made me faint."

Momentarily forgetting about the broken stock on his rifle, he tried firing on the first creatures that came towards him. When that didn't work, he threw his rifle at them, turned around, and ran for his life! "God, how I did run!" Colp could feel the creatures breathing on the back of his neck, and the creatures slashed at his back with their long, clawlike fingernails. The stench of the creatures made him nauseous, and their yelling and screaming was driving him out of his mind! According to Colp's account, at this point his powers of reasoning left him. What happened next is unclear, as Colp himself had no recollection.

When Mr. Colp came around, he recorded that "I was lying in the bottom of my canoe, drifting between Thomas Bay and Sukhoi Island, cold, hungry, and crazy for a drink of water." What was even stranger was that he was still holding on to that chunk of quartz! At this point, he made for the town of Wrangell. There, he recounted his terrifying encounter with the horde of hairy, stinking beasts, saying "You no doubt think I am either crazy or lying. All I can say is, there is the quartz. Never let me hear the name of Thomas Bay again, and for God's sake help me get away tomorrow on that boat!"

What did Harry Colp encounter on that fateful day? Could it truly have been a horde of Kushtaka that had attacked him? It is most certainly possible. One has to remember that the Kushtaka is a shapeshifting trickster, and it may be capable of assuming any form that it desires. Secondly, the Kushtaka isn't just the name of one monster: it's an entire race of creatures. But why would a group of Kushtaka take on the forms of a band of marauding Sasquatches, especially ones with stinking, oozing sores on their bodies? Perhaps it was just a group of Sasquatch with mange or some type of skin disease, but the possibility that these creatures may have been Kushtakas should not be ruled out.

Tlingit folklore and oral traditions do not have much to say when it comes to how to kill this monster. The Kushtaka is said to be impervious to bullets, thus leaving firearms out of the equation. The best way to find out how to dispatch one of these creatures is to speak to the native peoples of Alaska and see what they have to say. As mentioned previously, the Kushtaka fears and hates dogs. A dog, if large enough and having enough strength, might be able to kill the Otterman. It would be a bloody, violent struggle in which the Kushtaka might emerge victorious, due to its superior strength and perhaps its ability to shapeshift. Either that, or both the dog and the monster may sustain mortal wounds in their battle.

There may yet be other ways to kill the Kushtaka. It was mentioned earlier that the monster may be kept at bay with copper, human urine, and fire. Exactly why the Otterman fears human urine is currently unknown at this time (possibly because of the smell), but it might be a good idea (albeit a disgusting one) to bottle some of one's own pee, just in case of an emergency. Why the Kushtaka is afraid of copper is another mystery. Copper was one of the very first metals to be utilized by modern humans for tools and weapons (with gold and silver being reserved for decoration and jewelry). It is soft and easily shaped by hammering, readily taking on useful forms that can be refined by rubbing on an abrasive stone saturated with water. It can be rather easily cast and hammered into cutting tools or weapons. Copper also work-hardens as it is hammered, making it stronger and better able to hold an edge. Perhaps it is this primitive connection with mankind's past that gives the metal power over the Kushtaka. It may be reasonable to suggest that the monster can be severely wounded or even killed by a copper blade, especially if the blade pierces the heart. The only disadvantage of a copper blade is that it isn't very rigid and will bend very easily if used for hard cutting or thrusting strokes. A copper weapon will also not hold a sharp edge for very long, and thus its use is limited by the metal's lack of resilience.

Another thing that may be utilized against the Kushtaka are the bones of a dog. Given the creature's hatred of the canine species, it is hardly surprising that, even in death, the dog may still be able to save those that it loved in life from the evil of the Kushtaka. If carved into a dagger, or mounted onto a wooden pole as a spear, it may prove to be extremely effective. But to kill the Kushtaka, it would have to pierce the heart (or possibly the brain). This is purely theoretical, however, and may not even work. It's the same with a copper blade, and while copper is harder than bone, the metal's softness limits its usefulness to two or three strikes before it bends and deforms to the point of being useless.

There are two other methods that may work against the Kushtaka: decapitation and fire. A steel blade should be used for this (copper makes for poor cutting weapons), and while not everyone can afford or knows how to use a sword, a machete is a great alternative. That is, assuming one is able to get close enough to the Otterman to do the deed without being torn to pieces in the process. After the creature is dead, its bodily remains should be burned to cinders immediately to prevent the creature from possibly regenerating and taking revenge upon its would-be killers. And rest assured that the Kushtaka's revenge will be both bloody and excruciatingly painful.

Despite the fact that the Tlingit and the Tsimshian are now living in the twenty-first century, they cling to the old ways and still very much believe in the existence of the Kushtaka. They are somewhat reluctant to speak of the creature with outsiders, fearful of the monster's wrath and the white man's skepticism. Little is actually known about this creature, and some of the information above is pure speculation from a learned man's point of view. But native Alaskans are slowly beginning to open up to outsiders about their beliefs and traditions, especially the younger generations. Some of the native people claim to have actually encountered a creature that they believe is the Kushtaka, and they want answers.

In the end, the Kushtaka remains one of the most fascinating creatures in Native American folklore. The Kushtaka is an extremely dangerous foe, however, and one can never be entirely sure if the person standing next to him is human, or if it is a shapeshifting otter-monster in disguise. Precautionary measures should always be taken whenever possible in case the worst should happen. When it comes to monsters, one cannot afford to make any mistakes. One moment of bad judgment could cost an innocent bystander his or her life, and protecting others from the things that lurk in the darkness should always be a monster hunter's top priority.


The credit for the artwork seen above goes to my good friend Andy Paciorek, a renowned artist who draws and paints monsters and creatures from folklore and legend. Because there are no accurate pictures of the Kushtaka to be found online, Andy drew this at my request. It's a frighteningly gorgeous piece, and I would encourage all of my readers and followers to check out Andy's work at Strange Lands. Andy has also authored a fantastic book of the same name. I received it for Christmas a few years ago, and I love it!! I asked for it not just for the text and the information inside (which is fairly in-depth), but for the truly frightening artwork provided for each creature. Andy's book, Strange Lands: A Field-Guide to the Celtic Otherworld, can be purchased on


Kushtaka (Wikipedia)

Kushtaka (Monstropedia)

The Fearsome Alaskan Tlingit Kushtaka: If it's not One Thing, it's an Otter

Beware the Kushtaka!

Have You Ever Heard of the Kushtaka, Alaska's Other Bigfoot?

Seeking Alaska's Bigfoot

Strange Tails: Kushtaka and the Bay of Death

Kushtaka Mystery

Magical Mondays #12: Kushtaka, the Otter Men

Countdown to Hallowe'en 1: Nature's Gods

Cryptozoology Creatures: Animals of Legend

Alaska's Otterman, or Kushtaka

"In Search of the Kushtaka", The New Book by Dennis Waller

Kushtaka - A Creature of Cryptozoology

Many Names: Alaska's Bigfoot

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes: A Guest Entry by Randy Merrill

(Cryptozoologist's Note: The following are real-life accounts of a murderous beast which is said to haunt the National Recreation Area of Kentucky known as the Land Between the Lakes (LBL). This creature fits the description of such other "wolf-men" or "dog-men" as The Beast of 7 Chutes, The Michigan Dogman, and the Wisconsin Wolfman. What sets it apart is that it has been associated with the gruesome deaths of at least four members of one family, and has been the subject of well-orchestrated and documented hunts. The first two accounts are by Jan Thompson from the webpage "Guardian Tales", and are reprinted here verbatim. Be forewarned, her accounts are fairly graphic.)


There is a national recreation area in Western Kentucky (that also runs down to Tennessee) called 'Land Between the Lakes', or LBL for short. It is situated between the Kentucky and Barklay Lakes, consisting of more then 300 miles of shoreline, 170,000 acres of forest and over 200 miles of walking trails. It is currently a focal point for over $600 million in the tourism industry. Prior to 1959, the area was called 'Between the Rivers'. That was before the Kentucky and Lake Barklay Dams were constructed, and before it was officially called LBL (in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy), and before TVA (the Tennessee Valley Authority, an agency of the federal government), took over the land and used it's powers of eminent domain to buy and tear down all the houses, businesses and community buildings throughout the entire area, forcing over 700 families to give up their homes.

There are over 228 small family cemeteries, many forgotten about and lost, dotted throughout the acres of forests, as it was once used as homesteads by early Kentucky settlers. Some of the earliest graves date back to the early 1700's, which include graves of white settlers, veterans from nearly every war, including the Revolutionary War, and also those of black slaves and Chinese immigrants who worked in the iron furnaces that were in the area. There was also a very high infant mortality rate, and many of these children were buried right outside the cabins in which they were born so that their mothers could peer out the windows and see the graves. There are also numerous Native American graves scattered throughout the acres, much older than even the earliest of settler graves, some discovered, others lie in secret beneath the layers of leaves and forest ferns.

Back before the 1950's, it had always been a very rural area to live in, with farmsteads far and few between, and with no real town to speak of except up at the north end in Grand Rivers. It was in this town, back in the mid 70's that I first heard of 'The Beast Between the Rivers' or known now as 'The Beast of LBL'. Some old timers would sit on this long wooden bench outside the old IGA store that used to be the old 'country store' for decades before the grocery conglomerate came to town. I used to hang around there on the weekends during the day and listen to the stories they would tell. These old men, most of whom used to live in LBL before they were forced to move, had some very interesting stories to tell about that part of the country.

There was talk of hauntings, Indian curses, mysterious lights over gravestones at night, old hag witches that lived deep in the woods, and more importantly, several tales of a wolf like creature that stood on two legs that would come out of the thickets and attack their cattle and live stock. Day or night. A creature that was taller than an average man by well over a foot, nearly 7 feet tall, with thick long hair covering its body, and a stench that matched that of some of the freshly opened graves that were discovered now and then. This 'wolf man' left tracks like a barefoot man but where the toes should have been, instead were paw prints. The head was huge and wolf-like in appearance, with an extra-long snout, and uncannily long, sharp incisors that glistened from the moonlight with saliva, along with eyes that, "Radiated red, like one of the hottest fires in Hell', they'd say. It had long arms that ended with huge hands and long spindly fingers with long, pointed, dirt-caked claws. At night they would hear it howl; unnatural guttural sounds of painful hungry agony, and at that warning, all would go out and tie up their livestock and even bring their most prized selections inside their homes with them.

The legend of the beast went back at least a hundred years, was passed along through time from family to family and updated as new sightings occurred. One old man said that his great great grand pappy told him that the creature used to be a man, a Native American that had the ability to shape shift, a powerful shaman that had been outcast from his tribe because he used his magic for evil. The Shaman had been tracked and killed while in his wolf state by a few warriors and a couple of settlers in the area. In his dying breath he cursed them and vowed to return from the dead to haunt the forests and seek revenge on their families and all who lived there. Another man on the bench with a leathery, weathered face said he heard from his grandma that the beast was once a settler that came over from Europe back in the early 1800's with a disease that made him turn into a madman at night. The disease was eventually passed along to his children, who never went to school, but stayed hidden away from the population. Many thought the family had died off, because for years they never saw or heard from them, and after investigations by some brave men, they discovered the homestead vacant and abandoned in the early 1900's.

The sightings of the monster were still frequent throughout the beginning of the twentieth century, and the elderly group on the bench told some unsettling encounters they or members of their own families had with it. Each one told stories of finding livestock slaughtered, ripped to pieces and eaten upon. Cows and pigs with their legs dismembered from the sockets. Even a few horses had met their end with savage attacks upon their bodies. A few of them described what they saw at different times when they caught glimpses of the figure by peeking out of the curtains of the windows into the night. One man said it jumped out of one of the horse stalls one evening while he was putting up some animals. It stopped in front of him, arms spread out like it was getting ready to grab him, let out a howl and then sprang past him and into the dusky shadows of the sunset.

This particular man said he 'wet his overalls' during the episode. Another man said he never saw it, but would always hear it's baleful wails frequently at night, not like a regular wolf or a coyote, "No," he said, "It was deeper, longer, stronger-sounding than what would come out of any animal I ever heard." Another old-timer said his wife had seen it trying to get into the chicken coup, but it gave up after getting tangled in the chicken wire. They all had tales of 'someone's hound dog' getting killed, ripped apart limb from limb, 'someone's pig or cow or chicken' getting eaten, the mysterious footprints left in the mud, and the stench it left behind wherever it appeared. And more than one had the same story of listening to it walk across their front porches at night and scratching on the doors and walls, which would leave deep gouges in the wood they would find in the morning. All of them agreed that this was not a Bigfoot or Sasquatch. It would be only another year or two after hearing about this mysterious beast that I myself would encounter it at the home of a family member that lived in the same area.

But this isn't the story I was wanting to tell you. This was just a brief introduction to the unwritten accounts of the darker side of LBL. A prelude actually to the real story I will begin to unfold. I just wanted to lay some groundwork so you could get the big picture and form some of your own opinions and theories. Walk with me now as I take you back about twenty-two years, back to the early 1980's. Then I used to work midnights at a gas station a few miles from the Kentucky Dam, which was a few miles from the beginning of LBL in Grand Rivers. And it was on one of these midnight shifts I had two visitors that would change my outlook on the subject of 'werewolves' (... and make me believe in what I had seen myself a few years back in the same area but had kept between myself and two other family members that were with me at the time, but that's another story to be written.) This story was never in the paper, on the news, or had any media attention at all. It was kept hush hush, and a sacred silence was demanded on all those involved. It couldn't get out, ever. It was a few weeks before the beginning of tourist season, and tourists were what the locals survived on, they were the 'bread and butter'. A story like this would be like screaming 'Sharks!' at Daytona Beach, or 'Child Molester!' at Disneyland. The people would stop coming out of fear.

I wasn't a witness to the fact, just a third person, making observations and having conversations with two individuals who were a part of the incident, who were involved in the whole ordeal. They had just came from the crime scene down in the middle of LBL after being there for over 8 hours. It was around three in the morning and they were taking a much needed reality break.

Two officers of the law. Two grown men who both appeared shaken beyond description. A mixture of fear and confusion, shock and disbelief emanated from them both. One was paler then the other, a deathly pallor over his skin, and it was this one (I'll name him officer Adam, to protect their identities) that had to sit on the curb of the gas pumps, head between his legs and expel the last bit of his stomach contents. The other officer (I'll name him officer Bill) came in for some coffee for himself and a cup of water for his partner, then rejoined Adam outside. There were no other customers so I went outside with them to see if I could offer some assistance with the ill man. He gladly took the few Rolaids I had extended in my hand, with his own shaky fingers he struggled to get them into his mouth.

For quite a long while the only thing that was heard were the crickets in the nearby fields, the sounds of bugs hitting the fluorescent lights above us, hanging from the gas station canopy, and the distant sound of highway traffic that was far and few between as it was in the wee hours of the morning. My mind was buzzing with various scenarios of the cause of their distress....a tragic car accident....possibly a motorcycle wreck...a boating mishap with drown victims....a murder.....a dead body discovered. ('Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back...that's why the cat has nine lives.')

I don't remember sitting down but after about 15 minutes of this hushed stillness I found myself beside them both on the curb staring out at the darkness of the nearby corn pastures, letting my mind paint pictures of imaginary traumas. Adam spoke first, breaking the silence of obscurity, "I can't believe's not possible...I just can't believe it...". In a hushed agreement, that was almost inaudible, Bill replied, "I is so unbelievable...I've never seen anything like this before...", a long pause, a deep breath, and he continued, "... or even heard of anything like this before." I looked at Bill and then at Adam, they were both gazing, open eyed, unblinking, out into the inky color of the night. Adam's bottom lip was trembling slightly, and it wasn't from the slight chill in the late spring air. Something, or some thing had filled them each with a congested fear.

After a few more moments of silent reserve, my patience was rewarded with some slow, fragmented descriptions of their past 8 hours. Bill turned his wide azure blue eyes towards me, they were glazed and blood shot, tired, frightened eyes. With a weary, shaken voice he began to unfold a tale that would forever be embedded within my spirit, like a nasty shadow that lingers around a corner waiting to pounce, to awaken your inner fears once again. Why he decided to tell me of all people was beyond my comprehension, maybe it was an avenue he felt safe to travel upon, to get it off his chest, off his mind. They were both frequent customers, and we knew each other on a first name basis, but to divulge such a torrid account of great magnitude, well, I can only say that the fear inside them both at that moment in time had to be released, eased, and extracted from their souls, or else they may have gone mad with unbalanced thoughts. Without interrupting, I sat entranced, listening to every word, absorbing them like an opiate, a spellbinding narcotic that hypnotized me into forgetting the world even existed for the next half hour or so.

They had gotten a call to help with an investigation at one of the many rural camp grounds down in LBL. The tourist season was about to start in a few weeks, so as usual there were some early arrivals that had come to claim prime camping spots before the areas were overrun with tents, campers and travel trailers The sun was setting low in the sky when they arrived at the scene. Several other official vehicles were already there, and there were many more to come as they would soon find out. Many coming from other counties, and a few coming all the way from another state. Several of these to come were coroners from different counties. One coroner vehicle was already present as well as an ambulance, which would prove useless, as there was no one to save. The victims were all dead. Quite dead. Completely, totally and thoroughly deceased. A young married couple, that had come down to take it easy for a few days, were the first to discover the ghastly scene. Neither one of them wanted to stay behind while the other went for help, so they both nervously traveled to the nearest town, Grand Rivers, and called the authorities. They did not return to LBL, they merely gave the arriving officer directions to the area of discovery and rented a local hotel room.

With the sun going down, it got dark pretty fast, so there was a flurry of flood lights from the cruisers being pointed in all directions, along with the excited movements of fifty dollar flash lights being held by nervous, restless hands, searching the trees, the ground, the leaves, the shadows. There was a parked motor home at the site, it's frame being lit by a campfire close by, a fire that had almost gone out on its own, but had been rekindled by the new crowd of men in uniforms so that they could have more light. The front and back doors to the home were open, one of the doors hanging by one hinge in a crooked slant. Through the windows they could see zigzagged movements of luminosity as the beams from flashlights searched the interior. Bloody hand prints slid down the thin metal walls close to the front door and more bloody hand paintings could be seen along the length towards the back door. Their images dancing eerily in the fire light like some ancient tribal symbols .

Adam and Bill did not even want to imagine what was inside the motor home, but then again, they would soon find out that it wasn't what was 'inside' but what was 'outside' that would change their lives forever. There was already crime scene tape placed in numerous, scattered parts of the area, and little white flags on metal stakes stuck into the ground marking evidence. Evidence of ripped clothing, bodies and body parts, separated limbs, a pile of bowels, pieces of loose flesh clinging to muscle tissue. What used to be three bodies that just hours before had been a happy family, on a happy vacation, to create happy memories for years to come; a father, a mother and a young son.

The happiness was gone. Destroyed by a psychotic mad man, or was it 'men'? A murderous rage had taken place, one so abhorrently appalling that there were few witnesses to the scene that had kept their composure or held their recently eaten dinners down. At first sight, the victims appeared to be butchered by some unnamable weapon, possibly an ax, or a chainsaw. Upon further inspection, by the first arriving coroner, the wounds on the bodies were determined not to have been caused by a sharp instrument but rather by some piercing, well-defined claws, and other wounds by some keen, mordantly long incisors.

Wildcat, bear, wolves? The coroner shook his head in baffled disagreement with each guess from the officers. The claw marks, for instance, on the back of the fathers corpse were distinctively made by 4 long claws, with a smaller digit, like a thumb, on the side; it's span was wider then a man's print, wider and different than a bears mark, with deep deliberate gouges in the flesh. Rake marks from an angry unknown source trying to grab it's prey that was no doubt trying to escape. The wildcat and wolves theory was dismissed as the open wound marks were apparently made by a more grandiose animal source. The bite marks were much larger than any mountain lion, wolf or coyote. Whatever did it had a longer snout and more sizable teeth. There were also indications, in the larger areas of the cadavers, of bite marks where the flesh, meat and bone had been yanked away from the body. Like a human who bites into an apple and leaves the impressions of his bite and teeth marks, so were the open wounds on these individuals. Bears, well, they aren't native to the area, but who knows. Maybe a grizzly did sneak in some way, but that was far fetched; he would've had to travel several states and cross several rivers to even get close to that part of Kentucky. Everyone present was betting on the 'bear' hypothesis anyway, and no one even thought of anything else to be the cause of such a savage attack. A bear, it had to be a bear.

From the back door of the motor home, an officer stepped down slowly, holding in his hands some type of garment. A dress. A small dress, that would have fit a small girl of around five years old. He informed the on onlookers that there were more 'little girls' clothes packed inside the coach. This meant there was a missing person, or an absent body; a member of the family. They all prayed she was still alive somehow, hiding somewhere. A new search began.

As time went by, additional law enforcement employees arrived, as well as a few volunteer rescue squad members. Groups were spread out and assigned areas to examine and explore. Another coroner arrived to assist in the identification and causes of death, and much later a third one showed up, this one from a nearby state. All types of samples were placed in plastic bags, marked as evidence, and carefully stowed away. As they were packaging up what appeared to be one of the fathers arms, one of the doctors noticed something wrapped between the dead fingers. Some tweezers slowly untangled a clump of long, gray and brown hairs. This too was placed in a bag, marked and put away to be analyzed at a lab later.

From somewhere in the nearby woods, about 50 yards from the campfire, a scream was heard. A man's shriek that turned into a long wail and then to whimpering. As others arrived they could see by the gleam of several flashlights that the cop was holding his hat in one hand and his light in the other. There was blood on his face, the front of his shirt and on the brim of his hat. More blood could be seen dripping on him. It was coming from above. High in the trees the flash lights swung, searching for the source of the mysterious bleeding. A very small hand could be seen dangling down from a tree limb way up high, as well as a slender lifeless leg that still had a white sock on the foot. The missing child had been located. It had been Adam that the blood had trickled upon, hitting his hat first, making him look up, and then feeling the thick cold fluid sprinkling his face then sliding down to his neatly buttoned shirt. It had been Adam that had screamed. The little girl had apparently been carried up the tree and leisurely eaten upon while carefully laid across a large tree branch. More of the same long gray and brown hair was found sticking in the bark of the tree near her body.

After about 7 hours, most of the officers were sent away as a new team of investigators arrived. They were told not to talk to anyone of the incident, especially not the media. I am sure that besides Adam and Bill, there were others who had to confess what they saw that night, if in fact this whole event ever really happened. Witness's that had to divulge the awful secret of that atrocious discovery at one of the campgrounds at LBL. About a month after sitting outside with Adam and Bill that night, they stopped in again during one of my midnight shifts. They were both rather more serious in nature, not like before the incident where they would kid around while drinking their sodas and eating a snack or two. They had both aged in some odd way. Streaks of gray, that had not been there before, highlighted both of their heads of hair. Their faces had lines of worry and showed signs of stress. I would see them again many times afterwards, but on this particular evening, they informed me that they got word about some of the lab tests that were taken that dreadful night. The tests, on the saliva taken from the bite marks and from the hair found on the mans fingers and in the tree bark, came back with an unknown species origin. The closest animal that they could be compared to was that of a Canis Lupis, a wolf.

Whether Adam and Bill had played an elaborate hoax on me I'll never really know for sure, but their sincerity and fear painted a picture of truth in their eyes and actions. There are several more stories that I have heard about this 'Werewolf' over in LBL that have been told to me over the years since this particular incident. There were several groups of boy scouts that had seen it. Several more campers, fishermen and boaters that had seen it from the safety of their boats, floating in some of the many bays that touched upon the shoreline. Hikers and bikers have heard its howling and have seen 'something' stalking them while they were on rural trails, hiding amongst the trees and foliage. Hunters have run across deer carcasses that have been brutally torn apart.

There was even a pair of curious gravestone rubbers (those who go out in search of century-or-more-old tombstones, then make rubbings by placing paper against the coarse stones and using a piece of charcoal to rub across it, capturing the images and dates from the stones onto the paper) who had a fearful encounter with it at one of the old cemeteries. It had actually come up to their car as they were leaving and shook the back end of the vehicle up and down, leaving terrible scratch marks in the trunk lid as it tried to hold on to the little Toyota while the tires were spinning in the wet grass to get away. These two individuals didn't stop driving until they were about 40 miles away; only then did they dare stop to investigate the damage done. I myself have seen those scratches. Much too wide for any man to have made them. They looked like they'd been made by a heavy metal garden rake.

But you will never read about it in the papers, or hear about it on the news, or get a confession from any law enforcement official or man of office. The media will say it's a bunch of 'Whoo Haa', or just pranks, silly stories, urban legends, lies, tall tales and such. This is tourism country, and that means millions of dollars to the area, so you can't scare off business, can you?

But, as San says on her website, 'You can't tell me there's no such thing!', because I have my own tale to tell about this creature. That story will come soon, I promise, but this one had to be told first, for it is far more scary and full of detail than my own. And that bench, the long, sturdy, heavy oak bench, that sat in front of the old country store for decades? It is still in existence. In fact, I had the grand opportunity of acquiring it several years ago when an even newer version of an IGA store was being built upon the same grounds. The previous owners remembered my fondness for sitting with the old timers and having undying patience with their many stories, and they got ahold of one of my family members to ask if we would like to have it to keep in the family. The bench now sits in my front yard, by the driveway, where I sit to wave good-bye to all those who have come to visit for the day. I've learned to always wave good-bye, because you never know if you'll see them again. You never know what lies in store for you or them. What lies in the shadows. Waiting. Watching. With hungry eyes and a drooling snout.

~ Jan Thompson.



The summer of 1978 will always be a turn about in my beliefs of 'real monsters' versus the demonic or paranormal type. Ghosts and spirits had become a common event during my life growing up, until that particular summer when a new avenue of fear introduced itself and made a permanent pathway inside my mind. A path made of concrete that wanders through the forests of my memories. A trail that will not be covered with weeds, or fade with time. A place that my daily thinking bypasses to avoid the beckoning desire of fear that calls from down that menacing road of remembrance. For this moment though, for the benefit of you, the reader, I will travel down that route once more and try to recapture the scene so that you, too, will lay awake wondering and asking the Universe, "Is there something else out there somewhere that is above us humans on the food chain?"

It was on one of those hot July summer evenings in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, back in 1978, when this took place. (Grand Rivers is at the beginning of Land Between the Lakes entrance.) The sun was not completely down and the skies were streaked with violet-pinkish Posy colored clouds that outlined the curtain of darkness that was pushing the turquoise blue away. I was staying at my Aunts house with my cousins for a few weeks during summer vacation, a very welcome home at the end of a dead end road. Hundreds of acres of woods surrounded the home that that had been built down a hill and into the side of a large hill of dirt. There were several homemade trails throughout the woods that led to several places; an old abandoned rail road track that went on for miles, another abandoned place- the old sawmill, and other paths led to parts of the shore line of the Kentucky lake. They all started out as walking trails, but with the new addition of a dirt bike that my cousin Joe had the trails became well outlined and defined. As with almost every day that I was visiting, Joe was out riding his bike through the woods, exploring, and just being with his own thoughts of a 13 year old. His younger sister, Ronda, was with me outside on the porch swing. She was 10, and I was 17 at the time. My uncle was working and my aunt was at the local IGA store down in town. Beside the driveway was a huge dog pen where their pet basset hounds lodged and was at the moment quite relaxed in the shade. The woods had been filled with only the sounds of birds and the chatter of squirrels for a few hours. Joe must have been way far off on a trail somewhere to not have heard that distinct sound of the dirt bike screaming through it's gears echoing around the trees. I knew he must be on his way home, because his dad forbid him to be out in the woods at dark, so Ronda and I were waiting to hear that familiar putt-putting of the bike slowly coming down the drive as he reluctantly came home to park it for another night.

As we swung back and forth, singing silly songs, we heard something a bit strange in the distance, it was Joe's dirt bike screaming at almost a soprano type of gear, long, steady, and fast, with no shifting sounds, just a straight stream of one gear in motion with a full throttle, going at top speed. The sound accelerated as he drew closer at such a fast pace, and we watched from the swing up to the top of the driveway where he would appear from the other side out of the woods. I couldn't help but think that he had better slow down or he would come flying up over the top of the hill and downwards missing a wide stretch of pavement by being airborne. The noise didn't softened or slow. Steady and fixed was his speed. And just as I had thought, he emerged from the woods in such a tenacious movement, that he did indeed go airborne a few feet before pounding down the front tire on the driveway, continuing his descent now with a struggle of keeping the bike upright and straight. Ronda and I jumped from the porch swing and got out of the way as we didn't know where he was going to stop or in what position. The brakes hit hard and the bike slid sideways and as it came down to the edge and end of the drive, Joe tilted his body and let the bike slide out from under him before he went down the rest of the hill with it. Instead of the bike continuing to slide to the edge it was caught in a spin that variably died down as the engine sputtered, and then quit altogether. Everyone was wide eyed and full of adrenaline, all our mouths open in shock. But Joe's mouth was open in a strange fearful grimace, he was sweating profusely and his breaths were coming and going in great heaves. Tears were coming down his cheeks, mixing with the dusty dirt that the trail had left him powdered with. His eyes were at the top of the hill, at the top of the drive, unblinking, searching, waiting. We followed his gaze not understanding what this escapade was all about. In silence we watched with him for a about 30 seconds and then the dogs started barking. Growling. And then whining, trying to get out of the pen in a frantic panic of digging and gnawing at the fencing.

"IT GRABBED ME!! LOOK AT MY LEG!!", Joe screamed, making us jump with alarm at the sound of his voice. We looked down at his Levi's and saw scratch marks going across his right thigh, scratches that tore through the tough denim and left small bloody marks on his skin. The marks were like a bears-claw-rake, not those caused by branches or sticky bushes, but a definite wide pattern of a paw print.

"IT WALKED ON TWO LEGS!", his voice startled us again, as he was trying to tell his story in between huge gulps of air. He was frightened beyond belief, and the bits and pieces of what he was striving with extreme effort to tell us was coming out in loud syllables that filled us both with the same dread. "It was following me through the woods....along the path....from the old was so hairy...and it's snout was so long...and it walked on two ran on two legs...", his voice was sputtering, slowing, his eyes were still wide, and I could see the pulse of his heartbeat throbbing under the skin of his temples.

A howling began. From the woods, not from the dog pen where now the dogs suddenly stopped their own complaining, standing deathly still, staring up at the top of the hill, the nape of the hair on their back standing up, ruffled, their noses up in the air breathing in a strange scent. A wolfs howl. It was close. It seemed it was just a few yards from the road up above. Just as the idiot in a horror movie stands and stares at something to appear, that was what I was doing then, with a mixture of anticipation and confusion. What the hell was he talking about? I thought to myself, mulling over the brief descriptions; torn blue jeans, walks and runs on two legs, stalking him, hairy with a long nose and calling the mysterious hunter an "IT".

Joe's tears came quicker and he started to push us towards the front door of the house demanding that we go inside and lock the doors. He had a hand on each of our backs and was urging us onward when IT came out of the woods above. At first it appeared to be a very large wolf emerging from the dark outline of the trees, but as it approached the one lane road that connected to the driveway, it's height grew to a towering shadow that stood on two legs. Much taller then a man's height, maybe by a foot, and with the sun gone down behind the clouds, it only cast a silhouette of blackness, hairy blackness. My mouth dropped wide as well as my eyes. This was not happening, this was not what I was seeing. My mind was going back and forth from rationality to reality. 'I was from St. Louis, the most frightening thing back home in Missouri was MO MO the Monster, the Show Me States version of Bigfoot. This was no Bigfoot!'

It raised it's long snout up in the air and let out a gurgling, slow, deliberate howl, while stretching it's long arms to it's sides and upwards, like it was praising the coming of the night, praying to the unseen moon and stars. At that moment the security light that was at the top of the hill at the beginning of their driveway popped on. Slowly at first it began to glow and gathered it's energy to shine more brightly over the next few seconds. One of the creatures arms bent and shaded its eyes from the glare. It wasn't an 'It' any longer, nor was it a Bigfoot, this was a wolf-like creature that, like Joe said, stood on two legs, was taller then a man, and was staring at the three of us down the hill. Those huge, black eyes; I will never get out of my mind. They were like two sockets of ebony oil shining under magnifying glass lenses.

We ran into the house, tearing the screen door in the process, slamming the main door, locking it, pushing things, anything we could reach against the inside of the door. The kitchen was right behind us and so was the knife drawer, which we raided and took several with us as we tried to decide where to hide. There was a house dog inside, another basset hound, Stubby, and he met us in the kitchen wondering what the racket was. Another howl from outside, came from the driveway. Stubby's hair raised and he started backing up at first, then he went to the front door and was smelling around the edges. The three of us ran to my aunt's room and were about to slam the door and lock it when the dog tucked tail and ran after us, beating us under the bed. All of us squeezed under the four poster, knives clutched in our hands, scared half to death. We could hear the dogs in the pen outside going absolutely crazy with barking, and we could also hear other things being knocked around on the porch, then on the side of the house, then at the side door. We heard glass break. We could tell it was from one of the bedrooms, the windows were up high and they were very narrow so we knew that it would take some effort for anything to get thru them, but still we shivered from fright.

My aunts horn on her Cadillac sounded several times as she drove down the road and approached the house. That meant for us to meet her outside and help with the groceries. We didn't budge. We couldn't move. We didn't answer her yells from outside for us to come unload the bags, we didn't crawl out and unlock the door for her, nor answer her knocking. She finally had to use her keys and then give some hefty push's against the pile of items we had up against the door; the trash can, 25 pound bags of dog food, water jugs, and a variety of other stuff. We stayed put. She discovered us only after all the groceries had been brought in and she noticed that her bedroom door was closed and locked.

It was amazing that we hadn't cut each other in some way or another with the immature use of the knives in our haste to hide, and we were chastised in more ways than one when it came down to my aunt observing us slowly emerging from her bedroom with the kitchen weapons in hand. We all started talking at once in a fervor, then we finally let Joe tell his story first, and we finished with "it" breaking a window just before we heard her car horn. She must have startled it. She didn't laugh; she didn't respond at all at first; in fact she never said a word until she came back from inspecting the windows in the bedrooms. My aunt said, indeed, there was a broken window, broken from the outside in. She made us clean up our barricade and put up all the groceries. Later that night, after we were all in bed, and my uncle came home, she related that evening's events to him.

The next morning, their dad warned us, "Stay out of the woods."

No problem.

He went on to say that he himself had gone down into the woods earlier that morning and found several pits dug and filled with animal bones and parts of carcasses along the path that led to the old sawmill that couldn't be explained. There were also holes dug in the sides of the bluff along the hills that overlooked the old mill that looked like deep caves, big enough for a man to hide in. Then he told us that years before, when the old boy scout camp used to be on the other side of Grand Rivers, an unexplained creature with wolf features was seen along the waters edge close to the camp sites. He and his older son had witnessed it themselves one evening.

I went back home a few weeks after this happened. And since then it has never ceased to be a moment of complete terror lodged inside my mind, along with the horror experienced at the Oakwood Home. It would only be a couple of years later, after moving from the city down to Kentucky, that once more I would come into the legend of the wolf creature by means of some old timers that use to live in Land Between the Lakes (LBL for short). Their tales, told to me while sitting on an old bench in front of the IGA down in Grand Rivers, would help me draw a bigger picture of what this thing actually was. Then, a few more years in passing, in the early '80's, two police officers would tell me their own tale of the events of a tragic scenario discovered in one of the campgrounds down in LBL. Events that were never published in the media.

Just about ten years ago, in the early '90's, Joe and my dad, who had come down from St. Louis to visit, decided to venture into those same woods in front of my aunts house. They took a couple of pistols and two rifles and were gone for several hours. These were two brave men, the bravest I know of, both of whom served in the military and fought in two separate wars, wars of their own time. These two men came back ashen faced and bewildered. They had walked all the way back to the old saw mill. The pits, fresh ones, were still around, filled with the bones of forest animals. The holes in the bluff still there also. They both experienced the feeling of being watched and felt an uneasiness that 'something' just wasn't right. The area where the sawmill was had no life stirring around it. No birds, no squirrels, no crickets, no bugs, even the small pond was still and lifeless. The birds that did fly made their way around the area and refused to fly overhead. The men couldn't shake the feeling of being observed by a secret watcher, and both swore they saw a large black shadow lurking in the shade of one of the mysteriously dug caves. That had been the first time Joe had been down that far on that side of the woods since he was thirteen, and both of them agreed that it was to be the last. My dad said there are some things you just can't explain, that science doesn't know about it, and these things should be left alone; they are not a part of our modern world. He felt that whatever it was that had scared the crap out of us so many years ago still existed in the same area. His intuition has never been wrong so far.

Urban legend? Maybe some of the stories passed along over the years have been added to or stretched a bit, like all local folklore and firsthand stories are over time. My story wasn't an urban tale though. It was a firsthand account of something I really and truly do not want to believe in, and wish I could forget or erase from my memory, because the nightmares remain real, while the events are still inexplicable by the laws of science as we know it.

~ Jan Thompson.

(NOTE: Jan stated in an email that Joe saw the sketch below, and they both "agree on the animal's features, except for the ears.") Joe remembers the creature with a bit shorter ears than are depicted in the sketch.)

[Cryptozoologist's Note: Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.]

Stories and sightings of the Beast of LBL go back for over 100 years. Some say the Beast is an exiled Indian Shaman that used his shapeshifting abilities to do evil and was killed by tribal braves - before he died he vowed to torment the tribe and anyone on this land. Others say the legends of the beast were conjured up by moon shiners to scare people and keep them out of the wood so there stills would not be found. More recent explanations say the beast is a predator cousin of Bigfoot that kills for sport and always kills more than it can consume.

So what is the Beast of LBL? Descriptions of the beast state that it is a werewolf-type creature, with a wolf-shaped head, and a muscular human-like body, it walks on two legs, stands 7 feet tall, it is covered in thick dark hair, with large fangs and ominous claws. Many stories tell of it's wolf-like wail and guttural growls.

Experiences with the beast range from hearing howls in the distance to fleeting glimpses in the shadows to victims being stalked or chased and even tales of murder.

The cache is placed near the alleged site of the most horrific account of the Beast. In the early 1980’s, just down this old road bed at the waters edge, officials were called to a camp site where a family of four were found viciously killed, dismembered and partially eaten. Bites and claw marks let the officials know that they were dealing with a very dangerous animal. However, there were no animals native to this part of the country that could have caused the type of wounds found on the victims, so theory turned to the legend of the Beast. It is not known what the outcome of the investigation was, because this story was never released publicly. But there are those that believe that the government took over and bunkers were built so the military could hunt and kill the Beast.

This cache is located within site of the alleged bunkers. As you walk down the old road from the cemetery you will see concrete structures evident along the road and in the woods throughout this area. To visit the site where the family was supposedly killed continue down the old road, past the bunkers, to the lake. The cache site can also be reached by a short bike ride along the Canal Loop Trail from the Visitors Center.

The cache is not in or near any remnants of a structure and it is not necessary to go near the structures to find the cache. Some of these structures have access hole in the tops that a person could be injured if they fell into them, so do not walk on and be careful near any structures you find here or anywhere in LBL. It is forbidden to drive off of un-maintained roads so if by chance the gate is open YOU are not allowed to drive on this or any road that is not clearly marked with a road number.



Land Between The Lakes is located in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. It's basically a huge wildlife refuge, with nothing but forests and undeveloped shoreline. There aren't residential areas or businesses located in LBL.

Really, after dark LBL is spooky. You can go out there in a car, turn off the headlights, and you are in total darkness. You won't see any lights out there.

There have been many reports of things not in this world out there. There have also been reports of weird creatures and evil spirits.

There have been many reports of red eyes in LBL. There is a legend that if you see a group of white-tailed deer out there at night, to turn back. They are trying to warn you not to go any further because a "demon" is nearby.

I personally have seen the red eyes. About thirteen years ago, I went out to LBL with a friend. It was night, and we were just driving around. There's something about LBL that makes people want to do that for some reason. Anyhow, we went down one of the side roads that led to an empty area that people use as a campground. There was nobody else out there that night.

He got out of the car to find a tree, which I really though was a bad idea. Before getting out of the car, he turned off his headlights. You couldn't see anything outside the window. Even the moon was dark. He gets out and disappears into the night. While waiting, I looked around and in the distance I saw two red glowing eyes.

As I watched it, it started moving closer. Believe me, I was scared to death. I opened the door, and literally hollered for my friend. He came running, jumped in the car, and got going. When he hopped in, he glanced in the direction and saw exactly what I saw. It was a scary experience. The oddest thing? After turning on the lights, we didn't see anything at all that could have had the red eyes.

A few months later, I went out again to LBL with a group of friends. Once again, it was night. We were riding along, and I started feeling this overwhelming feeling that we needed to get out of there. As we kept driving along, I felt so spooked. The feeling just got stronger and stronger.

Finally, I mentioned something to my friends. Knowing the way that I am, they immediately turned around and we headed back towards the bridge. I cringe to know what would have happened if we hadn't turned around.

The ironic thing is, before writing this post I did a search online. I came across a forum post from a lady that had a similar experience to mine. It really gave me the spooks to see that I'm not the only one.

"We continued our drive deep into Land Between the Lakes, searching for wildlife of any kind. As we drove, I started getting a very funny feeling, but kept it to myself. Little did I know, he was having the same feeling. At one point, he mentioned that the hair was raising on his arms and he felt that something wasn't right. "

There is a lady named Jan who has written a very extensive article on the Beast of LBL. She is from the area, and her page is updated. It's really a creepy and scary tale that is based on her true experience. [Cryptozoologist's Note: To read Jan Thompson's accounts of the Beast of LBL, see my previous blog post, "The Beast of Land Between the Lakes - Part 1"]

Last but not least, is how Roderick Justin Ferrell used a structure in LBL as his vampire hotel. He made world news for his arrest after murdering the parents of his friend. He believed that he was a vampire and a leader of the vampire clan. Ferrell told people that he was a 500-year-old vampire named Vesago. This clan used a structure in LBL, and called it the "Vampire Hotel". The oddest thing about this was that I could find only one picture of this online. After the story broke, officials made every effort to make this place disappear. They closed the road, and the location is pretty much secret now. Some sources say it has been demolished

LBL can be a spooky place. Should you ever find yourself in Western Kentucky, you might find it worth the trip to travel through it at night. You might end up having your own horror story to share.


I know of only one beast that could inflict such horrific damage. I have no doubt in my mind that the Beast of Land Between the Lakes is a Werewolf, and a particularly vicious one at that. My thanks to my good friend Randy Merrill for allowing me to borrow these articles for my blog. He may be found at: The Cryptozoologist.