Recent news from Puerto Rico has divulged a sudden rash of reports of the alleged “chupacabra” creature, as reported recently by José Pérez at Scott Coralles’ Inexplicata blog. One of the more striking reports discusses “a dark figure resembling a short-statured man who appeared to be crouching,” with red eyes that reflected light, and “something strange on its head and back, resembling quills.”
Contrary to many modern reports of “chupacabras” that discuss dog-like creatures, this recent Puerto Rican report is more in keeping with early reports of humanoid beasts that reportedly attack, kill, and exsanguinate their victims–that is, they drain the victim’s body of blood in vampiric fashion. While the Chupacabra phenomenon of Latin America is only a few decades old, stories of alleged “vampires” are rife throughout the history of Forteana, in which the alleged blood suckers take a number of different forms.
The Bladenboro Vampire
In a rather sensation news headline from January 6, 1954, a story out of Bladenboro, North Carolina discussed the attack of a woman by some variety of large cat-like creature (see excerpt above). The story, though sensationalized and reporting the beast as being a “vampire,” nonetheless relates some peculiar facets in relation to the animal’s behavior; namely, the creature was purported to have not only attacked its victims, but suck their blood just as well, much like the modern reports of chupacabra.
According to one eyewitness, Lloyd Clemmons, who reported during the initial time of the Bladenboro “vampire” story, the creature was said to “look like a cat,” and was described by newspaperman John Gause as being “apparently some species of the cat family that is a blood sucker.” Clemmons gave a description of the animal as being about 20 inches high and three feet long, with a tail almost the length of the body. The creature was dark in color.
While the creature in question sounds similar to a mountain lion or other big cat, the exsanguination is odd; mountain lions and panthers don’t drain the blood out of animals they kill (and that, of course, is based on the assumption that the reports were accurately relating the cause of death in the 1954 Bladenboro story). While modern alleged “chupacabra” reports also deal with this phenomenon, there are other stories that go even further back; Charles Fort discussed a case where sheep were found drained of blood back in 1810s:
“In the month of May, 1810, something appeared at Ennerdale, near the border of England and Scotland, and killed sheep, not devouring them, sometimes seven or eight of them in a night, but biting into the jugular vein and sucking the blood….Upon the 12th of September, someone saw a dog in a cornfield, and shot it. It is said that this dog was the marauder, and that with its death the killing of sheep stopped.”
A similar story was also recounted by Fort, dating back to 1847. For all we know, these very sorts of tales, going much further back, that involved the inexplicable loss of blood in relation to strange animal deaths, could have inspired older legends associated with vampires in parts of Europe.
The Case of the Cattle Killers
Cattle mutilations also deal with this phenomenon on occasion. I recall a cattle mutilation case that occurred near Madison County, North Carolina, many years ago. Taking interest in the case, I was able to speak with a biologist who had been with a group from the Asheville area WNC Nature Center that dealt with the case. Off the record, she told me that she felt the official explanations for the death of the cattle–which had been that a “large dog” had been attacking them by biting and holding onto their snouts and suffocating them–was absurd. and I agree. The manner in which this “phantom dog” had allegedly attacked the cattle sounded uncharacteristic of the manner in which any canine, wild or tame, would seek to attack a larger animal, though this was apparently what area police claimed they had observed taking place following a stakeout in the area just after the cattle deaths and mutilations occurred.
A more telling instance of cattle mutilation was related to me personally by an old rancher, originally from out west, who had been put in touch with me because he had a “troubling” story he had expressed interest in sharing. We met one day during a visit I made to the leather shop where he now works, and he began to tell how he had investigated a similar animal death/mutilation many years ago on a large Indian reservation in the midwest. In the field where the animal, a large prize bull, was found lying, there were three football-sized rounded impressions in the ground, forming the points of an equilateral triangle around the body. The implication here, of course, was that some sort of aircraft must have been involved with the killing of the animal, which he also noted that, in addition to being drained of blood, was void of any insects one would expect to find crawling over the corpse of an animal that had been lying in a field for several hours.
What is it about these odd killings that results in so much blood loss, or are there truly any parallels to be found between reports of chupacabras, cattle mutilations, and alleged “vampires” from the annals of Forteana?