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Friday, December 10, 2021

Decemystery (2021) 10: The Enfield Horror

 

At the time of this writing, I want to just say that I’ve been reading a lot on TVTropes. Great site if you’ve never visited it; lots and lots of fun. Though I guess that’s not the point of today’s story. No, the point of today’s story is a cryptid—one of the most fascinating and confounding.


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that throughout the world, there are reports of weird creatures. A lot can be explained away as misidentifications of known animals; someone sees, say, a bear or wild dog, but because it’s night: they mistake it for Bigfoot or some sort of hellhound (or El Chupacabra). Though every now and then, there’s a creature which is reported that is a bit too… odd; one that’s so bizarre in its appearance, along with the circumstances that surround its initial sighting, that you can’t help but tilt your head in confusion.


That’s where the Enfield Horror comes in. If I were to make a top ten list for “most bizarre looking cryptids”, this would be in the top five. Though there are plenty of folks out there who say that it’s all perfectly explainable and can be rationalized. Is that truly the case? Well, let’s find out; it’s time to head on over to Illinois and talk about a story that’s been on my radar since 2019!

The Story


Our story takes place in southeastern Illinois, in the town of Enfield. Apparently, as of 2018, it has a population of 556. That really narrows down the suspects as to who’s behind the craziness we’re about to talk about.


On April 25, 1973, at 9:00 P.M., a young lad (Mysterious Universe states he was 10 at the time, and Wikipedia backs this up) named Greg Garrett was playing in his backyard. Suddenly, he saw something that he couldn’t describe and ran into the house bawling his eyes out. Once his parents calmed him down, he told them what happened.


And I’d like to just say that it was at this moment that I began to believe you could have fever dreams while awake.


Greg told his parents that he saw a three-legged creature with greyish, slimy skin. It sported small arms with claws protruding from its breast area, and large, glowing red eyes. He also said the creature stepped on his foot (which ended up tearing apart his shoes on account of the claws on its feet) before running off to who-knows-where. Topping things off, Greg was supposedly able to claim that the creature was roughly 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall.


Suffice to say, Greg’s parents weren’t exactly sure what to make of their son’s story. Although they had no reason to doubt their son, they also couldn’t quite believe what their son was saying. Little did they know though that this was only the beginning of this mysterious creature’s reign of terror.


Now, as a little side note: the aforementioned Mysterious Universe has a slightly different story than the one I just conveyed. It states that Greg saw the creature from afar, and subsequently stepped forward. Whether or not it purposefully stepped on his foot isn’t exactly clear; some say it ran by and, presumably, did it by accident, while Mysterious Universe makes it sound like it did it deliberately. Whatever the case may be, after his foot was stepped on, Greg ran inside and away from the abomination (which apparently didn’t give chase). You can pick which version sounds more plausible, but one thing remains the same. You need to remember this encounter above all others because it’s crucial for the theories section.


Anyways, a mere half an hour later, at 9:30 P.M., the neighbors of the Garrett’s would have their own sighting of this abomination of a cryptid. A man by the name of Henry McDaniel was informed by his distressed children—Henry Jr. and Lil—that something was scratching at the front door, trying to get in (as a minor addendum: the Cryptidz Wiki states that the kids also said it tried to get in via a window mounted air conditioner). Having just gotten home with his wife (I think, not every source says he’d just gotten home), Henry assumed that it must’ve been a bear or some other wild animal, so he went to investigate. Also, I have no idea where they entered their house from if they just got home, but I guess some folks don’t always enter through the front door.


I digress though. When Henry got to the door, he could indeed hear scratching. Like any God fearing American, he grabbed his .22 pistol and prepared to scare it off (or, more realistically, have it meet its maker).


Instead of being greeted by a stray dog, cat, bear, or even the Loch Ness Monster looking for tree fiddy, he instead saw something that would give anyone nightmares. It was a 4–5 foot (1.2 to 1.5 meter) tall thing that matched what Greg had seen a mere half hour ago.


Now, admittedly, some say that it was only after Henry saw this freak of nature that he got his gun (and a flashlight; I don’t know how he could make out the various hands, legs, and slimy-grey skin in the dark), but I like to think that he answered the door with a gun. I mean, I’m an American and it just oozes American. Though you can, once again, believe whatever version you wish to believe.


Continuing on: Henry decided to do the only sensible thing one would do when confronted with some mutant-looking thing: he started shooting it (some say he shot it four times; however, there’s no record of any blood that was found after all was said and done). Alas, just like that spectral moose we talked about earlier in the month, this creature wasn’t phased by being shot. Instead, it was kinda pissed; it reportedly “hissed like a wildcat” before it jumped away.


Yes, it jumped.


According to Henry, the creature turned tail and, in three jumps, managed to cover a staggering 50–75 feet (15 to 22 meters). Eventually, the creature vanished when it reached railroad tracks. To be quite honest, I could end the write-up right here because I’m almost certain I know what the creature is based off of that description alone, but that would be unprofessional of me (though I think I already exude as much professionalism as Rob Liefeld).


Anywhoozle: Henry proceeded to call the authorities; one source saying he told them that he had seen “a monster from outer space”. This somehow wasn’t laughed off as the ravings of a lunatic and sometime later, police arrived on the scene. What they found was more or less what you’d expect. There were scratch marks on the front door. However, there was something far more interesting in the yard.


A series of dog-like prints that measured 4 inches (10 centimeters) wide, with a third print that was “slightly smaller”. Unlike most dog breeds, these prints had six toe pads. I say “most” because when I looked around if it was possible for dogs to have six toes, I found out that the Norwegian Lundehund has six toes. However, it’s also an incredibly rare dog breed here in the United States (let alone the entire world) and it’s also not 4–5 feet tall. Instead, it’s only 12–16 inches (30–40 centimeters). More on this when we get to the theories section later though.


Despite the corroboration from the Garrett family, police were still really skeptical of what Henry had to say about Grimace’s 3-legged cousin scratching his front door. As such, they wrote it off as… I dunno, something, I guess. Nobody really has any information on that, so they presumably chalked it up to nothing. They also didn’t take any pictures of the scratches on the door, nor did they photograph the weird prints in Henry’s yard. Good work, Enfield Police!


Moving on though, the next sighting took place on May 6th of the same year. The person to see it this time was, once again, Henry McDaniel. The two-time Enfield Horror witness champion phoned the radio station WWKI on May 6th and told them how he’d seen the mysterious creature once more. He said that it was around 3 in the morning that very day; Henry heard some dogs barking wildly. Curious as to what they were so agitated about, he grabbed his gun and went to investigate.


It didn’t take long for Henry to spot what had the dogs so riled up. Off in the distance, near the railroad tracks, he could see the same creature that had tried to get into his home a mere two weeks earlier. I’m a bit confused as to how he was able to make out the creature fully (unless it was the glowing red eyes that gave it away), but I digress. Reports are a bit inconsistent when it comes to what the fiend was doing; some state that it was standing there (presumably looking at either the dogs or Henry). Others state that it was walking near the tracks at a rather slow pace. Whatever the case was, one detail remains the same: Henry didn’t shoot the creature like he did last time. Instead, he just looked at it in bewilderment until it “bounded off” into the night.


After this report, the interest in what had at that point become known as the “Enfield Horror” grew—and it grew fast. From what I can tell, Henry had gotten some popularity from the media and others, and he was more than happy to share his experiences with them. This, in turn, fueled the interest of out of towners who wanted to be the one to capture (or kill) the infamous beast. Likewise, it was also beginning to scare the living heck out of the locals, who were worried that their children may end up gobbled up by El Chupacabra’s disfigured siamese twin.


One person didn’t like this in the slightest. Roy Poshard Jr., the White County Sheriff, was so pissed at the attention the story was getting, he confronted Henry and told him that if he didn’t stop spreading his stories about the monster, he would be thrown in jail.


Whether or not this caused Henry to back off and stop adding napalm to the fire, I don’t know—nor do I think it mattered. By the time he was confronted and told to knock it off, the damage had already been done. As stated before, out of towners had caught wind of the story, and wanted to go monster hunting. That, on its own, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world; getting some tourism is always nice for a small community (at least, I would say so). Sure, some of them were, but given these are self-proclaimed “monster hunters” weren’t here to be civil. Nope, they were here with a ton of guns, even more booze, and no permits.


Suffice to say, this didn’t go over well—both legally and with the denizens of Enfield.


First up: two huntsmen from Indiana named Mike Mogle and Roger Tappy reported seeing what they described as a “large, grey monkey” running through the underbrush. This, weirdly enough, wouldn’t be the first time that someone claimed the Enfield Horror resembled a primate, which we’ll get into more when we get to the theories. For now, it’s worth noting that our two Hoosiers didn’t try to fire like they were in Predator, though their report only further terrified the locals and made them more paranoid that a wild monkey was on the loose.


Should’ve returned to monke.


Moving on, a few days after Henry had gone on the radio to talk about the Enfield Horror’s best replication of a scene from Stand By Me, five hunters were arrested for wildly shooting at what they claim was a “hairy, grey creature”, but that it wasn’t affected by their bullets. They went on to say that they had arrived with the intention of simply photographing the monster (guess they figured that wasn’t cool enough, so they opted for the old spray-and-pray).


Sheriff Roy thought this was complete and total nonsense and charged them with hunting violations, later stating that they were “out drinking and raising hell”.


As a brief side note: some sources actually state these two stories are one-in-the-same, and that the five hooligans were the ones to find the creature in the underbrush. I have no idea if both stories involved the creature being in underbrush or what, but it perplexed me at first. I’m probably overthinking things though.


Outsiders continued to wander into Enfield in hopes of finding the creature, but all of them failed. One can plausibly assume more people were arrested for being idiots and/or committing hunting violations, but I can’t seem to find any. That, as a result, brings us to the final encounter (at least of the ones that are cited on various sources). This is also the most interesting—in my eyes at least.


A group of four men— one of whom was Rick Rainbow, the news director of WWKI in Kokomo, Indiana—decided to go on their own expedition to find the now infamous Enfield Horror. During it, the amateur monster hunters went near an abandoned house that wasn’t far from Henry and Greg’s humble abodes. It was at this house that the group saw what they described as a “grey, stooped over ape-like creature” that stood at roughly 5 feet in height.


The men observed the creature from a distance as it did whatever it was doing (the best description I’ve gotten of its actions was that it was “lurking”) before it bolted off at an astonishing speed; far faster than any man could run. While that, on its own, isn’t exactly anything remarkable, the thing that makes this sighting noteworthy is that Rick and his crew came prepared with a tape recorder—and they managed to record its scream.


This, along with the multitude of sightings and reports, caught the attention of legendary cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s one of the most famous researchers in the field of cryptozoology, having written a multitude of books and has even opened a museum dedicated to cryptozoology in Portland, Maine. For many avid cryptid enthusiasts (like myself), he’s an icon. However, for many skeptics, he’s a figure of controversy and has been viewed as being incredibly biased when it comes to anything cryptid related. Either way though, he’s had a large influence on the field as a whole; if you ever want to learn more about cryptozoology, I recommend looking into Coleman.


Moving on though, Coleman collected various reports from witnesses, along with listening to the recording of the creature’s scream. Here’s what he had to say:


I traveled to Enfield, interviewed the witnesses, looked at the siding of the house the Enfield Monster had damaged, heard some strange screeching banshee-like sounds, and walked away bewildered.


This scream, as far as I’m aware, has never been released to the public, nor has any zoologist listened to it and given an answer as to what it might have been. Why this is, I have absolutely no idea. I tried looking up to see if maybe I had missed it, but I get more results for the Enfield Poltergeist (a story which is not only unrelated to this cryptid, but is also on another continent; The Conjuring 2 is based off of that story as a little side note). So whatever it was that Rainbow and Coleman heard, we’ll probably never know.


To round things out: after Rainbow’s encounter with the creature, the sightings of the Enfield Horror would cease. As far as I’m aware, nobody else saw the three-legged fiend ever again, and it faded into the realm of obscurity—and it’s remained that way. From what I’ve gathered, no local towns reported sightings of anything similar to it (though I believe some have compared the Enfield Horror to the infamous Dover Demon, which we’ll one day go over).


So yeah, that’s where our story ends. If I’m to be honest, writing this was absolutely brutal and you couldn’t pay me enough to go through this mess again, so let’s get to the theories because I have more than a little to go over.


Theories


1. It was a hoax


Remember how I said to keep in mind the story about Greg? This is why. You see, he flat out told the Western Illinois University that his story was made up—how long after the sightings took place, I’m not 100% sure, but I believe it was when he was at least in his mid-teens. HIs reasoning? Well, he apparently wanted “to tease Mr. M and have fun with an out-of-town newsman”. Who “Mr. M” is (or was), I have absolutely no idea (sort of; more on that later), but this revelation raises a lot of questions that I can’t find any answers for.


For starters, I have no idea how Greg’s shoes got torn up. Common sense dictates that he did it himself, but surely there’d be some level of difference in the way they’d be torn up if the damage was done by, say, a sharpened stick, sharp stone, or hand. I mean, sharp claws are much different than those other three; I’ve been scratched quite badly by sharp branches and my dog. The appearance of the mark isn’t similar at all (a dog’s nails leave a more prominent mark)


The second question is a lot more important though (in my eyes). It’s stated that Greg told the police of his encounter after Henry McDaniel saw the creature. If this is true, then there’s something I have to ask: did Greg tell his story only then, or had he told his parents already. If the former is true, then his parents would’ve been able to shoot down the story by saying that his shoes weren’t damaged (I say this since I highly doubt a 10-year-old would have been talking to the cops without a parent/both parents present). If it was the latter of the two, then how on Earth did Henry see something that Greg had made up a mere thirty minutes earlier?


Normally, I’d pull the whole “well, I suck at research” schtick I slip into these write-ups as self-owns/self-aware nods to the fact that I am by no means some grade A+ writer. However, I did try to see if there was some version of this story which acknowledged this, but as far as I can tell: there isn’t. No one seems to have any information on whether or not Greg’s account of what happened was immediately to his parents (who corroborated it with evidence of the shoes being torn) or if Greg did it himself without telling his parents…


Or did he?


On Wikipedia, there was a link to a book called Introduction to Collective Behavior and Collective Action: Third Edition. The pages cited were pages 148–152, and it revealed something shocking to me. You see, on page 152, it states that not only did Greg fabricate the story about being attacked by the creature an hour (yes, an hour, not 30 minutes like I originally said throughout the story), but his parents were in on it too! That’s right, everything you just read was speculation that I had asked myself before I found this out myself. Now you too get to feel as dumbstruck as I did when I learned of that and no other source I utilized when writing this entire write-up mentioned it. None. Zilch. Not a single wiki, website, blog, or whatever other form of online-written media nonsense exists mentioned it. No, only a linked source on Wikipedia appears to mention the full thing: Greg and his parents decided to tease “Mr. M”, who is/was, in fact, Henry McDaniel.


Though you know the best part of this all? This means that Greg’s account had absolutely no influence on Henry’s sighting; they just told the cops because they wanted to have a laugh at the expense of a man who was clearly traumatized by seeing something that he couldn’t explain. Not job, Garretts. You sound like real charmers.


Needless to say, when I learned of this, I ranted to some of my closest friends, and even my mother, about how frustrated and downright angry I was. I was even close to scrapping this entire write-up because I felt like there was some new revelation every time I turned around. In the end though, I decided to persist and continue onward because I don’t want my effort to have been for nothing. This is in spite of how the book also revealed other things to me that no other source did, so this won’t be the last time I end up getting pissed off when going through the theories.


So anyways, what exactly does this theory propose? Well, we know that the Garrett family decided to just screw with Henry for some inexplicable reason, though does it mean that Henry also fabricated the story? Well, that’s something most sources doubt. There is a niche group who think the entire town was in on the whole thing and did it to drive up tourism, but given it seemed to only attract a few would-be monster hunters who ended up getting drunk and disrupting the peace, I would be inclined to say that this theory isn’t what we’re looking for. Though it isn’t entirely implausible; I think there have been times where towns fabricated stories in an attempt to get more people to visit. Keyword being “think”, I can’t remember any off the top of my head.


On one final note: another version of this theory posits that this entire thing was a prank for what reason is way beyond me; it seems rather random for someone to put together a costume and go around scaring people (especially with the risk of being shot). Though people have done dumber things for less, so I guess it isn’t the most implausible thing. Anyways, before I go another tangent, let’s move onto the next theory.


2. It was an alien


Three legs, arms coming out where it breasts would be, two glowing red eyes, and grey skin that was slimy. To be brutally honest, everything about the Enfield Horror sounds like something you’d see on an alien planet in some sci-fi movie or video game, though could it really be an alien?


Well, to a lot of folks who believe in that stuff (which I’ll forever concede that I myself do), the book I mentioned above claims that Henry received “250 phone calls” in the wake of his initial sighting, including one from a “government representative”. This unknown individual stated that there had been “similar incidents” since 1967, and that they usually came in the wake of UFO sightings. This is one of the few claims that a few sites I used as sources (such as the Cryptidz Wiki) actually corroborate; there were a fair number of UFO sightings prior to the Enfield Horror being seen.


However, on the flip side, I cannot find anything on these supposed “similar incidents”. Outside of the book, it doesn’t appear that there were any sightings of this specific creature recorded prior to Henry McDaniel’s encounter. Unless the person meant some other creature[s] that were seen, though that’s up for debate. It’s also entirely possible this was a prank call meant to spook Henry into thinking he was going to get a visit from the Men in Black.


Whatever the case may be, there isn’t really that much evidence to back this up on account of there being no hardcore evidence that aliens exist, though that’s something you can argue about for ages. In spite of that, this theory—as a whole—is popular enough that some believe it because, well, what else could a creature like this be? I mean, its description is about as alien as you can get without it being humanoid. So surely there can’t be any other explanation! Case closed, right? Not quite, we aren’t even close to being done with the theories, so let’s move on.


3. It was a kangaroo


It wasn’t no kangaroo! - Henry McDaniel


Despite Henry’s insistence that kangaroos weren’t at his front door trying to get in for whatever arbitrary purpose, this theory is still insanely popular among skeptics and… well, really everyone. It’s also backed up by a brief excerpt from the book I mentioned above. You see, there was supposedly a woman from Ohio who claimed that, a year prior to the initial sighting[s] of the Enfield Horror, her pet kangaroo had gone missing, and that she was offering a reward for $500 to anyone who could return it to her. Some have also claimed that a kangaroo escaped a zoo a year earlier; I don’t know if both happened, or if one story is right and it got muddled as it was reported. For the sake of consistency though, we’ll assume that both are real.


So what does this theory have going for it? Well, there are actually quite a few aspects about the Enfield Horror line up well with a kangaroo. They tend to stand at about 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) and also tend to hiss and growl. There are also a few species that can be grey. They also have claws, which I actually didn’t know until I wrote about this theory. Also, the arms of a kangaroo—while not directly attached to the breast area—are relatively close to it. As such, it’s possible that, in the heat of the moment, Henry mistook where the arms were.


Then there’s also the matter of how the creature hopped away and cleared somewhere between 50 and 75 feet in three hops. From what I can gather, the average kangaroo can clear upwards of 15 feet in a single hop; assuming that it was in fact 50 feet, this is perfectly within the realm of reason (though I guess it’s also possible they can hop farther than 15 feet).


Topping everything off: where were a fair number of sightings of kangaroos in Illinois and Indiana between 1970 and 1974 (this is an entirely different topic for another day, but if you’re curious, here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on “Phantom Kangaroos”). As such, it would stand to reason that this was just one in a series of them throughout the years. So case closed, right?


No. Not even close.


For starters, kangaroos only have four toes. Their skin also isn’t slimy; they have fur that covers said skin. While yes, later reports do claim it had fur, I’m focusing a bit more on Henry’s encounter since it’s arguably the one that’s most enigmatic. That said, kangaroos also have prominent ears, which no one who saw the Enfield Horror reported it had. While this may seem rather innocuous, kangaroo ears stand straight up and would almost certainly be noticeable, even in the dark. For this reason, you could plausibly throw it in the trash. At the same time however, it’s also worth stressing that this took place at night; it was dark outside, it was a stressful situation, and it’s entirely possible that Henry—along with all the other witnesses—misremembered what they saw as something much more horrific.


Well, kinda. The number of toes… you know what, let’s just move on.


There’s also a claim that Henry might’ve mistook the creature’s third leg for a tail; one WordPress page called Neitherfish posited that this could have been a kangaroo sitting on it. I don’t know for certain if one would be doing this when trying to enter some place, but it does raise a serious question. You see, kangaroos can’t move backwards. Their tails, simply put, are too large and muscular and prevent them from going in reverse. So depending on how much room this creature would have had with where it was, I doubt it was at all “resting” on its tail.


Though I digress; this isn’t the place for me to shoot other people’s opinions down, so let’s move on. Earlier, I said I’d be bringing up that book again and we’re gonna do that now. You see, within its pages, the author states that a newspaper known as the Carmi Times had a report on what happened with Henry in the wake of his sighting. Besides reporting that he was bombarded with enough telephone calls to drive even the strongest of men to the brink of madness, it also reported that an anthropologist visited Henry the weekend after his encounter—specifically on April 30. This anthropologist not only interviewed Henry, he also took plaster casts of the tracks and concluded that they were, in fact, not those of a kangaroo.


I just said that, but it never hurts to repeat myself. My friends can vouch for this!


I digress; the newspaper proceeded to state that the plaster casts were sent to an “undisclosed laboratory” for further analysis. While I’m sure it’s annoying for me to throw my two cents in every other sentence, I can’t help but laugh and imagine the lab is actually some Area 51 type base and the creature escaped from there (more on that in a bit actually). Anyways, the newspaper rounded things off by saying that it might have been a bear. Let’s just move on because I have nothing left to say here.


4. It was a bear


Bears can hiss, their fur can be grey (though at the same time: I don’t believe any can be slimy), but they have five toes and they can’t jump because they weigh nearly 900 pounds. Yes, I know they can climb and even “vertical jump” a bit, but they aren’t going to clear something like 15 feet in a single bound.


In fact, for the sake of cementing this: bears are generally really immobile and a strategy for outmaneuvering one is to repeatedly circle a tree (or presumably any large enough object) because they suck at turning around. The reason for this is bears struggle to turn around since they’re not built like, say, a dog or cat; they’re built more like a hippo or rhino and are more capable of charging. Because of this, if you circle a large enough object, the bear will eventually give up and go find food elsewhere. So this theory is really silly and the Carmi Times should feel silly…


Please don’t sue me.


5. It was a mutant


I stated earlier that it would be funny if this thing escaped from some Area 51 type location. While I was mostly joking, there’s a very popular theory that this creature was, in fact, some genetic experiment that went really wrong and somehow escaped. While the previous few theories have been longer than average, this one really has nothing to it. It’s all speculation and, more than likely, fun thinking on the parts of some open-minded folks. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t have a lot to back it up. Still, it would be fun to believe that out in the middle of nowhere, the government is making crazy mutants for some nefarious purpose.


Watch out enemies of America, we’re gonna unleash our own version of Pokémon onto you!


6. It was a wild ape


Sometimes referred to as “NApes” (a term coined by the aforementioned Loren Coleman; it means “North American Apes”), there have been a plethora of sightings of wild apes seen throughout the United States throughout the years. Between 1941 and 1942, in Mount Vernon (not a literal mountain; it’s a city in Illinois that’s located a meager 40 miles/64.3 kilometers from Enfield), there was a “bounding” creature seen by residents. They blamed this beast for various animal deaths and for terrorizing the locals.


This unknown entity was said to be capable of leaping a staggering 20–40 feet (6–12 meters). As such, some have come to speculate that the so-called “Mount Vernon Monster” and the Enfield Horror are one-in-the-same. However, nowadays, it’s believed that the former was simply an escaped ape of some sort; possibly a baboon (which eyewitnesses said the creature “vaguely resembled”) or some other species of monkey.


Though the reports don’t stop at the Mount Vernon Monster. No, long before—and long after—that creature’s sighting, there have been reports of various apes in North America. Whether it be in Canada or in the United States, people have reported seeing wild orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and various species of monkeys. A lot of these can be—and have been—chalked up to escaped exotic pets and residents of zoos. Sometimes, they’re caught. Other times, they remain loose and live out their lives in the wild. If they do remain loose, a lot of people speculate that they can be used to explain various Bigfoot sightings.


All of these reports—ranging from NApes to the Mount Vernon Monster—all have a point. The second most popular theory as to what the Enfield Horror is (or was) comes in the form of it having been a wild ape. Now the type of ape isn’t exactly clear, but the most common appears to be a simple monkey. This—as far as I can tell—was first posited by an unnamed anthropology graduate student from the University of Illinois. The student went to Enfield to investigate the reports for a day and later returned theorizing that it was an escaped ape. AS far as I’m aware, this is only brought up in the aforementioned book “Introduction to Collective Behavior and Collective Action: Third Edition”. If you want to read it for yourself, it’s the second-to-last paragraph on page 150. It’s mentioned only in passing, though it’s stated that the student’s reasoning is that wild primates have been seen “sporadically” through the Mississippi area since 1941.


I won’t lie, I was confused as to what the student meant as first, but I soon learned that he was referring to the Mississippi River, which flows near Illinois. A quick Google search states that Enfield, Illinois is 2 hours and 34 minutes from where the river flows (being a grand total of 163.3 miles/259.5 kilometers from it). This would seem really far, but it’s worth mentioning that Mount Vernon is only 46 minutes from Enfield (being 45.7 miles/73.5 kilometers from there). So in my eyes, it isn’t too far-fetched to suspect that some sort of ape traveled eastward to Enfield over the years.


Backing this up is that a lot of primates can live a pretty long time. In the wild, the average life span is between 40 and 50 years. So I wouldn’t say it’s out of the realm of possibility that a rather young primate was released into the wild by its own—or a younger one escaped captivity—and began traveling around until it ended up in Mount Vernon and, some time later, wandered in Enfield.


Now granted, there are some questions which still beg to be answered. The most obvious is that the Enfield Horror didn’t react to being shot. Some could easily argue that it wasn’t shot and that its screeching/shrieking was a reaction to the loud noise. A lot of animals (if not all of them) tend to react harshly to the sound of a gunshot.


Then there’s the height. A lot of monkeys aren’t exactly tall; I believe the tallest is the Mandrill, and it’s a little over 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall. Gorillas, on the other hand, are generally around 5-feet-tall, but they don’t hiss. I also doubt one would have any trouble getting in through a door—even if it was young.


The slimy skin is also questionable. Again, while later reports do claim it had fur, the slimy part is also important (in my eyes). I guess we can always do some sort of 50-50 deal here for the sake of argument though!


With all of that said, however, I want to just set everything I just said aside and focus on the thing that I’ve focused on with every theory up until now: the prints that were found in Henry’s backyard. I know it’s probably getting redundant and, quite honestly, boring, but this is one which I desperately tried to find information on.


As far as I’m aware, monkeys and gorillas have five fingers. That, naturally, doesn’t match up to what was stated by Henry and others; so that’s a bust. However, there is a species of lemur that has six fingers: the Aye-Aye Lemur. It lives in Madagascar, but is also listed as being “critically endangered”. In spite of that, I was quite optimistic and thought that maybe some absurdly rich fellow got their hands on one to show off to their fellow rich friends.


Alas, there is just one teensy, tiny problem with such a notion. The Aye-Aye Lemur is a meager 12–15 inches (30–40 centimeters) tall. That’s nowhere near the height reported by, well, everyone. So unless this specific Aye-Aye Lemur somehow grew an additional 3–4 feet, I sadly don’t know if this is it.


In spite of that factor, the theory that the Enfield Horror was a primate of some sort remains extremely popular and has been circulated a fair bit. In fact, as I write this, I realize that a lot of people have generally disregarded the whole “six-toed prints” aspect, so I wonder if me harping onto it has been all for naught. Ehh, whatever, let’s move on and save that for when I get to my personal take (which I feel I’ve done throughout this entire write-up).


7. It was a wild cat


Given cats are known for hissing and can be grey, it would stand to reason that this would be the culprit; at least if you’re willing to play off some of the more absurd features described by Henry and others as the product of panic and the darkness. Though I guess that’s up for debate given cats generally can’t grow to be, you know, 4–5 feet tall, but I digress. There’s one factor I want to touch upon with this theory that I can’t with any other theory (barring the alien one and anything else which applies to that realm of explanation).


Cats—both small and big—can have something called polydactyly. This causes them to have more than the typical number of toes on one or more of its paws. Usually, they have five toes on the front paws and four on their hind paws. However, a polydactyl cat can be born with more; sometimes sporting six toes on all of their paws (though it’s more common for one paw to have more than the normal number).


Barring the Aye-Aye Lemur and the Norwegian Lundehund, this was the only animal I could find which could feasibly be the culprit when it came to the mysterious prints found in Henry’s backyard. Though I haven’t the faintest idea as to how this thing would walk or look when it comes to its appearance. I also have a hard time believing people would mistake a cat of any size for whatever you can call the Enfield Horror. In spite of that, this theory remains moderately popular, but nowhere near as popular as the kangaroo and wild ape theories.


8. It was a dog


Just like their feline counterparts, canines can also be polydactyl. I know I said the Norwegian Lundehund was the only dog born with six toes and technically, that is true. It’s the only dog breed naturally born with that many toes. So if you had plans to sue me for misleading information, I’ve totally just made it impossible for you to do that. Haha, I win again.


Joking aside, this theory more or less follows the exact same steps as the previous one, though instead of a cat, it’s a dog. It’s certainly more plausible since dogs are bigger than your average house cat (and it varies when it comes to a big cat), though there are a lot of difficult hurdles to overcome if we’re to believe it. Again, the way the dog would walk is a bit odd—especially since we don’t really know the way the prints were positioned (something I inexplicably haven’t mentioned until now).


Though even if we’re to set that aside, dog eyes don’t glow red unless light’s reflecting off of them. I don’t think they do anyways; I’ve only ever seen one of my dog’s (rest in peace my dear friend) eyes glow and that was something like a decade ago. I know Henry had a flashlight, but I don’t know if being in close proximity to a dog would cause their eyes to glow in the way that I’m envisioning.


Ehh, I digress. This theory is, oddly, not as popular as the other ones related to animals. I guess because a wild cat is more likely to be aggressive than your average loose dog. Well, unless it’s a Pitbull. Then you’re gonna need a medic.


9. It was some other known animal


As it says on the tin: it was some other animal that’s known to science, but amidst the mass hysteria that spawned from the sightings, people mistook it as some three-legged horror from the depths of H.P. Lovecraft’s mind. This theory more or less has all the same arguments in and against its favor applied to here, so I don’t think I need to go over them again in long-winded detail. What can I say? I’m not the unsolved mysteries equivalent to MauLer.


10. It was some unknown animal


New animals are discovered each year and as such, this theory posits it’s one of the many waiting to be discovered. Why the creature hasn’t been found and where it went, I couldn’t tell you, though I guess it’s not the most implausible theory out there. There are some really crazy looking creatures out there, though most live underwater. Maybe this is some sort of fish out of water. Oh whatever, let’s move on before I say anything else weird.


11 It was a demon


I guess it can’t be a story involving something with the word “Enfield” in its name without there being a demon at work. This theory posits that the creature was a demon on Earth; looking to cause mayhem, mischief, and pain. How did it get here? Where did it go? No source I can find answers that question and as such, I’m inclined to believe it’s floated around primarily due to the creature’s abnormal appearance. Though it would explain why it wasn’t hurt by bullets. Guess Bobby and Sherilynn Jamison had a point when they asked their local pastor where they could get bullets that hurt spirits.


12. It was an interdimensional creature


I guess it’s rather natural at this point that any extraordinary and/or unusual creature be tied in some way, shape, or form to the concept of two dimensions/realities overlapping. In the past, I believe I’ve mentioned that there’s a theory which posits that Bigfoot is from another universe, and that the reason the infamous hairy hominid vanishes so quickly is that it returns to its own dimension. This theory has since extended to I believe nearly every other cryptid out there; Mothman, El Chupacabra, the New Jersey Devil, and various gnome sightings.


Likewise, the same rules apply here. The Enfield Horror was some interdimensional being which ended up crossing over into our world until it eventually went back to its own. Maybe the dimensions stopped overlapping or maybe it was yoinked back into its own once the intelligent life over there realized that their three-legged aberration had taken a siesta to some other place. I personally like the latter of those two ideas, but that’s mostly because I like the idea of a stereotypical scientist in some laboratory panicking that some SCP-looking creature has escaped containment.


Nice work, poindexter.


13. It was mass hysteria


This one ties into the theory that the entire thing was caused by known animals, but gets into the more psychological aspects of the whole thing. The Western Illinois University is of the opinion that this was the cast. In 1978, a research group that was spearheaded by David L. Miller looked into the entire clown show that had ensued in Enfield. They eventually came to the conclusion that not only could the sightings be chalked up to an array of known animals. However, the sensationalism that spawned from the constant media attention and so-called monster hunters caused more people to think there was a real monster out and about.


All of that, in turn, created an “epidemic” that led to the creation of the Enfield Horror. This kind of thing isn’t exactly uncommon; the same argument has been used to explain the 1909 rash of reports in New Jersey of the “New Jersey Devil”. Between January 16th and January 23rd, there were hundreds of reports of people seeing or encountering the infamous cryptid. One woman even claimed that, while she was walking her dog, the creature swooped down and bit a chunk out of her poor companion before flying off. If memory serves though, the dog survived. In another case, the beast attacked a trolley.


Anyways, newspapers in New Jersey capitalized on this hysteria and said that the New Jersey Devil had taken trips into Maryland, Pennsylvania, and even Delaware (I’d bet good money that it got into a tussle with President Biden over the last box of ice cream). Eventually, the reports would die down and life would return to normal.


While the reports are now largely chalked up to mass hysteria, one thing did come of all of this—and it’s something that has immortalized the New Jersey Devil as one of the most iconic cryptids in the whole of cryptozoology. A Philadelphia newspaper produced a sketch of the creature which, if you’re into cryptids, you’ve almost certainly seen. If not, take a look below and bask in what may be one of the most bizarre looking things ever drawn.



The point of this rambling is that the exact same logic used to explain away those reports of the New Jersey Devil can be applied here. So rather than go ahead and repeat myself, I’m going to let an excerpt from Wikipedia round out this theory; enjoy.

In this area of Southern Illinois, it is not unreasonable to assume Mr. M or the radio news team had actually seen an animal. People we interviewed framed the recent events in these terms. Their accounts admitted the possibility that large dogs, calves, bears, deer, and wildcats had been sighted. Some frames suggested that an exotic pet, such as an ape or a kangaroo, was the catalyst for the monster reports. Finally, some people tactfully suggested that Mr. M. had a notoriously overactive imagination and had probably been shooting at shadows. In any event, we interviewed only one person who agreed with Mr. M’s claim that he had indeed seen “a monster from outer space.”


14. It was a social experiment by the government


The United States government is a topic of contentious discussion. I could probably do a multitude of opinion pieces on the Presidents I’ve lived through (George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden; I’m excluding Bill Clinton since I was really young when he was born). The only reason I don’t is I would get crucified for my political opinions, but I digress—I already made a joke about Biden a little ago. My point is: whenever you include the government in any fashion or form, you’re inviting trouble into whatever it is you’re putting out for an audience to consume.


That’s why this theory strikes me as really unusual. Over on neitherfish, which I linked earlier in the write-up, there’s a theory that the writer puts forward which states that the government manufactured the Enfield Horror as a psychological operation. The reason? To study and examine mass hysteria in a contained environment.


What reason the government would have to do something like this, I don’t know. However, the theory states that the Western Illinois University was in on the whole thing, but that the eyewitnesses were genuine in what they saw. That brings up a weird question: what was it that they saw? I guess you can tie this theory into the idea that it was a mutant or that the government had someone dress up in an elaborate costume and go around scaring people, though if that’s the case, then why the heck are we funding these people? I’d say we’re better off using that money to try and build a colony on the Moon or Mars.


15. It was some other messed up abomination that I can’t think of a word or name for because I’m a lazy dingus


Fight me.


 My Take


I want to start off by echoing what I said when I finished the story segment. This write-up was excruciatingly difficult. As stated earlier, I came close to flat out scrapping the entire thing because of how often I found new information when trying to write. Though truth be told, that wasn’t the end of it. I began to get extremely stressed out because I’d gone into this expecting this story to come in at around 2,000 or so words. In the end, it was over 10,000 words and I began to wonder if anyone would want to go through something that was not only that long, but something that I felt was messy beyond belief.


Though the length and messiness wasn’t the end of it. I realized that I’d been throwing in my two cents really often. I’ve repeatedly stated that I try not to do that, but with how mad I was getting at this story, I couldn’t help but constantly shoot down various things because nothing made sense to me, so I was monologuing as I wrote. This ultimately led to me feeling really self-conscious and I was terrified that readers would think I was being no better than some Z-grade journalist who feels the need to throw in their opinion whenever they write an article on, well, anything. While I know a fair number of people aren’t always bothered by that, I want my image to not be that of someone who keeps his opinion isolated from an entire section dedicated to just that: his opinion.


Yet even that wasn’t even the worst of it all. No, I believe the thing that was arguably the most difficult was trying to make heads or tails of dang near anything and everything about the entire story. I’ve definitely covered a lot of weird and incomprehensible things on this blog, be it the Dancing Underpants, the 3x Killer or Blair Adams. Though this story really just threw me for a loop and as such, I felt like as I wrote it, I was going to leave you—my reader reader—thinking that I was failing to put any of the puzzle pieces together. That, honestly, weighed on my mind so much that I was beating myself up for not crafting something that felt worthwhile or even the slightest coherent.


The only reason I didn’t end up fully scrapping this thing is I didn’t want a week’s worth of work to go to waste, so I guess that’s rather selfish of me for not replacing this with a story that I could make work better. If you disagree, do let me know; with that out of the way though, let’s get into what I think of this story.


Initially, I thought that maybe it was some sort of cat that lost a leg and was awkwardly running. Then I learned it hopped away, and I was partial to the idea it was a kangaroo. Then I thought more and more about the prints and how no kangaroo—as far as I’m aware—has six toes. At the most, they can have five. Also, while their tail sort of acts as a “third tail”, it lacks any toes—and that’s kinda damning, y’know? I mean, the whole “third smaller print” aspect is really hard to ignore (at least in my eyes).


This, ultimately, left me at a really, really difficult impasse. Even now, as I type this, I still have absolutely no idea what in the world this could have been. The most rational explanation I can think of is that it was a kangaroo, but I feel like I’m lying to myself by even bothering to entertain that thought. Likewise, it feels wrong to think this was an alien since that feels like I’m denying jumping the gun and ignoring that rational part of my brain.


Yet, the facts that I know don’t add up to something rational. This doesn’t come across as something I can debunk or explain away. If there really were plaster casts taken of the prints the creature left behind, then it would be great if they could be shown to the public. Why they haven’t been is beyond me; maybe they lost them or I can’t find the results online because they were quietly released to the public. If I did miss them, I once again ask that you let me know since that would put my mind at ease.


I guess in the end, I really can’t settle on anything. As I’ve made absurdly apparent through this entire write-up, I can’t let go of the whole “it has six toes” aspect (probably to the point I pissed off at least one person). Unless the prints were faked, that forces me to confront one of four ideas.


The first is that this was some unknown species of animal. That doesn’t seem too crazy, but I have to wonder why it’s apparently not phased by being shot (unless everyone managed to miss it, which isn’t too crazy I guess). I do know that some animals have really thick skin and small caliber rounds won’t pierce it, but sure being shot point blank would still hurt like crazy, no? Maybe I’m wrong and a bad American for not knowing my guns well, but I can’t imagine this thing just brushing off being shot like they accidentally touched snow while barehanded.


The second is that it is, in fact, some sort of alien. While I’m a firm believer in ETs, I have to wonder exactly why something like this was wandering around. Was it accidentally left behind? Was it an alien? What purposes does it serve? I can’t answer any of those questions, especially since it doesn’t appear to have done anything beyond run around, screech, and try to break into some guy’s home for some unknown reason. If there had been cattle mutilations, I could assume that it was clearly some sort of malevolent entity, but no mutilations were reported. So as far as I can tell, this creature was more content with running around like a kid in a toy store.


The third idea is that it was some escaped mutant. While I do think there are shady government labs out there, and I do believe they’ve probably toyed with the idea of some weird mutant for some purpose, I can’t imagine they’d let a creature like this escape. Though, if it did, the lack of any suspicious person[s] in suits questioning people is really out of character. In almost any case where some weird creature is seen, there’s always at least one person who gets a visit from a mysterious person. As such, this idea I can’t take seriously, unless the creature was at the very tippy top of black ops stuff. Which if it was, I can’t imagine what purpose it was meant to serve (or is meant to serve).


The fourth and final idea is that this was all just a hoax; that Henry McDaniel made the entire thing up; it subsequently just took off and it somehow became a phenomenon in the little town of Enfield. This is kind of possible since, as I said earlier, I’ve heard stories/claims of towns that have made something up for tourism. However, that’s usually some sort of group effort. I can’t imagine why Henry would go through this effort—nor does that explain the future sightings or the supposed audio recording of the scream. Which, for the record, I’m almost inclined to believe was fake because it’s never been released and that’s extremely suspicious to me. I don’t know if Coleman lied about it or was duped by it, but unless I hear it for myself, I’m not buying it. I may be gullible, but I’m not that gullible.


Also, I can’t believe that no one took any pictures of the prints in Henry’s backyard. Even if the plaster cast story is total hogwash, I can’t believe that nobody thought to simply grab a camera—even a crazy cheap one—and snap a picture of them. Maybe my understanding of how much they cost back then (especially in a tiny as all heck town), but why nobody thought to do that genuinely ticks me off. There’s no excuse for it, especially on the part of the police. You see something abnormal; I imagine you’d probably want to document it!


So where do I stand on this overall? I don’t know. Nothing about this story makes sense to me; it’s the 3x Killer of cryptids. Perhaps I’m overthinking everything and need to calm down, but I’m so lost with this entire story. It’s eaten away at me like no other write-up has before. Even the stories I ended up scrapping weren’t this bad. Seriously, can someone please explain to me what this thing could have been!?


Oh Look, Vertigo Found A Thing


As I was nearly finishing this entire write-up, I gave one last go at looking up “Enfield Horror Footprints” on Bing. Why I waited until the very last second to do such a search, I will never know. I guess I simply assumed that every other website/blog would have a picture of the prints since it would be something that you’d want in your article. After all, photographic evidence of something like a cryptid’s footprints/pawprints is, y’know, a big deal.


Well, anyways, to my amazement, I actually found an article on Ranker.com which had the following image within it (it’s stated it came from a YouTube channel called “MysteriousWorld”, but the video isn’t available anymore). I attempted the same thing on Google, but couldn’t get the same result when I looked up the same thing on Google. Anyways, I attempted to reverse image search the picture (which you can view below by the way—though you can probably see it already), but it appears it’s only on the Ranker article.



Against what is probably my better judgement, I didn’t go back and rewrite vast swaths of this write-up because, as stated above, I’ve had it with this story. I also don’t want to delay it until next year since I’ll probably lose any and all interest in the Enfield Monster and would sooner cook my hands before I ever dare touch the Google document that contains this story, let alone think about it. At the same time, I felt it would’ve been extremely stupid of me to not include something like this since it seems like something very noteworthy. Though it is worth noting that these don’t look anything like “dog prints” and are more humanoid in appearance.


Whether they’re actually of the creature, I haven’t the faintest clue; as stated before, I can’t find anything else on anything related to footprint photos. None of the sources I used throughout this write-up stated that any pictures were taken, so if there were some: it’s appalling that they were left out. If these were a mock-up of what they might have looked like (which I think is more likely, though they got the “one print was smaller than the other two” part wrong), then… alright, neat.


To add one last thing: if the image is, by some crazy chance, real, then I must say that I’m at an even greater loss for words as to what this thing might have been. The prints look like they don’t have any sort of heel; they look more like a flattened ice cream cone. At the same time though, they look really small.


I digress. Whatever the case may be, I just wanted to include the picture for completion’s sake. If it is a mock-up, cool. If not, then I can’t believe it took until after this entire write-up was nearly done to find a picture.


Conclusion


To round out this story, I desperately ask you, dear reader, to leave me your thoughts on what this creature is (or was). While it may be a bit generic to ask what your thoughts are (nearly every mystery YouTube channel does it), I’m deeply curious to see what you think was seen over in Enfield. Was it something explainable, something otherworldly, or some government abomination that escaped some super secret government lab? Tell me and… well, you know the drill. I’ll see you tomorrow for more Decemystery goodness.


Until then though, I’m gonna bang a rusty spoon against my head until I black out and can’t remember writing about this thing.

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