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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Decemystery (2023) 28: The Vampire of Ward End


Hello, dear reader! Let me tell you about something: I’m prone to wanting to write about things if they piqued my curiosity enough. That means I’ll abandon plans to cover a story if I stumble across something that catches my eye. This write-up right here is an example of that; I found it by complete accident and was like, “I want to write about this.”

I’ve already discussed vampires once this month, and it’s not the last time we’ll be covering them (no, the finale comes tomorrow in spectacularly weird fashion). So come along; this is the story of The Vampire of Ward End!

There Are Some Very Good Reasons to be Afraid of the Dark

I found this story while I was browsing through the Paranormal World Wiki, though this isn’t featured on that site. No, the story I was looking at was something the Wiki called “The Vampire of Lochmaben Castle.” It’s an interesting enough case, nothing remarkable; it features a photo of a vampire taken in the late 1990s, which was pretty neat. I may cover it one day, but for now, I didn’t think there was enough to justify adding it to Decemystery—even though plenty of entries this month could easily have the same argument made against them.

Anyway, the source given for the story of Lochmaben’s vampire was a site called “The Paranormal Database,” which documents stories from across the United Kingdom. It boasts that it’s cataloged over 13,700 stories—be they cryptozoological, paranormal, folkloric, or everything else that falls into that category. This means that I now have a new site to dig into to find writing material; thank God for finding things when I’m nearing the end of this arduous writing project. It would have helped if I’d bothered looking for other websites before beginning this marathon.

The page featuring the Lochmaben vampire was devoted to vampires and werewolves, two mythical creatures that go together like me, and long unannounced absences from playing World of Warcraft for long periods of time. Nobody who reads this will understand that joke, but I promise you there’s one friend of mine who would. Anyway, if you scroll down to the fifth entry, you’ll find one called “Vampire Attacks.” This is our story, and it’s extremely short.

Back in January 2005, on Glen Park Road, Ward End, in Birmingham, England, there were supposedly reports of a black man (some sources claim he was Somalian) in his twenties who “bit another man” who was walking. After biting his first victim, the vampire pounced on a woman and bit off a chunk of her hand. What happened after that isn’t said, but we can assume the vampire fled the scene. It’s also worth noting that The Paranormal Database doesn’t say what time of day this happened.

While we may not know when this attack took place, we do know one thing for certain: police publicly stated they never received any reports about an attack of this nature. As a result, they labeled the case as an urban legend. This prompted me to seek out additional information, as I was curious if there was anything else I could find about the story.

Oddly, yeah, I could. This case apparently became big enough that British media picked up on it; it’s even mentioned on the Wikipedia page for Ward End, along with two other odd cases. The first involved rocks that were thrown at the windows of five different homes on Thornton Road between late 1981 and early 1982. Despite footage cameras being set up to capture the perpetrators, none were ever caught on camera; the rock-throwing, however, was. Additionally, no fingerprints were found on any of the rocks. This later became known as The Thornton Road Poltergeist, which I was only vaguely familiar with.

The other case was less a case and more an award of sorts. Back in 2006, Tarmac, a “heavy building materials company,” made a list of the United Kingdom’s “spookiest roads.” Coming in tenth was a road known as “Drews Lane,” which is in Ward End. Apparently, you can hear “invisible cars” that drive on the road.

Anyway, let’s circle back to the part about the British media reporting on this. From what I can gather, this all began when the Birmingham Evening Mail reported on the attack. I can’t find the original article, but don’t worry: Press Gazette is here to help us fill in the blanks. Apparently, at some point around the turn of the New Year, a “family was attacked.” During this attack, one of them was bitten. It’d help if I could find the original article on the attack, but I can’t. If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s possible the attacker bit their victim either to escape a hold or they were drugged out of their mind.

That’s at least what the Press Gazette said. I’m not sure if their version is accurate, but I’ll assume that it is. So, with that out of the way, I now want to head on over to The Birmingham Mail (I have no idea whether or not this is the same paper), as they made some lists that provided some additional insight. The one that I want to cite was posted on May 31, 2017. The article, which is about “21 Myths of Birmingham,” has our vampiric friend at the very end, so I assume he came in first.

According to this list, the first attack occurred in December 2004, as opposed to January 2005. This discrepancy may be due to the aforementioned attack having occurred on New Year’s Eve—assuming that was a real attack, anyway. Alternatively, it could be chalked up to the hysteria that ensued in the wake of the original article, as some people claimed that they’d heard of other similar attacks. There were claims that other victims were bitten when they answered their doors. You know, it’s said vampires can’t enter your home if they’re not invited in. Was this vampire breaking the rules of vampirism!?

All rule-breaking aside, the article offers some additional details on what this vampire could do. The first and most vital is that it refers to him as a “nocturnal predator,” so I can only assume this means he didn’t strike during the day. This would mean he wasn’t breaking all conventional rules of being a vampire—a major relief because I was worried this guy was going around during the day being one of those cringe-worthy nu-vampires. As we all know, those are basically the worst things to have ever been created.

Additional details mentioned include red eyes, the ability to turn invisible, and that our fanged friend could turn into a dog. It’s also said that he might have bitten a dog. Others allege that he wasn’t a vampire at all and that he was someone who’d gotten rabies via a dog bite. This prompted the man to want to “transmit it to others in the same way.” Quite a peculiar goal, but I wouldn’t be shocked if that’s happened in the past.

Eventually, this led to mass panic; another article from The Birmingham Mail about local ghost stories featured a comment from an “online commenter” who had the following to say:

We weren’t allowed to leave the house and had the door locked at all times.

From what I can gather, this isn’t hyperbole; this was genuine fear the residents of Ward End—heck, Birmingham as a whole—felt. To circle back to the Press Gazette article, the Birmingham Evening Mail found themselves flooded with calls from people who said they’d caught wind of “similar incidents.” These calls came in weeks after the original attack. Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s what Jim Levack, the news editor at the Mail, had to say:

We were getting about 10 calls a day. It spiralled out of control and became ridiculous. People were emotional and upset so eventually we put in calls to the police who confirmed that there had been no other reports.

How these rumors and claims started, I don’t know—not for certain, anyway. A WordPress page dedicated to Birmingham had an article on the case. It linked to a forum that had a thread from January 2005. On there, some people were discussing the rumor, with the original post saying that the rumor “spread like wildfire” throughout Birmingham schools. Again, I have no idea if that’s where they started or if that’s where they caught on.

The poster also mentioned that, at one point, police at some point caught the vampire, only for it to bite the bars off of its jail cell and escape. In another instance, they surrounded him, but he turned invisible (and then presumably escaped). If he turned invisible, I have to wonder why they wouldn’t try to grab him; presumably, if he’s invisible, he didn’t teleport. Oh well, whatever; my logic is likely flawed, and he probably pulled a Spring-heeled Jack and leaped away.

Whatever the case may be, the story was eventually picked up by national media, like The Guardian—which had two articles I could find about the vampire. From there, we arrive back at the conclusion from earlier: law enforcement issued a statement that they never received any reports of people being bitten by a supposed vampire; it was all a case of mass hysteria. Nothing more, nothing less.

Despite that, I still want to go over some theories since I’m not one for changing the format of anything—at least not radically. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the whopping two theories (plus the obligatory meme theory) that exist for this vampiric tale!


1. A real vampire

As wild as it may seem, there have been reports of vampires. Not people with that rare condition that makes their skin sensitive to the Sun and light, but the blood-sucking monsters of the night. I actually wrote about one of the most famous, The Croglin Vampire, but lost the write-up; I posted it on another site that no longer exists, and it wasn’t archived (something that I wish I’d done myself in hindsight). I’m still mad about it to this day, as I considered it to be one of my sharper pieces at the time. I intend to do a rewrite, but I wish I had the original since I recall having made a few jokes that I thought were great. God willing, I will write about it next year so I can at least have it remade.

Oh well, enough of me being mad about the past. My point is that vampire sightings do exist; whether or not you consider them to be the fabled monsters of legend is, of course, up to you. Personally, I’m deeply skeptical; I doubt there are undead monstrosities lurking around the dead of night, drinking on the blood of the living. However, I guess the folks of Ward End heavily disagreed since they believed it to be real.

While the lack of any police reports easily debunks the story, there’s one thing I want to bring up still: the idea that the whole thing was covered up. No, I have no source for this, but there are claims that cryptids that have killed people have been covered up to prevent panic and tourism from taking a nosedive.

A good example of that happening is tied to The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes, a cryptid that I desperately need to cover. I briefly went over it a few times this month, but I will again because I find the case fascinating. Allegedly, two hairy bipedal monstrosities slaughtered a family that was camping. The feds came in and helped to sweep it under the rug. Of course, no evidence exists to back the story up—none that I know, at least—but it’s a claim that’s pretty popular.

If you want to have a bit of fun with your tinfoil hat, you can argue that something similar happened here, only with MI5 (or MI6, whichever you Brits think is more secretive and sinister). Is it likely? I have no idea; I know practically nothing about how efficient the British government is at covering things up, but I’m sure that someone who reads this may try to put together a cohesive theory. If you do, let me know since I would love to write about it.

2. An urban legend

There are two sides to every coin, and this is the other side of the coin that makes up today’s theories. This one posits that the whole thing was an urban legend created thanks to mass hysteria. How did such a thing catch on? I have no idea; that’s one mystery I cannot answer, but this theory has a lot more going for it.

For starters, there were no police reports related to people being bitten by a man who knocked on their doors. This is easily the biggest strike against the whole story, and it’s one it can’t recover from. It’s not unlike John Carter’s box office returns, only it can’t do a tax write-off to account for losing close to a quarter of a billion dollars.

The next issue is that the reports stopped almost as soon as they began. If there was a vampire, you’d think it would have been around for a bit longer than a few weeks. Unless the whole thing was kept very hush-hush—and effectively at that—there’s no way this happened. I have to admit that it was a strangely enthralling story to research and just as fun to write; I need to do more like this because this was a breath of fresh air.

3. Tony Blair

Is this guy still relevant? I don’t know, but I’m gonna say that he is, at the very least, a vampire.

My Take

Needless to say, I don’t think this actually happened. There’s no proof to back it up, and I believe there’s no conceivable way to cover up a vampire being on the loose. If people started dying because they were drained of blood every night (or so I would believe it to be every night), there’s no way you could keep that from being public knowledge. If there’s a case like that, however, I would seriously love to know.

With that said, I do have one question—one that’s been burning inside of me ever since the start: why on Earth did this all start? I know The Birmingham Evening Mail published a story that triggered this, but I mean, why did this one incident apparently trigger a case of mass hysteria? Why this one; why did it become such an issue that people genuinely believed there to be a vampire on the loose? Maybe I had to have lived there to understand, but it boggles my mind that this apparently took off like it did.


And so, with that, our write-up comes to a close. While it may have been one that had the answer given extremely early on, I thought it still warranted being covered. It’s incredibly difficult to cover 64 mysteries one after another without beginning to feel burnout. As such, I thought it was time to spice things up and have another case that wouldn’t require many theories and would instead let me tell a straightforward story. And so, with that, I bid you all adieu; stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

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