(Originally Published in the January 15th, 2020 edition of The Lake Cumberland Current)
In past editions of this column we have discussed a wide range of strange in the Bluegrass and, as can hopefully be seen by now, Kentucky is home to a multitude of weirdness, including everything from reports of Sasquatch and anomalous animals to UFO encounters and experiences with entities from beyond our understanding. However, some of the oddest sightings of this ilk detail terrifying run-ins with a creature, or creatures, that many consider only an aspect of legend and folklore until it is seen stalking their own backyard in the middle of the night or keeping stride with their vehicle through long, dark corridors on one of Kentucky’s many forest surrounded highways. Witnesses describe a tall, dark furred creature that walks on two legs, possesses canine like features, and glares at onlookers with glowing red eyes.
It would seem as though there are as many names for these upright canines as there are areas through which their howls echo in Kentucky. In the 1600s, when French settlers came to Louisville, they brought with them tales of the Rougarou, a bi-pedal dog like creature with a tendency of violence toward those who witnessed it, only to find that a population of the creatures awaited them in their new home. Cherokee tribes in the area had their own stories of the Limmikin, a word borrowed from northern tribes to describe an almost identical beast. In cryptozoological circles they are most often referred to singularly as the dogman. Ultimately, however, the uncanny resemblance to what has become colloquially known as the werewolf cannot be denied.
It would be the latter of these monikers that would come to define a series of incidences involving the beasts in Waddy, Kentucky dating back before the turn of the twentieth century and on into modern day. Several Waddy residents have described hearing bone chilling ‘screams’ in the area over the years and more than a few accounts of sightings of the creatures, sometimes accompanied by horrific animal mutilations, have come to light thanks to reports from witnesses and inquiries performed by local Kentucky investigators. Some of the most notable accounts occurred on Ditto road in Waddy in the later months of 2012.
On November 28th, Teresa Parker found five of her pet goats slaughtered savagely in what appeared to be a sport killing by a large unknown predator. These gruesome attacks would not be the end of the mutilations on Ditto road, however, when only a week later another anonymous farmer reported the killings of his own livestock. The local Animal Control Director at the time, Rusty Newton, admitted to being mystified by what could have performed the series of killings as he said they didn’t seem to resemble any kind of animal attacks he had ever seen.
Concurrent with these incidences of animal mauling an unnamed mother and daughter had been chased home from their evening walk by something moving incredibly quickly behind them and making an extremely unusual yelping noise. The two sought refuge in their barn until the creature supposedly departed toward a neighbor’s house who also reported hearing the strange howling outside. This sighting is consistent with another encounter with what has become known as The Waddy Werewolf only a few years later in nearby Shelby County.
First documented on the excellent compendium of bi-pedal beast sightings in the Bluegrass, Kentuckybigfoot.com, and investigated by noted researcher Charlie Raymond, a homeowner in a older subdivision in Shelby County reported seeing two of the creatures around eleven in the evening while out walking her dog. The terrifying duo rounded a neighboring house on all fours, eventually standing on two feet and continuing into a wooded, undeveloped portion of the area, the witness meanwhile frozen in fear, close enough to see the hair standing on their backs. The report documents the jerky gait with which the things moved and an extreme silence coinciding with the event often associated with various paranormal and supernatural phenomena.
The Gateway Werewolf, thusly named due to its supposed stomping grounds throughout the Gateway to the Appalachias, is another of the alleged creatures with whom locals report experiences dating back as long as people have settled the area. In 1972, a squirrel hunter allegedly viciously attacked by the werewolf in Bourbon County along Hinkston Creek in the early morning hours, reported that the beast came at him from behind, pushed him down, and left several lacerations across his back and legs that required treatment from a local hospital. This incident spurred a local farmer to come forward with his own encounter with the werewolf which he says had crossed the road in front of him years before.
Both men describe similar attributes of the beast including having the body of a bear with silver or grayish fur, the muzzle and face of a wolf, and humanoid hands with sharp dagger like claws. These two descriptions would provide the creature with its most infamous of nicknames, the Bearilla, however, these are far from the first of their kind. Native American legends in the area tell of a great white furred monster who emerges from mysterious hovering lights over the Appalachias to kidnap victims and return with them into the glowing sky craft.
Perhaps the most famous of Kentucky’s supposed werewolf population is the creature, or creatures, known to stalk the Land Between the Lakes region in the western portion of Kentucky. Sightings of what has become known simply as the Beast of LBL have came from several different groups of outdoor explorers including hunters and fishermen, hikers and bikers, and boy scouts and campers. The wooded areas of Land between the Lakes are said to be littered with strange footprints, large ‘nests’ covered in unknown fur that appear to be slept in, and the carcasses of deer and other animals torn apart in a way that is unnatural for predators.
One of the most dramatic and violent supposed encounters with the beast of LBL comes from the early 1980s and was reported to researcher Jan Thompson. When police were called to a campsite in the backwoods of LBL, known for the abandoned military bunkers dotting the landscape, they were met by a gruesome and grisly scene. The bodies of three to four campers, a young couple and their children, were found badly mutilated and dismembered in a similar manner to the livestock on Ditto road. It is said that one of the bodies was found in the limbs of a tree some fifty yards from the supposed attack and that strange howling was heard by investigators in the woods surrounding the brutality.
Though this story has been met with large amounts of scrutiny online, Jan maintains that it is a true record of events and some researchers of the dogman phenomenon believe that they may have located the area in which the savagery occurred in the years since the incident. In this case, and several of the others documented here, it has been suggested that the events have been downplayed or outright covered up by authorities involved with the investigations. This is not to mention the high strangeness surrounding werewolf events, such as the ethereal silences and UFOs occasionally being reported in conjunction with sightings.
What think you, dear reader? Does Kentucky have a major werewolf problem? Are these beasts indigenous unknown animals, something far more insidious, misidentifications, or simply hoaxes and tall tales? For more on the dogman in the Bluegrass, check out Midnight in Kentucky episodes ‘The Curious Case of the Kentucky Cryptids’ and ‘The Return of the Kentucky Cryptids.’ available now wherever fine podcasts are streamed! ‘Til the next moon rises, Nightowls!