By Stephen D. Bowling
Several years ago, I found one of those stories that seemed too strange to believe, but it is true. While looking through the back issues of The Jackson Times, I found a headline that caught my attention. I read in large, black print: “Dogs Spend Fearful Weekend; Killer Eats Heads, Sucks Blood.”
I paused a moment and read the article which appeared on page three of the April 10, 1952 edition of The Jackson Times. The strange tale written by John S. Forsee was simply too good to pass up and I offer it here for everyone to enjoy.
“The canine population of Jackson to Quicksand is creeping from hiding places and making a timid appearance on the streets. The cause of the dogs hiding is “The Thing” (werewolf, most likely) which made its appearance late Saturday evening and all day Sunday making life hazardous for the smaller dogs. The Thing, whatever it is, seems to be following the river. Several have reported seeing its tracks-- but to return to the time and place it all started. As near as can be ascertained Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Staton were comfortably seated at home on Broadway when their eight-month-old pup came yelping at the door seeking refuge in a time of grave and immediate peril. He was allowed to enter the home and after an hour or so released to the great outdoors. The next time he was heard was when a huge beast came trotting on the porch seized the pooch and made off with him. The pup was found the next day across the street with his head neatly decapitated, a heavy collar tooth marked, and not a drop of blood in the carcass nor was there any blood stain on the street about the dead dog. But before Sunday morning had dawned other dogs had been killed. All had their throats cut and the head or part of it was gone, presumably eaten by the werewolf (a person transformed into the body of an animal and living on the blood of its victims). To date, Police Chief Lewis Watkins can account for six dogs all killed by the throat-slitting method and most of them bloodless. Among them are his own, the Staton pup, and those of Walter Gaddis, Woodrow Griffith, and two others. However, the estimate of dogs seen killed along the highway between Jackson and Quicksand and believed victims of the werewolf now runs to over 20.
The reports of the werewolf dog killer in Breathitt County in April 1952 mirror almost exactly those tales of the Chupacabra or the “Mexican Goat Killer” that is now the stuff of legend in Texas and New Mexico. Tales of a similar legendary creature have been told throughout many parts of the world since the 1970s. No creature has been captured or positively identified as the mythical beast despite thousands who search for the unexplained animals.
It appears that “The Thing” apparently tired of Breathitt County’s dogs and moved on to green pastures in Frenchburg. A May 22, 1952 article in The Jackson Times chronicled the work of Breathitt’s dog killer in the Dan’s Ridge in Menifee County. The reports indicated that the beast was “of the cat family only 4 to 5 times larger than the average house cat.”
On May 29, 1952, The Times printed a letter to the editor from James Robert Dunn that suggested a possible explanation for the “dog killer” might be the same glawackus that terrorized parts of New England in 1939. The paper did not print the clip from The Lexington Herald, but did allude to the Glastonbury, Connecticut reports of a similar creature on the loose in January 1939.
Then it all ended. As quickly as the reports of the Breathitt County chupacabra started- they ended. No further mention of the animal appeared in the local newspapers. Slowly the stories of the creature sank into local memory and were eventually nearly forgotten. Those who do recall the stories, remembered tales told as a scare tactic to keep the children in the house at night because “The Thing” might get you. Most had forgotten the scary “bloodsucker” until Cornell Neace shot and killed something on John Little’s Creek.
Whatever prowled the streets of Jackson and the creek of Breathitt County during the Spring of 1952 has not made an appearance in the area since. Something unexplained was killing our dogs. I doubt it was a werewolf, but then again, there are still a few strange creatures in Jackson.
Our next post will explore the strange case of Breathitt County’s “Calliker” in 1954.
Image at the top from an ABC 4 news report in Santee, South Carolina. Sadly, there are no known pictures of the Breathitt County creature.
© 2022 Stephen D. Bowling
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