Every so often there comes a long a dramatic case of the Strange that is hard to classify. In such cases it is difficult to ascertain if we are dealing with a mystery monster, aliens, ghosts, or something else entirely. Such is the case of a strange visitor that made its way to a rural community in the state of Illinois, in the United States, and proceeded to leave a trail of bafflement and mystery in its wake. Stalking through the nighttime woods, the enigmatic apparition which would hold a whole community in the grip of terror is a prime example of either a bizarre cryptid which we may never understand, or the profound effect of myth, legend, and hysteria on the human psyche.
The southern part of Illinois was already long steeped in the bizarre well before the mysterious intruder came to terrorize the area. Native Americans and early settlers often told of experiencing a wide range of strange phenomena here, including seeing strange orbs of light, shadowy phantoms or frightening entities stalking the forests, and hearing bizarre howls, shrieks, or screams in the night. The Natives tribes of the area believed this land to be a cursed place prowled by evil spirits, and the region gained the intimidating nickname the Devil’s Kitchen. It was a place that has long been permeated with paranormal phenomena, and both settlers and Native Americans mostly avoided it. It was to this mysterious cursed land of specters, phantoms, and high strangeness that a sinister entity would emerge to maraud across a small town and earn its place among the most bizarre mystery monsters of cryptozoological lore.
What would go on to be called the Enfield Horror first made its appearance in the small community of Enfield, Illinois, located in the southeastern corner of the state. On the evening of April 25, 1973, 10-year old Greg Garrett was out playing in the backyard of his rural home as his parents watched TV inside. The boy’s parents were startled when their son purportedly suddenly burst in through the back door, crying hysterically and with a terrifying story to tell. Greg claimed that as he had been playing out in the yard, a hideous, misshapen beast had emerged from the darkness to attack him. According to the boy, the creature was an otherworldly abomination around 5 feet tall, with three legs, short stumpy arms tipped with taloned hands, gray skin covered with slime, and disproportionately large, red eyes. The malicious beast had then stepped forward and actually stomped on the boy’s feet, ripping his shoes with its claws in the process, before he had retreated to his house in terror. Police who arrived at the scene could find no trace of the entity the boy had described.
A mere half an hour later, the creature would make another appearance, this time in the yard of the Garrett’s neighbor, a Henry Mcdaniel. It started when McDaniel’s children claimed to hear something scratching at the outside of the house, and when he went to investigate he too heard the odd scratching noises. McDaniel at first thought it must have been some sort of animal, perhaps a stray dog or cat, and he went out to confront whatever it was. When he opened the door, what he saw was no dog. There looming over the front porch was a bizarre monstrosity which would prove to exactly match the description of what little Greg Garrett had seen just half an hour before. McDaniel would later describe it to authorities thus:
It had three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms coming out of its breast area and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was grayish-colored… it was trying to get into the house!
Fearing for his life, McDaniel slammed the door shut and rushed off to retrieve a pistol he kept in the house for home defense. When he went back to open the door, the monster was still there scratching away, and reportedly hissed at the man “like a wildcat.” McDaniel then frantically fired several shots at the beast, hitting it dead on, after which it...
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