People have reported encountering strange creatures like werewolves for thousands of years. The lore surrounding these creatures makes real-world werewolf sightings alarming and downright creepy, since legend holds that these creatures of the night are up to no good. As these werewolf sightings throughout history show, you just may want to be careful when you head out under a full moon, or you could encounter a werewolf.
Ancient Werewolf Sightings
There are cases throughout history where werewolf sightings turn out to be caused by a human. However, in other cases, sightings of unidentified creatures are extremely detailed, and often with multiple witnesses.
Belief in humanoid beasts extends back to ancient times. Literature reflects these beliefs, as in the case of the Epic of Gilgamesh from Ancient Mesopotamia in 2,000 B.C., or the Odyssey, written in 850 B.C. These ancient beliefs eventually found their way into the civilized societies of the early part of the first millennium.
France's Werewolf Trials
Similar to the Salem witch trials in the U.S., France had its own trials against werewolves in the 1500s.
- Pierre Burgo and Michel Verdum were convicted for the mutilation and murder of a young boy, a woman and a four-year-old girl.
- Gillas Garner was charged with mauling and killing children on the outskirts of the village.
- The Tailor of Chalons was convicted of using his shop to bait children and then murdering them and storing body parts for later.
- Jean Grenier, a murderer with an intellectual disability, was caught after murdering and eating fifteen children. An early indication of the mental illness known as lycanthropy, the 1865 Book of Were-Wolves quotes the head of the inquest committee as writing, "The change of shape existed only in the disorganized brain of the insane."
Peter Stubbe, Werewolf of Bedburg
The villagers of Cologne and Bedburg, in Germany, suffered through gruesome wolf attacks for many years. In most cases, the victims' bodies were torn apart and partially eaten by the beast. In 1591, a group of villagers attacked by the huge wolf fought back with long, spear-like sticks. The wolf was revealed as villager Peter Stubbe. Under torture, he admitted to practicing sorcery and "making a pact with the devil." He reported murdering 16 people, mostly children. Word of this murderer and his trial spread through the countryside like wildfire, and Stubbe was nicknamed the "Werewolf of Bedburg."
Bray Road Beast
The most famous U.S. case of multiple sightings was in Wisconsin, in a case that has become known as the Bray Road Beast. In Southeastern Wisconsin on October 31, 1999, Doristine Gipson struck something as she was traveling along Bray Road one night near the town of Delavan. While searching for the animal she believed she had struck, she spotted a large, hairy beast racing toward her. She jumped in the car and barely escaped. The book The Beast of Bray Road by Linda Godfrey outlines the flurry of witnesses who came forward after hearing about Doristine's experience.
- Lorianne Endrizzi, a bar manager, reported clearly seeing the beast on the side of the road in 1989. It had fangs, gray-brown hair and pointed ears.
- Scott Bray, a dairy farmer, reported spotting a strange dog on his property near Bray Road in 1989.
- Another citizen, Russell Gest, reported spotting the beast emerge from an overgrown area to stand on its hind feet. Gest ran, but the beast never chased him.
- In 1990, Heather Bowey and friends were chased by the beast near Loveland Road.
- Mike Etten, a dairy farmer, reported seeing the creature near Bray Road in 1990.
According to a legend centered on the town of Wittlich in Germany, a farmer's wife had cursed a Russian soldier after he'd killed her husband. The soldier eventually became known as a murderous werewolf, and villagers eventually captured and killed him, and set up a shrine at the site with a continually burning candle. Villagers believe that so long as the candle is lit, the wolf man will not return. One evening in 1988 a group of Air Force personnel were returning to the Morbach base and noticed the candle was out. That night, a large wolf-like creature was spotted at the perimeter fence. The base police dog refused to give chase. It became known as the Morbach Monster.
In season 3 of the SyFy television show Paranormal Witness, it featured the story of a family in Palmyra, Maine that was stalked by werewolf-like creatures over the course of one terrifying night. After a night of terror, the family awoke in the morning to find large wolf-life tracks from some creatures that appeared to be able to walk on two legs.
In 1972, the Ohio Crescent-News reported that police were on the lookout for a wolfman who had attacked three people near the railroad tracks. Two N&W brakemen also reported seeing the creature lurking along the train tracks several times.
In the 2005 book Hunt for the Skinwalker, scientist Dr. Colm Kelleher and reporter George Knapp wrote about a scientific investigation of a ranch in Northeastern Utah where paranormal activity was taking place. In some cases, residents reported strange "misshapen" wolf-like creatures that would attack them or mutilate livestock, and in some cases would not respond to bullets. Some researchers tie the strange circles in the ground and, in particular, these wolf creatures, to ancient Navajo witchcraft practices. Many of the Navajo call these tribal witches Skinwalkers. Sightings of these creatures persist throughout the Navajo Nation, although few are willing to talk about it.
Are Werewolves Real?
Whatever was seen in each of the werewolf sighting cases may never be proven to be a "real" werewolf. However, with so many sightings across the world and throughout history, it's undeniable that something is out there, something that looks part man, part beast, and does horrific things to its victims.