Let’s detour from the spooky tales to the downright terror-inspiring stories of the monsters hidden in the dark. It is October after all, so we shouldn’t forget the other horrors awaiting us in the night.
The Beast of Bladenboro – The Vampire Beast
Back in the winter of 1953-1954, the tiny town of Bladenboro, North Carolina was terrorized for approximately ten days by what later became known as “The Beast of Bladenboro.” The beast vanished suddenly, only to make a brief appearance in 2007 in areas surrounding Bladenboro. But is the creature truly gone or just excellent at the game of hide and seek?
The beast became so well-known and its existence rose from mythical status to achieve full acknowledgement of its existence as a cryptid. What is a cryptid, you ask? It is a newly discovered species once thought to be have been simply myth or rumor, but has become widely accepted as a genuine species without mainstream scientific evidence. The Beast of Bladenboro has been officially recorded as a terrestrial cryptid according to Eberhart’s classification. It is denoted as a blood-sucking feline-like predator, and is also called the “Vampire Beast.” Other famous cryptids include the Yeti, Bigfoot, the Lochness Monster, and even mermaids. To be included with such notorious creatures, the Beast of Bladenboro is in good company.
So what exactly is the Beast of Bladenboro? Descriptions by the few who actually saw the creature vary, but all agree it was a large cat (four to five feet long) with bushy black hair that resembled a mix of a bear and a panther. Tracks discovered by hunters revealed over one inch long claws. Based on sightings and paw prints, it was estimated the beast weighed anywhere from eighty to one hundred-fifty pounds. That is one large cat!
A big cat roamed the swamplands of eastern North Carolina? Big deal, right? Well, it wasn’t just the sightings of the creature that struck terror into the hearts of Bladenboro citizens. No, the beast earned its reputation the old-fashioned way – it slaughtered animals (mostly dogs) in a most vicious manner. The victims were found crushed, even flattened, entirely. Some had their jaws ripped off completely. Tongues were chewed out of the animals. But most frightening…the bodies were drained of blood. Hence, the moniker of the “Vampire Beast.”
It all started in late December 1953 and ended approximately ten days later. A man found his two dogs mutilated, crushed, and one missing its jaw. He wrapped the bodies in a quilt to bury the next day, but the bodies were carried off (supposedly by the beast) before daybreak. The following day, two more dead dogs were discovered with similar wounds. The next day, another dog. The following day, two more with jaws shattered and their tongues chewed out.
Finally, the police chief stepped in to investigate. An autopsy of the last two murdered dogs showed something more alarming than the bodies simply being flattened. They been completely drained of blood.
Other dead animals – goats, pigs, and rabbits – were found in the same manner. Crushed, nearly flattened. Jaws missing. Tongues and ears chewed off. And NO BLOOD remained.
There were several sightings of the beast, but only one human was attacked. On January 5, 1954 a woman went out on her front porch to check on her whimpering dogs. The feline predator was a few yards away and charged at the frightened woman, but her screams brought her husband running to her aid and the beast beat a hasty retreat into the trees.
The police chief also saw the beast attacking a dog, and then followed its tracks into the swampy woods. To his surprise, there were two sets of tracks with one set smaller than the others. Did the beast have a baby beast with it?
The next day a young boy looked out his window to see a large cat meeting earlier descriptions of the beast. What disturbed him the most was it had a cry like that of human baby.
The community finally had enough. Hunters were requested to find the creature and kill it. Over eight hundred hunters showed up in the tiny town of Bladenboro.
On January 13, 1954, hunters did succeed in killing a bobcat. Anyone who had seen the beast claimed this animal was too small, and therefore, could not be the Beast of Bladenboro. The small bobcat could not possibly have so violently crushed its victims. And what about the drained blood?
But surprisingly, the attacks stopped. Until…
Fast forward to 2007. About two and a half hours west of Bladenboro in Lexington, North Carolina, a farmer discovered sixty of his goats mutilated with their heads crushed and drained of blood. A similar incident happened in Greensboro, North Carolina (two and a half hours from Bladenboro, but only thirty minutes from Lexington). Police in both jurisdictions ruled the deaths as cougar attacks. While this is certainly a possibility, cougars do not tend to suck out all the blood from their victims.
Some suspect that the initial attacks in 1953-1954 were part of a publicity stunt for a movie coming out called, “The Big Cat.” However, the movie by that name was released in 1949, before the attacks.
Today, the quaint town of Bladenboro, North Carolina has fully accepted its status as home to the cryptid, the Vampire Beast. They even have an annual festival in late October to honor their claim to fame. If you’re ever in the vicinity of Bladenboro (eastern North Carolina about an hour west of Wilmington) around Halloween, drop in and enjoy the festivities at the Beast of Bladenboro BeastFest!
This year’s festival will be held October 25-26, 2019. Here’s the link for all the information you need regarding the festival:
I checked with the Town Clerk – no new sightings of the beast so it should be safe.