The Beast of Bray Road: A Modern Werewolf in America
By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
c. Visionary Living, Inc.
The “Beast of Bray Road” is a werewolf or were-animal creature seen in Wisconsin. A cluster of sightings from 1989-1992 ignited media interest. The sightings may be related to other, much earlier were-creature sightings elsewhere in Wisconsin, and also in Michigan.
The Beast of Bray Road was so-named because early known sightings and encounters were clustered around Bray Road, a one-mile stretch of isolated country road near Elkhorn, in southeastern Wisconsin, a small town of 6500 residents. Rumors and gossip circulated primarily among teenagers. The story received media attention when Linda Godfrey, a writer and cartoonist for a weekly newspaper called The Week, started collecting eyewitness testimonies and writing about them. Articles also appeared in Strange magazine. Sightings have been reported in a much wider geographical area, even as far away as Milwaukee.
Godfrey has written a book on the sightings, The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf, published by Prairie Oak Press in 2003.
Various descriptions of the Beast have been given, but common traits are its size and the fact that it stands, walks and runs on hind legs, and also on all fours. Upright it is over six feet in height, even seven to eight feet. The figure is human-like with clawed and hairy human-like hands, and a wolfish or wolf head. It carries a revolting smell, and has sharp, canny, slanted and evil-looking eyes. It stares at people and smirks at them, giving them the feeling that it is intelligent and self-aware in a human-like way. Eyewitnesses say it is demonic and hellish.
The Beast is most often seen at night, but also has been seen during the day. It has menaced people and chased them, and has been seen keeling by the road while apparently eating roadkill. No one to date has actually been physically harmed by the creature, although some eyewitnesses say they were certain the creature could have killed them had it chosen to do so.
One of the earliest encounters on record dates to 1936. Mark Schackelman was a night watchman at a Catholic convent, St. Colleta, near Jefferson, Wisconsin. He had two encounters with a bizarre creature resembling the Beast, both occurring around midnight. He spotted the creature atop a Native American burial mound, which it was clawing with its hands. The creature fled when Schackelman approached it.
But the second night, the creature – again found clawing at the top of the burial mound – stood up and faced Schackelman. The human-like figure was over six feet tall and was covered with dark hair. It had a muzzle, prominent fangs and pointed ears on the top of its head. It gave off a horrible smell, like “long-dead meat.” The creature stared at him and made a gutteral sound like “gadarrah” and growled. After an agonizing stare-down in which Schackelman earnestly prayed to God for rescue, the creature turned and slowly walked away.
In 1989, a 24-year-old woman, Lorianne Endrizzi, got a good look at the Beast while driving on Bray Road at about 1:30 a.m. She saw what she thought was a person hunched over by the side of the road. Slowing to a crawl to look, she was startled to see that the figure was part human and part wolf. The face was long and snouty and the eyes glowed yellow. It had a wide chest, pointed ears, big fangs and a covering of gray-brown hair. The limbs and appendages were human-like: the hands looked like human hands with claws; the hairy calves were muscular. The creature’s arms were jointed like a human’s, and it was holding what appeared to be roadkill in upturned palms. The creature stared at her until she drove away. Later, Endrizzi found an illustration of a werewolf that closely resembled the Beast.
Other sightings have yielded similar descriptions.
The Beast also has been described as bear-like ,and ape-like and baboon-like, the latter giving rise to speculation about its relationship to Bigfoot (Sasquatch), and to legends about hairy “wild men” said to live in remote, wooded regions.
According to Godfrey, the Beast has striking similarities to the Dogman of Michigan, to the lobizon of South America, and to other weredog creatures reported in diverse locations around the world. Godfrey says that perhaps an indigenous dogman has survived in remote areas – a hypothesis that has been put forward for other mysterious creatures, including Bigfoot.
The Beast also may have a relationship to the European lore of large, spectral black dogs or “hellhounds,” such as Black Shuck of England. Black dog lore migrated to America: for example, the Snarly Yow is a spectral hound that haunts parts of Maryland. In Chippewa lore, the Witchie Wolves are spirit dogs that guard the sacred graves of warriors. Native American burial mounds are associated with a host of paranormal phenomena, including haunting ghosts and spirits, strange lights and noises, and mysterious forms.
Other strange creature sightings similar to the Beast are of a were-deer, or a hairy biped that runs with deer.
Reports of strange lights in the sky – possible UFOs – and mutilated domestic dogs and cats have been reported in areas where the Beast has been seen, but there is no conclusive link among the phenomena.
Animals mistaken for supernatural creatures do not seem a likely explanation for the Beast. One explanation put forward has also been advanced for other mysterious creatures and for Bigfoot: it may be a remnant of prehistoric times, An indigenous dogman creature who somehow survives in remote areas.
For more information visit The Beast of Bray Road Update Page at http://www.cnb-scene.com/brayupdate.html
Adapted from The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, published by Facts On File, 2004.