This page was
archived from the Weird Wisconsin website, which is currently
down. Until the website returns, this page will be kept as a
snapshot in honor of the excellent work put into it by Richard
Jefferson "Wolfman" or Walworth
The Labor Paper [Kenosha]
Friday, February 19, 1993
There's Something Out
If you drive out to Walworth
County, especially near the intersection of Bray Road and Highway 11, be
careful. For one thing, many of the people in that area now carry loaded
guns. The other reason to be careful is because there have been numerous
sightings in that area of a creature described as being big and
The description of the sightings
from the last 10 months are strikingly similar. All agree that the
creature cannot be a large dog or bear. (It is interesting that those
who have seen the creature refer to it as "he" rather than
"it.") They say he walks upright most of the time. When he
walks he appears to be from six to eight feet tall. His body is covered
by long dark hair and he has a "canine" face. His hands have
extra long fingers or claws.
The witnesses insist on
confidentiality and there is one similarity that nearly all of them
share – the creature made eye contact with them and was fearless. In
several cases he bared his teeth by pulling his upper lip back in a
"sneer" or "snarl." All of the witnesses were
terrified by the experience and many of them are still frightened.
This story back-tracks to the
rural area outside of Jefferson, Wisconsin. In 1958 this writer
interviewed a gentleman who had been a nightwatchman at an institution
two miles east of Jefferson. He had encountered a creature on those
grounds at about midnight on two nights during 1936.
On the first night he came upon
the creature kneeling on the peak of a mound of earth, clawing at the
ground. (Note, the kneeling was described as identical to how a human
would kneel.) The nightwatchman's approach frightened the creature away.
The next morning that nightwatchman inspected the digging and told me
that the creature seemed to have three claws on each hand. Also, the
mound he was digging in was supposedly an Indian burial mound.
The face-to-face encounter came
the next night. At that time, when the nightwatchman aproached the
creature, again digging in the same spot, it stood up and squared off
with the man. That nightwatchman described the creature as "over
six foot tall, covered with dark or black hair, giving off a bad, bad
odor ... like long-dead meat ... eyes that looked right into me ... and
it made a sound. It was a three syllable growl, low and mean, something
like "gadarrah" with the accent on the second syllable."
That nightwatchman who had been a professional heavyweight boxer stated,
"the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I knew this thing
could kill me if it wanted to."
The nightwatchman said, "We
looked at each other for a long time, I had my flashlight ready (like a
club) and it growled at me. Then I did the only thing I could do, I
prayed to God to save me – and it turned and slowly walked away. It
looked like it sneered at me. For a long time I stood there, that bad
smell hung in the air and then I said another prayer of thankfulness. I
never saw that thing again or anything even like it."
The interview concluded with the
former nightwatchman saying that he told his wife about the encounter
and although she believed him, she made him promise not to tell anyone
else until sometime near the end of his life. That gentleman died in
November of 1974.
In 1964, a well documented
sighting took place near a rural home outside of Delavan, Wisconsin.
That story was carried by both The Milwaukee Journal and The
Capital Times. In this case, the witness was driving home late at
night (off Highways 14 and 89, as he turned onto Trunk R - D) when his
car lights picked up a "big, hairy creature heading south. The
thing jumped the barbed wire fence about four feet high, just jumped it
with ease and went south across the road. It scared the devil out of
That witness estimated the
creature to be seven or eight feet tall and weighing between 400 and 500
pounds. "It was big, dark and hairy. He was standing up just like a
human, he had feet and hands and was running just like a man runs, bent
just a bit forward." According to that witness, "The closest
animal it looked like was an ape. It was too hairy to see if it had
ears. It had long arms. But it was too big to be human."
In 1972 the creature came back to
Jefferson County. (These sightings were only about two miles south of
where the nightwatchman had his encounters in 1936.)
A Jefferson County Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) officer, David Gjetson, was called to
investigate the sighting of a "large apelike creature" that
had been visiting a farm five miles east of Fort Atkinson in Jefferson
A woman living on the farm
reported an eight foot animal with long black hair had been walking
around the farmyard. A few weeks later she called again, to say the
creature had returned and come right up to the farmhouse door, rattling
it and trying to get in.
"Since the woman didn't
invited it in for coffee, the creature decided to try the horse barn
next," said the DNR agent. "It took a swat at the horse,"
he said, "and left a gash across its chest 30 inches from one end
to the other." After leaving its signature on the horse, the
creature then crossed the garden and left.
The report, filed with the DNR,
states that the animal apparently walked upright and left barefoot
impressions that were over 12 inches long.
This brings us to the Summer of
1992. The single most detailed interview was done by Linda Godfrey
writing for The Week, a Walworth County newspaper located in
Delavan. According to that account, seventeen-year-old Tom Brichta and
his friend, Chris Maxwell of Hanover Park, Ill., were headed home from a
wedding reception late one Saturday night on Jefferson County Highway
106. They were singing along to the radio, said Brichta, when they first
noticed a "skunky" odor somewhere between roads "D"
"Then I noticed a hand
sticking out into the road," said Brichta. "My friend noticed
me looking to the side and he looked and saw whatever it was. It was
large; its lower chest and upper belly was at the top of my car. It was
huge. It was hairy, and it was standing over a roadkill."
Confused, Brichta slowed down,
only to have the beast lunge at the vehicle. It left two scratches on
the car. He remembers seeing the arm going for his car. "The
fingers were either pointed or had quite long nails on them," he
said. Brichta wasn't driving fast, he added, because it was foggy and he
couldn't see more than two car lengths.
Brichta reported it to the
Jefferson County Sheriff's department, which duly recorded it as a bear
sighting according to their Lt. Lenz. "But it wasn't a bear,"
said Brichta. "My family has a cabin up north, and I've seen plenty
of bears, and this wasn't a bear." What it was, though, he said,
Two months later, he saw it
again. This time, it was dusk, and another friend, Scott Freimund, was
with him. They were on 106, the same road as before, said Brichta, just
past "D." The two Palmyra high school seniors gazed in awe as
a "seven-to-eight foot high" creature walked easily on two
legs alongside a cornfield. Its head was turned toward the cornfield,
said Brichta, as if it was looking for something. "It reminded me
of a person window-shopping," he said.
When Brichta slowed up for a
better look, the creature turned and looked straight at him. "It
almost seemed to challenge us," he said, "like it was saying,
what are you going to do about it?" The creature then lifted its
leg as if it was stepping over something, and turned to go back into the
cornfield, pushing the corn aside in front of it.
Brichta's description of the
creature was eerily reminiscent of the Delavan sighting years earlier.
Except Brichta saw pointed ears and a muzzle. "It walked on the
balls of its feet," said Brichta, "and while it was walking
its upper shoulders were above the corn" (which measured six feet
high at the time.) "The thighs were muscular."
Freimund said he would compare
the creature's build to "a football player on steroids. He had
something clasped in his hand – I couldn't easily see what it was. We
went on our merry way, scared senseless. I wouldn't want to go through
that again unless I had a loaded weapon and a cross around my
Brichta returned to the cornfield
later, and discovered that there was a large hillock of grass where the
creature had taken the big step, and also an area of crushed grass where
it appeared something large had been lying. "It couldn't have been
a deer lying there because there was an ear of corn still on the stalk,
hanging right over it. A deer would have eaten that."
"Not a day goes by that I
don't think think about it," added Brichta.
Note that one of the parties
interviewed above used the phrase "Skunky" odor. The scholarly
book, Encyclopedia of Monsters by Daniel Cohen has a passage on
the "skunk ape" in which witnesses describe seeing an ape-like
creature which is large, hairy, over seven feet tall and possessing an
especially bad smell. This could lead one to believe that these
creatures – being large and fearless – do not respect skunks and are
sprayed by them with the odor being retained in their fur.
On Wednesday, January 27, Channel
12 of Milwaukee aired the show Inside Edition. Writer Linda
Godfrey was on that show and told about numerous sightings in and around
This writer has talked with Ms.
Godfrey about these sightings. She has personally interviewed
"about 20 people" who have seen "something." I have
asked her if the witnesses might be subject to hysteria or suggestion.
She says no. I have also asked Ms. Godfrey if, in her opinion, the
"something" that is out there is some form of animal – or it
is something paranormal or supernatural. She has told me that, in her
opinion, whatever it is is not supernatural.
This answer is interesting to me
because some years after I completed my interview with the retired
nightwatchman we sat together and had further conversation about the
creature he had encountered. I asked him, with his many years of looking
back upon the incident, if he had formed an opinion – an opinion as to
whether the creature was some form of animal or if it was supernatural.
His answer was, "That damn
thing came straight out of hell." He smiled then and added,
"Maybe my prayer sent it back to hell." And then his smile
faded and he said, "I bet it didn't stay there."
Note: This piece, as originally
published, contained a lengthy sidebar excerpt entitled "The 'Skunk
Ape' — of Florida," from Daniel Cohen's Encyclopedia of
Monsters, Waltham Abbey: Fraser Stewart, 1991, as a point of
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