Over the course of two weeks, the "Beast of Bladenboro" would claim dogs, goats, pigs and small cows. Invariably, the bodies were horrifically mutilated. One pet rabbit was comptetely decapitated; a goat was found dead with its skull crushed flat. In Bladenboro, a small town, the attacks became headline news-- especially after the autopsy of one victimized dog.
This dog, according to its examiners, had been completely drained of blood. This is not entirely unusual, nor does it imply a supernatural cause-- many predators kill victims via blood loss. But the Bladenboro media, sensationalizing the case, nonetheless deemed the monster a "vampire." This added to the growing climate of fear-- as did an attempted attack by the beast on a local woman.
Before long, Bladenboro's atmosphere verged on hysterical. Posses containing hundreds of men swept the countryside looking for the monster. Locals killed every bobcat they could find, proudly claiming each trophy as the culprit of the attacks. (One of these bobcats is pictured above.) Hunters traveled to the town from miles away, hoping for the chance to kill the monster. And within two weeks, the attacks stopped-- rapidly fading into local legend.
So what was the Beast of Bladenboro? Even at the time, countless theories abounded. Some believed the killer to be a coyote, bobcat, wolverine or wild dog. However, none of these animals could easily inflict the monster's trademark wounds. A more likely explanation is that the beast was a cougar. Mountain lions are large enough slaughter large animals-- and the footprints found in Bladenboro are cougarlike. The screams of the Beast, like those of a mountain lion, were said to sound like an injured woman. Furthermore, witnesses described the monster as an enormous cat-- the cougar is America's only large feline.
There is one major problem with the cougar theory-- these animals cannot be found in Bladen County, NC. Until recently, all evidence for their presence there has been suspect and anecdotal. A few years ago, however, a cell-phone picture was anonymously sent to the press. It revealed what appeared to be a mountain lion, only miles from the town of Bladenboro. Cougars are stealthy creatures, and not easily detected-- were one to be found in North Carolina, I would not be surprised.
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