Beast of Bladenboro

The Beast of Bladenboro is a creature that was blamed for a slew of animal deaths in the winter of 1953-54 in Bladenboro, North Carolina. Witnesses and trackers of the beast suggested it was most likely a wildcat, but uncertainty of its true identity classifies it as a cryptid.

Eight miles from Bladenboro in Clarkton, North Carolina, a dog was found dead, on December 29, 1953, possibly caused by the beast of Bladenboro. Witnesses described the creature as sleek, black, and about five feet long.

On December 31, 1953, two dogs were found dead, described by their owner Johnny Vause, they were “torn to ribbons and crushed.” Two more dogs were found the next day, January 1, 1954, with one “sort of eaten up,” reported by a witness.

On January 2, another dog was killed, and two more were found dead on January 3. Police Chief Fores stated, “There wasn’t more than two or three drops of blood in him. The victim’s bottom lip had been broken open and his jawbone smashed back. The ear of one dog was gnawed off and the tongues of two had been chewed out.”

A description of the beast was reported to the Wilmington Morning Star by Lloyd Clemmons, who claimed he saw the beast on the evening of January 4, 1954. He said it was around 20 inches high, its tail was about 14 inches long, it was dark in color and its face was like a cat. He also stated that the beast was moving toward his dogs but ran away when he went out with his gun.

Hunters tracked the beast for three miles that night. They claim the tracks left from the creature indicated it weighing approximately 80 or 90 pounds. It made circling movements suggesting it had a mate or young close by.

Early on January 5, the creature was seen attacking a dog. The dog ran away and was never found. Also two sets of tracks were found on a creek bank near one of the attack sites. Later that evening, Mrs. C. E. Kinlaw heard whimpering dogs. When she went to her porch, she saw a creature she described as looking like a big mountain lion near some dogs, three houses away. The creature ran toward her, but when she screamed it turned and ran away. The tracks that it left on the dirt road were “bigger than a silver dollar” according to Police Chief Fores.

On January 6, 1954, a young boy claimed to have seen a “big cat” that made a noise like a baby crying. It jumped from the porch as he watched it from the window, then went to two other houses before disappearing.

On January 11, 1954, two cars stopped for a creature described as being four feet long with a brownish color and small ears.

A hunt for the creature began on January 3 by Fores and his dogs, but the dogs would not follow the creatures trail. Other hunts proceeded in the following days with more hunters and dogs. By January 7, more than 1,000 people had gathered to hunt for the creature. The mayor called off any future hunts unless the creature made obvious kills or there was a legitimate sighting.

On January 13, 1954, a dead bobcat was produced by a local farmer who had found it in a steel trap. The mayor told newspapers the Beast of Bladenboro had been found and killed. The same day a large cat was hit by a car. It was reported to be “spotted like a leopard,” about 22 inches high and weighed between 75 and 90 pounds. Some newspapers credited a third man in killing the beast, but conflicting reports were released.

Explanations for the beast range in variety. Most reports described it as feline, but no agreement on the species was concluded. Some have stated it as being a panther. Others have said it looked like a big mountain lion or cougar. Some reports state it being a wolverine, while others reported seeing what looked like a wild dog.

One explanation states it as being a German shepherd, Hound mix named “Big Boy,” which was given to a Native American boy who lived on the edge of Big Swamp. Big Boy was dark in color and had a long bushy tail.

On December 15, 1954 on a farm, five pigs and three chickens were found around a sty in about a 15-foot area. They were mutilated, four with crushed skulls, three had their legs ripped from their bodies, and no blood was found. These killings were the same as the Bladenboro incidents. A stray dog was killed the next day and was determined to be the most likely killer of the animals from the day before.

An annual event in Bladenboro is held called “Beast Fest” in which a mascot of the Beast of Bladenboro is used.

Image Caption: Cougar, one likely source of the Beast of Bladenboro sightings and attacks. Credit: USDA/Wikipedia (public domain)