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 The Beast of Bray Road

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Toby
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PostSubject: The Beast of Bray Road   Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:26 pm

The state of Wisconsin is (oddly) no stranger to werewolf
sightings and encounters. Although it seems impossible that a mythical
creature like a werewolf could stalk the nation’s Heartland, a number of
bizarre encounters in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s leaves us pondering
this very idea. There had already been encounters with what some believed
were werewolves in Wisconsin in 1936, 1964 and 1972 respectively, but there
had been nothing like the reports that came out of the area near Delavan,
starting in 1989.

The first werewolf sighting to go public occurred
(perhaps fittingly) on October 31, 1999. A young woman named Doristine
Gipson, from nearby Elkhorn, was driving along Bray Road near Delavan. As
she neared the intersection of Hospital Road, she leaned over to change the
station on her radio when she felt her right front tire jump off the ground
as if she had hit something. Concerned, she stopped the car and got out to
see what it was. Finding nothing on the roadway behind her car, she began to
look around. As she peered into the darkness, she suddenly saw a dark, hairy
form racing toward her. She did not see what the figure looked like from the
distance at which she was standing (about 50 feet) but she did see the
figure was quite bulky and she would later compare the form to someone who
works out continually with weights. Startled by the oncoming form, and by
the sounds of its “heavy feet”, she quickly retreated to her car. She jumped
in and was attempting to drive away when the beast jumped onto her trunk.
Luckily, it was too wet for the creature to hang on and it fell off onto the
pavement. Doristine returned to the site later on that evening with a young
girl that she was taking out trick-or-treating and saw a large form on the
side of the road. When she saw the creature moving, she ordered the child to
lock her door and drove quickly away from the scene.


She had no idea what she had seen but wondered if perhaps
it might be a bear, angry because she had struck it with her car.
Regardless, she told a neighbor about the encounter the next day and showed
her the scratched car. As word spread, more local people began to step
forward with their own encounters with the beast, dating back to 1989.


One night in the fall of that year, 24 year old bar
manager Lorianne Endrizzi was rounding a curve on Bray Road (just a half
mile from the site of the later incident) and saw what she thought was a
person kneeling and hunched over on the side of the road. When she slowed
down, she took a closer look at the figure on the passenger side of the car.
She was no more than six feet away from it at the time. The sighting lasted
for about 45 seconds and she stated that she clearly saw a beast with
grayish, brown hair, fangs and pointed ears. "His face was … long and snouty,
like a wolf".





She also noted that even though the car’s headlights were
pointed ahead down the roadway, the creature’s eyes glowed with a yellowish
color, just like an animal’s will do when reflected car lights. Like Doris
Gipson, she also saw how wide and powerful the creature’s chest and build
were. She went on to add that the arms of the beast were rather strange.
They were jointed as a man’s would be and it seemed to be holding food with
its palms upward, completely like any animal that she had ever heard of. The
arms were muscular (“like a man who had worked out a little bit”) and the
creature seemed to have human-like fingers with claws on the ends. She did
not notice any sort of tail but did say that its back legs were behind it,
like a person would be if kneeling.


Endrizzi was completely unnerved by the sighting. She
later stated in an interview that the creature “appeared to be so human-like
that it was scary.” He own answer to what she had seen was that it had been
a “freak of nature”. She had no idea what it could have been until she saw a
book at the library that had an illustration of a werewolf in it. It so
closely resembled what she had seen on Bray Road that her “eyes popped out”
of her head.


After hearing Doris Gipson’s account by way of rumor,
Endrizzi contacted the Lakeland Animal Shelter and her mother contacted a
local newspaper writer named Linda Godfrey, hoping that publicity might
encourage other people who had encountered the creature to come forward. The
story that followed was published on December 29, 1991 and while it
contained basic information about the Gipson and Endrizzi sightings (using
pseudonyms for the two women), it also included some scanty information on
other sightings. It also mentioned that chickens had been stolen and than
another family who lived near Bray Road had experienced their own close
encounter with the beast. Karen Bowey, who actually lived along Bowers Road,
stated that her daughter Heather (age 11) had seen the creature back in
1989. They had been playing outside and though they had spotted a large dog
- until it stood up. She mentioned the odd shape of its back legs and the
speed at which it could move. The county humane officer, John Frederickson,
told the reporter that he believed the creature was a “coyote” but he did
concede that there were a lot of people who believed that they had seen
something out of the ordinary. He admitted that he was not sure what to make
of it.


Predictably, large media outlets picked up the story and
the witnesses began to suffer from practical jokes and laughter. Werewolf
signs were planted in front yards and werewolf parties became common, even
at the bar where Endrizzi worked. Monster t-shirts were sold and tourists
cruised up and down Bray Road, hoping for a glimpse of the creature. As time
went by though, the excitement decreased and the temper of the community
began to wear thin. Despite all of the jokes and humor, there was still an
undercurrent of fear in Delavan and Elkhorn. Something was going on out in
the vicinity of Bray Road and soon people began to whisper about other
things as well.


Just the summer before the wolf creature had been
reported, a dozen or so animals had been dumped in a ditch along nearby
Willow Road. John Frederickson, the human officer from Delavan, stated that
he believed several of the animals had been used in cult rituals. While Linn
police chief James Jensen dismissed this idea in June 1991, Frederickson
insisted that officials were missing the point. According to the officer,
some of the animals had ropes tied around their back legs and their throats
were slit, some were decapitated and others were dismembered in various
ways. The most recently killed animals was a dog that had its chest cavity
split open and its heart removed. Several of the animals matched
descriptions of recently missing pets and they certainly had not been killed
by passing cars. The mutilated carcasses were almost immediately covered up
- literally. The site was quickly bulldozed, ending Frederickson’s
investigation but it did not end the whispers and rumors that followed.


Other reports began to reach Frederickson that summer as
well. Rumors were passed on about humane officer imposters who pursued stray
dogs. One incident also involved an unidentified man in a black uniform
(driving a large black car) who attempted to intimidate a child who was home
alone into giving up his black Labrador Retriever. Around this same time,
there were also reports of occult graffiti being found in an abandoned house
and at the local cemetery, where graves markers were also found to be
covered with candle wax. The abandoned house was located just a quarter-mile
off Bray Road. This led many to ponder whether the satanic activity and the
Bray Road Beast were in some way connected. The strange stories and animal
carcasses had been whispered about and discovered just a few months before
the first sightings of the monster had been publicized - but the beast was
apparently in the vicinity long before that.


An earlier sighting of “something” was made by a dairy
farmer from Elkhorn named Scott Bray, who reported seeing a "strange looking
dog" in his pasture near Bray Road in September or October of 1989. He said
that the beast was larger and taller than a German Shepherd and had pointed
ears, a hair tail and long gray and black hair. He added that it was built
very heavy in the front, as if it had a strong chest. He followed the "dog"
to a large pile of rocks but the creature had vanished. He did find that it
had left behind huge footprints though, which disappeared into the grass of
the pasture.


Russell Gest of Elkhorn also reported seeing the creature
about the same time as the Scott Bray sighting. He was about a block or so
away from an overgrown area and when he heard weeds being rustled, he looked
up to see a creature emerge from the thi9cket. It was standing on its hind
feet and then took two “wobbly” steps forward before Gest began to run away.
He looked back to see that the creature was now on all fours, but it never
gave chase. After a short distance, it wandered off in the direction of Bray
Road. Gest said that the creature was much larger than a German Shepherd and
was covered with black and grayish hair. While standing upright, it appeared
to be about five feet tall. It had an oversized dog or wolf-like head with a
big neck and wide shoulders. The animals form was mostly dog-like, leading
Gest to surmise that it was some sort of dog-wolf hybrid.


Around Christmas 1990, Heather Bowey had her previously
mentioned encounter. She had no idea that she had seen the same thing as
Doris Gipson until she heard the young woman talking about on the school
bus. The driver, Pat Lester, (who happened to be Lori Endrizzi’s mother -
coincidence?), listened to the girl’s story and passed it on to Linda
Godfrey. The reporter then contacted Karen Bowey, also a school bus driver,
and then mentioned the sighting in the newspaper. Heather elaborated on the
encounter to Scarlett Sankey.


The sighting occurred around 4:30 pm as Heather and
several friends were returning home from sledding near Loveland Road (about
a mile and a half southeast of the intersection of Bray and Hospital Roads).
They happened to look up and see what appeared to be a large dog walking
along a creek in snow-covered cornfield. Heather estimated that it was about
a block away from them. Thinking that it was a dog, they children began
calling to it. The creature looked at them and then it stood up on its hind
legs. She described it as being covered with long “silverfish-like-
brownish” hair. The beast took four awkward steps in their direction and
then dropped down on all fours and began to run at the children in what
Heather later described as being “a bigger leap than dogs run.” It followed
the group about halfway to the Bowey home (about 250 yards away) before it
ran off in another direction.


In March 1990, an Elkhorn dairy farmer named Mike Etten
spotted something unusual along Bray Road one early morning around 2:00 am.
In the moonlight, Etten (who admitted that he had been drinking at the time)
saw a dark-haired creature that was bigger than a dog, just a short distance
from the Hospital Road intersection. Whatever the creature was, it was
sitting “like a raccoon sits”, using its front paws to hold onto something
that it was eating. As he passed by the creature, it lifted its head and
looked at him. He described the head as being thick and wide, with snout
that was not as long as a dog’s. The body was covered with dark, thick hair
and its legs were big and thick. Not being able to identify the animal,
Etten assumed that it was a bear. However, when the other sightings of the
Bray Road Beast were made public in 1991, he had to reconsider this
assumption.


One of the last reported encounters with the creature
occurred in early February 1992. It happened around 10:30 pm on Highway H,
about six miles southwest of the Bray and Hospital Roads intersection. A
young woman named Tammy Bray, who worked for a retirement home, was driving
along when a large, dog-like animal crossed the road in front of her. She
quickly punched the brakes and slide to a stop, just about the same time
that the creature turned and looked at her. She described the creature as
have a board chest and pointed ears and being covered with matted brown and
black fur. The narrow nose, thick neck and shining yellow eyes of the beast
quickly convinced her that she was not looking at any sort of dog. Finally,
it continued on, unafraid, across the road and she noted that it walked
“strong in front, more slouchy, sloppy-like in the rear.” Tammy drove home
and hurried into the house to tell her husband, Scott Bray, that she had
seen the same animal that he had earlier seen in their pasture.


The sightings eventually died out but the strangeness
that seemed to envelope the region took a little longer to fade. In January
1992, just as furor over the Bray Road Beast sightings was starting to quiet
down, a local “reputable businessman” told reporter Linda Godfrey that he
had seen two bright lights emitting sparks and moving erratically across the
sky above Delavan. Later that spring, four or five horses that were pastured
near Elkhorn were found with their throats slashed. John Frederickson, who
investigated, was quoted as saying that “They were almost surgical-type
wounds”. And then after than, things became eerily quiet.


So, what was the Bray Road Beast? Neither a coyote or the
native red wolf can really match the descriptions that were given of the
creature, despite humane officer John Frederickson’s comments that a coyote
might rear up on its hind legs before running, explaining several witnesses
claims that it walked on two legs. A gray wolf would be much larger than a
red wolf but are not generally found in the area. In addition, gray wolves
are much narrower in the chest than the Bray Road creature was reported to
be and wolves are shy of humans and despite the matching yellow eyes, would
not attack a car as the creature from the Doris Gipson encounter did. The
creature simply resembled no known animals, but alternately was compared to
dogs, bears and wolves. According to Jerome Clark, Dan Groebner of the
International Wolf Research Center in Ely, Minnesota stated that the
creature could not be a wild wolf.


Witnesses also insisted that it was not a dog, although
some suggested that it could have been a wolf-dog hybrid of some sort, But
how does this explain the creature’s habit of kneeling, walking on two legs
and holding onto food with the flat of its paws turned upward? Also, Lori
Endrizzi claimed that the animal had human-like fingers! The idea that the
monster may have been a bear is also called into question. While bears do
occasionally walk for short distances on two legs, they do not hold food
with their palms up, do not jump onto moving cars and very rarely do they
pursue or try to attack humans.


So, what could it have been? To find possible answers to
that, we have to look outside of the normal confines of zoology. Researcher
Richard Hendricks points to a creature that was suggested by Loren Coleman
and Jerome Clark called the “shunka warak’in”. The creature was said to have
lived in the wilds of the Upper Midwest and was a wolf-like animal that was
known to the Native American population and to the early settlers in the
region. The creature was named by the Ioway Indians and its name meant
“carrying-off dogs”. Little is known for sure about the creature but
apparently it was quite fierce and for awhile, a mounted specimen of one was
exhibited at various times in the west Yellowstone area and in a small
museum near Henry Lake in Idaho. Interestingly, the dog-hyena type creature
fits many of the descriptions of witnesses in southeastern Wisconsin,
including its strange look (which would have made many compare it to a wolf
or a god mix), its dark shaggy fur and a sloping weakness to its back legs,
which was noted in almost every report.



But even if we accept the possibility that this
creature could have been one of the rare, and possibly extinct “shunka
warak’in”, then how do we still explain the fact that it picked up its
food with its paws (hands?) and walked about on two legs. If the Bray Road
Beast was real - it had to have been some sort of creature that has never
been classified before.


Or more incredible to believe, a genuine werewolf!
Investigator Todd Roll was quick to point out the hints that there may
have been an occult connection to the Bray Road Beast. The discovery of
the mutilated animal carcasses and the occult activity at the cemetery and
the abandoned house coincided with the sightings of the monster in the
region. Do we dare consider the idea that the beast was a shape shifter of
some sort, blending between man and wolf?





There is also one more theory that we have to consider -
that the entire thing could have been an elaborate hoax. Notwithstanding the
fact that Doris Gipson’s encounter took place on Halloween, there were other
problems as well. The most obvious issue to cause suspicion was the
relationships between all of those involved in the case. Endrizzi’s mother,
Pat Lester, is a central figure in the case. In addition to being one
witness’ mother, she was also Gipson’s neighbor and drove the school bus
that Gipson, Heather Bowey and Russell Gest rode. Heather’s mother was also
a school bus driver. Tammy Bray was also a friend of Pat Lester’s daughter
and the wife of Scott Bray. It was also Lester who took the initiative to
contact the newspaper about the sightings. However, it should be strongly
pointed out that Lester never tried to influence the reports of the
witnesses. It seems more likely that she was simply in a position to hear
about the encounters and her interest and compassion towards those involved
helped to encourage them to go public.

So, could they have been making the whole thing up? Sure,
they could have been, but it doesn’t seem likely, especially based on the
fact that no one had anything to gain by making the sightings public - other
than ridicule and embarrassment, which is hardly an incentive to make your
story known.

As time has passed, the investigation into the case has
grown cold and with no further sightings of the Bray Road Beast to continue
the news story, the papers have fallen silent. One has to wonder if we will
ever know the truth of what happened in southeastern Wisconsin between 1989
and 1992 for the mystery, at this point, remains unsolved.
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