Werewolf - Real or Fiction?

Werewolfs | Sumerky

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We have all grown up with stories about the Werewolf. From Little Red Riding Hood, to horror movies that made you look under your bed before going to sleep. The idea of a person transforming into a ferocious monster during a full moon has fascinated us for centuries. However have you ever considered that these, seemingly far-fetched, stories could actually be holding some truth to them?

Truth or myth, here are some interesting and bizarre documented Werewolf cases that might just creep you out. On a sidenote, I can't be hold responsible for the loss of sleep after reading this, so you have been warned! Still here? Well then... let's get started shall we!

The History of the Werewolf

The first interesting fact about Werewolves is that we can trace them back to Turkish cave paintings as far as 8,000 B.C. and even written, documented cases exist from as early as 2, 000 B.C. In that era, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and epic poem and one of the earliest forms of literary fiction, was penned and included several references to werewolves. Many centuries later, around 400 B.C., we find recorded Grecian stories of Damarchus, an Arcadian werewolf who changed back to a man after nine years and was reported to have won aboxing medal at the Greek Olympics.

In 1020 A.D. we find our first record of the word "werewolf". It is at this point in time that the legend begins to take off. In 1101, Prince Vseslav of Polotsk, the most powerful ruler of the Ukrain city Polotsk, died and was rumored to be a werewolf. A century later, Volsungasaga, probably the most important saga of the Fornaldar Sagas, or epic poems, included references to the hero Sigmund and his son Sinfjötli who wore cursed to turn transform into wolves during a full moon. By the early 1400's we begin to see references to women being trialed for "riding wolves" and in the 1500's there are many recorded instances of men being executed for being werewolves. Astonishingly, from 1520 to 1630, there are over 30,000 werewolf trials recorded in France alone. During that same era, Weyer's, De praestigus daemonum was published which rationalized werewolfism as a demonification of mental illness (a theory later supported by the infamous 1975 Surawicz and Banta research paper).

Greifswald Werewolves

According to old records, the German city of Greifswald became overrun with werewolves in the year 1640. The population of these beasts grew so large that any human who ventured out after dark was in danger of becoming a late night snack. They were especially present in Rokover Street and from there they attacked anyone who appeared outside of their houses after eight o'clock in the evening.

At that time there were a lot of students in Greifswald who had enough of staying inside after freaking eight o'clock and miss out on happy hour at the local pub. Therefore They banded together one night and set forth to haul some Werewolf butt-cheeks. Although the students put up a good fight, the powerful werewolves prove to be too much for them. However one of the more genius students suggested that they gather all their silver buttons, goblets, and other stuff they had inherited and melt them down into silver bullets. Invigorated and reinforced with a badass arsenal of holy weaponry, the gun-ho students set out once again to challenge the dominance of the werewolves and this time they successfully slaughtered the creatures and rid Greifswald of the Werewolves.

Jean Grenier

During the spring of the year 1603 terror spread through the St. Sever districts of Gascony, France. A number of young children had begun to mysteriously disappear off the fields and roads, and none of them were ever discovered. Soon after a 13 year-old girl named Marguerite Poirier swore that she had been attacked by a savage beast, much resembling a wolf. The girl stated that one midday whilst she was watching cattle, a wild furry beast, not unlike a huge dog, rushed from the corn and tore her kirtle with its sharp teeth. She only managed to save herself from being bitten thanks to the fact she was armed with an iron pointed staff with which she smacked the creature with. Moreover a lad of thirteen or fourteen years-old, Jean Grenier, was boasting that it was he who attacked Marguerite, as a wolf, and if it wasn't for her stick, he would have torn her limb from limb as he had already eaten three or four children.

Jean added that a man named Pierre Labourat had given him a wolf pelt, and that when he wore it, he hunted the woods and fields as a wolf. He lusted for the flesh of small children, which was plumb and tender. He often killed dogs but said that dogs were not as tasty as the meat of young boys, from whose thighs he would bite great chunks of fat. As you can imagine Jean got arrested soon after and during his trial all his confessions turned out to be true. He had attacked the child of Jean Roullier, but the boy's elder brother chased Jean away with a pitchfork. Young Roulier was called as a witness and remembered the exact place, hour, and day when a wolf had flown out from a thicket at his little brother, and he had driven the animal off with his weapon.

Jean was convicted of some of the most hideous murders in history but because of his young age was not sentenced to death himself. Instead he was taken to the friary of St. Michael the Archangel were he was to spend the rest of his days. He was warned that any attempts to escape would be punished by the gallows. Pierre de Lancre, visited the Jean Grenier in the year of 1610, and found that he had become a lean lad, with small deep black eyes that glared fiercely. He had long sharp teeth, some of which were white like fangs, whilst his hands were almost like claws with horrid crooked nails. He loved to howl at the wolves and often fell on all fours as he moved with extraordinary agility and seemingly with greater ease than when he walked upright as a man.

The Bray Road Beast

The state of Wisconsin is no stranger to werewolf sightings and encounters. 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 and what was later known as the Bray Road Beast.

The first werewolf sighting to go public occurred 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. Just like in the Horror movies, 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 figure rushing toward her. She did not see what it was, but she did see the figure was quite bulky, pretty much like a person who works out constantly. She jumped in the car and drove like a bat out of hell. She later told a neighbor about the bizarre encounter the next day and as the word spread, more local people began to step forward with their own encounters with the beast, dating back to 1989.

A news article was published to encourage locals in helping to find the mysterious creature. This resulted in many eye-witness reports which all saw a wolf like creature, with strange hind legs and a bulky chest. However when the large media outlets picked up the story the story also began to suffer from practical jokes and laughter. Werewolf signs were planted and people started organizing werewolf parties. Some were trying to cash in on this bizarre event by selling Monster t-shirts 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 hanging in the air. 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. 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. 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.

With the media picking these events up it soon turned quiet. There were no more sightings of the beast and as time passed, the investigation into the case has grown cold. Only time will tell if we will ever know what happened in southeastern Wisconsin between 1989 and 1992 as the mystery still remains unsolved.

Werewolf of Chalons

One of the worst-ever lycanthropes was the Werewolf of Chalons, otherwise known as the Demon Tailor. He was arraigned in Paris on 14 December 1598 on murder charges which were so appalling that the court ordered all documents of the hearing to be destroyed. Even his real name has become lost in history.

Burnt to death for his crimes, he was believed to decoy children of both sexes into his shop, and having abused them he would slice their throats and then powder and dress their bodies, jointing them as a butcher cuts up meat. In the twilight, under the shape of a wolf, he roamed the woods to leap out on stray passers-by and tear their throats to shreds. Barrels of bleached bones were found concealed in his cellars as well as other foul and hideous things. He died (it was said) unrepentant and blaspheming.

Michel Verdun, Werewolf of Poligny

In 1521, Jean Boin, Inquisitor of Besancon, tried Philibert Montot, Pierre Bourgot, and Michel Verdun for having made a pact with the devil and for lycanthropy. These men became known as the werewolves of Poligny.

These men came under suspicion when a traveler passing through the area was attacked by a wolf. While defending himself, he was able to wound the animal, forcing it to retreat. Following the trail of the injured creature, the man came upon a hut where he found a local resident, Michel Verdun, under the care of his wife, who was washing a wound on his body. Believing Verdun's injury to be a sympathetic wound, the man notified the authorities. Arrested and tortured, Verdun admitted that he was a shape-shifter. He also revealed the names of his two werewolf accomplices, as well as confessing to hideous crimes: diabolism, murder, and eating human flesh. The three men were promptly executed.

The Wolves of Paris

The Wolves of Paris were a man-eating wolf pack that killed forty people in Paris in 1450. The animals entered the city during the winter through breaches in its walls. A wolf without a tail named Courtaud, or "Bobtail", was the leader of the pack. Reports of the animal being reddish in color may be indicative of an Iberian Wolf, perhaps having migrated from the Pyrenees.

Eventually, the wolves were killed when Parisians, furious at the deaths, lured Courtaud and his pack into the heart of the city. There the Parisians stoned and speared the wolves to death in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. People were convinced this was no ordinary wolf attack as the wolves seemed to show a higher level of intelligence, hence why they managed to kill 40 people.

Gilles Garnier

Gilles Garnier was a cannibalistic serial murderer who was burned at the stake in 1571 after being convicted of being a Werewolf. The Werewolf of Dole, Gilles Garnier was a reclusive hermit living outside the town of Dole in France. He had recently been married and moved his new wife out to his isolated home. Being unaccustomed to feeding more than just himself he found it difficult to provide for his wife causing discontent between them.

During this period several children went missing or were found dead and the authorities issued an edict encouraging and allowing the people to apprehend and kill the werewolf responsible. One evening a group of workers traveling from a neighboring town came upon what they thought in the dim light to be a wolf but what some recognized as the hermit with the body of a dead child. Soon after Gilles Garnier was arrested.

According to his testimony at trial, while Garnier was in the forest hunting one night trying to find food for himself and his wife, a ghost appeared to him offering to ease his troubles. It gave him a magic ointment that would allow him to change into the form of a wolf, making it easier to hunt.

Garnier confessed to have stalked and murdered at least four children between the ages of 9 and 12. In October 1572, his first victim was a 10-year-old girl whom he dragged into a vineyard outside of Dole. He strangled her, removed her clothes, and ate the flesh from her thighs and arms. When he had finished he removed some flesh and took it home to his wife.

Weeks later Garnier savagely attacked another girl, biting and clawing her, but was interrupted by passersby and fled. The girl succumbed to her injuries a few days later. In November, Garnier killed a 10-year-old boy, again cannibalizing him by eating from his thighs and belly and tearing off a leg to save for later. Finally, he strangled another boy but was interrupted for the second time by a group of people passing by. He had to abandon his prey before he could eat from it.

© Ron Rombouts

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Source: Ron Rombouts
Published: Oct 21, 2012