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Cuero creature continues to draw speculation

By Sonny Long
Oct. 31, 2008 at 5:31 a.m.


CUERO - The hairless carcass of an unidentified creature discovered in DeWitt County prompted a flurry of telephone calls and e-mails from others who have had similar sightings or had farm animals attacked. Some speculate the animal is the mythical Chupacabra - a creature of Mexican lore that drains the blood of livestock. Others think it is a mange-ravaged coyote or dog.

Phylis Canion found the body of the beast on her property and took a sample on Tuesday to the biology department at Texas State University for DNA testing. A television crew from San Antonio filmed her. "I can't tell you how many phone calls I have had from people since the story came out who have seen the same thing," Canion said.

"A lot of them were near here, too."

Interest in the mystery animal came from close to home and from as far away as New York. Roxy Steen, of Victoria, was driving in rural DeWitt County about 11:30 p.m. last Saturday when she saw eyes shining on the side of the road ahead of her.

The animal was gray with short front legs and had small horns near the ears.

"It didn't run away like most of animals do. It stood there and stared as I got closer," Steen said. It was knee-high and looked like a goat, monkey and cat all mixed together, she said.

"I was scared. As soon as I got a signal on my cell phone, I called my mother. I was upset and crying." Other sightings were reported in the DeWitt County area off U.S. Highway 183, not far from Canion's property. "I killed an animal exactly like this two years ago in Gonzales while deer hunting," Jodie Koonce of Yoakum wrote in an e-mail.

"The only hair was a very thin strip on the top of his head like a spike haircut. The skin was gray and wrinkled just like the one in your story.

"It is truly an ugly creature that caused me many uneasy moments walking to my deer stand in the dark." Others told stories of farm animals attacked.

Mario Martinez of Victoria said that two years ago something was attacking chickens at his parent's place in Fannin. Day after day, lifeless chickens were found. Not a feather was ruffled, but they were totally drained of blood.

Israel Vasquez, who lives on Upper Mission Valley Road in Victoria County, tells a similar tale. "I bought a goat, and it didn't even make it through the night," he said.

"The next morning there was a hole in his skull and his brain had been picked out. There was no blood left in his body. There wasn't a sign of a struggle or anything."

Another e-mail came from New York, complete with a photograph of a possible match to the mystery animal. "I think what you have there is a South American maned wolf, possibly with mange. With the destruction of areas of their natural habitat, many animals from the region are moving farther north," wrote John Culligan of Hamden, N.Y.

The South American maned wolf is also known as a red fox on stilts, according to the Web site wildones.org. But that theory was refuted by wildlife expert Jan Bussey , web editor for Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose. Dr. Robin Falkov, of New Mexico, thinks that rigor mortis, decay and a possible hypothyroid condition account for the gray creature's horrifying grimace.

But one e-mail related a darker and more sinister theory. It is a Frankenstein-like science experiment gone wrong, speculates Thomas Metcalf of New Mexico.

"This is not the first time a story like this has surfaced in Texas regarding this kind of freak of nature." Sonny Long is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-275-6319 or cueroadv@vicad.com, or comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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