The Beast of Bray Road is a creature that many people claim to have seen in Racine, Walworth and Jefferson counties in Wisconsin. The first reported sightings of the creature happened on Bray Road near Elkhorn, Wisconsin. These sightings are what lent the beast its name. However, sightings do not only occur on Bray Road.
Although the Beast of Bray Road has not been seen to transform from a human into a wolf in most of the sightings, it has been labeled a werewolf in newspaper articles.
In fact, the beast has not been sighted there since the early 1990s. What the Beast of Bray Road, also known as Manwolf, is, exactly, is unclear. Some people believe it is a werewolf, others that it is a Bigfoot and, of course, there are people who believe that it is some heretofore unknown species. There really is no way to know unless a specimen is found. There is also the possibility that they Beast of Bray Road is, in fact, some creature that we are well aware of that simply scared some people enough that they believed it to be something bigger and scarier than what it really is. Common theories as to what known animal the beast could be include wolves and bears.
The creature is described as around 6 ft. tall with grayish and brown fur. Its face is said to resemble that of a wolf and its ears are pointed. It reportedly has three long claws on each “hand.” It also is said to have shiny yellow eyes. Its body has been likened to that of a lean, muscular man. It also tends to sit back on its haunches or kneel like a man.
The Beast of Bray Road can reportedly run and walk on all four of its legs or just its hind legs. It has been seen eating its prey or its scavenged carrion in its “hands” with its palms facing upward. It has never attacked anyone, but some witnesses claim that it has acted aggressively toward them. This aggressive behavior includes running at people and jumping on their vehicles. The creature’s diet is not known for sure, but it has been seen eating the carcasses of small road kill. Sightings of the Beast of Bray Road may go back as far as the 1930s. However, it wasn’t sighted frequently or reported thoroughly until 1989 through 1992. Most of the sightings have occurred when one or more people stumbled upon or drove past the animal while it was eating or possibly hunting/scavenging. Sightings of the animal have tapered off since the 90s, but the creature can supposedly still be seen in the woods of the area.
Perhaps the Beast of Bray Road is some cousin of other cryptids in the United States. Alternatively, it could simply be an animal that has yet to be classified or captured, which would make it a true cryptid. It could also be a group of wild animals that has become so adjusted to human life that individuals feel comfortable approaching people and vehicles. It could also be that people are frightened enough to see more than what is really there. Whatever the Beast of Bray Road is or isn’t, we will never know until one is captured or it is conclusively proven that the Beast of Bray Road is a case of mistaken identity, which would be difficult to do.
Most descriptions and eyewitness accounts are cataloged on Linda Godfrey's book, Hunting the American werewolf
The Beast of Bray Road is described by purported witnesses in several ways:
- A hairy biped resembling Bigfoot.
- An unusually large and intelligent wolf-like creature apt to walk on its hind legs, right up to 7 feet, on all fours 2-4 feet, and weighing 400-700 lbs.
- A bear-like creature.
Mark Schackelman claimed he saw a talking half wolf, half man creature east of Jefferson, Wisconsin along Highway 18. He was driving down the road when he saw the beast digging in an old Indian mound. He described it as covered in hair, over six feet tall when standing upright, with a muzzled face and features of a canine and ape. He said the beast’s hands were very strange, with a twisted thumb and only three fingers. Shackelman also described a stench that emanated from the beast, similar to decaying meat. He returned the following day to see if the creature was still there. It was, and this time it spoke a three syllable word that sounded like “gadara” with the second syllable emphasized.
Dennis Fewless had an encounter with the beast described by Shackelman, only this time in Harvard, Illinois. Around midnight, while driving home from his job at Admiral Television Corporation, Fewless turned onto Highway 89 from Highway 14 when his headlights illuminated a strange creature running across the road. He described it as dark brown in color and possibly weighing around 400 to 500 pounds with a height of seven or eight feet. During the incident, the beast ran across the road and jumped a barbed wire fence before Fewless lost sight of it. A return to the location during the day presented little evidence except for the area where the beast pushed corn aside as it ducked into a field. In an interview with author Jay Rath, Fewless stated that “I was awful scared that night. That was no man. It was all hairy from head to feet.”
A woman called police to report an attempted break in. When interviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources during an investigation, the woman stated that the intruder was a large, unknown animal. It approached her home and tried to enter through a door. She also later reported the beast returned to her home and injured a farm animal, inflicting a deep wound that extended from one shoulder to the other. Her description matched that of the Beast of Bray Road. The only evidence left behind was a footprint, which measured over twelve inches in length.
1989 – 1999Edit
A number of stories made by those claiming to have seen the Beast of Bray Road dating as far back as 1989. These reports finally came to light after an incident involving Doristine Gipson in 1999. Until then, most were afraid to come forward due to public opinion and general disbelief.
Around the time of Gipson’s sighting, dairy farmer Scott Bray admitted to seeing a “strange looking dog” in his pasture near Bray Road in September or October of 1989. He described the creature as larger and taller than a German shepherd, with pointed ears, a hair-covered tail and gray and black fur. The beast seemed to be bulkier in the front, with a strong chest. He tried to follow the bizarre dog to a large pile of rocks however he lost sight of it. Proof of the occurrence remained in the form of huge footprints.
Russell Gest reported another sighting around the time of Scott Bray’s reported sighting. He said he was about a block away from an overgrown area when he heard the brush being rustled, as if an animal was there. A beast appeared, standing on its hind legs. Gest stated that it took a couple of wobbly steps forward before he ran away. As he ran, Gest looked over his shoulder to see if he was being followed. He noted that the beast had gone down on all fours but was not chasing him. It eventually wandered towards Bray Road. Gest also described the beast as covered in black and gray fur and larger than a German shepherd. He estimated its upright height as around five feet, with an oversized dog or wolf head, wide neck and shoulders. He believed it to be some kind of dog and wolf hybrid because its primary features were canine.
On a fall evening in 1989, bar manager Lori Endrizzi was driving along Bray Road. As she rounded a bend, she saw what she initially perceived as a human being kneeled or hunched along the side of the road. She slowed down to take a look through the passenger side window. She was roughly six feet away from the figure and got a look at it for about 45 seconds. She described it as a beast with gray-brown fur, fangs and pointed ears. She said it had a long face with a snout like a wolf. She also stated that its eyes glowed yellow, even though her headlights were not reflecting on them at that point. It’s arms were jointed like a human’s and it seemed to hold its food with its palms up, which is unlike any local animal. The beast was muscular with human-esque fingers adorned in claws. Endrizzi could not see a tail, but its back legs were behind it, similar to a person who was kneeling.
Heather Bowey (who was eleven years old at the time) claimed a similar incident to Gipson’s 1999 sighting, this one occurring around Christmas of 1990. She had no idea that her story was similar to Gipson’s until the two were discussing it on the school bus. Bowey’s story was passed on by the bus driver, Pat Lester who was also Lori Endrizzi’s mother. Lester told Linda Godfrey what she had overheard and Bowey later elaborated when asked about the incident. Bowey’s sighting occurred around 4:30 pm while she was on her way home from sled riding with friends. Near Loveland Road, which was about a mile and a half south east of the intersection of Hospital Road and Bray Road, they saw a large dog walking along a creek in a cornfield. Bowey estimated the creature was about a block away. Assuming it to be a dog, the children called it to them. Noticing its audience, the creature watched them then stood up on its hind legs. It took four steps in their direction, although it appeared unaccustomed to walking on hind legs. It then dropped down on to all fours and charged the children. Bowey claimed the creature was able to leap “a bigger leap than dogs run.” The group ran away. The beast followed them about half way to Bowey’s home, which was about 250 yards from where they spotted it, before veering away.
Another dairy farmer, Mike Etten, made a report about a sighting that occurred in March of 1990. He admitted to having been drinking around the time of the incident, but claims he saw a dog-like beast that was much larger than a domesticated canine. He described it as sitting like a raccoon, using its front paws to hold on to something it was eating near the Bray Road – Hospital Road intersection. As he passed by, the beast looked at him with a thick, wide snout that Etten described as shorter than a dog’s muzzle. Its legs were thick and it was covered in dark hair. Initially, Etten had dismissed the creature as a bear, but after hearing other similar reports in 1991, he began to wonder if that was accurate.
On October 31st, eighteen year old Doristine Gipson was driving on Bray Road near Delavan, Wisconsin. As her vehicle approached an intersection with Hospital Road, her right tire was jolted, as if it has lifted off the ground to roll over something large. She stopped and existed the car to see what had been hit. As she peered into the darkness she noticed a large, hairy figure moving quickly towards her. Afraid, she jumped into her car and started it. As she pulled away, the beast leapt onto her trunk. The beast could not get a hold on the wet car exterior and slid off. She returned later that evening while trick or treating with another girl and saw a large form along the road.
The Final SightingEdit
The sighting involving Doristine Gipson and the diary farmer were the final major reported incidents involving the Beast of Bray Road to date. That is not to say that others have not encountered the strange creature and simply not reported it, as many did prior to Gipson’s reports.
It is important to note that after Gipson’s report, and the following wave of previously unmentioned claims that appeared, there was some backlash on the witnesses. Most were discredited and people generally mocked their stories, playing pranks and posting “werewolf signs” in yards. Others hosted werewolf parties while some tried to make money off of the frenzy by selling t-shirts.
Other strange occurrences were reported in the area as well. In January of 1992, just as the frenzy over the Beast of Bray Road was fading, a local businessman, described as “reputable,” reported sparking lights seen in the sky above Delavan. He said they moved erratically. Later that spring, four or five horses were discovered in a pasture near Elkhorn with their throats slashed. Investigator John Frederickson described the wounds as surgical.
A number of animal-based theories have been proposed. They include that the creature is an undiscovered variety of wild dog, a waheela (said to be a giant prehistoric wolf similar to Amarok), or a wolfdog or a coydog.
It is also possible that hoaxes and mass hysteria have caused falsehoods and sightings of normal creatures to all be artificially lumped under the same label. Concurrently with the sightings in Wisconsin, there was a rash of similar encounters in the neighboring state of Michigan. Following the release of "The Legend", a popular song about the Michigan Dogman in 1987, author Steve Cook received dozens of reports, including photograph and film evidence of the creature. There is no known link between the sightings in adjoining states, other than the similarity of the creature described.