George Washington once slept there, but he might find it harder nowadays. A strange something is at large, wailing or screaming nightly a mile from the ancestral home of the Father of His Country. For nine noisy months, the mystery creature has haunted a patch of woods surrounded by $150,000 homes near Mount Vernon, wrecking the peace and defying spotting and identification. Local teen-agers have caught its act on tape. It goes something like: "ooahkra-ah," or "eeveakgoo-ah." or even "aaaoohauoa-ah-oo."
The Mount Vernon Monster, some call it. Others, Bigfoot. More guess: hoot owls, loud frogs, a radio with a stuck button, wild boars, a prankster with a bull horn, or the ghost of George washington's pigs. "One person suggested a peacock". said George Stickman, Fairfax County game warden, who has ruled out bears, bobcats and other fauna found in the vicinity. The peacock theory may not be too exotic. Experts at the nearby Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge said peafowl are often kept as yard pets in the south One could have flown the coop and fluttered to Mount Vernon. "They have a loud, penetrating cry, almost like a scream," said John Aldrich, a retired Fish and Wildlife researcher. Mike Morgan of the National zoo said the birds used to escape frequently when allowed to roam the grounds. Whatever it may be, the creature is elusive as well as vocal. It has foiled police watches, flyovers by a U.S. Park police helicopter, volunteer youth patrols and the determined efforts of warden Stickman.
"The thing seems to know when you leave the woods. Then it starts to holler," said Stickman, who staged a fruitless overnight vigil to catch the interloper. Meanwhile, residents continue to discuss the problem at get- togethers, playing tapes and advancing theories. "Maybe it's a wounded animal or bird with damaged vocal cords," said Maggie Oyer, who thinks the sound it makes is a "low wailing." One resident, Thelma Crisp, says she spotted the monster. She described it as a creature about six feet tall which lumbered into the woods after being sighted. Could it be a Bigfoot, trying to reach headquarters of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, 15 miles away? "If its Bigfoot, and there's proof." said a spokesman, "we'd protect it."