Legends, Folklore, And Accounts Of Werewolves And Shapeshifters

By
Marcus Lowth
Published Date
November 30, 2018
Last Updated
September 29, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
29 min read
Posted in
Cryptozoology, Strange Beasts

Most of us have heard legends of werewolves, a human who, often against their will, changes into a wolf only to later change back and resume their human form. These legends can be found all over the world. As can legends of shapeshifters, who unlike the werewolf, is an entity that can take on any living form it wishes. And unlike many of the werewolf legends, this change is most-often under the control of the shapeshifter itself.

A picture of a werewolf blended into a wolf howling at the moon

Tales of werewolves and shapeshifters go back centuries

Even more intriguing, some legends claim that such a skill can be learned through studying the arts (magic) and spirituality. Indeed, the legends of “reptilian humanoids” and their ability to take on human forms revolve around such tales. As is becoming increasingly clear with many myths and folklore legends, some degree of truth often resides within these otherwise fantastic “fictional” accounts. Might this be the same too of shapeshifting creatures and the stories of werewolves?

We will come back to some of the werewolf legends later, including claims of sightings of such creatures in the modern world. We will first, though, keep our attention on the legends of shapeshifters. Legends which go back to the dawn of time itself.

Legends Of The Gods And “The Sorcerer”

Right the way back to the mythology legends of the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations, and even the ancient Sumerians before them, shapeshifting abilities and accounts thereof are rife. [1] Many of the Egyptian gods, for example, are depicted with the head of an animal and had the ability to change their form. Zeus, perhaps the most famous of the Greek gods would shapeshift into animals, and even assume the form of a woman’s lover in order to trick them into having sex.

Rather than mere myths and legends from antiquity, though, we might look at the Cave of the Trois-Freres in the south of France. One of the cave paintings is over 10,000 years old, going back to at least 13,000 BC. This cave painting appears to show a human in the process of shape-shifting. It clearly shows a strange figure with both human and animal aspects and features. Even the position of the creature suggests it is in the process of some kind of metamorphosis.

Rather aptly, then, the painting is named “The Sorcerer” and would appear to show that belief in such creatures was prevalent even before the intricate fairy tales and stories entered into the human psyche. Indeed, we might argue that the reasons such entities did appear in these early fairy tales in the first place are because our ancestors had witnessed such things. You can check out the cave painting below.

Cave painting going back thousands of years seemingly showing a shapeshifter known as The Sorcerer

Cave painting going back thousands of years seemingly showing a shapeshifter known as The Sorcerer

Animals, Plants, And Even Physical Objects

It isn’t just animals that these apparent shapeshifters can morph themselves into, though. Some legends even speak of the changing into plants or other physical objects. This is certainly an interesting theory. Particularly when we think of the claims from some ufologists that UFOs, for example, are themselves living sentient entities as opposed to nuts-and-bolts crafts.

Many Shamans and wise men of native tribes around the world claim to have the ability to shapeshift so that they might communicate with entities in the spiritual realm. Many of these, interestingly enough, might equally be described as out-of-body experiences or astral projection.

In our contemporary era, claims of reptilian shapeshifters flood social media daily. Indeed, a quick search of that term in Google or YouTube, for example, will bring back a plethora of results for one to sift through. What is the apparent obsession then? Do these reptilian shapeshifters really exist? Have they always been here and the “crazy conspiracy loons” were right all along? Or, even taking away the obvious hoaxes, is there a subconscious ancestral fear of these apparently menacing and deceitful creatures that remains in our minds from antiquity?

Perhaps, though, there is one particular shapeshifting legend that has found a place in the collective human conscious more than any other. The Werewolf. Before we return our attention to those beast-like creatures, though, check out the video below. Just one example of the many videos showing “shapeshifters” in today’s society. Make of them what you will.

Equally Persistent Legends Of Werewolves

Much like shapeshifters, werewolves and the idea that a human can transform into such a being go back to the beginning of time. Indeed, werewolves are just one strand of the shapeshifting legends. However, unlike the shapeshifting that can be learned and then actioned when required and controlled, many accounts of werewolves revolve around a curse-like notion that brings on such changes in sympathy with the full moon. The connection with the moon is certainly interesting. Especially when we think about the affect the pull of the moon (and indeed the planets) have on human emotions and feelings. Might, for a very select few, that affect be monstrously extreme?

An interesting account to look at here is The Georgia Werewolf [2] from Talbott County, Georgia from the early 1900s. A farmer in the area was losing sheep each night to a mystery beast. Despite “hunting parties” of locals patrolling the area, the killings continued and no perpetrator, beast or otherwise was captured. A local woman, Mildred Burt, would privately suspect her sister was involved with the animal killings. She would often roam the countryside during the night when she became “restless and anxious”. Furthermore, she had very sharp and larger-than-normal canine teeth. She would also, according to Mildred, read book upon book about the supernatural and dark arts.

One evening, armed with a heavy pistol, Mildred would venture along to the farm suffering attacks on its sheep.

An Extreme Form Of Lycanthropy?

Not long after her arrival, a strange animal would lunge at her from out of nowhere. Mildred pointed the gun to where she thought the creature was and fired. She wasn’t sure if she hit it, but it ran away into the night following the shot. The next day, according to some local rumors, Emily, the sister she suspected, was suddenly missing her left hand.

Perhaps even stranger, her mother would send Emily to Paris almost immediately following the incident. She was to see a doctor who would specialize in lycanthropy – a condition that makes the sufferer believe they are a werewolf. Interestingly or not, following her departure to Paris the attacks ceased immediately. When she returned, although she was “cured” of her condition, the attacks would begin again, although they would never return to the scale they once were. Might whatever treatment she received in Paris have resulted in her being able to contain her outbreaks and attacks to a minimum?

There are several similar if less detailed accounts on record. For example, a legend from France tells of a hunter who after receiving permission to hunt in the lands of an unnamed “Lord and Lady” experiences a sudden attack by a large wolf while hunting. He manages to shoot an arrow at it which results in the severing of its paw. He would pick up the paw and place it in his hunting basket. Later in the evening, however, as he sat by a fire to examine his kills, the paw was no longer there. In its place, was a human hand. And what’s more, it had on it the unique ring of the Lady who owned the land. There is no date or names given in the account.

A picture of a werewolf howling at the moon

Might werewolves be a part of our reality?

The Unfortunate Account Of Peter Stubbe

As outrageous as it might sound, there are just as many claims of werewolves throughout history and into our modern world [3] as there are of shapeshifting reptilians, if not more. Many of these accounts, certainly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries would come out of Europe. There are likely several reasons for this, not least the wolf population was simply larger and more visible in this part of the world. Europe, though, was still fighting off the remaining grip of the church and the Inquisition. Claims of a “werewolf” would have been treated as brutally as claims of witches were.

For example, in 1589 in what is now modern-day Germany, is the story of farmer Peter Stubbe. During the Cologne War, as the number of dead increased, citizens began claiming to have witnessed a “wolf-like creature” stalking livestock and people alike. One particular evening the townsfolk managed to corner this strange creature after tracking and chasing it with a pack of their own dogs. However, when they moved in for the kill there wasn’t wolf laying in front of them. It was Peter Stubbe.

Under torture, Stubbe would admit to murdering several people while “a wolf”. Furthermore, he claimed to have made a deal with the Devil when he was a 12-year-old boy. Satan, according to Stubbe (or at least the recording of his confession), had given him “a belt” that would allow him to change into a wolf so that he could fulfill any dark desire he wished. He would be executed on 31st October, tied to a wheel and his limbs broken, his skin was then pulled off with “heated pincers” before he was decapitated. His head was placed on the body of a wolf to anyone else who may “do a deal with the Devil”.

The Devil’s Promise – The Wolf Strap!

The “belt” that Stubbe mentioned, however, is extremely interesting. If we accept for a moment that Stubbe’s confession was true and not one arrived at through torture and then the details for the historical record added by his accusers, there are other examples of a “wolf strap” throughout history. This “magical device” is a gift to one who “sells their soul to the Devil”. By wrapping it around the torso tightly it will allow the owner to immediately change into a werewolf.

One particular legend of this mysterious item comes from Russia around the same time as Stubbe’s final bloody encounter with his fellow townsfolk. According to the legend, in an unnamed Russian village, one particular man, who lived right on the edge of the settlement and would keep himself to himself would come under suspicion from the rest of the villagers. The villagers would describe him as “sneaky” and they would often find strange tracks outside his house. These were particularly noticeable during the harsh Russian winters and the constant blanket of snow. Such was this growing suspicion that several villagers would hide in his barn one evening. However, a blood-curdling howl from outside scared them so much, they fled back home. As they did, though, they noticed fresh, animal-like prints in the snow leading from the man’s home and out into the woodlands.

The next day, however, the villagers, with many others including village elders, would arrive at the man’s home.

A picture of a man's face undergoing a change

Is “magic” involved in shapeshifting?

The Legend Of “Gust K.”

Upon opening the door, they would demand to know where he had been the previous evening. He would refuse to answer which would lead them to force their way inside, seizing him in the process. Once inside the home, they would search a thick chest of drawers at the side of the man’s bed. In them, under a thick blanket, they would discover a “strange leather strap carved with symbols”. It also contained several strange herbs and appeared to have a “greasy substance” unknown to them on its surface. The village elders, though, would claim to know what it was. The belt, and the man were immediately burned to death.

In much more contemporary times, shortly after the Second World War in Poland, a man named as “Gust K.” was claimed to own such a belt. [4] And, according to the rumors of the townsfolk, he would bring “chaos and misery” to the town because of it. According to local legend, several of the villagers managed to steal the strap with a view to burning it in their oven. However, no matter how they tried, whenever they threw it into the flames it would somehow fly back out again, as if blown out by an invisible wind. Scared, they would return it.

When Gust K. died there were apparently further strange happening. Firstly, on the day of his funeral, the strange strap burst into flames. It would quickly become nothing more than a pile of ash. Then, as the pallbearers attempted to lower his coffin into the waiting grave, they would find it was too small for the casket. This happened several times despite widening of the hole. Eventually, they would drag his body from the coffin and throw it directly in the ground.

The Beast Of The Fichtel Mountains

As we have seen accounts of shapeshifting, wolf-like entities can be found throughout history. According to a tale first told by Alexander Schoppner in his 1874 book The Legend of the Bavarian Lands: From The Mouths of the People, the Chronicles and the Poets, for example, a strange beast roamed the Fichtel Mountains and had done so since at least the 1600s, perhaps even earlier.

The account speaks of a shepherd who used the regions for his flock. However, he began to notice that he was somehow losing sheep – or someone, or something, was taking them. This went on for several days before the shepherd one day caught sight of a beastly wolf attacking one of the flock and dragging it off into the woodlands nearby. Desperate not to lose any more of his animals, the shepherd began in the direction of the attacker. However, the animal had disappeared within seconds, taking the valuable sheep with it.

Realizing he needed to put a decisive plan in motion, he would seek the help of a local person who happened to be a marksman of the highest quality. The shooter agreed to go with the shepherd the following day and would be ready to take aim at the wolf should it return.

Perhaps to their surprise, the beast did indeed return, immediately prompting the marksman to take aim and fire. To their disbelief, although the shot was on target, the bullet appeared to bounce off the creature, seemingly causing it no harm whatsoever.

Perplexed, the pair returned the following day. This time, though, when the wolf arrived, the marksman – who had loaded his weapon with dried pith – fired once more. The shot was perfect, and more importantly, it wounded the creature in the leg, forcing it to retreat back into the forest.

The tale, though, was just about to get stranger.

Arrest And Jail Break

According to the account, the shepherd happened upon his neighbor the following day and noticed that she had developed a limp. Being polite he asked her what the problem was that caused her to limp so. To his surprise, she snapped back, asking “what business is it of yours?” before scurrying away as fast as she could.

The shepherd – knowing that the talk of the village was that this old woman practiced evil magic and spells – wondered whether the wound in the leg was caused by the shot by the marksman the previous evening. Might the old woman have managed to shapeshift into a wolf-like form?

Although there was little other proof other than what could be a coincidental mark, the man reported his suspicions to the authorities. The old woman was ultimately arrested, flogged, and chained up at the local jail. However, much to the surprise of everyone, when guards went to check on their prisoner, she had disappeared. And so had the wolf – at least for several nights.

Late one evening the ferocious beast returned to seemingly attack the very same flock of sheep it had previously attacked. However, it soon became apparent to the alarmed shepherd that the wolf had himself as the lone target.

The creature leaped at the shepherd, who despite doing his best to defend himself was immediately on the back foot. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that the marksman who had wounded the wolf happened to be in the area hunting, he would have surely met his end.

The shooter immediately brought his weapon up and took aim. Once more he hit and wounded the creature. He dropped the gun, pulled out a large knife and took aim at the beast, stabbing it precisely.

However, to the shock of the pair, the wolf began to morph and transform into the old woman who they had accused and had arrested only days previously. They would agree to bury the woman in the woods, and when they had done so, they placed a cross over the makeshift grave.

Although it is uncertain if the location exists, legends state that those who claim to have been there feel the presence of evil.

The Wulver Legends Of The Shetland Islands

Perhaps even stranger legends [5] can be found lurking in the Shetland Islands of Scotland in the form of the Wulver – a hairy humanoid beast with the head of a wolf. However, unlike many other strange wolf-like beasts, Wulvers are said to only be harmful to humans when threatened.

According to the legends, perhaps documented best by Jessie Saxby in Shetland Traditional Lore, the Wulver was often seen “catching and eating fish” from a “small rock in the deep water”. What’s more, this strange creature would often leave fish outside the homes of those in need of food.

What is perhaps interesting here is that there is little evidence to suggest any kind of shapeshifting and more of a permanent appearance and existence. And, if we accept the legends to have some grains of truth to them for a moment, its kind gestures with food would suggest empathetic intelligence.

However, there are other accounts of the Wulver. In the book Shapeshifters: Morphing Monsters & Changing Cryptids, Nick Redfern writes of an encounter documented by Elliot O’Donnell, who had a fascination with accounts of werewolves. The encounter was told to O’Donnell by a local resident of the area, Andrew Warren, who had experienced the Wulver when he was a young boy with his grandfather.

According to the account, Warren and his grandfather, who was a hunter and collector of fossils and skeletons, discovered what appeared to be human skeletal remains one day while out walking. However, what was particularly strange about the remains was that the head appeared to be wolf-like. Suspecting they might have discovered something truly unique, the pair wrapped the remains and carried them back to their home.

They were left outside the property, and Warren’s grandfather went to work at the local church for the evening. Warren, though, was about to experience one of the strangest, unnerving nights of his life.

A Night Of Sheer Terror

A short time after his grandfather had left for work, Warren heard a strange, scratching sound coming from the kitchen door. He turned his attention in its direction, noticing immediately that there was a silhouette of a wolf’s head on a human body peering through the glass of the door.

As he continued to watch, the creature became even clearer, making its glowing green eyes and razor-sharp teeth much easier to see for Warren. He ultimately fled the kitchen and then shut the door behind him, choosing to wait until his grandfather returned home. When he finally did, they came to the conclusion that the beastly apparition at the door during the night was likely the spirit of the skeletal remains they had discovered – remains that were seemingly a Wulver. They immediately carried the remains back to where they were discovered and reburied them. They had no further experiences with the Wulver after that.

How true such accounts of wolf-like creatures might be is perhaps open to debate. However, it is not completely beyond the scope of imagination, if admittedly unlikely, that a creature, human-like or beast-like or a combination of the two, could live discreetly in such environments.

The short video below examines the legends of the Wulver a little further.

Potential Werewolf Attacks Throughout History

While we detailed some of the better-known werewolf legends and myths already, the fact is, there are many specific werewolf attacks scattered throughout history, some of which stretch back to the late 1500s. There will undoubtedly be other such incidents scattered in little known of records, and surely countless other incidents that have gone unrecorded and are essentially lost in the void of time.

And while much of Europe was a much more superstitious place than it is today, there are some intriguing encounters that stand out from the rest. Many such encounters feature a bizarre twisting of fact, myth, and legend. They are, though, all intriguing and worthy of our brief examination.

The Demon Tailor – The Werewolf Of Chalons

The real identity of the Demon Tailor or the Werewolf of Chalons is not known, [6] leading some researchers to suggest that authorities in France in 1598 had made attempts – successfully it would seem – to “erase all mention of him from history”.

What we do know of the records is that on 14th December 1598, a tailor from Chalons was in court to face charges for multiple crimes, not least of luring children into his shop so he could kill them and then further abuse their dead bodies. Following this, the unknown person was said to have butchered the corpses as someone would to cattle and literally eat the flesh of his victims. Perhaps of most interest to us here, though, are the charges that the tailor would change his form into a wolf so that he could stalk children in the woods nearby.

Indeed, there were seemingly dozens of missing children in and around the region, many of which the courts had charged the tailor as being responsible for their disappearance and presumed deaths. What’s more, following his arrest, “bleached bones of children” were discovered in his shop. He would ultimately confess – under torture – to the murders of anywhere between ten and 48 children, depending on sources.

He was eventually sentenced to death and burnt at the stake as not only a murderer, but a suspected werewolf (which essentially, put him in the same company of alleged witches as far as the courts at the time were concerned). It was also the view of the court that the crimes he was committed for were so brutal and grotesque that the details of the accounts should be destroyed and not preserved.

Of course, whether the unknown tailor was indeed a werewolf or “just” a brutal and sadistic serial killer is perhaps open to debate. It would appear, however, that the crimes he was charged and found guilty of had a long-lasting affect on the people of the region.

The short video below examines this intriguing case a little further.

Jean Grenier – The Real-Life “Teen-Wolf”

Another early account of apparent werewolf activity also come out of France, this time in the spring of 1603 in the Gascony region [7] in the southwest of the country. Some of the details, however, are chillingly similar to those that surrounded the harrowing case of the Demon Tailor half a decade earlier in that the region in question had experienced the disappearance of several children. However, rather than the culprit being an adult member of the community, it was eventually suspected that they were the responsibility of a teenage boy.

According to the account, two young girls were wandering around the countryside when they met a young boy, who would introduce himself as Jean Grenier. He was thin-framed – appearing relatively starved – as well sporting a shock of thick, matted, red hair. What they noticed about him most, though, were his canine-type teeth and wild eyes. What’s more, his fingernails were almost completely black and similar to a claw or talon.

However, what he went on to tell the young girls was even more remarkable, and unnerving.

Seemingly aware of his strange looks, he told the two girls that this was a consequence of wearing a wolf-skin that “transformed him into a werewolf”, something that had been given to him by a man named Pierre Labourant. He would continue that while in this state he had “killed dogs and drunk their blood” before going on to say that he preferred children.

He would seemingly continue that he had “eaten many a maiden”, even capturing several during “raids together with my nine companions”. He would ultimately declare that he was “a werewolf”. Perhaps not surprisingly, the two young girls quickly turned and ran.

However, it was the claims of another girl in the village, Marguerite Poirier, that seemingly brought Genier to the attention of the local authorities. According to Poirier, who on occasion tended sheep for Grenier, he would often tell her that he was a werewolf. Furthermore, he would speak of killing small animals and even children. However, it was perhaps a specific experience she had that sent her running to the townsfolk and, in turn, the authorities.

According to the young girl, while she was tending to the sheep, a wild beast seemingly appeared out of nowhere and attacked her. As it ripped at her clothing and attempted to bite her with its large fangs, she grabbed the staff she used and managed to defend herself enough to allow her to make an escape. As she turned to run, she caught one last glimpse of the strange animal. She would state later that it appeared like a wolf but was not a wolf. What’s more, it appeared to have a thick sprout of matted red hair on its head.

Ultimately, following her tale, authorities would seek out Grenier and he was arrested and charged with the disappearances of several children.

Once in court, the young boy would openly speak of being a werewolf. Perhaps of more importance, he admitted to attacking Poirier, as well as attacking and killing a dog and several other children. He would further claim that he received orders from The Lord of the Forest, upon which he would use a special ointment to cover his skin and would don his wolfskin and so transforming himself into a werewolf.

Although he was found guilty of the charges, the court would find that rather than being a werewolf, the young boy was “feeble-minded” and was obviously hallucinating while committing the terrible crimes. Rather than face the executioner, he was sentenced to life in prison at a Bordeaux monastery. While there it was claimed he would run around on all fours and was often found eating raw meat and even offal. He would pass away several years after being sentenced at 20 years of age.

Whether Grenier was a real werewolf or whether the court’s assessment was accurate (and surprisingly forward-thinking for the time) remains, at least for some, open to debate.

The short video below examines the Jean Grenier case further.

The Ansbach Werewolf

Another apparent spate of werewolf attacks occurred in what is today modern-day Germany [8] around half a century after the death of Grenier in the Principality of Ansbach. The encounters began with seemingly random attacks on livestock at various farms and smallholdings in the town. However, after several months of these attacks on farm animals, the beast’s attention seemingly turned to children, several of which were killed.

The horrified townsfolk began to talk among themselves that these attacks were not the result of a mere wolf. They were, they reasoned, down to a werewolf. And what’s more, they quickly put their suspicions on one person, Michael Leicht, essentially the mayor of the town and a person who faced a universal dislike of the community. There was only one problem. Leicht had died several months earlier.

The townsfolk quickly formulated suggestions that Leicht had discovered a way of placing his soul in an animal, and so “escaping death”. Some claims even began to surface of people seeing him, in the flesh, after his death. Groups of townsfolk were quickly formed with the goal of finding and killing this werewolf that had once been Leicht and so protecting the young members of the community.

They would ultimately prepare a trap for the wolf – a wolf pit. In it were several pieces of raw meat, as well as a live rooster. It was the hope that the wolf would smell the offerings and become trapped when trying to retrieve them, which it seemingly did.

However, then things turned strange, although not in a supernatural way.

Wanting to show the people of the town that the wolf was dead, and the danger was no more, it was decided that the dead wolf should be dragged through the streets. Before doing so, though, they first removed the skin from the animal, cut away its muzzle, and fixed a crude mask meant to represent Leicht to its ruined face. Going even further, they placed a wig and a cloak over the dead body, to further liken it to the one-time hated mayor.

After parading the carcass through the town, they would hang the body on a nearby hill, purposely placed so that all could clearly see it.

The Livonian Werewolf

Perhaps one of the strangest cases on record occurred in the late seventeenth century in Jurgensburg, Sweden. The person involved [9] was known as Thiess of Kaltenbrun and was an 80-year-old Livonian man who had long been suspected by locals as having done strange deals with the Devil, and, specifically, of being a werewolf.

For the most part, authorities would ignore such strange rumors. That was until 1692 when he was being questioned by those same authorities on a trivial matter unconnected to the rumors, that Thiess went on to reveal a wealth of admissions.

He would claim, although he hadn’t done so for almost a decade, he had the ability to change into a werewolf. What’s more, he would then roam the countryside, killing all manner of animals before cooking them once he changed back to a human. Even stranger, he would claim that he, along with other werewolves, would “battle with the Devil and his witches”. From his perspective, he claimed he and other shapeshifters were carrying out the work of God.

Even at this stage, though, it was the revelations that he practiced folk magic and used other mysterious charms that he was accused of attempting to turn the townsfolk away from Christianity. Perhaps bizarrely, the judge would order that he was flogged and then sent into exile away from the community.

There is no record of what happened next, or where Thiess might have ventured to. What we should make of his apparent admissions, though, is perhaps up to each one of us.

The video below examines this case further.

Manuel Blanco Romasanta – The Werewolf Claims Of Spain’s First Known Serial Killer!

One of the most intriguing, and grim apparent werewolf cases might be that of Manuel Blanco Romasanta (sometimes referred to as the werewolf of Allariz), who is widely regarded as being Spain’s first known serial killer after he confessed to the murders of 13 people [10] in 1853.

Following the death of his wife in 1833, he began working as a traveling salesman, mainly in the Galicia region of Spain but also in parts of Portugal, and would supplement this income by acting as a tour guide for travelers in the same region. It was undoubtedly during this time when Romasanta began his killing spree.

Whether there were any victims previously, the first of Romasanta’s victims, Vicente Fernandez, was discovered in 1844. Romasanta was quickly charged with the murder. However, he would fail to appear in court, and despite being found guilty in his absence, he went on the run. He would use his knowledge of the area to negotiate his way to Portugal. He would find sanctuary in the small village of Rebordechao and would make money doing various jobs for people around the community.

He would manage to avoid suspicion and the Spanish authorities for several years. However, during this time, several people (mainly women and children) would seemingly disappear. It would eventually come to light that all of the missing people had requested Romasanta’s services as a guide into the mountains (he had initially delivered confirmation of a person’s safe arrival to the family, so delaying their suspicions of something untoward).

When Romasanta was seen selling clothes of some of the victims, however, the focus very much turned to him. Rumors even circulated that the bars of soap he sold to the villagers were made from human fat. He was soon arrested and would confess to 13 murders.

He would further state, though, that he had committed the murders while transformed into a wolf, something he claimed he had no control over. He claimed he was cursed and had even discovered others who were similarly cursed, elaborating that they, as a group, “attacked and ate a number of people”. Indeed, when he was asked to demonstrate this ability to the courts he couldn’t do so. He would further state that he was no longer in the grip of the curse.

He was found guilty of nine of the 13 murders and was sentenced to death. However, such was the bizarreness of the case, his sentence was reduced to life in imprisonment so that he could be studied by a French hypnotist (known only as “Mr. Phillips”). He would die from cancer of the stomach a decade later in 1863.

Much like the other “real-life” werewolf cases we have examined from the annals of history, there is perhaps a loose debate to be had as to the authenticity of Romasanta’s shapeshifting abilities, albeit that it takes place with a pinch of salt.

The video below examines the case a little further.

The Werewolf Of The London Underground?

Perhaps some of the most intriguing legends of real-life werewolves come from the London Underground. According to the book, Keep Out: Top Secret Places Governments Don’t Want You To Know About by veteran paranormal researcher, Nick Redfern, there have been several mysterious and brutal incidents along these old underground rail lines. [11]

Redfern tells of the account of Frank Wiley, a one-time British police officer who revealed some remarkable if grim incidents he knew had taken place on the London Underground rail system. According to Wiley there were several “weird killings” that took place there between 1967 and 1969. He would even go on to state that police investigating the deaths “hushed up” the attacks and passed them off as nothing more than “late-night muggings”.

However, according to Wiley, the killings were truly monstrous in nature and were quite obviously the work of the same person, or thing. All of the victims appeared to have been attacked late at night and all featured limbs removed – as if they might have been “gnawed off”. Even more unnerving, their throats were violently slashed while their torsos were ripped open and their insides eaten away.

To those who witnessed the discovered bodies, it appeared that the unfortunate people had been attacked by something looking to eat them. Indeed, it was clear to those who visited such scenes of brutality (with bodies discovered in the vicinity of three different stations) were in doubt that something truly strange and beastly was seemingly stalking its prey along the rail lines and lonely station platforms of the underground network.

Orders Issued To Close The Case Quickly

Further according to Wiley, two workmen who were repairing a stretch of track on the underground may have witnessed the monstrous creature in 1968. They were working on the Bakerloo Line when they spotted a strange “wild-haired man” who was “dressed in tattered and filthy clothing”.

Unsure of exactly what they were seeing, one of the workers approached the man in an attempt to tell him to leave the area. However, when the strange figure moved closer, they noticed how he walked in a “stumbling manner”. What’s more, he proceeded to “growl” at the workers, perhaps exactly as a wolf might when cornered. Ultimately, the man-creature turned away from the workers and ran fast in the opposite direction, disappearing into one of the tunnels.

Perhaps even more intriguing, Wiley also claimed that high-ranking government figures in the Home Office issued discreet orders to keep the incident as under wraps as possible and to have the case closed quickly.

What should we make of this particular incident? For example, if we assume the accounts are accurate, is this an example of some kind of wild man, similar to a Bigfoot creature seemingly living out of the way on the underground rail networks of London? If so, why did the sightings or the killings not continue?

Or might, as preposterous as the idea might be, this be an example of a werewolf as most of us would understand the concept? Was the man witnessed in the middle of some kind of bizarre transformation from beast to human? Indeed, while even the most open-minded researcher or enthusiast might struggle to accept this idea, it is perhaps one we should keep on the collective backburner, especially if we consider the notion of werewolves to be possibly true.

Wiley, according to Redfern’s research, would make even further revelations.

An Ancient Network Of Tunnel Under the London Underground?

Further according to Wiley, through discreet off-the-record meetings with members of the Home Office, some of the findings of the investigation suggested that under the London Underground itself was a network of ancient tunnels – tunnels which went back hundreds and hundreds of years at least, if not as far back as the occupation of the Roman Empire.

It was suggested by those high-up in the Home Office, that whoever – or whatever – was responsible for the brutal killings was accessing the London Underground from below, from these ancient tunnel networks.

Furthermore, although there were no further reports of such grim and monstrous killings, Wiley would claim that he heard several “rumors” of further discovered mutilated bodies throughout much of the 1970s.

Perhaps also of interest, is the assertion by Wiley that the 1972 horror film, Death Line, featured a plotline that was, in his opinion, “too close to what happened” in the late-1960s. The movie essentially details a collapse in the London Underground during reconstruction in the late-nineteenth century. Many of the workers are presumed killed in the accident.

However, in the (then) contemporary era of the early 1970s, these workers – who have survived and bred into a race of barely human cannibals, begin emerging from the buried ruins, into the underground, and begin feeding on unsuspecting members of the population.

It was ultimately Wiley’s opinion that someone was perhaps leaking the information of the incidents so they could be written and documented as fiction through the movies. It is certainly an interesting idea, and one we have examined before when looking if films and television shows actually contain hidden messages and factual truths.

The Bizarre Hexham Heads Encounters

Without a doubt, one of the strangest incidents on record [12] occurred in the town of Hexham in the United Kingdom in February 1972 (some sources claim the year to be 1971). One evening, brothers Colin and Leslie Robson were digging in their back garden when they came across the strangest of things – two bizarre, carved heads. Each was about the size of a tennis or cricket ball, with one being male and the other female.

Fascinated, the two boys spent the morning playing around with their new finds. When it was time to come inside, however, each decided to bring their new toy with them. Following this, things began to turn decidedly strange in the Robson house, including paranormal activity and even the appearance of a demonic half-animal, half-human entity.

After the strange heads were placed on a shelf in the family home they were seen moving along of their own accord. Not only that, but other family ornaments would begin disappearing over the coming days, while others would simply explode as if triggered from their inside. One particularly harrowing incident featured a window shattering above the two brothers’ sleeping sister.

By the time the human figure with an animal, wolf-like head appeared in front of the boys’ sister and mother, the family quickly decided that the arrival of the heads must be responsible for the outrageously disturbing incidents that had plagued them.

Ultimately, an expert in Celtic history, Dr. Anne Ross took an interest in the finds and the bizarre activity that had occurred since. She would examine the heads up close and determine they were likely around 2,000 years old and were likely used in certain Celtic rituals. She also claimed that she could feel a “strange coldness” to them. So much so, that she disliked holding, or even looking at them.

Even so, she would take them with her for temporary study at her home. Not long after she did so, the bizarre activity appeared to focus on her.

Strange Activity Follows The Heads

Somewhere between 2 am and 3 am on the first evening of the heads being in Ross’s possession, she suddenly awoke to a disturbing feeling that “something” was in the room with her. As she spun her attention around the room, she focused on a human figure with the head of a wolf in the doorway. As shocked as she was, when the figure retreated from the room and proceeded down the stairs, Ross followed. The creature, though, was much too fast and disappeared at the back of the house.

Over the coming days, almost all members of the family would catch sight of the strange werewolf-like entity in their home. Each time, it would retreat and disappear but was certainly making its presence very much known.

Ross would ultimately complete her research on the objects as quickly as she could and would pass them on to other experts who wished to examine them. Ultimately, the strange appearances and activity stopped as soon as the heads were out of her possession. Many of those who took possession of the heads, incidentally, would also experience similarly strange goings-on.

The heads seemingly disappeared during the examinations of them. Their whereabouts today remains unknown. Just what the exact connection was to the apparent appearance of the wolf-headed figure might also remain elusive. However, in the aforementioned Shapeshifters book by Nick Redfern, there are some startling revelations of other bizarre wolf-like attacks on livestock in the very same town.

Strange Incidents In The Same Place For Hundreds Of Years

For example, in 1904, local newspaper reports spoke of a wolf being loose in the area that was attacking, mutilating, and killing many animals, including those of local farmers. The report is particularly intriguing, as Redfern writes, because “the wolf is extinct in the United Kingdom and has been for several centuries”. Why, then, was there seemingly a lone wolf working its way through the animal population of Hexham?

The reports were seemingly taken seriously enough, with public advice being that people should remain on the main roads, as well as staying away from the woods and moors of the area. In a twist of sorts, several weeks after the attacks had begun, the body of a dead wolf was discovered in the area. For many, this was the answer to the mysterious attacks.

To others, though, there was doubt as to whether this wolf was really the perpetrator of such vicious attacks. Not least as a top-class pack of hunting dogs had thoroughly examined the area only weeks previously and had not picked up on a single scent – something they certainly should have had a wolf, alive or dead, been anywhere near the area.

Perhaps more importantly to us here, might these attacks have a connection to the strange heads and the appearance of the human figure with a wolf’s head in the early 1970s?

Going back even further still, an incident in 1810 has been highlighted – this one taking place in the village of Ennerdale a very short distance away. According to local reports, hundreds of sheep were attacked by an unknown beast over a period of around six months. The attacker, on occasion, would even drain them entirely of their blood. The beast was ultimately shot and killed by a local marksman. However, at least according to local records, examinations of it failed to identify what it was. Unfortunately, the remains have failed to survive in the modern age, and if they do still exist, their whereabouts is unknown.

The short video below looks at the strange Hexham Heads case a little further.

The Defiance Werewolf Encounters

At roughly the same time that the Hexham Heads case was unfolding, across the Atlantic in Defiance, Ohio, a series of chilling encounters would grip the small town. And what’s more, they were reported on in the local press. [13]

Late on the evening of 25th July 1972, several employees were busy at work at one of the town’s freight train companies. One of these was Ted Davis, who would perhaps have the first encounter with what would quickly become known as the Werewolf of Defiance.

He would tell one of the local newspapers that while he was switching a train to an alternative track he suddenly “saw these hairy feet”. When he looked up, he saw a strange, hairy creature with a “big stick over his shoulder”. When the shocked railroad worker began to speak, the creature turned and ran back into the shadows. When speaking with more of the workers who had also witnessed the creature, albeit from a further distance, the general description was of it having “huge, hairy feet, fangs, and it ran side-to-side like a caveman in the movies”.

Davis would also have another encounter with the creature at the same location around a week later. Once more, the creature stared directly at him for several seconds, before turning and disappearing into the surrounding woodland. Also of interest, on the same evening of this second encounter, a nearby shop owner would also report being attacked. He would describe his assailant as having an animal-like head, hairy, and carrying a large piece of wood.

Although the local newspapers ran several follow-up articles on the apparent sightings, there was debate as to how serious they should be taken. It was most likely, was the general notion among the locals, a bored prankster looking to scare people to amuse themselves.

The local police, though, thought otherwise. To them, the large piece of wood was a potentially deadly weapon and they very much considered the “werewolf” – whatever it might turn out to be – a danger to the local community. They would undertake an extensive search of the area that would last several days. It would, though, prove fruitless.

The short video below examines the Defiance Werewolf a little further.

The Michigan Dogman

There are many sightings of “dog-men” or werewolves throughout North America and the United States. Perhaps one of the most intriguing, and persistent, is the “Michigan Dogman” sightings. These go right the way back to the late 1880s when two local lumberjacks would witness a beastly creature. They would claim it to have the body of a man and a dog’s head.

Multiple sightings of these strange creatures would continue throughout the decades. One particular sighting in 1938 saw the witness attacked by a pack of five dogs. At least one of them, he would later claim, walked on two legs. In 1961 at a manufacturing plant, a night security guard witnessed a man in black clothing approaching. As he stared a little harder, though, he could clearly see bizarre “dog-like” features to this strange entity. As he was about to pull out his gun, he remembered his camera. He managed to snap a picture of the bizarre creature before it disappeared. You can view that picture below.

Picture claiming to show a shapeshifter in Michigan in 1961

Does this picture show a shapeshifter in Michigan in 1961

Sightings of the Michigan Dogman continue today. Particularly over the swampy marshes of the state. Many Michigan residents claim to hear strange “child-like howls” coming from the swamps and woodlands. The vast majority of descriptions of this apparent beast-man are eerily similar to each other. Some local legends even speak of “dog-soldiers” of native tribes of the area. These warriors, through ancient techniques and practices, would become in tune with their spirit animal. So much so, that could control the change into a dog-man and unleash the powers that come with it. Some conspiracies suggest US military programs would hunt down these dog-soldiers. Some, however, would survive.

The short video below looks at some of the legends of the Michigan Dogman a little further.

Sightings And Reports Continue Into The Twentieth Century

Reports of these apparently bizarre half-beast half-man creatures continue today. For example, in Brazil in 2014 came reports of a “werewolf” coming out of the trees, [14] searching around for several moments before disappearing into the woodland again. The incident would appear on CCTV and wasn’t the first such report in the town of Sao Concalo de Campos. Local authorities would treat the incident so seriously they would put a 9 pm curfew in place.

Around two years later in May 2016 in Hull, East Yorkshire in the north of England, came seven separate sightings of an “eight-foot-tall creature lurking in an abandoned industrial area” [15] of the city. One of the witnesses would even claim to witness a man change into the beast. She would watch the transformation from a bridge above. She would claim to the press “It was stood upright one moment. Then next it was down on all fours running like a dog”. She would continue that at one point it would stop and “rear up on to its back legs”. It would stand upright for a moment before it continued on and “vaulted thirty feet”. It would land across the water on the other embankment.

At the same location, another couple saw a similar creature “eating a German Shephard dog”. When they stopped in shock and horror, the creature stood, the dead animal still in its mouth. It would then jump clear over an eight-foot-high fence. A local councilor is even keeping an official incident log of the sightings. Interestingly, Yorkshire was one of the last parts of England where wild wolves roamed freely. Might it also be home to something a little more menacing and mysterious?

The video below looks at some of the alleged sightings of werewolves captured on video.

References

References
1 Evolving Forms: An Intriguing Look at Shapeshifting, Riley Winters, Ancient Origins https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/evolving-forms-intriguing-look-shapeshifting-003491
2 The Legend of the Georgia Werewolf Girl, Georgia Mysteries, October 27th, 2009 http://georgiamysteries.blogspot.com/2009/10/legend-of-georgia-werewolf-girl.html
3 The 5 Most Famous Historical Accounts of Werewolf Sightings, Ian Harvey, The Vintage News, October 18th, 2018 https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/10/18/werewolf-sightings/
4 The Devil’s Promise, Werewovles https://www.werewolves.com/the-devils-promise/
5 Scottish myths: Wulver the kindhearted Shetland werewolf, The Scotsman, February 9th, 2016 https://www.scotsman.com/news/people/scottish-myths-wulver-kindhearted-shetland-werewolf-2463904
6 Werewolf on Trial: The Demon Tailor of Châlons, a Monster So Menacing They Tried to Erase Him From History, Ken Summers, Week In Weird, December 5th, 2014 http://weekinweird.com/2014/05/12/werewolf-trial-demon-tailor-chalons/
7 Grenier, Jean, Occult World https://occult-world.com/grenier-jean/
8 The Werewolf of Ansbach, Bizaarro Bazar https://www.bizzarrobazar.com/en/2018/11/27/il-licantropo-di-ansbach/
9 An account of the trial of a Livonian werewolf in Jurgensburg in 1692, Philosophy For Life https://www.philosophyforlife.org/blog/the-good-werewolf
10 The Murder Stories, Kristen Laurence
11 Keep Out!: Top Secret Places Governments Don’t Want You to Know About, Nick Redfern, ISBN 9781601 631848
12 The Hesham Heads and the Werewolf, MJ Steel Collins, July 22nd, 2013 https://www.spookyisles.com/the-hexham-heads-and-the-werewolf/
13 Werewolf of Defiance, Paranorm 101, June 21st, 2016 http://paranorm101.blogspot.com/2016/06/werewolf-of-defiance.html
14 CCTV footage of a WEREWOLF terrifies locals who fear it is stalking the town, Andy Wells, The Daily Star, February 19th, 2014 https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/video-werewolf-spotted-terrifying-cctv-18715017
15  Residents trembling in terror after seeing ‘8 FOOT WEREWOLF’ in British city, Mark Branadan, The Express, May 15th, 2016 https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/670358/Hull-South-Yorkshire-werewolf-Old-Stinker-full-moon-Barmston-Drain

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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