If there’s one thing, more than any other, that annoys me in the field of paranormal research, it’s an armchair researcher of the debunking kind. Time and time again I have heard the debunkers loudly assert (often in high-pitched, whiny voices, and with their arms firmly folded) that the chupacabra simply cannot, and does not, exist. How do they know? Well, actually, they don’t know. Have they personally visited Puerto Rico? For the most part, no, they have not. Have they sat down opposite a witness and actually spoken to them? Nope: Hardly more than the barest occasion. What they have done is to secure their data from that bastion of truth and reliability known as the Internet. Not a good sign, to say the least. As to why the debunkers piss me off so much, it’s not just as a result of their lazy approach and attitude. It’s because by not actually visiting the places in question, and speaking with the people on the ground, they are missing out on a wealth of untapped data that simply cannot be found by just opening Google and typing in the words “Puerto Rico + chupacabra.”
A perfect case in point: if the chupacabra is a real creature, ask the naysayers, then why did it suddenly surface out of nowhere in 1995? Well, actually, it didn’t. Yes, it did, they reply; the Internet says so. Well, yes, the Internet does say that. But try speaking to the locals. When you gain their confidence and trust you quickly find yourself immersed in a very different story. This was something that became abundantly clear to me just one day into my first expedition to Puerto Rico, in the summer of 2004. As well as a cameraman and director, our team was comprised of a sound guy and a couple of drivers, all of who were native to the island. On day two, we stopped for lunch at a road-side café and I got chatting with the guys. As I did so, something remarkable surfaced. All of them laughed and scoffed at the idea that the chupacabra was a modern day phenomenon. They pointed out that, yes, those emotive words – chupacabra and goat-sucker – were relatively new. No-one disputed that. They added, however, that blood-sucking monstrosities of vampire-like proportions had been reported across the island not just for years but for decades; at least since the 1970s. I could suggest that the saga of Frank Drake, and the vampire of Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Telescope, pushes the boundaries back to at least the 1960s.
What separated the earlier reports from those of the 1990s and the 2000s, I was told, was that they had largely been forgotten or overlooked. Plus, it was explained to me, the lack of the Internet in the 1970s meant that, just like Las Vegas, whatever happened on Puerto Rico largely stayed there. A perfect case in point, they said, was a beast that became known as the Moca Vampire. Noted for its fruit industry and cattle-farming, Moca is a cool place, filled with old and atmospheric buildings and surrounded by amazing forestland and green hills. The municipality was, back in the mid-1970s, home to something else, too: the Moca Vampire. It was a most apt title for a creature that caused brief havoc and mayhem in March 1975. Pigs, goats, chickens, geese, cattle, and even pets were found violently slaughtered, and specifically in the Barrio Rocha suburb of Moca. I know this, as not just the guys on the crew, but numerous locals in Moca itself too, were happy to reveal all during the course of my first excursion to the island.
The bodies of the dead animals were quickly collected by the authorities and were subjected to necropsy, which was said to have demonstrated that at least some of them had been drained of notable amounts of blood. The people of the area, hardly surprisingly, were plunged into states of fear and anxiety. Children were kept indoors at night. Armed police patrolled the streets after sunset. Matters came to a horrific climax when the monster turned its attention away from animals and towards the human population. One of the most traumatic attacks occurred on March 25, when a woman was viciously clawed by what she described as a fearful-looking beast covered in feathers. Then another story surfaced. Utterly petrified by what occurred, the witness reported that late one night in March, a huge, winged monster landed on the zinc roof of her Moca home and let loose with an ear-splitting scream. She feared for her very life, as the mighty thing clanged around loudly in the darkness, only mere feet above her living room.
Just a couple of days later, a rancher in the area found more than thirty of his chickens dead, all slaughtered by a silent, stealthy killer. Overall, and across a two week period in March 1975, around ninety animals were killed and an untold number of Moca residents were living in downright terror. The monstrous affair was never resolved. Fortunately, however, the attacks stopped as mysteriously, and as quickly, as they had begun. It should be noted that, as I was told by the guys on the TV shoot, a theory did the rounds at the time that occultists, rather than a deadly monster, were the cause of the attacks; occultists whose activities revolved around sacrificial blood rites, for which the tale of the Moca Vampire offered convenient and ingenious cover. This was not the only time a story reached my ears to the effect that the assumed attacks of the blood-suckers of Puerto Rico were actually the creation of those that engaged in rite, ritual and sacrifice.