May 22, 2020 I Nick Redfern

Death By Monsters? Bigfoot, Lake Monsters and More

Have people been killed by strange creatures and marauding monsters? Well, it very much depends on your own perspective. We'll begin with a death on the waters of Loch Ness, Scotland. We all know that what lives there, right? Or, what allegedly lives there! Take your pick. Roland Watson said in a September 29, 2012 article titled "60th Anniversary of John Cobb Disaster"  that: "The Inverness Courier notes the gathering today of speed enthusiasts to mark the death of world land and water speed record holder, John Cobb at Loch Ness. On that day of the 29th September 1952, the 52 year old had exceeded the record with a speed of 206mph. However, before the second mile run which would have established the record, the boat broke up on hitting a wave and Cobb was killed."

At Britain Express we learn the following: "Cobb made his record attempt on 29 September 1952 over a measured mile from Urquhart Castle. According to the generally accepted rules of the time for speed records, two runs were required. On the first run, Crusader traveled at 206.89mph, making Cobb the first man in history to reach 200mph. Tragedy struck on the second run, however, when Crusader hit a boat wake that should not have been there and nosedived suddenly into the depths of the loch, killing Cobb instantly. Believers in the Loch Ness monster would later claim that Nessie was in some way to blame for the accident." Today, most Loch Ness monster research dismiss the possibility that Cobb collided with a Nessie.

They should dismiss that theory. As Yahoo note: " Most experts agree that the likeliest cause of the crash was caused by one of Cobb’s support boats" causing a wake that led Cobb to go out of control and lose his life. So, in  this case, I say "No" to a death by a monster in Loch Ness. There is, however, an intriguing story that revolves around the River Ness. The story can be found in Book II, Chapter XXVII of St. Adomnán’s Vita Columbae. To say that it’s quite a tale is, at the very least, an understatement. Born in the town of Raphoe, Ireland in 624 AD, St. Adomnán spent much of his life on the Scottish island of Iona where he served as an abbot, spreading the word of the Christian God. St. Adomnán’s Vita Columbae (in English, Life of Columba) is a fascinating Gaelic chronicle of the life of St. Columba. He was a 6th century abbot, also of Ireland, who spent much of his life trying to convert the Iron Age Picts to Christianity, and who, like Adomnán, was an abbot of Iona.

In 563, Columba sailed to Scotland, and two years later happened to visit Loch Ness – while traveling with a number of comrades to meet with King Brude of the Picts. It turned out to be an amazing and notable experience, as Vita Columbae most assuredly demonstrates. Adomnán began his story thus: "…when the blessed man was staying for some days in the province of the Picts, he found it necessary to cross the river Ness; and, when he came to the bank thereof, he sees some of the inhabitants burying a poor unfortunate little fellow, whom, as those who were burying him themselves reported, some water monster had a little before snatched at as he was swimming, and bitten with a most savage bite, and whose hapless corpse some men who came in a boat to give assistance, though too late, caught hold of by putting out hooks." Unlike the case of John Cobb, there really may have been something to the centuries old saga of a man killed by a monster, this time in the River Ness.

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St. Columba

Now, let's take a look at Bigfoot. It’s not every day that a U.S. president makes comments and observations on Bigfoot. But, as incredible as it may sound, President Theodore Roosevelt may have done exactly that in the pages of his 1890 book, The Wilderness Hunter. The president, who was also a keen hunter and an avid outdoorsman, told a story that sounds eerily, and chillingly, like a close encounter with a murderous, homicidal Bigfoot. His amazing, more than a century old, story follows, uninterrupted: "Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very superstitious. They lead lives too hard and practical, and have too little imagination in things spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few ghost stories while living on the frontier, and those few were of a perfectly commonplace and conventional type. But I once listened to a goblin-story, which rather impressed me." The story came from a hunter named Bauman, who had a friend with him on a trek through the woods of Montana, near the Wisdom River.

As the story told to Roosevelt went on, and when Bauman returned to the campsite of the two friends, the footprints of what  was described as an "unknown beast-creature," clearly "printed deep in the soft soil." The unfortunate man, having finished his packing, "had sat down on the spruce log with his face to the fire, and his back to the dense woods, to wait for his companion. While thus waiting, his monstrous assailant, which must have been lurking in the woods, waiting for a chance to catch one of the adventurers unprepared, came silently up from behind, walking with long noiseless steps and seemingly still on two legs. Evidently unheard, it reached the man, and broke his neck by wrenching his head back with its fore paws, while it buried its teeth in his throat. It had not eaten the body, but apparently had romped and gamboled around it in uncouth, ferocious glee, occasionally rolling over and over it; and had then fled back into the soundless depths of the woods." A strange and sinister way to die. At the hands of a monster? Maybe.

Now, let's take a look at the matter of the Wendigo. Legends of America tell us of the creature: "The Wendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody. Its body was unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, giving off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption."

This brings us to a man who became notorious. Of the various stories that surround the Wendigo, certainly the most horrific revolves around a Cree Native American name Swift Runner. He lived with his family in an area of forest close to Edmonton, Canada. As 1878 rolled over into 1879, Swift Runner turned up in the city of St. Albert, Canada. He told a bleak and harrowing story of how all of his family – his wife, his six children, and his mother and brother – had fallen victim to the recent, hostile winter, in which food was beyond scarce and temperatures plunged. As plausible as the story told by Swift Runner to a group of Catholic priests sounded, there was a significant red flag. Swift Runner hardly looked emaciated. In fact, he looked very well fed. That’s because he was.

Swift Runner spent the winter devouring his entire family, eating their flesh and gnawing on their bones – as the St. Albert police found to their horror when they traveled to the site of his home in the woods. Suspicions soon began to surface that Swift Runner was possessed by a Wendigo: he began to exhibit bizarre, animalistic activity, such as howling, growling, and screaming in savage fashion. Tales circulated that, on one occasion, Swift Runner was seen to transform into a savage-looking humanoid, a definitive Wendigo – something caused by his taste for human flesh. Swift Runner claimed to have changed into a Wendigo, which is very unlikely, to say the least. Almost certainly this was a strange ploy to try and avoid the hangman's noose.

As we've seen, there are some interesting stories that suggest on a few occasions people just might have become the victims of strange monsters and unknown animals. It has to be said, though, that hard, undeniable evidence is nowhere in sight.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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