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Oklahoma, 1971: Was it a Dogman or a Bigfoot? Maybe a Hoax?

Now and again I will find myself on the receiving end of an email, a Facebook message, or a comment at my blog that concerns one of the strangest, and most controversial, phenomena out there: the Dogman. In simple terms, the creatures look like the classic werewolves of folklore, legend and mythology. It’s important to note there are hardly any reports of these creatures changing from human to monster and vice-versa. And the small number of such reports of shape-shifting that do exist are controversial to an extreme degree. I’m inclined to think we’re dealing with something supernatural and that has a wolf-like appearance all the time. Its strangest ability of all: to walk on both two and four limbs. No wonder the werewolf imagery comes to the minds of eyewitnesses. Very occasionally, though, I’ll get a report that confuses both the witnesses and myself. That’s when the person wasn’t sure they had seen a Dogman or a Bigfoot. One such case – from 1971 – went down in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Interestingly, the local media were happy to refer to the beast as a werewolf, even though there were certain aspects to the story that suggested a Bigfoot may have been the culprit. It all began one night in late February 1971. The man who saw the creature was Donald Childs, who lived in Lawton. I use the word “victim” because when Childs happened to see – through the front-window of his property – a monstrous creature, he had a heart attack right on the spot. And, at the time, he was only in his mid-thirties. Brad Steiger investigated the case. He reported that the animal was trying to drink water out of a  fish pond – which, for the hairy thing, was unfortunate, as the pond had long been empty. It soon shot away. Such was Childs’ state of terror, he was kept in hospital for two days.

 

The story got weirder. When interviewed by police officer Clancy Williams, Childs said the thing he saw  was “tall, with a lot of hair all over his face, and dressed in an indescribable manner.” Childs explained further that it was wearing pants that were “far too small for him.” Others in Lawton saw the beast bounding down the streets, “dodging cars,” and at times running on four limbs and occasionally on two. Hence, today, why some might  conclude it was a Dogman.  It was less than half an hour after Donald Childs’ encounter that Officer Harry Ezell had to calm down another witness. In Ezell’s own words: “He told me he saw the thing when he opened the window curtain about 11:15 p.m. He thought it was all a practical joke because the subject was perched on the railing. It looked like some monkey or ape. He thought it was a joke until it turned its head and looked at him, then jumped off its perch on the second floor railing onto the ground 17 feet below. He described it as having a horribly distorted face, as if it had been in a fire, and hair all over its face, upper parts of the body and lower parts of its legs.”

Brad Steiger said: “A group of soldiers from Ft. Sill encountered the monster fifteen minutes later, and they freely admitted that the thing had frightened them. The creature was sighted on Friday and Saturday nights in Lawton. Sunday night was quiet, and on Monday night, Major Clarence Hill, commander of the police patrol division, sent out an alert ordering his men to be on careful watch for the ‘wolfman.'” As so often happens in cases like these, the monster didn’t hang around and was soon gone. As we have seen, the creature ran like a Dog-man – in the sense it ran on two and four legs – but its face was distinctly not Dogman-like. And what are we to make of the thing wearing pants? Could the whole thing have been a hoax? Someone donning a pair of old pants and a mask and scaring the locals? On that very issue, there’s this from Paranormal World Wiki: “Some claims have been made that this panic was the orchestration of a teenage boy at the Thomlinson Jr. High. He was apparently just wearing a mask and jumping out the bushes at people, and was quite a well-known troublemaker around the area. There was apparently a photograph published on the front page of the Lawton Constitution in which the local police chief was holding the mask in question and laughing to himself. However, this claim seems to be mostly unsubstantiated – seeing as I can only find mention of this convenient explanation on ‘The Demoniacal‘ blog, which was posted as a comment by a user named Russ.”

Dogman? Werewolf? Bigfoot? Hoax? The answer still eludes us. On the other hand, though, perhaps some of the people who still live in the area – and who still recall the madness and the mayhem in 1971 in Lawton  – may have more than a few things to say. Let’s hope one or more of them picks up on this article. There’s still time – maybe – for an answer to be found.

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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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