Dec 09, 2020 I Nick Redfern

From Vampires to Cattle Mutilations Part 1

Just a few days ago I was asked if I thought that the cattle mutilations of the 1970s and the 1980s (the period when the phenomenon was at its height) could have been the work of vampires. As in real vampires. No, I'm not talking about cloaks, Eastern European accents, centuries-old castles, wooden stakes and...well, you get the picture. Rather, I'm talking about some sort of phenomenon (or, more correctly, phenomena) that seems to need blood to survive. Before I get to the heart of the cattle mutilation mystery, it's important to note that reports of creatures that could conceivably fall into a vampire category surface quite often. Indeed, I should stress that I've heard such theories on many times. For example, on every occasion that I've been to Puerto Rico on my expeditions to find the Chupacabra - that covers a period, so far, from 2004 to 2018 - I have also heard stories of beasts that don't just lap a bit of blood now and again. Nope. So the tale goes, they live on the red stuff and nothing else. Period. I should stress that although I have investigated a lot of reports of the vampire type on Puerto Rico, I have yet to find any hard evidence that farm animals on Puerto Rico have ever been literally "drained" of blood. In most cases, the bodies of the poor animals have not been subjected to a necropsy. And, on the few occasions when they have been, the blood isn't actually missing. Rather, it has sunk to the lower parts of the bodies.

Although the Chupacbras didn't come on the scene until 1995, two decades earlier there was the Moca Vampire. It was given that name for a very good reason: people in the area of Moca, Puerto Rico were reporting sightings of a hideous, winged thing that would attack farm animals and drain them dry. You know what the creatures wanted, right? Of course, you do! Meta Religion state: "The entity, dubbed 'The Moca Vampire' by the press, kicked off its killing spree in Barrio Rocha, a sector of the town of Moca, where it took the lives of a number of animals in a grisly manner never seen before. Fifteen cows, three goats, two geese and a pig were found dead with bizarre perforations on their hides, suggesting that a sharp instrument had been inserted into the hapless bovines. Autopsies showed that the animals had been thoroughly relieved of blood, as if consumed by some predator. On March 7, 1975, a cow belonging to Rey Jiménez was found dead in Moca’s Barrio Cruz, presenting deep, piercing wounds on its skull and a number of scratches around the wounds on its body. Jiménez’s cow was added to the growing list of victims, which now totaled well over thirty."

Now, let's go further back in time and take a trip to London, England. It's time to address the matter of the Highgate Vampire. In relatively modern times, there are few stories quite as strange and sinister as that which concerned a fearful monster called "The Highgate Vampire" - on account of the name of the old, London, England-based cemetery in which the creature lurked, slaughtered and, of course, drank.  It was in the 1960s that Highgate Cemetery found itself inhabited by a most unwelcome visitor: a seven-to-eight-feet-tall monster with bright red eyes, an evil-looking and gaunt face, pale skin, and who wore a flowing black cloak. Amid the old graves, a dangerous parasite roamed by night. As for Highgate Cemetery, it was opened in 1839, is located in north London, and is comprised of the East Cemetery and the West Cemetery. It’s a huge and undeniably atmospheric cemetery which extends close to forty acres in size. Catacombs abound, as do moss-covered, crooked gravestones. The dead are everywhere. Also, the cemetery is dominated by huge trees, endless bushes and a massive variety of plants – not to mention a large fox population, owls, and birds of prey. In fact, so revered are Highgate Cemetery’s wooded areas, it has officially been listed as a "Historic Park and Gardens" by the British Government.

Egyptian Avenue Highgate Cemetery 570x428
Entrance to the Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetery

Cemeteries are atmosphere-filled places at the best of times. In the 1960s, however, that atmosphere became distinctly chilled – maybe even freezing. Skulls, and even partial human skeletons, were found strewn around Highgate Cemetery, which at the time was very much overgrown – largely because, at the time, the entire place had been left to fall into rack and ruin, something which only amplified the air of mystery and fear that dominated the area. It should be noted, though, that long before the events of the 1960s began, there was already a vampire tradition at Highgate Cemetery. The story has a connection to none other than the man who brought Count Dracula to life: Bram Stoker. It’s most intriguing to note that in Dracula, Stoker made mention of the old cemetery being the final resting place of one of the deadly count’s followers. It’s possible that Stoker was inspired by an all too real set of eerie circumstances that occurred in the 1800s. Or, an all too real rumor.

The term, "Vampire" was not used in the English language until the 1700s, when it appeared in the pages of Travels of Three English Gentlemen in 1746. Nevertheless, tales of marauding, deadly blood-drainers – in human form – can be traced back to the dawning of history and civilization. Lilith – quite possibly the most dangerous bedroom invader of all – was said to not just have sex with men as a means to "steal" their sperm, but also to take their blood. Joseph McCabe noted that the Lilith-like Lilu and Lilitu of ancient Babylonia caused their victims to fall sick with anemia – a sure and certain sign that blood was extracted from those same victims to a dangerous degree.

Moving on to Scandinavia, circa 1,100 years ago, we have tales of a violent and incredibly powerful monster, of human-looking proportions, known as the Draugr. Its alternate title: the Aptr-gangr. Both roughly translate as one who walks after death. This particular vampire wasn’t just partial to human blood, though: it was also a cannibalistic-type of creature that had a taste for human flesh. Scandinavian lore maintained that to ensure the dead never rose up and attacked the living, all human bodies should be buried in horizontal fashion. If a corpse was interred even slightly angled, there was a very good chance that it would return as a dangerous Draugr. Even failing to pay the newly dead the respect they deserved might cause a man, woman or child to come back as a Draugr – and come back quickly, too.

What all of this demonstrates is that the issue of blood-sucking and vampires dates back a long time. And, we have also seen that legends of vampires can be found all around the world. With that all said - and after having demonstrated a history of vampires - it's now time to get to the heart of today's article: the possibility that vampires are responsible for cattle mutilations. Look out for part 2.


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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