Dec 19, 2021 I Nick Redfern

Shape-Shifter? Monster? Or a Tragic Tale? A San Antonio Mystery

All across the world, one can find tales of strange creatures that lurk on, around, and below ancient bridges. More than a few of those tales revolve around the world of the shapeshifter. They appear to have a particular liking for bridges – something which is worth keeping in mind, should you find yourself crossing an old bridge, late one night, when the moon is full. Her name might be inclined to provoke laughter and amusement in some quarters, but there is nothing to joke about when it comes to the matter of the Donkey Woman of San Antonio, Texas. She is a terrifying shapeshifter who haunts a particular old bridge in a suburb of San Antonio known as Elm Creek. Her strange story is one which began in the latter part of the 19th century. So the old tale goes, the woman in question resided with her family in a run-down wooden shack on the edge of the creek in question. They earned their living from rearing chickens, pigs and goats and selling them to the local folk. Life was hard, but the woman, her husband and her two children – a boy and a girl – got by and, by all accounts, had a happy life. That is, until one day, when a certain man arrived on the scene and tragedy and death soon followed in his ominous wake.

(Nick Redfern)

Although the family did not know the man, they were fully aware of his reputation – which was that of a cruel, spoiled, local tyrant. In his early twenties, the man didn’t need to work: his father was a powerful figure in a nearby community and someone with a large house, acres upon acres of land, and a great deal of money – much of went to the son. He was a disturbing character, someone who got his kicks from hurting, and even killing, animals. When the man happened to be riding near the family home one particular morning, he caught sight of their pet mule, doing nothing but happily munching on the grass of the small field that the family owned. The man brought his horse to a standstill, jumped off it, and began punching the mule – to both its face and body. When the mule understandably began to cry out, both husband and wife ran to the field to see what on earth was going down – their first thought being that perhaps the mule was being attacked by the likes of a mountain lion, or something similar. When, however, they saw the young man assaulting their mule, they quickly retaliated with a barrage of rocks, several of which caught the man on the arms and back. He immediately turned his attention away from the mule and vowed that they would pay for their actions – ironically, actions that his crazed character had provoked in the first place. And pay they did, unfortunately.

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(Nick Redfern) A Half-Human in San Antonio?

In the early hours of the following morning – and as the landscape was blanketed by darkness, a group of men hired by that aforementioned spoiled tyrant stealthily descended on the family home. They torched it as they slept. Such was the speed with which the old, wooden building burned, the two children were unfortunately burnt to death. As for their father, he received a bullet to the brain, which killed him instantly. The woman, meanwhile, was fried to a crisp and just about managed to stagger her way to Elm Creek, into which she plunged, never to be seen again. At least, not in human form. In the immediate years that followed, reports regularly surfaced of sightings of a frightening-looking woman with the head of what appeared to be a donkey. She would prowl around the area where her dead family lived and her destroyed home once stood. That the skin of the strange woman was described as blackened, burnt and smoldering is a solid indication that this was the spectral form of the murdered woman. There was, however, another aspect to this saga – one which revolves around the matter of shapeshifting.

A local rumor – one that, to this very day, still persists in the Elm Creek area of San Antonio – suggests that the donkey woman returned from the grave as not part-woman and part-donkey, after all, but as a combination of human and mule. So the story goes, the spirit form of the woman, angered by what was done to not just her family, but also to their pet mule, returned to our plain of existence in the form of what might most accurately be termed a mule-woman. She has most often been seen at what is called Elm Creek Bridge. Could it be the case that, after death we can come back and shapeshift into the form of something that is half-animal and half-human? That is precisely the theory that circulates among those who live in the Elm Creek area and who take the legend of the animal-woman very seriously. Even in the 21st century, shapeshifting in south Texas is perceived as being all too real. Perhaps the people of the area know something the rest of us do not.

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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