Since 1995, Puerto Rico has been the domain of a deadly and allegedly bloodsucking creature that has infamously become known as the Chupacabra. There is some evidence to suggest the Chupacabras are alien creatures. There is, however, an even more intriguing aspect to this controversy: Long before the now-legendary beast was on anyone’s radar, there was another vampire-like monster roaming around on the island. It was known as the Moca Vampire – its name taken from the municipality of Moca, which can be found in the northwest of the island, and which is home to around 40,000 people. Unlike the Chupacabra – sightings of which continue to this very day – the “Vampiro de Moca,” as it was referred to on Puerto Rico – was a monster of a definitively “here one minute and gone the next” kind.
The controversy all began in late February 1975. That was when the population of Moca was plunged into a collective state of fear. And it was hardly surprising. Numerous ranchers reported how their farm animals were being violently slaughtered under cover of darkness and systematically drained of massive amounts of blood. The first area targeted was the Barrio Rocha region, where several goats, at least four pigs, numerous chickens, and more than a dozen cows, were all found dead, with puncture marks on their bodies, and deep claw-like wounds on their skin, and all missing one vital ingredient: blood. Villagers and farmers were as outraged as they were terrified. Local authorities, and chiefly the police, tried to diffuse the controversy by attributing the attacks to nothing stranger than the work of packs of wild dogs – a theory that, almost inevitably, was received with nothing but scorn, skepticism, and disdain.
By the end of the first week in March 1975, the death count was close to three dozen. It was in this same week that an important development was made: the blood-sucking culprit was finally seen, up close and personal, so to speak. The witness was a woman named Maria Acevedo, who caught sight a monstrously-sized, screaming and screeching winged beast that landed atop her home, and which clambered about her zinc roof, making an almighty racket in the process.
It was clearly no normal bird: around four to five feet in height, it was described as being similar in appearance to a pterodactyl, a presumed-extinct, flying reptile of the Jurassic era. Whatever the true nature of the monster, it quickly took to the skies and vanished into the starry darkness. Less than forty-eight hours later, a farmer named Cecilio Hernandez contacted the police after more than thirty of his chickens were killed in a fashion that was quickly becoming attributed to the predations of the Moca Vampire. It was at the same time that Hernandez’ story was widely being reported on Puerto Rico that a potential answer to the puzzle was uncovered: two huge snakes were killed in Moca, just before they were about to attack a cow belonging to a rancher named Luis Torres.
Of course, this didn’t explain the winged monster that Maria Acevedo reported only days earlier. And, it didn’t resolve the many and varied additional killings that continued to plague the people of Moca. In addition, while snakes will typically take down and devour – whole, no less – significantly-sized animals, they will not, and cannot, suck blood in either small or large proportions. In other words, while the snake theory might have been a small component of the saga, it most certainly didn’t explain everything. On March 18, 1975, the monster struck again. On this occasion, the victims were a pair of goats. Once again, the culprit had struck in its typical fashion of draining the goats of their blood – and, in this case, of all the blood. The creature was not done with Vega, however. On the following night no less than seventeen animals were attacked, of which ten were killed, due to deep, penetrating wounds, trauma, and massive blood loss.
Five days later, a pig was found dead by farmer Felix Badillo. Blood was removed in significant amounts, and there was a hole in the head of the animal, which gave every appearance of something powerful being violently thrust into the skull. On top of that, one of the pig’s ears was missing – in a fashion that, rather intriguingly, was attributed to a surgical procedure. No wonder the people of Moca were as puzzled as they were alarmed. Forty-eight hours later came the most astonishing development: Juan Muniz was attacked by a huge, bird-like animal that swopped down upon him from above, as he walked through Barrio Pulido. He struggled and fought as the winged nightmare did its very best to force Muniz to the ground. In his panicked state, Muniz managed to escape and alert the authorities.
Then, as April began, the Moca Vampire began to expand its hunting ground: attacks were reported all across the island, with farm animals again allegedly drained of blood, of rumors of attacks on people, and even of a police cover-up of the facts to prevent a public panic exploding. The attacks continued into May – and then into June, too. By this time, hundreds of animals were said to have fallen victim to the blood-drinking monster, and with barely an answer to the problem in sight. As it transpired, however, matters came to a sudden, inexplicable halt. Shortly before the end of June, the sightings, encounters and attacks were no more. Whatever the true nature of the Moca Vampire, it vanished as quickly as it originally surfaced. Now, we get to the alien connection.
There’s a reason why, today, I make a mention of the Moca Vampire: last week I received a report of a creature that sounded very much like one of those legendary blood-drainers of the 1970s. The witness described the beast as looking like a cross between a dragon and a pterodactyl. Certainly, that’s not how the Chupacabra looks. But, there’s no doubt it sounds like the Moca Vampire. Now, onto the extraterrestrial angle of all this. Yes, you did hear that correct. Shortly before the dawning of the 1960s, a historic document, with the title of Searching for Interstellar Communications, was prepared by Phillip Morrison and Giuseppe Conconi, a pair of physicists at Cornell University, and which was published within the prestigious pages of Nature. Its focus: the potential feasibility of seeking out alien life via high-powered microwaves. It was a paper that received a great deal of interest, particularly so from a man named Frank Drake, who chose to turn the theories of Morrison and Conconi into reality at the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory, in West Virginia. In October 1961, a conference of what became known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was held at Green Bank, and Drake proved to be the stand-out character, when he revealed to the audience what has famously become known as the Drake Equation – a theoretical means to try and determine the number of intelligent, alien cultures that might exist in the known universe.
When Frank Drake chose to focus his work on a quest for extraterrestrial life, it was a decision that ultimately took him to none other than Puerto Rico and its now-famous Arecibo Radio Telescope, of which Drake ultimately rose to the rank of director. All of which brings us to a story that may well be connected to the mysterious alien known as the Moca Vampire. Midway through the 1960s, something decidedly strange happened at the telescope, something that may well have a direct bearing upon the Chupacabra phenomenon. A guard reported, one day, seeing a curious character roaming around the edge of the installation. What made the man – if a man it was – so curious was his attire: a long, black cloak. The guard, apparently, had his own ideas on what he was seeing: one of the undead; a vampire. A report on the affair was prepared for Drake’s attention. That was far from being the end of the matter, however.
Forty-eight hours after the sighting, Drake said: “I really was forced to look into it…because a cow was found dead on a nearby farm, with all the blood drained from its body. The vampire rumor had already spread through the observatory staff, and now the cow incident whipped the fears of many people into a frenzy.” This 1960s-era case (which Drake described in his 1992 book, Is Anyone Out There?) is important because it demonstrates that rumors of blood-draining vampires on Puerto Rico predated the Chupacabra explosion of the 1990s by decades. In other words, the people of the island were – years earlier – primed to associate local, mysterious killings of animals with significant blood loss. And when the Chupacabra came along, it too got caught up in the mix.