Having been to Puerto Rico on many occasions, I can say for sure there are reports of multiple types of strange creatures all over the island. That's right: the Chupacabra is not the only monster on Puerto Rico. But, we will begin with the Chupacabra. Puerto Rico is a place that is as enchanting as it is mysterious. Located in the northeast Caribbean, it is comprised of the main island itself, plus the islands of Mona, Monito, Vieques, Caja De Muertos, Culebra, and a number of other, smaller bodies. Today, Puerto Rico has a population of close to four million people, while its land mass is of roughly 3,500 square miles. It was in the mid-1990s that the phenomenon of the chupacabra exploded all across Puerto Rico. So far as can be determined, the menacing creature first surfaced in March 1995. That was when numerous animals were found slaughtered in the towns of Morovis (located in central Puerto Rico) and Orocovis, which is situated within the aforementioned La Cordillera Central mountain range. Locals were plunged into states of near-hysteria by the attacks, which reportedly left animals dead, with strange marks on their necks, and a distinct lack of blood in their corpses. Since many of the early attacks were on goats, the term, “chupacabra,” was created. It means, in Spanish, goat-sucker. Vampires were on the loose; monstrous vampires. Reports of strange killings soon began to surface from other parts of the island. The creatures were clearly on the move. The death-rate increased even more. The population was on edge and the media had something new and sensational to report on. It was a turbulent and strange time.
But, what, exactly, was responsible for all the killings? Yes, there were plenty of dead animals but, unfortunately, there was no solid, eyewitness testimony relative to the killers themselves. That is, until August 1995, when a woman named Madelyne Tolentino - who lived in Canovanas, which is close to the northeast coast of Puerto Rico - changed everything. Tolentino’s description of the creature she encountered, close to her mother’s home, was disturbing, to say the very least. It was a description eagerly embraced by the island’s media and by investigators of monsters and mysteries. Tolentino told journalists and researchers that the creature was around three feet in height, bipedal, ran in a weird, hopping fashion, had large black eyes, bony fingers on each hand, overly long arms and legs, and a kind of feathery line running down its back.
Or, it appeared to Tolentino to be a feathery line: a young boy employed by Tolentino’s husband claimed that he saw the beast up close and personal and maintained that the feathers were, in reality, sharp spines. The boy also said that the creature possessed a mouthful of vicious-looking fangs. Not only did the people know of the chupacabra and its predations, they also now knew what it looked like: something straight out of their worst nightmares. The legend of the "Goat-Sucker" had become. But, what about the island's other monsters? There are more than a few of them.
There comes a time in the life of every investigator of the paranormal when a case just gels. From the credibility of the witness to the importance of the story, everything combines together and in the best fashion possible. I have experienced such a deep sense of satisfaction and connection on a number of occasions. But, there is, perhaps, no greater example than the amazing affair of a woman named Norka, which came my way on the fourth day of my beastly trek. Norka was a fascinating lady, who lived in a spacious and atmospheric house high in the El Yunque rain forest. She had a monstrous encounter back in 1975, long before the Chupacabra was around. What she saw in the El Yunque Rain-Forest had red eyes, bat-like wings and indeed did look like a giant-sized bat. She never forgot the creepy confrontation. Now, onto Bigfoot.
It was August 1, 2013 and I was on Puerto Rico to make a show with Galafilm Productions of Canada. It was titled Mysteries at the National Parks. The premise was an intriguing and original one: each and every episode of the series would focus its attention upon a paranormal mystery tied to a specific U.S. national park. And, since Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest is the only rain forest in the entire United States National Forest System (USNFS), the plan was to make a show that focused on its infamous, resident vampire.To say that this trip was a brief one is an understatement. I flew out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport early on the morning of July 31, caught (with barely minutes to spare) a connecting flight in Florida, arrived at my San Juan hotel around 8.00 p.m., was filmed – during a downpour of epic proportions – in the heart of El Yunque the following morning, exited the rain forest around noon, and flew back to my Arlington, Texas home around 7.30 p.m. that night. In between the end of the filming and the time of my departure, however, I had the good fortune to conduct an interview with a guy whose theories pushed the chupacabra mystery down previously uncharted pathways. They were pathways dominated by nothing less than the world’s most infamous, hairy wild-man: Bigfoot.
I have to say, although I was on Puerto Rico looking for the deadly sucker of goats and of other equally unfortunate animals, it was a welcome and refreshing diversion to find myself on the receiving end of something totally different. Peter was, primarily, a ghost-hunter and paranormal investigator, also there to be filmed for the world of on-screen entertainment. Originally from Berlin, Germany, he had moved to Puerto Rico to live in 1996. Peter was someone whose accounts of Bigfoot activity on Puerto Rico were as fascinating as they were controversial. By that, I mean the reports had far less to do with what one might call unknown animals, and far more to do with what might justifiably be termed downright paranormal anomalies. It’s important, at the very outset, that I stress Peter was not someone whose files on Bigfoot in Puerto Rico were overflowing. In fact, quite the opposite was the case. The number of reports in his archives was less than twenty and they spanned the mid-1970s to 1998, with a spate of reports dating from 1985.
How about a huge bird soaring in the skies of Puerto Rico? It was on my 2005 trip with Canada's Redstar Films when I was introduced to a man named Pucho, whose story had nothing to do with the Chupacabra. Earlier in the same year, and in the small village in which he and his family lived, Pucho had an encounter of a very eerie type. He was walking past a local place of worship when he heard a very strange noise: it was a loud, almost bellowing, roar. It filled the air and brought Pucho to a sudden halt. He looked around for a few moments and then, to his horror, saw what was responsible. Perched in a large nearby tree was a huge, bird-like creature, but one which was easily the size of a fully-grown man; possibly even bigger. It was covered in feathers and once again bellowed in fear-inducing fashion. What happened next amazed Pucho. He said that the creature didn’t fly away in the fashion that one would expect from a bird. Incredibly, it simply opened its wings and – instead of flapping them furiously – rose up into the skies above with what seemed to be barely an effort. In seconds it was gone.
Now, it's onto the Moca Vampire. Noted for its fruit industry and cattle-farming, Moca is a cool place, filled with old and atmospheric buildings and surrounded by amazing forestland and green hills. The municipality was, back in the mid-1970s, home to something else, too: the Moca Vampire. It was a most apt title for a creature that caused brief havoc and mayhem in March 1975. Pigs, goats, chickens, geese, cattle, and even pets were found violently slaughtered, and specifically in the Barrio Rocha suburb of Moca. I know this, as not just the guys on the crew, but numerous locals in Moca itself too, were happy to reveal all during the course of my first excursion to the island.
The bodies of the dead animals were quickly collected by the authorities and were subjected to necropsy, which was said to have demonstrated that at least some of them had been drained of notable amounts of blood. The people of the area, hardly surprisingly, were plunged into states of fear and anxiety. Children were kept indoors at night. Armed police patrolled the streets after sunset. Matters came to a horrific climax when the monster turned its attention away from animals and towards the human population. One of the most traumatic attacks occurred on March 25, when a woman was viciously clawed by what she described as a fearful-looking beast covered in feathers. Then another story surfaced. Utterly petrified by what occurred, the witness reported that late one night in March, a huge, winged monster landed on the zinc roof of her Moca home and let loose with an ear-splitting scream. She feared for her very life, as the mighty thing clanged around loudly in the darkness, only mere feet above her living room. That's right: yet another kind of creature on Puerto Rico.
There are also the ABCs: also known as Alien Big Cats. Cryptozoology is a distinctly multifaceted phenomenon. It encompasses hairy man-beasts, sea serpents, lake monsters, werewolves, Mothman, lizard-people, and countless other, bizarre and mysterious creatures, including the so-called “Alien Big Cat,” or ABC, as it is generally known. For decades - in some countries, for centuries - people have reported sightings of huge black cats roaming areas where, very simply, they should not exist. And, guess what? Such ABCs have been seen on Puerto Rico. My fifth foray into the world of the Puerto Rican vampire was in late December 2008. It turned out to be a profitable trip, but not in the way I had anticipated. Pretty much as soon as I arrived, I learned that one particular part of San Juan – Rio Piedras – was living in what could only be termed a state of downright fear. For more than three weeks, there had been sightings, exclusively at night, of a large black cat creeping around the neighborhood. Around four feet long and muscular, it was believed to have killed and eaten at least fifteen pet cats in the area, savaged a sheep or several, and apparently terrified a handful of people who crossed paths with it in the backstreets of Rio Piedras, late on one particular Saturday night. just like the ABCs everywhere, this one skillfully avoided all attempts to catch it or kill it.
Still on the matter of additional oddities on the island, I heard a few stories of sightings of giant reptiles on Puerto Rico. They reportedly looked suspiciously like velociraptors, those savage beasts that roamed around in the latter part of the Cretaceous period of 75 million years ago. More correctly, the creatures sounded like the raptors as they were specifically portrayed in Jurassic Park. The reality is that the real velociraptors were much smaller than in the movies and they sported feathers. It’s a testament to the movie’s success, however, that the public’s image of the velociraptor is that created by Hollywood, rather than by nature. Far more like the raptors of the movies was Deinonychus, an 11-foot-long, clawed, killing-machine that lived around 110 million years ago – but not on Puerto Rico, I should stress. I had no way to explain what had been seen. Today, I still don’t. I have to admit that it's hard to take in the fact that there are multiple types of unknown creatures on Puerto Rico, but that's just how things are on the island. It really is an island of monsters.