Jan 20, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Paranormal Mysteries on Puerto Rico: When the Occult and the Chupacabra Are Brought Together

Of the many and varied strange creatures that fall into the domain of Cryptozoology, there are few more infamous than the Chupacabra of Puerto Rico. The phenomenon began in 1995, specifically in August of that year. That was when a woman named Madelyne Tolentino reported seeing a truly bizarre-looking beast roaming around Canovanas, which is located in the northeast portion of Puerto Rico. Terrified by the encounter, Tolentino said that the monster briefly in her midst was approximately three feet tall, had large and dark eyes, and a row of, well, something, running down its head and back. And, it ran in an odd, hopping style – not unlike that of a kangaroo. In the immediate days afterwards, further sightings of the beast were made – and in other parts of the island too: whatever the creature was, it was definitely now on the move. Others confirmed seeing the odd protrusions on the head and back of the beast: it was a row of sharp, imposing spikes. One witness who got a little too close to the creature, also in Canovanas, was treated to the creature’s huge, dangerous-looking fangs. 

In no time at all, the Chupacabra – which is a Spanish term for Goat-Sucker, and which takes its name from the fact that the creature is said to predominantly attacks goats and sucks their blood – became the subject of major discussion on Puerto Rico. It didn’t take long before the story reached the rest of the world. Monster-hunters and UFO seekers descended on the island in their absolute droves, all keen to solve the riddle of what it was that was roaming Puerto Rico – specifically in Canovanas and in the heart of the huge El Yunque rainforest.  Since 1995, literally hundreds of reports have surfaced of the creature and its predations on Puerto Rico. In some cases, witnesses described seeing entire packs of the animals hunting in the heavily wooded portions of the island – seeking out goats, pigs, and chicken to satisfy their appetites.

(Nick Redfern) The Chupacabra and the occult: a sinister connection.

Others report having seen the animals entering and exiting some of the many cave systems that pepper Puerto Rico – which has led to the intriguing theory that the creatures are, predominantly, nocturnal: they surface at night to hunt and feast, and then, as dawn breaks, they return to their dark, shadowy abodes – those very same caves, of course. Given the fact that most of the sightings of the Chupacabra do occur at night, it’s highly likely that this theory has more than a bit of merit attached to it. But, what, exactly, is the Chupacabra? The theories are many: extraterrestrial creatures, giant bats, monkeys that have been genetically mutated in secret, government labs, and surviving relics from the Jurassic era. There is, however, a highly alternative theory for the true nature of the Chupacabra – and it’s a theory which ties in with the theme of this book, as you will now see.

I have been on many expeditions to Puerto Rico – all to seek out the truth behind the Chupacabra phenomenon. My first trip to the island was in 2004 and the most recent in 2016. During that period – which, collectively, amounts to several months in total – I have spoken to many witnesses to the creature and its attacks. As a result, there is no doubt in my mind that the Chupacabra phenomenon is all too real. During the course of my many expeditions, however, I have uncovered something that has largely been overlooked – or deliberately ignored – by others who have sought to solve the mystery of the monster and its origins. I have found that there is a tendency among the Chupacabra-seeking community to take the view that the creatures are flesh and blood animals – but of an unknown type – and nothing more. There is, however, a large body of data that suggests the creatures have supernatural origins – an area that many are reluctant to address. And, that the one thing they crave more than any other is blood. Ours. 

It’s an intriguing and often overlooked fact that in nearly all of the cases on record, when the Chupacabra attacks, it seldom feasts on the corpses of the animals it slaughters. Rather, witnesses claim, it drains massive amounts of blood from the bodies of the animals unfortunate enough to have been killed. Of course, for some researchers, this is good evidence that the Chupacabras might really be giant-sized vampire bats – which don’t actually suck blood, but lap it up after making small cuts on the skin of the animals they feed on. The available data, however, strongly suggests we should look deeper into the supernatural aspects of the Puerto Rican beast. As I said, my very first trip to Puerto Rico was in 2004 – with a team from the SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive show. Along with me, was a friend and fellow monster-hunter from the U.K., Jonathan Downes. For a week or so Jon and I roamed around the island, tracking down witnesses and securing intriguing stories, all on the Chupacabra. Yes, we obtained more than a few reports of the attacks of the mysterious animals. But, we uncovered something else, too: namely, fears and suspicions on the part of the locals that the attacks were the work of monsters that dwelled in other – almost magical - dimensional realms and which only entered our reality when they needed to feed, or when we invoked them. 

(Nick Redfern) Welcome to Puerto Rico: one of my favorite places to visit and to go on expeditions.

That was not all: according to several of the people Jon and I spoke to – which included veterinarians, ranchers, and police-officers – there were suspicions that the Chupacabras had been supernaturally summoned up. In this scenario, the creatures had been given access to our world by a powerful, secret society on the island, one which performed magical rites and rituals to achieve their goals of power and influence. For that very same secret society, blood was not just part of their rituals – it was seen as something which would appease the blood-lust of the Chupacabra. And here is where things get really controversial. As I noted earlier in this particular chapter, the animals most often attacked and killed by the Chupacabra are goats, chickens and pigs. There are, however, more than a few rumors of attacks on people – attacks that Puerto Rican authorities were determined to keep hidden firmly under wraps, which is perhaps understandable. They were said to be attacks that always ended in violent death for the person in question. If true, it’s certainly no surprise that officialdom would do its absolute very best to bury such events, for fear of mass hysteria breaking out.

One of the most macabre stories told to us on the 2004 trek around Puerto Rico with the SyFy Channel came from a woman who lived in Ponce, and whose story is one of the most controversial on record. “Julia,” as I’ll call her, claimed to know a great deal about the secret society that was at the heart of this controversy. There was a very good reason why Julia was so well-informed: her ex-husband was a member of the group. He was also a powerful figure on the island, specifically in the real-estate business. He had been invited into the group in 1999, which was around a year before Julia and he married.  In fact, it was as a result of his connections to the group that led to their divorce, which was less than a year after they married. When Julia’s husband finally confided in her the details of his secret life, Julia was outraged – not just because he had kept his other life from her, but also because of what, exactly, he was involved in.

Julia’s husband told her that it was due to certain, supernatural pacts between the group and the paranormal denizens of realms beyond ours that he now had so much prestige, power and money.  There was, however, a price to pay – as there always is when one does a deal with malignant, supernatural things from other dimensional planes. That price revolved around nothing less than human blood. Julia sat and listened – both horrified and terrified by what she was hearing – as her husband outlined what was going on. It was no coincidence, he said, that his life had massively altered for the better in 1999. It was all down to that invitation and his willingness to do whatever needed to be done to ensure wealth and influence.

(Nick Redfern) Puerto Rico's amazing El Yunque Rain-Forest. Numerous sightings of Chupacabras are made here.

Julia’s husband had been present at a particular ritual which was held at the spacious home of a Puerto Rican drug-baron, who also put his “success” down to that same secret society. The story got even more controversial. Julia admitted that she couldn’t prove any of what she was telling us back in 2004, but she claimed to have been told of three people on the island who had been paid – and paid very well - to provide the group with supplies of their very own blood, and to discuss it with no-one. So the tale went, the people were taken to the location of the meeting, which was high in the hills of the El Yunque rain-forest, and the blood was taken by a local doctor – who was also well paid for his actions and his silence.  The three – two women and one man – were one by one placed on an ornate, large altar, at which the blood was removed. Then, with the doctor and the three “donors” driven back to their respective homes (after being warned to never, ever discuss with anyone what had happened), the blood was used in a complex ritual to conjure up and manifest a Chupacabra. Julia claimed that her husband assured her that the ritual worked all too well: as the group of several dozen – all dressed in cloaks, no less – focused their minds on having the Chupacabra appear before them, which is exactly what is said to have happened. 

It was a hellish situation: the lights in the house flickered and the room was filled with a nauseating odor of sulfur. In seconds, the air shimmered – like a heat haze on the road on a hot summer’s day – and the creature slowly came into being, staring at the group malevolently and hunched over. Even long-term members of the group were shocked to their collective core by what they were seeing. It was exactly what the group was counting on, but actually seeing the monster close up and personal was something else entirely. One and all were quietly told to remain as calm as possible, despite the fraught and fantastic nature of the events. There was one thing that none of the members of the group could avoid seeing: the Chupacabra was semi-transparent. It was far more spectral than it was physical. That is, however, until the monster placed its clawed paws into a large bowl, in which substantial amounts of blood had been poured. 

Within seconds of the creature doing so, its transparency was no more and it was suddenly a completely physical entity. Julia’s husband was unable to explain the process – mainly because no-one seemed to understand the full scope of what it was they were dealing with. He did, however, state that the magical nature of human blood – when ingested in large amounts – not only fed the Chupacabra but also gave it physical substance in our world, which was in marked difference to the ethereal form it had in its own realm. When the creature was apparently sated and fed, it vanished, in a bright blue flash that affected the eyes of one and all present for up to several minutes.    Julia listened further as she was told that several other such rituals had taken place in the 1990s - the first one of which, allegedly, had led to the beginning of the Chupacabra phenomenon in 1995. Julia sat back – appalled and frightened – by what she had heard, not knowing whether to believe it or not. It was, however, the undeniable fear in her husband’s eyes that finally convinced her he was telling the truth – a truth which revolved around how the Chupacabra needs to feast on our blood to maintain a foothold in our world. No wonder that Julia chose to leave her marriage behind her.  

Now, onto law-enforcement and a monster: on my third expedition to Puerto Rico, just a few years later, I heard a somewhat similar story. Yes, there were differences, but the basic plot – of a connection between the Chupacabra and human blood – was the same. The source was a rancher who had a controversial story to tell, one which involved none other than law-enforcement– which has an office in the city of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. This was actually not the first time I had heard of a law-enforcement connection. In September 2005 – which was when I traveled to Puerto Rico for the second time, with a team from Canada’s Red Star Films – our guide was a local man named Orlando Pla. He told me that a couple of years earlier the policehad opened a file on the Chupacabra. It was not a file on the beast itself, though. Rather, as Pla told me, the police was investigating the theory that the attacks on farm animals were not the work of the Chupacabra, but of occultists who were using the Chupacabra phenomenon as a cover for their own, clandestine activities of the sacrificial variety. In some respects, this sounds very much like the same group that Julia told Jon Downes and I of back in 2004. Jorge was the rancher who revealed what he knew of all this. He was someone who I first met with back in 2004, but who didn’t want to speak out in front of the cameras and have his identity blown wide open. And, who could blame him for that? Jorge was, however, fine about his first name and his hometown being used – but that was about all. Clearly, he had concerns about his safety – which I detected to be the case. Those concerns were more than understandable. 

(Nick Redfern) On my first trip to Puerto Rico I wnent with good mate and monster-hunter, Jon Downes. That's Jon in the jeep.

Jorge said he was worried about "cults,” as he worded it, which had strands and tentacles all across the island, and specifically in the domain of big business – which also echoes the words of Julia. Jorge’s animals had been attacked by what was assumed to have been a Chupacabra and he wasted no time in calling the police. Oddly, though, it was a pair of law-enforcement – rather than Puerto Rico’s local authorities – who responded and turned up to investigate. When Jorge, confused by the fact that officialdom would be interested in the killing of five of his farm animals, asked what was going on, he was quietly told that there were suspicions – which mirrored the story told to me in 2005 by Orlando Pla – that the attacks may have been the work of “cultists.” The pair had a look around Jorge’s property, took a few photos, thanked him, and then went on their way. That was not the end of the matter though.Several days later, an elderly man – dressed in an expensive suit – arrived at Jorge’s home, and practically invited himself in, such was his insistence that he talk with Jorge. It turned out that, somehow, the group that the officers suspected was using the Chupacabra issue as a cover had learned of the visit by two Bureau agents to Jorge’s home. The old man – who Jorge said looked pale and sickly – warned Jorge of the perils of even thinking about speaking with the officers again. Although, for someone who seemingly wanted to keep everything under wraps, the old man was oddly talkative, informing Jorge that human blood was at the heart of the Chupacabra manifestations. And that, as Jorge worded it, “blood sacrifice” was integral to the success of “the program.”

It must be noted that Jorge’s use of the word “sacrifice” was a very controversial one, since it suggested that perhaps some of the people used in these rituals did not just offer a safe amount of their blood, but lost their very lives in the name of the Chupacabra. Try as I might, Jorge would not expand on this matter and I did not learn anything else that might have suggested a line had been crossed to a terrible, unforgivable degree. Yes, the Chupacabra was all too real, Jorge was told, but the deadly beast could not exist in our world without human blood. The Chupacabra did not live on human blood as a vampire bat might. Rather, it needed “blood energy.” With that all said, the old, withered man left and was driven away in a large, black car. Jorge had one more attack on his property, four months later – he chose not to report it. To anyone. Except for me, when we finally caught up again. What this demonstrates is that the Chupacabra of Puerto Rico is not just an unknown animal: there's a link to the worlds of magic and the occult, too.

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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