Deep in southern Illinois there are vast open fields and dark forests combined with a sparse population spread throughout the area. In the southernmost part of the region lies the Shawnee National Forest which covers miles and miles of territory. The acres of the forest seem to be untouched by man and some believe that strange things pass through the area in the night.
The southern part of Illinois is often called the “Devil’s Kitchen”. It was a designation left behind by the Native Americans and the early settlers that explained the strange sights and sounds of the area. People reported seeing balls of light, apparitions, screams in the night and other types of unsettling phenomena. To the Native Americans, the site was considered to be sacred, however, the settlers usually believed them to be cursed.
Perhaps the strangest monster reports to come out of southern Illinois started around April of 1973 in the small town of Enfield. While the case may have been forgotten by many today, this small community will never forget the strangeness that occurred in the region.
Henry McDaniel of Enfield almost became the first make to be arrested due to the Enfield Horror. Sheriff Roy Poshard Jr. threated to lock him up for telling locals about the strange events that took place in his home in April 1973. But McDaniel stood by his story and his initial report would soon become a nightmare for the entire town.
According to McDaniel, he was at home one evening when he heard a scratching at the door. When he opened it, he couldn’t believe what he saw. “It had three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms coming out of its breast area, and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half to five feet tall and was grayish-colored. It was trying to get in the house.”
Obviously McDaniel was not letting the creature inside and he quickly grabbed his pistol. When he opened fire, he knew that he had hit it. He said that the creature “hissed like a wildcat” and scampered away, covering 75 feet in three jumps. It then disappeared into the brush along a railroad embankment near his home.
McDaniel called the police and Illinois state troopers responded to the call. They found tracks that were similar to a dog’s but it had six toe pads. The tracks were measured and two of them were four inches across, with the third being slightly smaller.
Investigators soon found out that a young boy named Greg Garrett who lived behind McDaniel had been playing in his yard about thirty minutes before the incident. Suddenly the creature had appeared and attacked him. Greg ran into the house, crying hysterically.
On May 6th, Henry McDaniel was awakened in the middle of the night by howling dogs. He looked out the front door and saw the monster again, standing near the railroad tracks. “I didn’t shoot it or anything.” He reported. “It started on down the railroad track, it wasn’t in a hurry or anything.”
His reports soon brought publicity to the small town of Enfield, whch prompted the threats from the county sheriff, but it was too late. Soon, groups of people who wanted to see the creature arrived in town along with reporters and other researchers. Among the “monster hunters” were five young men who were arrested by Deputy Sheriff Jim Clark as “threats to public safety”, as well as for hunting violations. This was after they had opened fire on a gray, hairy creature they had seen on May 8th. Two of the men thought they had hit it, but it ran off, moving faster than any human could.
Another creditable witness was Rick Rainbow, who was the news director of the radio station WWKI in Kokomo, Indiana. HE and three other individuals had spotted the monster near an abandoned home, just a few miles from McDaniel’s residence. They didn’t get a good luck at it, since it was running away from them, but they later described to be stooped over, gray and around five feet tall. Rainbow did manage to tape record its cry. The strange wailing was also heard by researcher Loren Coleman, who came to try and track down the monster. He had heard the sound while searching an area that was near the McDaniel home.
A short time later, the strange sightings ended as abruptly as they started. There was no explanation ever given regarding the monster, what it was or where it came from. Some had believed that it was connected to UFO activity that was also reported at the time, but no one will never really know for sure.