[The following text includes excerpts from a Boston Globe story dated April 13, 1996 written by Alisa Valdes, plus new reports from Scott Corrales and Ed Conroy.]
First reported in Puerto Rico almost two years ago, the Chupacabras ("goat sucker") is now gaining notoriety on the U.S. mainland. In recent weeks, the beast was reported in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and may also be blamed for a series of bizarre animal deaths near San Antonio, Texas just a few days ago.
In Puerto Rico, where it has caused widespread hysteria, some witnesses say the Chupacabras is between 4 and 5 feet tall, has red eyes, fangs, gray skin, powerful hind legs, spinal quills that double as wings and a penchant for sucking the blood out of livestock and pets. On Friday, April 26, the popular NBC television program "Unsolved Mysteries" depicted the gruesome beast and several of its alleged acts of mayhem in Puerto Rico.
Lately, however, Chupacabras sightings are said to have occurred in Miami, New York City, New Jersey, San Antonio, San Francisco and even Moscow.
A letter sent to the Massachusetts office of the Puerto Rican government last month trumpeted the first Boston-area sighting. Written by hand in Spanish, it was addressed to the "Very esteemed governor" of Puerto Rico and began: "This letter is to give you some very important information regarding national security."
It went on to say: "You can find the Chupacabras near Pampas restaurant at 927 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge," where it was spotted drinking the blood of a cat. The two-page letter ended with, "I await your help in this matter."
The letter is just one example of what can be called Chupacabramania, fueled in part by the popular Miami-based Univision talk show "Cristina." Sujayla Curras was the producer of a recent "Cristina" episode about the Chupacabras.
"Chupacabras is hot," she said in a telephone interview. "It's happening. There are T-shirts about it, merchandising like you wouldn't believe. ... It's got it... like Brad Pitt."
Canovanas, Puerto Rico, has seen the greatest concentration of Chupacabras activity. There, goats and other domesticated animals have reportedly been found with deep puncture wounds in their necks. Ismael Aguayo works in the Civil Defense office in the town and is the chief detective in the sightings probe. "We are all very worried here," he said. "Our animals are dying at an alarming rate. Many people have described the creature to me, and they all say the same things, including our local pastor and many other credible, Christian citizens. For now it's just animals being attacked. But we are worried that our children will be next."
Canovanas Mayor Jose Soto responded to public panic by leading a search for the Chupacabras, armed with a 12-inch crucifix. The search was inconclusive, said Nidea Rodriguez, director of public relations in Soto's office, but the investigation continues.
Dozens of animal carcasses have been turned in to the government of Puerto Rico, especially in the Canovanas area, prompting many skeptics, including talk show host Cristina Saralege, to change their minds. "I used to laugh every time someone mentioned the Chupacabras," she said. "But after doing the show and listening to many serious, credible people, I have to tell you, I don't think all the U.S. sightings are the Chupacabras, but as far as what's going on in Puerto Rico, I don't think it's a normal animal at all."
Three weeks after the first airing of the "Cristina" show in Miami, the Chupacabras appeared there. Three weeks after that, it was in Los Angeles. In Miami to date, as many as 50 animals have been reported as victims of the Chupacabras. "People here are hysterical," said a Miami Police Department spokesman.
In an attempt to assuage growing fears, on April 8 the University of Miami, working with the Metro Zoo, conducted public necropsies on animals supposedly killed by the Chupacabras in Dade County. Miami Police Detective Pat Brickman said that in the months leading up to the necropsies, Miami police were receiving dozens of Chupacabras reports weekly.
"We had to conduct these autopsies to say, 'Idiots, these are dog bites,'" said Brickman."There are hungry stray dogs out there, and they have to eat, too. So they attack goats and chickens in people's yards. It happens on every farm and in every rural area in the United States. But when you get people who believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, they believe everything they see on TV."
But some say the myth of the Chupacabras should not be so easily dismissed.
Puerto Rican journalist Julio V. Ramirez recently observed that animal mutilations bearing the distinctive "signature" of the Chupacabras have been reported in Brazil's Amazonia and in Guatemala, where hundreds of sheep and chickens were killed in bizarre fashion. One Guatemalan farmwoman reported that over a hundred of her chickens were found completely drained of blood and with "strange puncture marks" under their wings.
In Puerto Rico, there exists the widespread belief that the Chupacabras and its kin are demonic creatures, heralding the "period of confusion" foretold in the Book of Revelations. All the sophisticated arguments about long-fanged dogs, rogue apes and other conventional predators have been unable to assuage this strong concern. The demonic claims often hinge on "the strong smell of sulphur" said to accompany many Chupacabras events.
According to a report by investigative journalist Scott Corrales, on April 1st, three sheep (and a fourth reported missing) joined the list of victims when their bloodless carcasses were found on the property of Rafael Peia in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. The animals showed the same puncture marks in the throat and abdomen that have characterized other unexplained attacks. Among the undeniable damage caused by the mystery attacker, a galvanized iron gate, measuring 16' wide by 14' high, had been torn off its hinges.
A strong smell of sulphur filled the air in the wake of the killings, Corrales reported, making some of the individuals on the scene feel ill. This group of sixteen people included farmer Peia himself, Aguas Buenas mayor Victor Aponte, "El Vocero" news photographer Eddie Deese Conde and elements of the Civil Defense. Nausea and vomiting among the expedition's members caused the nighttime search to be postponed.
On April 27, according to a report in the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News, twelve goats were found dead and mutilated in a rural community on the southern edge of San Antonio. The report indicated puncture wounds, gnashed flesh, but no sign that the goats were actually eaten. Local resident Jason Andromalius told ISCNI*Flash that the goats belonged to Jose Levya Nino, whose 28 acre ranch is located on Ladd Road in Bexar County near San Antonio. Local investigative journalist Ed Conroy told ISCNI*Flash that he would send further details on this latest Chupacabras-style attack as they become available.
Original file name: CNI - Chupa Spreads to US
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