The bizarre string of events that would eventually stir the small Illinois town of Enfield into a frenzy of fear, began on the chilly night of April
25th, 1973, when a young boy named Greg Garrett claimed to have been attacked by a truly bizarre beast while playing in his backyard.
The child described the being as having no less than three legs, grayish, slimy skin, short claws and reddish eyes. The creature apparently
“stamped” on the boys feet with its own three — apparently clawed — foot-like appendages, tearing his tennis shoes to shreds. Greg, crying
hysterically, wasted no time scurrying away from the fiend and back into the relative safety of his parent’s house.
Although young Greg’s encounter was technically the first on record, the one that brought this creature to notoriety came just a half hour later
when the Garret’s neighbor, one Henry McDaniel and his family, had their own face-to-face encounter with this unbelievable entity.
At about 9:30 p.m. on that same night, Henry McDaniel, a veteran and antiques dealer, reported hearing a scratching at his door. He grabbed his gun
and flashlight and went to investigate the disturbance, suspecting it to be a bear. However, the creature, according to McDaniel’s later testimony,
was something entirely different. He later told police and reporters, he had seen a very strange creature and he was convinced it must have been from
another world. It had:
“Three dog-like legs on it, a short body, two little short arms, and with very large, pink glowing eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a
half feet tall and was grayish-colored.” He added later that it was “Almost like a human body.”
Startled, McDaniel took aim and shot at the unknown creature. It allegedly made a screeching noise “Much like a wildcat’s” before leaping away
with great dexterity toward a nearby railroad enbankment; covering about 50 feet in three jumps.
McDaniel called the Illinois State Police about his sighting. When the state troopers arrived at the scene, the only evidence of the encounter that
remained were a series of scratches in the siding of the McDaniel’s home and dog-like prints in the yard. What made the prints so unusual was the
fact that they had six toe pads and, even more intriguingly, that they represented a three footed “animal,” with one track being slightly smaller
than the others. The officers who interviewed him found him to be “rational and sober,” but other than the prints, they didn’t take his story
too seriously. Henry McDaniel, on the other hand, took his encounter very seriously – he was convinced that he had encountered something monstrous.
In a later press interview, McDaniel said “If they do find it, they will find more than one and they won’t be from this planet, I can tell you
Two weeks later on May 6th, McDaniel called the radio station WWKI to say he had seen the creature again, at 3 a.m. that morning. It was moving along
the trestles of the railroad tracks near his home. McDaniel said “I saw something moving out on the railroad track and there it stood. I didn’t
shoot at it or anything. It started on down the tracks. It wasn’t in a hurry or anything.” A search party including WWKI’s news director Rick
Rainbow and three others with him explored the area later that day. Rick reported seeing an “apelike” creature standing in an abandoned building
near McDaniel’s house. He described it as being “five to five-and-a-half feet tall and was gray-black in color.” Him and his companions
claimed to have made a recording of the creature’s cries, and fired a shot at it before it fled.
Before too long the story of the “Enfield Horror” was well-known. As is always the case with astounding events such as this, it wasn’t long
before the press got wind of the weirdness and came out in full force, but it wasn’t until McDaniel’s second report that the media frenzy truly
kicked into overdrive. Local residents continued to come forward claiming to have seen the creature, with McDaniel attesting to witnessing it on at
least two other occasions.
White County Sheriff, Roy Poshard Jr., was so upset by this sudden influx of press and curiosity seekers, (not to mention the alarm that was settling
in on the locals), he threatened to incarcerate McDaniel if he didn’t stop inciting panic by spreading his wildly terrifying tale.
A few years later, in 1978, researchers from Western Illinois University, headed by David L. Miller, dismissed the case, stating that it was nothing
but mass hysteria exacerbated by local news outlets and gossip.
Henry McDaniel, however, stuck to his story, despite being threatened by the sheriff.
“They think I’m crazy […] I can’t help what I saw.”
Whatever the creature was or was not, it has not been reported in almost 50 years. That, however, does not mean that it’s not still lurking out
there in the shadows of some old train yard, waiting to return and scratch on somebody else’s door some lonely, dark night.
My family and I moved back to Norris City, Illinois, (a scant 7 miles from Enfield), in 1974. I’m glad we didn’t come a year earlier!