Texas Chupacabra Killer Facing Jailtime?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on July 22nd, 2011

Cryptomundian Ben Radford (yes, professional skeptics can still be Cryptomundians) authored the following article regarding the recent “Chupacabra” shooting in Texas.

In Killing Chupacabra, Did Teen Commit a Felony?

A Texas boy killed what he claims is the legendary vampire beast “el chupacabra” last weekend. Carter Pope (also identified as Carter Sinclair), 13, shot the animal three times on Sunday near his home in La Salle, Texas. He saw the four-legged, doglike animal walking across an open field, but it didn’t look exactly like a dog: “It had no hair at all on it,” he told local media. “Its back legs were shriveled up. I honestly think it’s a chupacabra.”

Pope is eagerly awaiting confirmation of his historic chupacabra find through DNA analysis of tissues his father sent to a lab. If history is any guide, the chupacabra — which means “goat sucker” in Spanish and is named for its reputed habit of sucking the blood out of small animals, including goats and chickens — will soon be revealed as a known member of the canid family, a group that includes dogs, coyotes and foxes. (The creature Pope shot was not seen, nor suspected of, sucking blood out of anything; it was merely walking across a field.)

Previous “chupacabras” killed or found in Texas have all been identified as known animals, including domestic dogs, coyotes and even a raccoon. Many of the animals get their hairless (or nearly hairless) look from a common skin disease called sarcoptic mange, caused by mites. Other animals may be hairless because of a genetic defect. Then there’s the Xolo dog, a hairless breed from Mexico that has occasionally sparked chupacabra stories

Pope’s story has attracted both national and international attention, fueling renewed speculation about the world’s No. 3 best-known mystery beast (after Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster). But the fact that a Texas teen shot and killed a mangy dog or coyote is perhaps less interesting than the question of why he thought it was dreaded chupacabra in the first place — and what type of trouble he might have gotten himself into.

The chupacabra myth only dates back to 1995, when an eyewitness sighted the monster in Puerto Rico. Later research, published in my book “Tracking the Chupacabra,” showed that the original chupacabra report was not real, and instead described a monster in a science fiction film. Since then, no hard evidence of the beast has emerged, and the story has been kept alive by occasional feral, hairless canids such as the one Pope shot — even though they look nothing like the original description.

Ironically, Carter Pope may end up getting in trouble with animal rights advocates — or even the law. Pope, a minor, presumably had his parents’ written permission to carry the rifle he used as required by Texas law. But just because a person sees an animal he or she doesn’t recognize doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right to shoot and kill it on a whim. The animal was not attacking anyone or anything, nor being a nuisance.

And while the creature was probably a feral dog or coyote, it could be a neighbor’s missing, sick pet. If the animal turns out to be a dog, Pope could potentially be charged with a felony. Texas Penal Code 42.09 on animal cruelty states a person who “kills, seriously injures, or administers poison to an animal, other than cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats, belonging to another without legal authority or the owner’s effective consent,” could be charged with a felony offense. (The degree of the felony can be upgraded if a person is a repeat offender.)

A clue as to why the boy thought it was a chupacabra in the first place can be found in his father’s comment that, “I know it looks like nothing I have ever personally seen before.” Pope and his father assumed that if the creature were a known animal, they would recognize it. In fact, the animal looks identical to thousands of mangy dogs and coyotes roaming North America. This is the same logic that UFO believers employ, assuming that any strange light in the sky they can’t identify must be an alien spacecraft.

The lesson is that just because you don’t recognize something you see doesn’t mean it’s mysterious (or that you should kill it). That, and shooting a dog or coyote will make international news if you call it a chupacabra.

Source: Life’s Little Mysteries: In Killing Chupacabra, Did Teen Commit a Felony?
By Ben Radford

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

12 Responses to “Texas Chupacabra Killer Facing Jailtime?”

  1. Nny responds:

    I would really like to know how this turns out. If you could keep us updated, that would be great!

  2. bigfoots responds:

    how did the original chupa description suddenly turn into a dog like creature?
    the description of bigfoot and of lake monsters always stays pretty much the same..but somehow some idiot started calling these things chupacabra and the media just followed along?
    maybe its just me but this kind of stuff irritates me..

  3. mungofoot responds:

    ok first to answer the question posed above:yes if he killed someone’s property then he is guilty and should be punished, but this story raises some questions for me

    #1 what kind of gun did he use?

    #2 how big/strong was this animal?

    and #3 who taught the kid to shoot?

    I grew up in rural NC and we raised chickens, we had very few neighbors but now and then someone would bring out a dog they no longer wanted and turn them out, next thing you know they would find our chickens and decide to have a feast.The first time this happened I noticed the dog had a collar and not knowing for sure if it was an orphan or someone’s pet I called animal control to come and pick it up but after explaining the situation to them I was told by animal control to shoot it because if it was killing chickens here it would do that wherever it ended up.I wasn’t really happy about it but since my dad was at work I went to carry out the deed I was using a 22 cal remington semi automatic and at 150 feet it was an easy drop 1 shot 1 kill nice and clean, having an ex marine as a dad no doubt helped with my marksmanship.

    so that’s the reason for my questions

  4. Red Earth White Lies responds:


    Must be a Slow News.. rather blog day for some.

    Coyotes, Coy-Dogs & feral dogs & packs are slaughtered in most States of the Union by the hundreds of thousands anually. They kill & sometimes eat humans. Myself or any number of acquaintences could go to countless USA Metropolitan areas just outside the incorporated city limits with our “Assault Rifles” (or C3 machineguns w/economic destructive animal permit for ranches/farms) with bannana clips and pile up coyotes or even any feral dog packs in the back of our vehicles in all legality. The State loves reduction of Non-natives that are a threat to game, livestock or humans.

    Pretty hard to get a feral animal felony in good ‘ole boy Republic of Texas; theyll be popped in the head by a .22 at some pounds or by a cop anyways.

    The hound interpretation of ordinances is designed for the guy who purposely runs over his neighbor’s dog with a lawnmower or shoots into his neighbors property at the howling dog chained to the doghouse keeping him awake at night.

  5. Red Earth White Lies responds:

    Oh Ben my boy,

    I might add, aren’t REAL chupacabra usually hairless feral or wild canine related carnivores in actuality anyways, aside from the old giant bat reports & a few other anthropoid reports?

    Surely you know that carnivores of all sizes will frequently drink the blood of prey or lick prey clean of blood? Particularly if the carnivore is indisposed to a fresh water source at that time?

    So yes, hairless canines are sometimes indeed the real chupacabra.

  6. Massachusetts responds:

    Thanks for posting this–excellent points. Didn’t Monster Quest blow the lid off this one a few years ago?. These Chupacabra sightings are so frustrating to listen to in the media–over and over again. It makes no sense. The original Chupacabra sightings were allegedly of a monkey-like creature that resembled a stereotypical gray alien (at the time people referred to it as an “alien’s pet.”) It was nothing like a canine. Suddenly these canine sightings pop up and people keep insisting they are Chupacabras.

    Although it’s interesting perhaps from an anthropological point of view, how this switch occurred, it’s just silly that people keep identifying them as Chupacabras. And I do find it sad that, empowered by this one word, “Chupacabra”, they go around shooting dog-like animals with impunity. It’s especially vexing when DNA test after DNA test reveals ordinary canines and common canine hybrids. The word is out that sometimes dogs, coyotes and other critters lose their hair. Why is this so hard to comprehend? Wow, just imagine, you shoot a hairless animal that looks a lot like a dog, and unbelievably, it’s not a blood sucking fiend, but actually a hairless dog? Incredible! Who would have thought?

    I remember back in 1995 a Puerto Rican woman I know in the Boston area was fascinated by Chupacabra sightings she’d heard about back in Puerto Rico. They were of the monkey-like creature, very other worldly and creepy. She was quite insistent about the stories and I remember her reactions vividly.

    I had assumed that the creatures were a legend from way back, but it’s interesting that the post suggests they started in 1995, when this woman was talking about them. I’ve also heard, (maybe from Monster Quest?) that a string of neighborhood sightings, maybe the first set of sightings, were ultimately linked to actual feral monkeys living in a neighborhood. All well and good, and far removed from the naked canines of Texas and surrounding environs.

  7. mungofoot responds:

    @Massachusetts, my personal opinion is that only the name chupcabras started being used in 1995 but in fact I think the same creature made itself know 20 years earlier in Puerto Rico as the moca vampire.

  8. Hapa responds:

    “The lesson is that just because you don’t recognize something you see doesn’t mean its mysterious (or that you should kill it)”

    But how can new species be discovered without shooting those “unknowns”, or at least trying to trap them? If Robert Von Beringe hadn’t shot 2 Mountain Gorillas in Africa, would we know about them today (and would they have had the species protection they have today?). Would they have been exterminated by poachers and a growing human population without a whisper because of our arrogance and ignorance? Does science work to conserve species that haven’t been discovered or recognized as valid species? There are arguments to be made for the benefits of remaining off the Taxonomic grid (No scientific detection, no poaching), but without scientific recognition combined with global warming, deforestation, etc, species can and will go extinct before we could do anything to stop it.

    Science recognizes species only when there is a type specimen or large parts of a specimen. You cant prove it running in the woods with a camera and a cable channel in tow, or with hair, DNA or tracks. You prove it with a specimen, either in large parts, or as a whole dead or alive. True, it is 99.9 % certain that he simply shot a known canine, and to me it seems the time to stop hunting hairless dogs in Texas and in other locals. But this 13 year old recognizes the above truth, something that many adults don’t.

    Funny: A boy takes the initiative to try to prove a new species (i.e. doing science) and he could be thrown in the slammer due to a technicality in the law because of it. Punished for trying to expand human knowledge. And we wonder why our education efforts in America are substandard!

  9. Hapa responds:

    BTW: Please do not think that I condone shooting other people’s dogs in the name of science. I don’t condone as such. But the boy made a mistake and should not be thrown into a cell with some 400 lbs man molester because of it (this did not look like Fido). And considering the Chupacabras madness here, it is not that hard a mistake to make.

    I hope they go light on this kid.

  10. eireman responds:

    From my research living in Puerto Rico for over 3 years, I’ve concluded that the original reports of the chupacabras may have started in 1995, but what was being described wasn’t new. It was an aggregate account comprised of the prior Moca Vampire sightings, those of a giant bat creature, feral monkey fears from an island testing facility off shore, the effect of recent climate on local dog populations, other non-native species, a long history of UFO paranoia, and even some ancient colonial and taino legends. Over time, with each iteration, the legend accreted more elements and different names until it met with the rapidity and ubiquity of modern media in 1995. It was something of a perfect storm, really. All elements had to be in place. Most Puerto Ricans I spoke with are basically in line with the sentiment: The chupacabras? LOL! We’re over that. It was a meme, a zeitgeist that is way more popular off the island these days that it is on it.

  11. ETxArtist responds:

    People in Texas usually don’t even do jail time for starving horses. This kid isn’t going to jail, no way.

  12. monsterhunter316 responds:

    The kid put a mangy canine out of its misery. Big deal. He did it a favor. He should have just burried it and kept his mouth shut.

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