Mystery Beast Update: ‘Like horns of a devil’

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 17th, 2006

Maine Mystery Beast

Photograph by Douglas Van Reeth, Sun Journal.

The story about the body linked to the central “Maine Mutant” broke over the second weekend in August and was discussed here when I was consulted on the case.

The events continued, building steam as soon as both the Cryptomundo blog and Lewiston Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme’s article hit the newsstands. As it turned out, worried about parts of the body being picked over, I rushed to Turner, Maine, on Wednesday afternoon, August 16, 2006, with LaFlamme and the paper’s photographer Douglas Van Reeth. There we met up with Michelle O’Donnell and Debi Bodwell, Turner residents who have been most involved with the discovery, photography, and location/relocation of the mystery animal’s carcass.

The smell of the dead animal had become so difficult to tolerate when the wind shifted near the Bodwell’s home, that it had to be moved further up the frontal trail underneath the power lines. We easily found it, the odor, of course, was unforgettable, but I did an examination of what was left.

I’ll let LaFlamme’s article speak for itself, then come back with some concluding comments.


‘Like horns of a devil’
Lewiston, Maine
Sun Journal
By Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Thursday, August 17,2006

Turner – Loren Coleman poked at the animal remains with plastic bags protecting his hands. There was not much left of the carcass, but there were clues here and there.

"The skull is gone. The haunches and all the internal organs, too. The only fleshy parts left are the paws," said the veteran cryptozoologist. "It’s got some extra claws that I find interesting.

"They’re sticking up like the horns of a devil. I’ll be looking into that."

Coleman was the only expert on the scene Wednesday as the controversy over the unidentified animal reached levels bordering on hysteria.

His early opinion: That the beast was possibly a chow, a breed of dog, that had turned feral.

Media outlets from as far away as Germany contacted Coleman or the Sun Journal throughout the day, looking for more information on the creature found in Turner over the weekend.

The story was picked up by national news organizations and a host of Internet sites as word about the strange creature spread throughout the day.

It was the continuing topic of discussion in corner stores and coffee shops, as residents debated whether the animal is a mere dog or some mysterious, unknown species.

"It’s crazy. Everybody’s talking about it. We sold out of newspapers by 9 this morning," said Debi Bodwell, who was at work at Schrep’s Corner Store in Turner. "Everybody is mad because the game wardens haven’t come out to take a look at it."

It was near Bodwell’s backyard Saturday that the dead animal was discovered. She and her neighbors believe it had been hit by a car while chasing Bodwell’s cat.

"I didn’t know the story would be this big," said Michelle O’Donnell, whose photographs of the animal were picked up by several organizations.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook."

O’Donnell, who came face-to-face with the animal a little over a week ago when it was still alive, said she had learned Wednesday that several neighbors were missing pet cats.

Later Wednesday night, O’Donnell said she had been interviewed by reporters all along the eastern seaboard, including CBS News out of New York. O’Donnell was interviewed in a live broadcast about her encounter with the beast. The strongest message she wanted to get out was to those people who still believe the mystery animal is a dog:

"It’s not," she said.

Across the region Wednesday, people argued about just what was found in the woods off Route 4. A common household dog, said many of them. A goat-sheep hybrid, said others. Still others weighed in that the creature may have been a Tasmanian Devil, a dingo, a mutant wolf or coyote.

One person offered that the animal may have mutated after roaming near a toxic waste dump. At least one person suggested the creature may be extraterrestrial in origin. Others insist that there is an unknown breed of animal roaming the Maine woods from the southern part of the state to the northern woods.

In areas like Greene, Leeds, New Gloucester, Wales, Sabattus, Lewiston and Auburn, stories about a strange, dog-killing animal have persisted for more than a decade. It has been blamed for killing a Doberman, mauling a Rottweiler and spooking people from town to town. Coleman is no stranger to the the rise of interest surrounding the sighting of an unfamiliar creature. He has spent this summer so far investigating reports of Bigfoot in South Dakota, and rumors of a Yeti-like creature in Malaysia. Considered the leading cryptozoologist in the world, his job is to lend his opinions and expertise in matters of such mystery.

"What we need," he said, "is a DNA sample."

Along the powerlines near Route 4 on Wednesday, Coleman had little to work with. The carcass had been picked clean by birds and other animals four days after it was killed.

"Here’s a shoulder blade. Something like this won’t have much DNA in it," he said, poking at bones and body parts with a long ruler. "I imagine something dragged the skull away for later. In the woods, something dead like this gets eaten very quickly."

Still, he came away with a paw and other body parts to be examined later. Another paw was taken by the Sun Journal, which was exploring the possibility of having DNA tests done on its own.

By Wednesday night, Coleman was not ready to weigh in on exactly what the creature in Turner might be. He was, however, developing some educated guesses.

"I think this dead animal is a chow or chow-mix, a relatively small dog, that was feral, which is unusual for that area," he said. "Nevertheless, this interesting body probably has nothing to do with the local killings, and it is highly doubtful the real ‘mystery beast.’" Sheila Rousseau of Auburn, who posted comments about the mystery animal in a blog, had her own theory: perhaps the animal that was killed in Turner over the weekend died as a result of a run-in with the real mystery creature, which still remains a phantom.


After the August 16th article in the Lewiston paper and the Cryptomundo discussion here, the mystery beast story was picked up by the Associated Press, Fox News, Boing Boing, The Anomalist, Drudge Report, and all the usual friendly media suspects.

Then the electronic media weighted in. One local CBS station did a live feed from a location near the end of the frontal road, on Route 4. The field report was straightforward, but the studio framing was typical of how the television media treats such stories – with ridicule. The on-stie reporter interviewed Michelle O’Donnell and some other "scared" townspeople. They treated it all as typical summer fare, although O’Donnell came across as credible and down-to-earth. However, they could not help but make fun of the story, ending it with the "remaining mystery," that of the Pleasant Pond "Loch Ness Monster," by showing a local gag photo of a woman in a mask apparently posted at a Route 4 truck-stop.

Back to the story at hand: What is the identity of the animal that belonged to this dead animal?

Early in this investigation, I thought it was a feral chow or chow-mix, a re
latively small dog, which is unusual for that area, as owners and local residents know each other dogs and which ones have gone missing. (I was misquoted about the wolf-dog mix for this animal or for the 1993 report, which was a black wolf, but that’s water over the dam.)

Maine Mystery Beast

Finding the two dew claws in the condition they were was a key for me in shifting my thoughts on this animal – as well as all the comments by the Cryptomundo readers, of course. Different breeds have different standards for dew claws. Most dogs have them removed as puppies. I would say from the condition of those dew claws this was a wild dog, or definitely a feral one for some time. Its dew claws were intact, not even trimmed, as any owner might have had a vet do even if not removed as a puppy. The fact they were long, curving somewhat, and so sharp probably indicates this animal has never been a pet, or at least not for a long time.

The AKC breed standard for the Akita is to not have the dew claws removed from the front legs, but removed for the back. The Chow standard is for both legs’ dew claws to be removed.

Maine Mystery Beast

A fine example of a show dog standard Akita.

To me, this dog does look like it was a member of the breed Akita, or a cross involving Akita. That this does not solve the larger picture of the local Mystery Canid reports is a fact, perhaps one, other than from the typewriter of Mark LaFlamme, the media will not write about in future stories.

This interesting body has nothing to do with the local killings, and it is highly doubtful this wild dog had anything to do with the real "mystery beast." The media attention, nevertheless, highlighted that the real cryptid is still out there – that this is an ongoing unexplained series of incidents worthy of examining. Cryptozoology must pursue every piece of evidence that comes along – even the ones that turn out to be mundane, like this one, or negative, like misidentifications, mistakes, hoaxes, and fakes.

Most of the media attention has come from a "solution" to the mystery. Weird animal stories disappear quickly from the news, with the media mostly dealing in solutions, if possible. But that does not mean that the local people aren’t left with the actual strange cryptid in their midst and still out there.

Maine Mystery Beast

Please click on image for full-size version

Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.

Maine Mystery Beast

Click on image for full-size version

Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.

Maine Mystery Beast

Click on image for full-size version

Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

37 Responses to “Mystery Beast Update: ‘Like horns of a devil’”

  1. lastensugle responds:

    I take back what I said earlier, it`s not just a dead dog …it`s a radioactive mutant alien-dog!!

  2. fredfacker responds:

    I definitely see the Akita resemblance.

  3. Dark-Obsessor responds:

    Yes, there is a strong Akita resemblance. It can’t be considered a mutant if it’s interbreeding with another dog breed. Now, if it was made from the consumation of a dog and rat or something (like the AOL news reporter said it resembled), that’s a mutant.

    It definitely looks like a dog.

  4. godzilladude responds:

    Akitas are notoriously dangerous dogs, good size, bad temper, VERY territorial. The only one I ever actually met, the owner had a very strong grip on the leash, and the dog just looked at me, I asked if I could pet it, he said no, it wouldn’t tolerate non-family members touching it.
    Make a fearsome feral dog.

  5. L Ron Hubbub responds:

    Dog. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  6. Loren Coleman responds:

    Lafayette Ron…If you move on, you have missed the live one remaining in the woods because of the dead canid distraction up front under the big top…

  7. One Eyed Cat responds:

    It is a pity the skull was one as while I also see the Akita resemblance, the carcass’s lower jaw appears rather thick to me in the photos.

    BTW what is an Akita’s normal eye color?

    Good work Loren, if anything ‘funny’ comes up in the testing I am sure you will let us know, otherwise I agree with dog.

  8. Brindle responds:

    Most dogs do not have dew claws removed at birth, in spite of what the AKC standard says.

    Yes, dogs intended for the show ring and reputable breeders do, but the vast majority of dogs do not have dew claws removed.

    I have show dogs, and have purchased show dogs with dew claws both on and off.

    This could still be somebody’s pet that just wasn’t very well cared for. I’m sure, if the critter was indeed a pet, the owner has decided to keep mum about it. “Yes, I let fluffy run loose and murder cats in the community” probably wouldn’t go over very well.

    If the dog is an Akita or Chow or a mix thereof, and is indeed ‘gray’, it is probably a blue dilute color which would be bred out very quickly in the wild because it is recessive. True black, of course is another matter.

    Maybe the owner didn’t trim it’s claws because it was too difficult to do. Sometimes bigger breeds will threaten their owners because they don’t like to have their paws handled or their nails trimmed.

  9. jillandjustin responds:

    I first saw the pics in the Connecticut Post this morning. My first reaction was “that’s an Akita.” Most breeders are moving away from removing dew claws and cropped ears, unless he or the purchaser plans to show the dog.

  10. Brindle responds:

    Akitas and Chows should have dark eyes. Which again points to this critter being a cross or a very recessive dilute. Not to standard, at any rate.

    I agree the lower jaw is thick, but would not be considered abnormal.

  11. Henry responds:

    Here is the definitive diagnosis: it’s a papillon/sasquatch mix, obviously! A fiercesome beast with big, gnashing teeth, ginormous cute ears, and likes to beg by waving it’s paws at you!

  12. charlie23 responds:

    I have a White German Shepard, and his claws have only been trimmed once in 9 years (previously he was active & outside enough that his daily routine kept them under control). If it’s any guage, his dew claws have never been trimmed and they’re only about 5/8″ long.

    Those do look abnormally long, but I still think its nothing more than a stray mutt.

  13. arfy responds:

    After looking at these pictures and listening to George Noory on Coast to Coast, I’m sure that this is a demon from the third level of hell. The radio discussions were clear – this is obviously an evil mutant creature. Probably a cross between a human ghost, a wolf, and some kind of space alien (funded by the government somehow). What no one is mentioning is that this creature was 20 feet tall. Without doubt, I believe this is from the UFOs.

  14. markcih responds:

    I for one welcome our new mutant Akita overlords

  15. mbryant responds:

    The creature in the photo looked pretty healthy. If it was an Akita, it was a very small one. Akita males typically weigh in at between 75 and 120 pounds.

    Did anyone measure this creatures height at the shoulder? Also, the color is just wrong for any dog I’ve ever seen except a Kerry Blue Terrier. I hope someone does a DNA test on it.

    PS: Akitas are also terribly expensive and it seems unlikely that one would be ‘feral’ (at least to me).

  16. NJDEVIL responds:

    A dog. Whether it attacked the doberman and Rottweiler, and if the reports are correct, a 14 and 16 year old dog in each of those cases, I could see a smaller dog like this holding it’s own. Dog years 14 and 16 probably equal human senior citizens, and not too many 70 year olds I know can stand up to say a 20 year old human in a fight. If a six year old Rottweiler comes up dead, maybe then there is something more here. I’d have to agree, time to move on.

  17. twblack responds:

    Maybe an Akita – Chow Mixed. Gone wild

  18. LaFlamme responds:

    Loren is the man. He went at what remained of the carcass with the finesse of a man slicing up Thanksgiving turkey. Most of us were standing down wind at the time.

    Good work damping down the hysteria, too. I wonder if the real creature is following all of this uproar and getting indignant about it.

  19. TemplarKnight21c responds:

    The ‘mystery killer’ seems rather…urban? As in, urban legend. My reasoning is that both of the dogs listed as having been killed (Rottweiler and Doberman) are generally considered rough, rowdy, and frightening. Very few creatures on the east coast would pick a fight against one of those breeds. As to the carcass, yes, now that you point it out there is an Akita look to it. I don’t know anything about dew claws or inter-breeding or whathaveyou. However, I don’t think it was hit by a car. My cat (RIP) was hit by a car and managed to make her way into our back yard, where I found her (alive) a couple days later. What is the general traffic on the road? Speed limit?

  20. luftmensch responds:

    I highly doubt it’s a pure akita. As an akita owner, I’m fairly familiar with the typical look of the breed, and it didn’t even occur to me that this critter could be one. The first mismatch is that it’s simply too small to be an adult dog, about half the weight of a full-grown akita. I guess it’s possible that this animal wasn’t an adult. Also as mentioned, the coloration would be rather unusual for an akita. The dark-coated akitas usually have distinctive striping (like the one pictured above) while this animal seems to be a nearly uniform gray. The muzzle and jaw shape as others have pointed out is quite different from the standard shape, too short and thick. Such a face might result from a chow-akita mix (a chiquita, if you will).

  21. Kansas responds:

    The color that was questioned is called “blue” which is found in several breeds of dogs. It is a black/grey/white hair combination. Also, the Akita breed is known to be violent with other breeds of dogs, so attacking another, even larger dog, is not out of the question.

    Chow’s tongues are black and even a part Chow would have some black on the tongue. Too bad the head is missing.

    The report of glowing eyes has to be eye shine, don’t know of any animal that can produce inner light or glowing eyes. Spooky!

  22. Brindle responds:

    Laflamme is right, Loren definitely needs a nod for having the gumption to manhandle old roadkill.

    I sincerely hope the group shifted to the upwind side.

  23. khaustic responds:

    TemplarKnight – in answer to your question, Rt. 4 in Turner is a major road, heavily-travelled, with a 45-55mph speed limit on most parts.

  24. sdrolet responds:

    Ok I didn’t see anyone comment on this but, did anyone notice that it’s eyes are not like a dog? They look exactly like the horizontal slit pupil of a goat! Now maybe it’s the picture or because of the fact that it’s dead but I have never seen a DOG with eyes that look like that. Can anyone comfirm this? Pictures from a previous blog you can actually see it a little better. Maybe I am mistaken but I felt it was a good point to bring up for all you Akita lovers out there.

  25. werewolfconnection responds:

    It’s difficult to make out the size of the animal. But my first impression was that of a fox. The more stubby nose is like a grey fox with a black coat. Test the DNA in the foot pads and check the hair samples.

  26. ilexoak responds:

    The conical muzzle suggests bull terrier and the wildness/cat predation suggests chow. Definitely a dog though!


  27. Carlfoot responds:

    It is still a dog.

  28. scott6130 responds:

    It dosen’t matter what it was because it isn’t anymore

  29. dianaward responds:

    That was the most “ado about nothing” I’ve ever seen! What on earth would they do if they actually found an alien or Bigfoot? Scary thought.

  30. crypto_randz responds:

    Its a werewolf.

  31. Graceria responds:

    Actually, sdrolet, a friend of mine has an austrailian shepard whos eyes are very odd. The left eye is half blue and half brown while the right is blue with a big brown ‘splotch’ (for lack of a better word) in the upper right portion of the eye.

  32. phantomdawg responds:

    I am always amazed at the reactions of the wildlife “officials” when faced with an unusual find. I love how they alone possess the insight and knowledge to proclaim the identity of a “mystery” animal without ever examining the evidence. If anything, that is probably the most interesting aspect of this particular story. Irrespective of that, hopefully the DNA results will put this case to bed once and for all. I think we shall see that this expired critter has a kinship of the conventional canine variety. “Genuine” mystery creatures, as a rule, do not get caught, or killed, for that matter.

  33. tervdogs responds:

    Time for my two-cents worth.

    This dog appears to be a Chow Chow. Chows do come in a blue color, kind of a blue-grayish hue. These dogs can also have a slate-gray pigment and even slate-gray eyes which would explain the eye color.

    The dog appears to be in relatively good shape – except that it’s dead. If I’m not mistaken, from the looks of the lumps on the dogs belly it would appear that they are nipples, and that it may be a female dog who has been nursing puppies. So it would be a shame that instead of just one dead dog there would now be as many as six – seven dead ones now if indeed it had been nursing a litter.

    It’s just sad that nobody in the area had taken more time to check things around a little more thoroughly and possibly found out that it was just somebody’s abondoned dog who needed someone to take the time to offer it a helping hand and prevented it’s unfortunate death.

    It’s also a shame to learn that local health/wildlife officials failed to take any action regarding these ‘strange’ animal reports.

    But all-in-all what was found there is nothing more than ‘Canis familiaris’ or better known as a domestic dog. Too bad it had to die like that, though.

  34. youcantryreachingme responds:

    You know what? I wish someone would have made a footprint using that animal’s paw!

    I am in the middle of writing up an analysis of two footprints – possibly thylacine – and I would love to see what that dew claw does for the animal’s footprint.

    If anyone does know where I can see such a footprint, please let me know. (Did anyone keep the foot? Feel like making a plaster cast?? :D)

  35. ThePackLeader responds:

    I know this thread is nearly a year old, but I just came across this article. If this dog is an Akita, the Blue Eyes could quite possibly be from it being crossed with a Husky. I have an Akita/Husky mix, and although her eyes are brown, you can see a very faint blue ring around her brown iris. Some Akita/Husky Mixes have blue eyes just like this dog. Wolf pups are born with Blue Irises, and although most grow out of this color, some Wolves still retain the Blue. If there is some “Beast” out there, I highly question it killing an Akita. Akitas are one of the most aggressive dogs out there, and extremely strong. They not only see their need to be Alpha in any pack, they also retain their powerful hunting and fighting instinct/abilities as well. That claw is just a dewclaw of course. They can grow long enough to actually re-penetrate the paw pad. I have never seen one that long though. My Akita/Husky has the dewclaws, but they need no trimming, they stay very short.

  36. animal-luvr responds:

    maybe it was an albino akita puppy?

  37. jessiepbg responds:

    I realize this thread is long dead, but I just have to wonder why people always look for supernatural or unusual explanations for perfectly ordinary events. A dog was hit by a car. That’s what happened here. It was probably a Chow cross. It’s about the right size for a small Chow. There might have been some wolf in it, but it flat-out does not look like a wolf hybrid. Wolves do not have short, wide-based snouts. The coat was greyish because he was living off of either human trash, wild game, or a combination of the two. That is not the best combination to produce a dark, luxurious coat. On top of that, it was August. The coat texture and color actually look quite a bit like a Chow mix I know did shortly after she was rescued from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I don’t have a whole lot to say for the eyes except that the animal is dead and they’ve probably glazed over. Things start to bloat and look weird when they’ve been out in the August sun for a few hours. On to the toes. I’ve met an otherwise ordinary Labrador with double dewclaws on both rear feet and I’ve spoken with people who’ve groomed Poodles, Rotties, and a Shepherd cross with double dew claws, either unilaterally or bilaterally. Altogether, there’s been nothing brought up about this animal that warrants it being called “unnatural” or for that manner, being considered anything other than a stray or feral dog.

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