Enfield Monster / Horror (Enfield, Illinois; 1973)

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One of the more bizarre reports I recall from reading whatever random paranormal books my local library had in the early 1980’s, this one always stuck with me, in part because of the creature’s anatomical oddity, but also because I didn’t see any mention of it again for probably 20 years. I don’t think it is very well known. I also wonder what happened to the alleged audio tapes that are mentioned.

The treatment given in the link is more comprehensive than what I recall reading as a kid. Not sure if that is more info collected or more mythology added on over the years.

Does anyone have any other information or thoughts about this one?

https://cryptozoologycryptids.fandom.com/wiki/Enfield_Horror
 

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(1) The Enfield Horror / Monster has been mentioned only once before on this forum - in the Weird Humanoids thread. It was mentioned in passing and (mis-)attributed to 1972. It's clear the sightings occurred in spring 1973.

(2) There's a Wikipedia article on the Enfield Monster:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enfield_Monster

(3) It's important to note the Enfield Monster has no connection with the Enfield Poltergeist.
 

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The Enfield Monster incident is a rare example of an anomalous event during which university researchers arrived on scene to observe what was going on.

Sociologist David L. Miller (Western Illinois University) and colleagues came to Enfield to observe and gather data while the series of sightings were still in progress.

This team would end up treating the incident in terms of being an example of community mass hysteria. Setting aside their eventual conclusions on the matter, their work was the most comprehensive description of events and claims.

They produced a published paper on the incident:

A Critical Examination of the Social Contagion Image of Collective Behavior: The Case of the Enfield Monster
David L. Miller, Kenneth J. Mietus and Richard A. Mathers.
The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter, 1978), pp. 129-140.

I'm unable to locate a freely-accessible online version of this paper. According to Wikipedia it's available at JSTOR if you have a subscription there. Here's the abstract from the JSTOR webpage:
Abstract
This paper makes an initial statement regarding the conceptual and empirical utility of the social contagion image as posited by Blumer and Klapp. Their position is then criticized on the basis of its assumption that unverified and unusual sensory experiences, mobilization processes, and mass preoccupations are equivalent and undifferentiated products of social contagion. Further, the social contagion approach is unable to adequately account for differential participation in these collective behavior events. Most of these problems stem from the assumed discontinuity between collective and institutional behavior embodied in the social contagion perspective. An alternative approach is posited which suggests that communication processes, availability of the population for participation, and institutional demands provide a more adequate explanation of differential participation with respect to unusual sensory experiences, mobilization, and mass preoccupation. A case study of a monster sighting in a rural community is presented and examined from this alternate perspective.

SOURCE: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4105917?seq=1
 

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Miller wrote a book on collective social phenomena:

Introduction to Collective Behavior and Collective Action: Third Edition
David L. Miller
Waveland Press, 2013 (sometimes listed as 2014)

This book is accessible at Google Books:

https://books.google.com/books?id=Y...foQ6AEwAnoECCoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Enfield&f=false

The extended section concerning the Enfield incident begins on page 148 in this edition.

Regardless of the researchers' orientation and conclusions, this provides the most complete description of the events I've been able to find.
 

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Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman wrote an article for FATE magazine on Illinois cryptid sightings, including the Enfield incident.

Swamp Slobs Invade Illinois
by Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman
Fate Magazine, July 1974 p. 84-88

A photo of the first witness's house (which the monster scratched in an apparent attempt to get in) appears with the article. Coleman posted the article to his website a few years ago:

http://www.cryptozoonews.com/ill-ass/
 

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Wow. I must confess the speed and quantity this info is amazing! I hope I will be able to contribute here as well as find new leads. My kids have recently grown interested in the paranormal too, so I have a feeling we will be regulars here.

So, what to think? My biology knowledge raises a big, doubtful eyebrow at a 3 legged, 6 toed creature. Mutation? Maybe, I guess. Many of the other cases that most pique my interest tend to transcend the categories of UFO, cryptid, supernatural, etc. Could this be one more case of interdimensional High Strangeness in the style of John Keel?

The Psychosocial explanation is certainly a strong contender (as evidenced by the journals cited by EnolaGaia), but I think that I have largely begun to doubt there is a definite demarcation between the PSH and the IDH. (Are those the usual acronyms nowadays?)
 

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Thanks ... :hoff:

Your inquiry caught me with time on my hands to dig into the aether to see what might be out there.

FWIW, I'm accustomed to invocations of the PSH / IDH (yes, those are still active acronyms) occurring almost exclusively in the context of UFO discussions. However, both these explanatory orientations have been explicitly or implicitly applied in other areas of paranormal phenomena (e.g., ghosts / poltergeists; cryptozoology) now and then.

I wasn't necessarily pushing Miller et al.'s PSH orientation to the Enfield story. Their study simply seemed to be far and away the most complete review of what happened at the time. Any possible PSH (hysteria) emergence in the wake of McDaniel's sighting doesn't necessarily mean that original sighting was itself a psycho-social delusion.

I'd like to know how close 10-year-old Greg Garrett was to the McDaniel house when the creature allegedly jumped him and shredded his tennis shoes. If he lived "just behind" the McDaniels I find it odd he retreated into his house "crying hysterically" yet Mr. McDaniel didn't notice anything until there was scratching at the area of his front door circa 30 minutes later.

As the Clark and Coleman article indicates, there were a number of such sightings in rural Illinois in the early 1970s. However, most of the other ones described the creature seen as being 7 - 12 feet tall. The Enfield entity seems to have been something else entirely.
 

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... I'd like to know how close 10-year-old Greg Garrett was to the McDaniel house when the creature allegedly jumped him and shredded his tennis shoes. If he lived "just behind" the McDaniels I find it odd he retreated into his house "crying hysterically" yet Mr. McDaniel didn't notice anything until there was scratching at the area of his front door circa 30 minutes later. ...

Belay that thought ...

On page 152 in the Miller book (cf. citation above) is a description of the data collected in Enfield by the author and his team. It states:

We did interview the boy who had his tennis shoes "ravaged" by the monster. This incident turned out to be a practical joke. The boy and his parents told us that they invented the shoe-tearing story to tease Mr. M. [i.e., McDaniel] and to have some fun an an out-of-town newsman.
 

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This 2015 article (updated in 2020):

Seven Freaky Stories That Are Totally True
https://allthatsinteresting.com/true-scary-stories/4

... includes the photograph and caption shown below. It's apparently attributed to the Reading Eagle (Reading PA).

henry-mcdaniel-and-his-broken-door.jpg

Henry McDaniel and his torn screen door, Aug. 22, 1973.​

This photo raises a problem ...

This photo is dated almost 4 months after the first McDaniel sighting, in which the creature was allegedly scratching at the door.

The photo in the Clark and Coleman article cited above shows the screen door within days of that first sighting, and there's no such damage to the screen door.

None of the accounts I've seen (to date) mention any scratching, damage, or even immediate proximity to the McDaniel house except for that first night (25 April 1973).
 
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