Strangers In the Night
The Enfield Monster Case Study
It’s still a little early for Halloween. The weather hit 98 the other day, but I came across a story recently straight out of a Halloween horror classic. Surprisingly, this didn’t occur right around Halloween, as odd things usually do. The setting was rural Illinois. The date: April 25th, 1973. One of the strangest events ever chronicled in Enfield, Illinois...
The night started off with a boy named Greg Garrett who had been playing in the backyard around 9 P.M. catching fireflies, and looking at the sea of stars. While attempting to catch the next firefly, his pursuits were soon cut off quickly by what is now known as the Enfield Horror. While Mr. and Mrs. Garrett had been watching T.V., young Greg burst through the back door crying and acting hysterically. He began to relive what just happened. A monster about 4 or 5 feet tall, tiny arms with claws, a slimy gray epidermis, 3 legs with accompanying claws, and big red eyes the size of flashlights attacked him. Greg’s tennis shoes were torn to shreds, claiming it occurred when the monster ran past him, and stepped on his feet. Mr. and Mrs. Garrett were extremely concerned as Greg was not known for making things up, they just couldn’t wrap their head around what he was telling them.
The exact moment this situation was going on, the Garrett’s neighbor, Henry McDaniel and his wife were returning home. They found their two children in an absolute panic. The children claimed the “thing” had tried to break into the house through the door, and a window mounted air conditioner moments earlier. As Mr. McDaniel was listening in disbelief, he heard something, an unusual scratching sound at the front door. McDaniel assumed it was a stray animal and opened the front door. It was at that moment he came face to face with The Enfield Horror. He stumbled backwards, slamming the door. Grabbing a flashlight and a .22 pistol, he threw the door back open and got another glimpse of the demon. His description of the grotesque creature was identical to that of Greg Garrett. Later telling police, “It had three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms coming out of its breast area and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was grayish-colored… it was trying to get into the house!” McDaniel opened fire on the monster, but while he was positive he hit the Horror, the bullets did not cause any mortal damage. He stated “it hissed like a wildcat” and jumped away covering 75 feet in approximately 3 hops, disappearing past the railroad tracks.
McDaniel immediately called the local police, but the Illinois State Troopers showed up on the scene instead. The troopers searched through the area, but found no sign of the Enfield Horror. They did, however, find scratch marks against the siding, which appeared to be fresh, and scarily enough they found footprints, three of them, with long claw markings. Two of the footprints were about 4 inches wide, with the third one being slightly smaller. The troopers were puzzled as nothing they had seen could have made those footprints.
On May 6th, McDaniel was startled awake in the dead of the night by the howling of some neighborhood dogs. He pulled himself out of bed, grabbed the gun, and yanked open front door. Upon opening, he said he got a better look at the monster -from some distance — negotiating the trestles of the railroad tracks. This time it wasn’t in a hurry, it just moved down the tracks.
In the days following the odd story, McDaniel felt compelled to tell everyone he could about what he had seen. Before long, droves of “monster hunters” arrived. Floods of news trucks, scientists, and curiosity-seekers descended onto the town. At one point, the town was becoming such a circus of media frenzy and tourists, the White County Sheriff threatened to arrest McDaniel if he didn’t stop talking about his experience. At least five “hunters” were arrested and charged after being a threat to public safety, after opening fire on “ a hairy gray thing.” The judge claimed they were simply “out to raise hell.”
One man, Rick Rainbow, who was a news director for WWKI in Kokomo, Indiana claimed to have seen the Enfield Horror as well. Him and three other men witnessed the Horror around an abandoned house, not much further from the McDaniel house. Rainbow could not get a clear description of the monster because it was in shadows, and had its back towards the men. He did describe it as being gray, 5 ft. tall, and stooped over. Rainbow did manage to record the ungodly screams of the Enfield Horror, but that recording was not released to the general public. Those cries were heard by others over the next several days, near the railroad tracks close to the McDaniel’s house. After that night, the creature jumped over the tracks, this time for good. Just as quickly as the monster arrived, it disappeared never to be discovered again.
In 1978, a case study was opened by a group of researcher who tried to make sense of the situation. The researchers found that no more than three firsthand witnesses claimed they saw the actual monster, but since then their stories have been exaggerated by local news stories and local gossip. It became a a bizarre game of telephone where each additional story snowballed into something bigger and more animated. Now if all these reports are real, why did nobody take any photos of the evidence? The aluminum siding scratches, the footprints, the torn up tennis shoes, or attempt to get any sort of real proof from the monster. Could this be considered a crime scene? May people who think it was an elaborate hoax to bring tourists into the town, could not explain who two separate neighbors who told the police the exact same description without conversing with each other first. The marks on the ground also didn’t suggest foul play. While the case remains largely forgotten today, it still is one of the most curious cases and makes you wonder what really took place down in Enfield. It has not been reported on for almost 40 years, but that’s not to say it isn’t still out there waiting to terrorize another town.