Trust me. When I saw that Playboy was doing an article on werewolves in Vermont, I was as surprised as you were. For once in my life, when I said I was reading it for the articles, I was actually telling the truth. Playboy asks the question "Are werewolves actually real?"
In 1994, Jack Nicholson played the character Will Randall, a Manhattan book editor who was attacked by a wolf in rural Vermont, causing him to later become a werewolf. As much as we may love Nicholson (and his Wolf costar Michelle Pfeiffer), the only thing truly scary about the movie was how bad it was. But just as every piece of good fiction is built on a kernel of truth, so too is bad fiction it seems.
Of course there’s no such thing as werewolves — we all know that. But according to some, Randy Quaid isn’t the only hairy creature crossing the Canadian border in Vermont.
In 2006 a woman named Tonya reported spotting not one, not two, but three werewolves chasing her car as she drove through a more heavily populated area in the state. Folklorist Joe A. Citro described the report in his handy companion, The Vermont Monster Guide. As the story goes, Tonya was driving home one night “when she caught motion at the side of the road, she slowed down some more, not wanting to collide with some family pet. What she saw was like a house pet from hell! An enormous, four-legged animal was loping along beside her car. Occasionally it would leer at her, face to face, as she looked back. It wasn’t a dog, she knew that right away. But what was it?” Tonya is convinced she was pursued by a pack of northern Vermont werewolves, Citro says.
Based on Citro’s research, one might conclude that werewolves are rare in Vermont, but not necessarily new. He notes one of the first recorded sightings was reported by F. Barrows Colton in National Geographic Magazine, in May of 1951. According to Colton, he, his father and a logger named Joe Leblanc went on a hunting trip near Groton Pond. Colton says Leblanc disappeared and “finally turned up at a near-by sawmill village with a wild look in his eyes. In the woods, he had seen the awful loup-garou and had got out of there fast.”
It was during a completely unrelated bit of reporting that I came across another, more recent werewolf story where a young woman from the same area allegedly left her place of work in the early morning hours and — much like the logger Leblanc — vanished into the woods. The young woman was never found. Out of respect, I’ll not rehash some of the sordid details of her disappearance here, but I can say with certainty that the Vermont State Police are not interested in any paranormal hypotheses involving werewolves or any other shape-shifters. I had to look elsewhere for some insight into the rumors and their basis in local lore.
I asked Joe Citro about the reports, but he said after 2006, the trail of the werewolf went cold. “I did a lot of research and put the call out to a lot of people. There must be some kind conspiracy of silence,” Citro says, “I mean, if your neighbor is a werewolf, it might not be wise to make it known, you know…?”
For the full article, click here.