Throwback Thursday: El Chupacabra and the Vampire of Moca
The 1990s wasn't the first time that Puerto Rico was beset by a mysterious, bloodthirsty beast. In February of 1975, a string of livestock killings, complete with the Chupacabra's trademark exsanguination, had the people of Moca, a small town in the island territory, wondering if they were the victims of some strange, vampiric being. In total, fifteen cows, three goats, two geese, and a pig were found dead in the first attack, with puncture wounds present on their bodies. The wounds seemed to indicate that a sharp object was used to extract their blood, and autopsies showed that the animals had been completely drained. Newspapers wasted little time in naming the unknown assailant el Vampiro de Moca, or the "Moca Vampire," despite the police's insistence on blaming wild dogs for the deaths.
The authority's token explanation did little to assuage people's panic, especially as the death toll grew; nearly three dozen animals had been killed by the end of the first week in March. By then there was an eyewitness, a woman named Maria Acevedo. Acevedo said that on March 7th she had seen a monstrous, screeching, bird-like beast alight upon her roof, causing an awful racket in the process. By the middle of March, in the first few weeks of the attacks, upwards of ninety animals were dead.
Soon after Acevedo's sighting, Luis Torres killed two unusually large Puerto Rican boas; both over six-feet-long. He claimed that he found them as they "stood ready to attack a 600-pound heifer." The local news media was quick to attribute the string of deaths to the snakes, but the killings soon resumed when two goats were found drained of blood. The goats shared wounds similar to the previous attacks. Whatever killed those goats came back the next night, and killed ten more, injuring seven; and ten additional goats simply went missing entirely. The Senate Agricultural Commission became involved at this point, and after speaking with local farmers and law enforcement, Senator Deynes asked the Superintendent of Police to "re-double his efforts in getting to the bottom of the situation." It was clear at the time that the senator didn't think that this was the work of a normal animal.
Five days later a pig was killed on another farm, a large hole driven through its skull. And forty-eight hours after that, Juan Muniz was attacked as he walked through Barrio Pulido by a monstrous, bird-like animal that swooped down on him, attempting to carry him away. He managed to fight the thing off, and immediately alerted the authorities.
The reports of strange animal deaths continued into April, and spread throughout Puerto Rico. On April 2nd, eight goats and a dozen rabbits were found dead in the municipality of Corozal. On May 13th, in contrast to the bird-like monster seen so far, a man in Corozal saw what he said was a "round-headed, hairy-tailed and large-eyed creature" that growled like a dog. This coincided with more animal murders in the area.
Meanwhile, the police and news media were powerless to find a suspect or explain the deaths. The attacks bled into the summer months, but slowly began to taper off after June, and no further deaths were reported past July. There was never any satisfactory explanation for the attacks, and some people accused the police of covering up certain facts to prevent panic; but, ultimately, there is little evidence to prove anything, and the only thing of which anyone can be certain is that someone, or something, strange was murdering animals in Puerto Rico in 1975.