The Enfield Monster: How a Bizarre, Unidentified Creature Gripped Illinois

Enfield Monster Reading Eagle
The photograph appeared in the Reading Eagle's coverage of the Enfield Monster. "Henry McDaniel, 50, of Enfield Ill., says that a five-foot-tall, three-legged, grayish monster with reflecting eyes, tore up this screen whilst attempting to get into his house." (Image source: Reading Eagle)

On the night of 27th April 1973, Henry McDaniel, a veteran and antiques dealer, is said to have witnessed a horrifying and bizarre creature on his property in Enfield, Illinois. He was initially made aware of the creature when he heard a scratching noise at his door. McDaniel grabbed his gun and flashlight and went to investigate the disturbance, suspecting it to be a bear. 1 However, the creature, according to McDaniel’s later testimony, was something entirely different.

“[it had] three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms, and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was grayish-colored.” – Henry McDaniel 2

Startled, McDaniel took aim and shot at the unknown creature. It allegedly made a screeching noise “much like a wildcat’s”, before leaping away with great dexterity, covering an estimated 50 feet in three jumps.3

The Enfield Monster Mt. Vernon Register-News
A clipping of the Mt. Vernon Register-News‘ coverage of the Enfield Monster in 1973. (Image source)

Unsure as to what he had seen, McDaniel alerted the police, who took his statement. The officers who interviewed him found him to be rational and sober, and did report seeing animal prints in the ground nearby, but other than that did not take his story too seriously. 4 Henry McDaniel, on the other hand, took his encounter very seriously – he was convinced that he had encountered something monstrous.

When questioned about his encounter later, McDaniel stated that it was not like any creature he had ever seen before. When speculations suggested that it might have been the escaped pet kangaroo of a man from Ohio, McDaniel stated that it was not possible, as he had a pet kangaroo once himself, and that the the footprints left behind by the mysterious creature did not have the claw marks of a kangaroo. 5

Determined to raise awareness and find answers, McDaniel relayed the incident to a local radio station, where he elaborated on what he had seen. He described the monster as being almost human in appearance. 6 

After this, the story snowballed. McDaniel’s report caused a sensation in the local area and beyond.

Supposedly, a University of Illinois anthropology student recorded a screeching noise in the area around Enfield, thought to be the monster, which upon analysis had sounded similar to an ape. 7

An Indiana radio station sent an investigator, Rick Rainbow, to explore the case. When he returned, he stated that he, and three others with him, caught sight of a mysterious creature which he described as being “five to five-and-a-half feet tall and was gray-black in color”. 8

Cryptozoologists Loren Coleman and Richard Crowe also went to investigate the peculiar incident. Whilst exploring near McDaniel’s property they also alleged to have heard the same screeching noise associated with the monster. Citing their previous research, they linked the Enfield incident to a rash of strange sightings of an “ape like” creature in other parts of Illinois that year. Believing there to be more than one being, they dubbed the creatures “Swamp Slobs”.9

The Enfield Monster Henry McDaniel house
A photograph of Henry McDaniel’s house, taken by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman during his 1973 investigation. (Image credit: Loren Coleman)

Before too long the story of the Enfield Monster was well-known. Local residents continued to come forward claiming to have seen the creature, with McDaniel attesting to witnessing it on at least two other occasions.

A few years later, in 1978, researchers from Western Illinois University, headed by David L. Miller, dismissed the case, stating that it was nothing but mass hysteria exacerbated by local news outlets and gossip.10

Henry McDaniel, however, stuck to his story, despite being threatened by the sheriff with arrest for causing public hysteria.

“They think I’m crazy […] I can’t help what I saw.” – Henry McDaniel 11

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About Erik 33 Articles
A life-long dabbler in the paranormal, Erik researches other-worldly phenomena to sate his curiosity. A habitual fence-sitter, he is of the opinion that only through science can the reality of the paranormal be confirmed. Some of Erik's main interests are demonic possession, occult groups and the possibility of parallel dimensions.