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A 'mystery animal' was found dead in Lewiston, Maine in Androscoggin County, Maine in August 2006. The creature attracted worldwide attention after Lewiston Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme described it on August 16, 2006 in an article titled “Mysterious Beast” and made a connection from the unidentified animal to local lore: "[the animal] may be the mystery creature that has roamed the area for years, mauling dogs and frightening residents. Or it could be a dog that has been running wild in the woods." [1]

Reports of similar canids appear all over the Kennebec-Androcoggin area, including LitchfieldGreeneWayneAuburn and most infamously Turner.

Photograph by Michelle O’Donnell. Used by permission.

When the reporter from the Sun-Journal hinted via a comment on my blog at Cryptomundo, then called me, saying he had pictures of a “mystery animal” he wished for me to examine, of course, I thought he was talking about another coyote with mange, running through a field somewhere. I was surprised when he sent along photographs of the body of a dead black mystery canid. He wanted me to wait until he wrote his story to break the news here. Cryptozoology has a way of unfolding according to its own time schedule.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006, “Mysterious Beast” is published in Lewiston, Maine’s Sun-Journal and reporter Mark LaFlamme details the events surrounding this case clearly.

The article runs with one of the photographs taken at the scene. At Cryptomundo, three shared with me are posted, with permission by Mark LaFlamme, in an attempt to look for more answers. See below. (Later updates to the Sun-Journal site show they have added one of the headshot pictures taken by Ms. Michelle O’Donnell since I posted all three pix this morning.)

Mark LaFlamme writes:

Turner [Maine] – An animal found dead along the powerlines over the weekend may be the mystery creature that has roamed the area for years, mauling dogs and frightening residents. Or it could be a dog that has been running wild in the woods. It depends on who you ask.

The animal was found along Route 4 on Saturday [August 12, 2006]after neighbors say it was struck by a car while chasing a cat across the street. The carcass was photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area, but nobody seems to know what it might be.

LaFlamme continues later:

Wildlife officials and animal control officers told about the find declined to go to Turner to examine the remains. By Tuesday, the carcass had been picked clean by vultures and there was not much left of the dead animal.

But Loren Coleman, considered by some to be the leading cryptozoologist in the world, said one thing is clear: the creature found in Turner is not likely somebody’s pet. “It certainly doesn’t look like a chow or any kind of domesticated dog that I’ve seen,” Coleman said after reviewing photos of the animal. “It may be a hybrid between a dog and a wolf.”

LaFlamme gives a good overview of the recent history of the “Mystery Animal” reports:

Since 1991, residents across Androscoggin County have reported seeing and hearing a beast that defies classical description. Theories have ranged from a fisher, a coy dog, a hyena or a dingo to more fanciful ideas: some believe the local creature is Maine’s own Chupacabra.

In 2004, the enigmatic animal was blamed for attacking and killing a 16-year-old Doberman in Wales. Last year, it was a suspect when a Rottweiler was mauled in Greene. Others have reported seeing it or hearing the creature’s screams in the night.

Witnesses have said that the animal had eyes that glowed in the night. Others reported a high scream that chilled them. One woman considered moving out of her Litchfield home after hearing the animal’s monstrous cry one night in 1991.

Locally people did not quite know what to make of the animal.

Michelle O’Donnell said she spotted the animal near her yard roughly a week before the carcass was discovered. “It was evil, evil looking. And it had a horrible stench I will never forget,” she said. “We locked eyes for a few seconds and then it took off. I’ve lived in Maine my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Down the road, Kenny Buck said it was his cat that was chased by the creature. The cat was found dead near Route 4 a day before the bigger, meaner beast was discovered. “That’s no dog,” he said of the dead animal found near his property.

Dana Johnson, a professional trapper known as “The Creature Catcher,” examined the photographs Tuesday night. His guess: a black coyote with abnormal features.

The neighbors who found the animal called a Maine game warden who told them he could not drive from Poland to Turner to inspect the remains. The warden told them it was probably a coyote and told them to research it online. They were advised to call Central Maine Power Co. to haul the carcass away, since it was found near the powerlines.

Michelle O’Donnell said she researched the Internet extensively and could not identify the animal that way. She and her husband said they were more interested in finding out what it is than having it hauled away in haste. “We’ve been hearing stories about this thing for years – about this thing that’s been attacking, shredding and eating other animals,” said Mike O’Donnell. “This is something that’s not supposed to be out there.”

The Lewiston paper then comes back to me, but carries a misquote:

Coleman, the cryptozoologist who has been studying wildlife for 46 years and who has written 27 books on the subject, said he was bothered by the ears and the snout of the creature found in Turner. It reminded him of a case years ago in Northern Maine in which an animal shot by a hunter could not be identified. So perplexing was that case, wildlife officials sent away for DNA analysis. In the end, it was declared a rare wolf-dog hybrid.

What I had actually said to Mark LaFlamme on the phone and then through a forwarded archival article on the case, the federal wildlife DNA tests on the 1993 black canid killed officially demonstrated it was not a wolf-dog hybrid, but a pure strain of wolf, a rare black wolf, that probably came down from Canada. I wondered, could this be another melanistic wolf ? Or was it a mix? Or a black dog? I’ll have to drive up there to get DNA samples myself, apparently, as the situation is not being taken seriously by officials, as you can see from this article.

Mark LaFlamme goes on in his article to summarize how people feel, especially since the attacks in 2004, and writes that many feel there is a “mystery monster” roaming the area.

The article concludes:

What was found dead in Turner over the weekend was described as charcoal gray and weighing between 40 and 50 pounds. It had a bushy tail, an extremely short snout and short ears. There were also curled fangs hanging over the lips.

“It looked,” said Mike O’Donnell, “like something out of a Stephen King story.”

For the complete story and the Sun-Journal photographs of the people involved, see Mark LaFlamme’s article.

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