In the autumn of 1980, four individuals had a terrifying encounter with a half-man, half-cat monstrosity which some believe to be the result of an exceedingly rare genetic mutation or perhaps a scientific experiment gone horribly awry… still others insist that this felid-fiend is of a decidedly more mystical origin.
Located in the southeastern portion of Maryland, Wicomico County is of named after the river of the same designation, which, in turn, is an Anglicized version of the Algonquian words “wicko mekee,” which translates to “a place where houses are built.” As comforting as that homespun notion may be, Wicomico County is also the reputed stalking ground of a four-legged, quasi-humanoid predator that locals refer to as the Wicomico Catman.
Although accounts of this unique Mid-Atlantic cryptid are admittedly sparse, legend has it that for centuries the local Native American populations have feared this flesh-eating scourge of the forest and have done their best to avoid any contact with the fearsome man-beast (or beasts as the case would almost certainly must be).
As is all too often the case with unknown animals, the origins of the Catman remain murky. Some paranormal investigators theorize that the creature is a corporeal manifestation of a malicious nature deity or perhaps a dark magic practitioner in the guise of an animalistic, half-human, supernatural being like the notorious skinwalker (or “yee naaldlooshii” as it is known in Navajo).
More skeptically minded folks have surmised that all of the furor may have stemmed from multi-generational sightings of mutant bobcats which, due their the small breeding pool, suffer from sever deformities that make them (at least from a distance) appear to have human-like characteristics.
Others suggest that environmental contaminants or possibly even rogue genetic experiments may have created an aggressive evolutionary anomaly that combines the intellect, bipedal locomotion and prehensile hands of a hominid with the lithe figure, claws, teeth, eye sight, olfactory senses and predatory skills of a wild feline.
Those who fall in between paranormalists, skeptics and conspiracy theorists propose that the Catman might be a new and heretofore undiscovered species that presumably synthesizes the traits found in the biological families of Felidae and Hominidae into a lineage of highly dangerous super-carnivorans.
Whatever its genesis may have been, what we do know is that the most infamous run-in with this quasi-felid hails from the fall of 1980. On night in question four (unfortunately unidentified) individuals decided to park their car near the isolated, tree-lined, Wicomico County landfill for purposes unknown.
While there’s no specificity in the report regarding the age or genders of these four soon to be eyewitnesses, it’s not difficult to surmise that they were a pair of teenage couples who, lacking homes not already occupied by their parents’, decided to find a secluded (albeit maloderous) spot to drink some brews and indulge their baser instincts in relative seclusion.
Whoever these people where (and whatever social arrangements they settled on) the one thing that is clear is that at some point one of them spied a pair of yellow eyes staring into the car window directly at them.
One can only presume that much shrieking and hysteria followed suit and the terrified foursome beat a hasty retreat.
Nevertheless, after making a successful getaway, a series of unrecorded events occurred that resulted in the tabling of the group’s better judgment and — ignoring the tenants of every horror film ever made — they returned to the scene in order to get a closer look at the thing that had so frightened them.
Although they were foolhardy enough to return to the desolate dump, the four at least had the good the good sense to increased their posse by another car full of potential witnesses.
The Marylanders returned to the scene and astutely parked their cars at opposing angles in order to cover as much of the woods and landfill as possible in the spread of their headlights. The two groups sat in eager anticipation, save, perhaps, for the one observer who had already come face-to-furry-face with the nefarious Catman through a thin pane of glass.
One can assume that even though the car full of newcomers were intrigued enough by their buddies’ reports to attend the impromptu expedition, they were likely highly skeptical and probably more than willing to rib the original observers’ poor eyesight and jittery nerves.
After an hour had elapsed, it’s likely that most of the spectators were in favor of calling it a night (or at least driving out of the range of the landfill’s stench), but before anyone made a move, one astute onlooker noticed a dark figure crouching near a grouping of trees.
They brought this to the attention of their cohorts and the occupants of both cars strained to catch a glimpse of the fabled creature.
The observers would later report that the sinuous silhouette transitioned from a crouch to all fours as it cautiously made its way out of the darkness. All in attendance agreed that what they were seeing was quite unlike anything they’d ever laid eyes on before.
The excited eyewitnesses talked excitedly among themselves as the creature slipped in and out of the pools of shadows beyond the headlights. They were in agreement that this thing was too large and oddly shaped to be either a dog or a cat and yet it moved in a twisting graceful fashion that would be difficult (if not impossible) for a human being to emulate.
One can imagine that the thrill a of a successful search combined with the sight of this shadow shrouded beast’s beautiful — if baffling — movements likely resulted in waves of nervous laughter and a genuine sense of awe and possibly even accomplishment.
The gang probably felt safe behind the steel doors of their cars and perhaps they began to be lulled into a false sense of security by the fluid, nonthreatening motions of whatever it was they were watching frolic near the landfill.
Maybe they assumed that this entity was just one of nature’s wonders and that it was more afraid of them then they it. If that was the calculation they made, then they were wrong… dead wrong.
Suddenly, the cat-like creature burst out of the darkness and charged toward the parked vehicle sprinting on all fours. Those closest to the beast screamed and got their first good look at this terrifying entity.
According to eyewitness reports, the thing was smothered in a thick coat of filthy black fur and it bore a long thin tail, which it slowly whipped back and forth in the fashion of a feline stalking its prey.
They also noted that the Catman had long, sharp claws or nails on each paw-like hand, but far and away the most disturbing aspect of this ungodly monstrosity was its nearly human face that was distorted just enough to give indication of its ostensibly feline heritage.
One can only imagine the gut sick feeling these individuals had knowing that they were looking at a creature that evolutionarily speaking simply should not exist. Perhaps the Catman felt the same sense of abhorrence as it silently stared through the window, seemingly appraising the fleshy, hairless creatures inside.
Without warning, the creature lunged forward and latched it’s claws into the driver side door. Its yellow eyes glowed in the dark as it peered inside, using its other claw-like hand to batter the window.
All of the joy of their midnight expedition had instantly evaporated as the horrified driver of the attacked vehicle frantically started the engine and hit the gas in a desperate attempt to put as much space as possible between themselves and this abomination.
As if those at the scene weren’t already terrifying enough, the creature’s claw apparently got hooked into the door handle and — as the vehicle took off — it emitted an unsettling high-pitched screech before dislodging itself from the moving car.
Once back in civilization the posse regrouped and inspected their cars. The one that the Catman had attacked showed deep scratch marks and paw-like prints on the window.
Rather than tell their friends or local media outlets, the witnesses reported their encounter to the authorities who conducted an investigation. Nothing was reportedly found at the scene of the alleged attack, though one must assume that looking for prints, fur or scat in a landfill would be nothing short of a fool’s errand.
According to “local county authorities” this was neither the first nor last time this creature was seen in the 20th century. They also reported that several half-eaten deer carcasses with large claw and teeth marks (quite unlike any fauna currently living in Maryland) have been discovered near the Wicomico River… whether or not these remains are the result of the Catman’s predation remains an open question.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / graphic designer / crypto historian / podcaster / co-founder of American Monsters, Cryptopia and Cryptonaut Podcast