Throughout the seventies, there were a series of strange and unexplainable events happening across the country, including the small town of Elsberry, Missouri. There were many reports coming in from local farmers of cattle mutilations. The reports that came from the local farmers talked of odd cattle mutilations. These mutilations did not resemble the work of a human. Therefore, it was believed that the mutilations were done by something of greater skill and possibly intelligence. These mutilations consisted of the animals’ ears being cut off, normally just one, and an eye, from the same side, was also taken. Its reproductive organs were taken out and the body was drained of all blood. As well as the strange mutilations, there were also unexplainable dead bugs present at all the mutilation sights in Elsberry.(1) The inexplicability of these mutilations led many to believe that extraterrestrial beings were the cause of all the madness. Some also thought it was the work of some demented people and others even thought it was the work of corrupt farmers.(2) Some of the mutilation theories have much more evidence than others, which lead some to believe that the mutilations were indeed done by extraterrestrials, corrupt farmers, or a cult.
Not only were cattle mutilated in the seventies, there were also some strange sightings in the skies. During the summer of ‘78, there were multiple UFO sightings. Many thought that these objects were the ships of extraterrestrial beings. Since the mutilations and sightings were happening at the same time, many concluded that the mutilations were done by extraterrestrials. In addition, the mutilations were done in such an odd manner that many thought it was reasonable to assume that aliens were performing them. Some speculated that the extraterrestrials were coming down to take these cattle parts so they could clone the cattle. Although there was no actual proof of the mutilations being done by aliens, only speculation, similar mutilations were discovered in Florida and Oregon.(3) Although the UFO hypothesis, for some, was believable, there were many other, more reasonable, theories of who the mutilators were.(4)
Another theory was that there were many people around the nation in a connected group, who were mutilating the cattle. They were taking and using the reproductive organs, ears, eyes, and blood of cattle for rituals. This group was thought to be devil worshippers.(5) Karen Kroeger, who was about seven, was a resident of Elsberry at the time of the cattle mutilations. She described the feeling of living in Elsberry then as very fearful. She and her family alike thought that the mutilations were either the work of extraterrestrial beings or a devil-worshipping cult.(6) An older sibling of Ms. Kroeger, Shelly, also talked about her experiences. She was a teen at the time and was heavily interested in the mutilations, just like much of the town. She contributed some insight not found in most articles about the caves in Elsberry. Shelly claims that there were bottles of blood found in the caves just outside the town of Elsberry. She also mentioned that the mutilated cattle in Elsberry were all found in the exact same position. They were laying on their backs with their legs sticking straight in the air. Shelly even quoted a common description from Elsberrians: “They were clean on the outside and no blood on the inside”. Shelly later mentioned that there were rumors that crop patterns were found near the mutilated cattle.(7) This information was a fact for Elsberrians, but for other places, it was not the case. This was because of lack of information. This information may have been thought as false to people who lived outside of Elsberry. Their doubt did not change any of the residents of Elsberry minds’. The fact that the mutilations of Elsberry were unlike those of any other place lead some to further support the theory of aliens.
The devil-worshipping cult was a strong theory, along with the alien theory, but there was another compelling theory, and it involved corrupt farmers. These farmers were said to be killing their cattle to get insurance money. This theory does make some sense because in Elsberry profits were being made off of the mutilations and sightings. Shirts were even being made to advertise the strange events. From the information found, other areas were not treating the mutilations the same as they were being treated in Elsberry. This theory had strong evidence due to the profits gained from shirt sale and insurance. It was questioned if the events in Elsberry even have a common thread with those of other areas. The mutilations only have one common thread and that is that mutilations were happening in Elsberry. Other than that there is no common thread, which is why so many people question what was going on in Elsberry and where these illogical explanations came from. Even with the newfound information people still questioned who the culprit was. In Chillicothe Missouri, the mutilations were found to be the work of a “skilled man”.
There were many theories as to who or what caused the mutilations, as mentioned before. There was evidence found both for and against the theory of the mutilations being done by aliens. The Chillicothe Constitution-tribune stated that the mutilations, in that area, were done by a skilled man. Yet, it does not make sense that all these mutilations were happening at the same time by just one skilled man. So, was it the work of many skilled men? Could it have possibly been a cult of skilled men? This would be the most logical conclusion to all of the madness. However, if this were the case, where did these strange bugs that were found at the Elsberry mutilation cites come from?
In the city of Elsberry, there were bugs found at the mutilations sites. The bugs were found dead and solidified on the trees and ground around the mutilated cattle. With much research, done by Robert D Hall, it was concluded that the bugs were pharma and saprophagous, types of flies. Since the bugs were not found at mutilation sites outside of Elsberry, people really started to question who the culprit was. This information about the bugs threw the people of Elsberry off guard. Those who thought that is was the work of a skilled man were confused with the new-found information. These bugs were not popularly known to the area and were even thought to not have been seen before. Therefore, it was questioned why the bugs were there if it was the work of a human. At that point, some concluded that aliens were doing the mutilations because no human would be able to create a new species of bugs by killing off cattle. Yet, a new species of bugs could have been brought along with the aliens. Otherwise, there was no other explanation for the bugs. Although, as previously stated, the bugs were normal to be found on and around the carcasses especially under the heat conditions Elsberry was in at the time. In the Elsberry Democrat, a letter was inserted that explained the normality of these bugs under the weather conditions. The summer of ‘78 it was extremely hot, much hotter than any normal summer in Elsberry. The pharma and saprophagous bugs were drawn to the extreme heat and the carcasses. Knowing that the bugs were normal at the mutilations could have been done by a human. The extraterrestrial theory is out of the window. Then, going back to the UFO sighting, questions what these UFOs were? Were they aliens coming to earth to get cattle parts to create clones? Were they something of great secrecy that the military did not want the public to know about?
UFOs are and have always been a very popular idea to many. The sightings during the 70’s were not the first or last time of reports of UFOs. At the time there was a great number of sightings happening all around the nation. As stated before, some thought that the UFOs were aliens visiting Earth. When the United States Air Force heard about these they immediately tried to knock out this theory. They did so in an article that was found in the Sedalia Democrat. In the article, the air force speaks out about their opinions and the proof of UFOs. They state that most sightings are falsified. Although, in the article, they never give a legitimate answer of what these UFOs were. This lead some to believe that the UFOs were classified government aircraft. If the statement of the photographs being falsified then, some evidence for the alien theory would be shut down. In the article, it also states that the Air Force does not believe that they the UFOs are extraterrestrial life. Yet, in a photograph published in The Daily Standard, a UFO can be seen. This picture was used heavily for “evidence” of extraterrestrial visitors. It was used so popular that it is even found in two separate newspaper and were released about two months apart, but both during the summer. The pictures also have the exact same article to go along with them. Although these pictures are good evidence of the existence of UFOs, that does not mean the UFOs have any relation to aliens. There were many different theories with more explainable evidence, but no one could figure out the cause of the mutilations.
The cattle mutilations that happened in Elsberry were thought to be done by extraterrestrial beings, corrupt farmers, or a devil-worshipping cult. The UFO sights and cattle mutilations had much to do with one another. There were reports of dead cattle with missing ears, tongue, eyes, blood, and reproductive organs. Even with all the missing insides, the cattle had no marks to be found on their bodies. Which, along with the territory, is what made the whole situation so strange. The cattle mutilations were happening all around the nation, not just here in Elsberry. All of the mutilations resemble one another. The far spread area of the mutilations and the residences lead there to be a few different theories of who was the cause. Although the cases in Chillicothe Missouri were proved to be the work of a skilled man, in other places, even with all of the theories, many never found out the cause of all the mutilations. So it is still possible that the people or things that did the mutilations are still out there and may strike again.
1 - “Mutilated Heifer Found On Forrest Gladney Farm” The Elsberry Democrat June 15 1978 page 1
2 - “Cattle Mutilation Cases Are Under Investigation” The Sedalia Democrat October 22 1975 page 18
3 - “An Unknown Menace Puzzles Cattlemen” The Sedalia Democrat October 23 1977 page 41
4 - “An Unknown Menace Puzzles Cattlemen” The Sedalia Democrat October 23 1977 page 41
5 - “An Unknown Menace Puzzles Cattlemen” The Sedalia Democrat October 23 1977 page 41
6 - Kroeger, Karen. Personal interview. Lauryn Eberhart. January 3 2018
7 - Kroeger, Michelle. Personal interview. Lauryn Eberhart. January 12 2018
8 - “Cattle Mutilation Cases Are Under Investigation” The Sedalia Democrat October 22 1975 page 18
9 - Kroeger, Teresa. Personal interview. Lauryn Eberhart. January 28 2018
10 - “Cow Mutilation Said Work Of A Skilled Man” The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune October 23 1975 page 2
11 - “Cow Mutilation Said Work Of A Skilled Man” The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune October 23 1975 page 2
12 - “Beetles, Flies Found At Mutilation Identified” The Elsberry Democrat July 16 1975 page 1
13 - “Beetles, Flies Found At Mutilations Identified” The Elsberry Democrat July 16 1978 page 1
14 - “UFOs Fly In Troubled Sky” The Sedalia Democrat April 16 1967 page 2
15 - “UFOs Fly In Troubled Sky” The Sedalia Democrat April 16 1967 page 2
16 - “UFO? - Hillsdale, Mich” The Daily Standard July 18 1966 page 9
“UFO? - Hillsdale, Mich” Moberly Monitor-Index May 20 1966 page 3