Ever wonder what is lurking about in the local woods at night? Some residents in the suburban & rural regions of Maryland in the US; have their very own boogeyman that they’ve warned of for decades. The Maryland Goatman has grown and developed throughout the years. With no one truly knowing the reason for its creation or what exactly it is.
Today we talk about the timeline of the creature as well as some of the key locations with its story. If you’d like additional bonus content, consider supporting the Patreon for monthly polls, bonus episodes and behind-the-scene content! View other Cryptid & Monster stories here as well.
The Maryland Goatman, is an urban legend that has its roots dating back into the 1970’s. Some claim, a legend that has been riddled with conspiracy and has been plaguing Beltsville, Maryland. This story surrounds the sightings of a half-man, half-goat being that has been spotted across several locations within the region. Notable locations of the creature’s sightings are a bizarre house that can be found behind the Evangelist School, St. Mark within Hyattsville, under the “Cry Baby” Bridge within the town of Bowie.
In recent years, College Park has also had their own reports of strange and mysterious creatures and devilish screams. We shall be discussing all locations, breaking down how the story of the Goatman came to be over the decades.
There are so many versions when it comes to the story of the Goatman. With some naming it the Prince George’s County Goatman, while most simplify it down to Maryland Goatman. Everyone seems to have their own specific variant of events and history; which can happen from an urban legend that stretches on throughout the years. Some stories have him being a lonely and angry goat herder, who went crazy after finding his beloved goats dead due to local teenage hijinks.
Other accounts claim that the Goatman has some sort of relation with the similar cryptids, like Bigfoot or Yeti. In one of the more bizarre stories, the Goatman is the result of a secretive experiment at the Beltsville Research Agricultural Center. This theory on the Goatman’s existence actually accrued so much attention; that the United States Department of Agriculture facility come forward with their own statement to deny the rumors.
For the last four decades an unknown house has sat in the forest behind the St. Mark the Evangelist school. Rumors spread throughout the surrounding area of this goat-man hybrid that was in and around this secluded structure. Some claim to have found bones in this house and commonly reported knives, saws, and leftover food. However, construction plans eventually lead to the destruction of the house. The legend still holds deep ties with the location, especially for students who attended St. Mark the Evangelist.
Further rumors began to surface of a doctor who worked at the Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville Maryland. It is said that he performed an experiment using animal and human DNA. When something went horribly wrong, thus creating the Goatman. No one knows what became of the crazy doctor or his unnatural creation. But some say that the Goatman is still lurking in the woods waiting for victims. Supposedly the doctor confessed to creating the Goatman by crossing goat DNA and his assistant William Lottsford’s; thus transforming Lottsford into the cryptid monster.
Finally, more stories and rumors of the Goatman come from a bridge in Bowie, Maryland named Governor Bridge, or “Cry Baby” Bridge. This is where the Goatman targets couples who visit the location. If you park under the bridge after dusk, you may hear the shrill screaming of a baby, or a goat. The Goatman also has reports of jumping on cars and attack the drivers, attacking and killing pets, break into houses in search of food, and capture civilians who venture into the woods.
Some seem to believe that murders that occurred in the 1980’s may be linked to the Goatman, however these reports are a tad vague and I can’t seem to connect any to the legend directly. However, it should be mentioned too, that the serial killer Samual Little was in the area around that time. He has been linked to at least one disappearance and murber that occurred in Beltsville in 1972. Even within recent years, it seems that Northern Prince George’s County still receives reports of a strange man running through the woods behind St. Marks.
As we keep mentioning with this legend, over the years the Goatman has grown and developed into a much grander story. However, according to historian and author Mark Opsasnick, the foremost expert on the Maryland legend, there is actually a visible timeline of the Goatman story. With the origin of the stories stemming from Fletchertown Road in Bowie, Maryland.
The first mention of the Goatman in public media came on October 27, 1971, with the Bowie-based Prince George’s County News. In this article, writer Karen Hosler did extensive research into the University of Maryland’s Folklore Archives. Hosler brings up the Goatman, along with ghosts and something called the Boaman that also haunts the woods around Fletchertown Road.
Two weeks after this initial article, Hosler would write another for the newspaper titled “Residents Fear Goatman Lives: Dog Found Decapitated in Old Bowie.” The article details the search that a family, named the Edwards, had for their missing puppy named Ginger. Days into the search, Ginger would be found near Fletchertown Road, dead and headless.
This second article connected the death of this dog with the Goatman. Stating that a group of teenage girls, including the Edwards’ 16-year-old daughter April, had reported strange noises and seen a large creature on the night the dog had disappeared. It also reported that sightings of an “animal-like creature that walks on its hind legs” were increasing along Fletchertown Road.
On November 30, 1971, the Goatman received a much larger audience, once the Washington Post picked up on this story. This new article headlined as “A Legendary Figure Haunts Remote Pr. George’s Woods,” the Post was able to identify the young men who found Ginger the dog, Ray Hayden, John Hayden, and Willie Gheen. The Prince George’s County Police are also quoted in the article, stating that “the legend just gets passed on from generation to generation” and within recent days, more and more calls and reports of Goatman sightings seem to be pouring in.
Mark Opsasnick, as we mentioned earlier, is a leading expert when it comes to the Goatman legend, he in fact grew up just a few miles out from Bowie. He remembers clearly when the story of the Goatman first caught his attention. Opsasnick was in seventh grade, riding along with a friend and that friend’s older brother. He is quoted as saying, “We would get rides…when we would act up in the backseat, they would tell us to shut the hell up or they’d dump us on Fletchertown Road and the Goatman will get us,”.
After this point, he grew to become enamored of the story of the Goatman. So much so that while attending Roosevelt High School, Opsasnick and his friends would go “Goatman hunting.” An activity that actually became quite common amongst several teenage groups at the time. Opsasnick describes that Goatman parties would be held on Fletchertown Road or by Crybaby Bridge on Lottsford Road.
Another notable figure in relation to the Goatman legend would be Dr. Barry Pearson, a professor of folklore in the English department at the University of Maryland, and was in charge of the University’s Folklore Archives, which we mentioned earlier. Even within recent years, he says, “If I mention the Goatman on the first day of class, all the locals would know exactly what I am talking about.”
Pearson believes that the legend of the Goatman came from car culture during the 1960s and ’70s. Which teens had newfound freedom as they were now able to travel about on their own. He also believes that some of these original stories started by the local youth, may have some ties to learning about Satyrs or the Greek God Pan, during history classes at school.
Moving into the year 1987, Mark Opsasnick started writing for Strange Magazine, and took the opportunity to provide the Goatman with a new audience. Come 1994, he writes what he thinks was the first thorough research piece about the legend, titled “On the Trail of the Goatman”. In which he would track down the Edwards family, as well as the men who found Ginger the dog. Opsasnick would later expand upon this article with his book, The Real Story Behind the Exorcist, in which he also discusses other legends from the area surrounding Washington D.C.
John Hayden told Opsasnick that he and the others who found the dog had seen an animal the night before–it was about six feet tall, walked on two feet, and was extremely hairy. Hayden also noted that it made a “high-pitched sound, like a squeal.” Opsasnick was also able to speak with April Edwards, Ginger’s owner, who is at the very least adamant that /something/ was in the woods that night. “People came here and called it folklore and the papers made us out to be ignorant hillbillies who didn’t know any better,” Edwards said, “but what I saw was real and I know I’m not crazy…. Whatever it was, I believed it killed my dog.”
Mark Opsasnick, despite the many years of following the story, does not believe the Goatman exists: “I can’t believe in something until I see it with my own eyes,” he says. Although he is cautious while supporting this stance, he genuinely believes the people he talks to saw something; whatever it may be. “I mean, anything is possible in this world,” he says. “Maybe there is a half-man, half-animal creature out there.”
The Goatman continues to linger as an urban legend of the region; so much so that you no longer have to be within the localized Maryland region to hear of the stories. It grew into being a pseudo North Eastern US campfire story you hear about once you get to High School. It became one of the more notable cryptid or local legends type creatures from across the United States. I figured it would be a great starting point for this month’s theme of monsters.
Episode 33 – The Maryland Goatman. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings.
Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.