Jan 19, 2007
Coinciding with the overwhelming number of cattle mutilations occurring in the United States and in the rest of the world at that time, Puerto Ricans discovered that their livestock was being slain by a mysterious, unseen assailant. They would have been even more distressed to learn that the same situation would replay itself twenty years later, courtesy of the ubiquitous Chupacabras.
In February 1975, a Puerto Rican newspaper ran one of the very first headlines concerning the wave of mysterious animal deaths to occur in the vicinity of the small town of Moca, on the island’s western side.
The entity, dubbed “The Moca Vampire” by the press, kicked off its killing spree in Barrio Rocha, a sector of the town of Moca, where it took the lives of a number of animals in a grisly manner never seen before. Fifteen cows, three goats, two geese and a pig were found dead with bizarre perforations on their hides, suggesting that a sharp instrument had been inserted into the hapless bovines. Autopsies showed that the animals had been thoroughly relieved of blood, as if consumed by some predator.
On March 7, 1975, a cow belonging to Rey Jiménez was found dead in Moca’s Barrio Cruz, presenting deep, piercing wounds on its skull and a number of scratches around the wounds on its body. Jiménez’s cow was added to the growing list of victims, which now totaled well over thirty.
As the number of victims grew, the Moca Vampire acquired an identity of its own, much in the same way that the Chupacabras would twenty years later. Speculation as to its nature was rife: many believed it was a supernatural “bird”, like the one seen by María Acevedo, a Moca resident who noticed that a strange animal had landed on her home’s zinc rooftop in the middle of the night. According to Acevedo’s testimony, the bird pecked at the rusty rooftop and at the windows before taking flight, issuing a terrifying scream. Others more readily accepted any suggestion that it was a space alien, an occupant of the UFOs reported on an almost daily basis over Puerto Rico at the time. Some clung to the belief that a gigantic vampire bat had somehow made it from the mainland to the Caribbean, slaking its thirst on the local cattle. Only days later, farmer Cecilio Hernández notified authorities that the elusive Moca Vampire had slain thirty-four chickens on his property at some point during the night. The supernatural entity was by now responsible for ninety animal deaths in a two week period.
A faint ray of hope—soon to be dissipated by harsh reality—appeared during this critical moment in the crisis: another farmer, Luis Torres, became the man of the hour after slaying two enormous snakes (Puerto Rican boas) measuring an unheard-of length of six feet. Torres had captured the snakes as they stood ready to attack a 600-pound heifer. The media hailed this act of heroism as the “solution to the mutilation riddle”; citizens could finally issue a collective sigh of relief.
However, the Moca Vampire had its own agenda. On March 18, 1975, two goats belonging to Hector Vega, a resident of Moca’s Barrio Pueblo, were found drained of blood. Puncture marks on the goats’ necks were the unmistakable sign that the strange entity causing the deaths was still at large and hungrier than ever: it returned to Vega’s farm the following night to finish off ten more goats and wound another seven. The horrified farmer also discovered that ten additional goats had gone missing.