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It's almost a rite of passage for a child to be afraid of the monster hiding under their bed. But nobody knows what the monster actually is. Some speculate that maybe it's an imaginary representation of separation anxiety or simply a fear of the dark. But who's to say that just because we don't know what it is that it is real and that we shouldn't be scared? Because in the 18th century, a monster did attack in an ancient French region called Gebo. Done?
And to this day, nobody knows exactly what it was. This is supernatural apar cast original.
And I'm your host, Ashley Flowers. Every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other Paşa cast originals for free on Spotify. This week we're looking at the beast of Gebo done from 1764 to 1767. Almost 300 people in the French region of Gebo Dunn were attacked by a mysterious creature simply known as The Beast. This thing both terrorized and fascinated the likes of shoppers and peasants.
The nobility and even the king would. Despite the two hundred and fifty years that have passed, we still don't know exactly what or who was causing all these attacks. We'll have more about the beast coming up.
Stay with us. The story begins at the end of June in 1764, when 14 year old John Boulay went out to tend her family's sheep. Now, this is an abnormal. Almost everyone in the area is a shepherd or farmer of some kind. And the kids are all expected to help with the work in the hills where the sheep graze outside of a small, isolated region called Beaver. Ray isn't exactly the most dangerous place in the world. Cottages dot the hillside in a lush green area surrounded by mountains with massive granite and limestone rock formations.
Sure, the fog gives the landscape an eerie quality and makes the mountains look like giants. And sure, there are wild animals, rabid dogs, coyotes, wolves. Nothing that an experienced shepherd can't handle. But when John doesn't return that night, people start to worry. And when they go out to look for her, what they find is horrifying. Her body is mangled so violently that the cause of death is listed as nothing but by a beast.
Now to the villagers, it's a freak accident. Nothing to be uniquely afraid of. It was sad. But in the 18th century, death wasn't necessarily surprising. But on August 6th, the body of a girl from a nearby village of Soul yÉ is found choked and partially eaten, not unlike John Boulay. Still, the villagers think this could be a coincidence. But on August 8th, there's a third victim, a 15 year old girl this time.
And at the end of the month, a fourth, a 16 year old boy also working in the hills. And in September, there are four more lethal attacks. This is no longer a string of coincidences, but a lethal pattern.
The villagers of Geveden begin to get pretty anxious.
This is eight recorded deaths in basically three months. That might not seem like a lot, but this is a very low population region unaccustomed to having their shepherds attacked in such quick succession. Plus, sheep herding is the backbone of the local economy. They can't afford not to do it. So they announced the presence of a dangerous animal at the local parishes. People were asked to stay home. But the beast starts attacking closer and closer to the villages themselves.
Until an adult woman is killed just a few steps from her own door. Now, some of these attacks are great distances from each other, but the people of the Gebo Dawn don't really consider the possibility that it's more than one beast. They've been living with large animals in these hills for centuries. There's really no reason to suspect that those animals might have turned into violent people eaters. This is something completely different. As word spreads through the local newspapers, sightings are more frequently reported and speculation starts to run rampant.
It's hard to pin the first time the creature is identified and described. Some descriptions are big. People are maybe, perhaps too terrified to describe what they are seeing or attacks happened so quickly that they don't get a good look. But here's what we know. It attacks both at night and during the day. One account describes a sister so utterly terrified by watching her brother get eaten that she spent three days hidden in some rocks. By the time she was found, she completely lost her grip on reality.
Some reports say the beast is like a wolf, yet not a wolf the size of a donkey, a leopard or small horse. It's got massive claws, six talons and pointy fangs. The color of the fur is sometimes described as gray, sometimes reddish. But the most common descriptor is a unique black stripe down its back. Then there are the eyes described as sparkling, fiery blood red in color and the smell a smell so rotten that survivors claim they could smell it coming from afar.
There's talk of it being able to bend its own body in half or walk on its hind legs or paddle through large bodies of water. Some people are even finding the victim's clothing neatly folded next to their bodies as the stories get more and more bizarre.
The villagers insist that this is no regular animal. This is something beyond normal understanding and it's getting worse. The people of Gebo, Don, need help. So insteps the local government. First, a delegate named Etienne Lavone is appointed to lead the hunt. He soon recruits a military captain named John Baptiste. Do Amelle the first officially endorsed hunter. And together, they recruit over 100 volunteers to help. This is a hunt on a pretty massive scale. To then there's no way they won't catch this thing.
So in October of 1764, they. Take that group to the forest where the beast was last spotted and surround the woods. There's a pretty dense fog here.
Storms threatened to send them home at any time. And it's not easy to see more than a couple of feet ahead. But despite the conditions, they move in slowly. Guns at the ready. After some time, a creature emerges. One only described as frightening. A hunter steps up close and fires, knocking the beast over. The hunter thinks he's gotten him. A group closes in. But then the beast just gets up and takes off back into the depths of the forest.
This story is baffling to live phone and do amount. They attempt to track it throughout the night, but find neither blood nor the beast's body. And as the hunt continues, other volunteers report that when they shoot at the beast, the bullet doesn't even pierce its skin. It just bounces off, defying death itself. By the end of October, attacks are averaging for a week. A massive increase from the three that occurred in all of August. Not all are deaths.
There are some survivors, but those that survive describe harrowing experiences. The phone and do email are convinced that this creature is something extraordinary. And with the help of the local newspapers. Speculation spreads that this is a creature with Semien magical qualities. Then the beast becomes not just a local phenomenon, but a national obsession throughout the country. People are talking about it, joking about it, fighting about it. Stories of the beast become so popular that word actually gets all the way up to Visi and into the ear of King Louie the 15th.
Of course, Louie is determined to put an end to these killings. So on January 27, 1765, he announces a six thousand leave reward for the hunter who brings him the beast slain. Now, 6000 leave is a lot of money back then. It's almost 30 years salary for most of the peasants of Gebo done. And for those that are already wealthy. There's the glory attached to slay. The most fearsome beast in France would be the greatest prize of them all on top of that.
By February of 1765, after five months of hunting local leader duels, lack of success causes him to fall out of favor with the locals. So the door is wide open for a new hero to emerge. They just need someone really brave to walk through it. The first guy to step up is John Charles Dan Ball, a professional wolf hunter from Normandy. He registered with the local leader, Le Phone and heads to Gebo, done along with his son and six hunting dogs, thinking that he's got this.
I mean, he's already killed twelve hundred wolves in his career and his son is a military captain. Sam Shepard killing monster. Can't be too difficult to handle. But of course, he runs into a few obstacles. First, there's fighting between him and do a man who isn't particularly happy about being replaced. Second, Dan is also absolutely shocked by the region's geography. He hadn't expected it to be so mountainous or the weather to be so brutally treacherous.
There were freak snow storms, rolling blackness, wind tunnels, brutal conditions to spend days and nights tracking an animal, which again means this isn't just any animal or any wolf. It has to be an animal that can survive in ridiculous conditions. Eventually, it becomes apparent that involved can't keep up. So in July of 1765, just five months after starting, he's asked to step down. We don't have exact numbers here, but it's been about a year since the first killing and Donze seen probably about two hundred attacks.
If the French don't kill the beast soon. Who's to say deaths won't end up in the thousands? And so again, they amp up the hunt. The next appointed hunters are the king's personal gun bearer, a man named France Soir Antoine and his son, a cavalry officer.
Now for an soire, has all of the equipment and skills. The guns, the impressive track record. Even a nephew who's a gamekeeper and mostly he surpasses a lot of the issues Denville had. He waits out the storms, wins the hearts of the townspeople by setting off a fireworks display and gives a rousing speech proclaiming that he will destroy the beast. And in September of 1765, four in Soire does finally shoot down a wolf. He and his son take the remains to Vici to be examined.
And the king is so excited that he declared victory for its war. And the people of Gebo Dawn are ecstatic with the beast finally proclaimed dead. Everyone can sleep. Peace. Unfortunately, the announcement is premature. The King's Examiner reports that there's no actual evidence that the wolf brought to the palace by France Soir had eaten any human flesh at all. Then in December of 1765, the beast strikes again four before Christmas, including one girl who is consumed so thoroughly that her body is deemed insufficient for burial.
And over the next year, the beast keeps on his murderous rampage. But under increased pressure from her side, the newspapers slow the reporting. It becomes hard to tell exactly how many attacks occur over 1766. And the presence of Javor Dawn are left with hardly any further information. All we know is that this creature continues killing in large numbers, covering great distances, evading bullets and seemingly cheating death. They don't know what it is. They don't know where it came from.
But one man was determined to put a stop to its rampage no matter what it took. We'll dive into the end of the beast here after this. Hi, supernatural listeners. I wanted to take a quick break from our episode to tell you about a brand new audio check podcast that is out right now. It's called Park Predators. This limited true crime series will take those of us still stuck inside and unable to travel out into some of North America's most beautiful national parks.
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To be sure you don't miss the first two episodes and I'll see you in the park. Now, let's get back to the story. In November 1766, the beast attacks seem to almost disappear. But in March of 1767, they start up again in full force. As many as 10 a month. At this point, it's feeling pretty hopeless. The beast reign of terror has spanned three years, resulting in deaths or injury of hundreds of people. So in June 1767, a local Marki decides that he's had enough and spontaneously organizes a group of men to hunt.
Among these is a man named John Just Del, who joins the group alongside two of his sons. Soon they arrive at La Tenzer, which is a big woodland area in Javor, done with dense thickets, tall hills, limestone caverns. The beast could be anywhere. At some point, just still splits off from the group. Now he doesn't go far. He can definitely still hear the other hunters, but he's sort of on his own for a bit.
Wandering, smelling the fir trees, looking for tracks. According to one account, he's even praying. And then he hears a rustle in the woods. It's the beast. It emerges from a dense thicket. And according to share styles retelling, it's exactly as described stripe down its fur, big glowing eyes and that rotting smell. And just stel, a religious man, seems not to be afraid. He even takes a moment to finish his prayers like Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us. And so on. And the beast waits. But then just still finishes speaking. The beast runs charging directly at him. So she's still calmly pulls out his gun. He aims fires. And then just like that, the beast falls. Jazztel and his sons gather the body and like France Soir, Antoine before him set off toward the French capital to show the king their kill. After this, the attacks actually do stop.
People are celebrating, no longer afraid to go outside or head up into the hills or tend to their livestock. Life in Gebo Dunn goes back to normal. But when just El's beast eventually makes its way to Vici. It is so decomposed that nobody can confirm what exactly it was. Over time, stories of the beast are passed down from generation to generation in Gebo Dawn and prevailed for centuries to come. But that leaves us to ask what exactly was attacking that tiny French countryside.
Our first theory comes by going back towards the end of 1764, a few months after the initial killings, and looking at an announcement made by a local bishop. Now, this is a guy of importance. When he talks, people listen. And when the bishop first gets word about this man eating beast, he doesn't think it's just a beast. He thinks it's some sort of bad omen in his notice to all the parishes under his jurisdiction. He basically blames the attacks on the people of Geveden themselves.
He says, quote, Divine justice does not permit innocents to suffer. The punishment it inflicts always presupposes the air that attracts it. It should be easy for you to see that your misfortunes arise from your own sins. He goes on to reference Leviticus and Deuteronomy, saying that this is all a result of their spiritual failings to the bishop. The beast is nothing more than an act of God. The bishop cites a few, quote, sins of the people.
Recent political wars, neglect of worship, a decline of sexual morals, all things that he believes warrants some sort of deathly punishment. He even mandates a 40 hour period of prayer. If the people renew their commitment to God, they might be spared. But the bishop could have had an ulterior motive for giving this explanation. At the time of the beast, the Catholic Church is being challenged by two things. One, the rise of Protestantism and to a growing subset of members within the church known as Jesuits.
Both groups directly challenged more conservative Catholics like the bishop. So in his eyes, the Catholic Church is losing a grip on their power over their citizens. It's possible that consciously or subconsciously, when the bishop learned about the attacks, he saw an opportunity to regain control. And despite the peasants prayers, the killings only continued. You could say that just El's prayers helped him. Kill the beast. But likely many before him prayed as well. And this was only a coincidence.
So that brings us to a host of explanations that developed in the years following the reign of the Beast. The first and perhaps the most obvious is that it has to be a normal natural creature acting on its own volition. And maybe the creature is natural to the world, but unnatural to the region. Which brings us to theory two, that the beast is something exotic, possibly escaped from a local menagerie. This theory started in the late 17th century.
Worldwide trade is exploding at this time, and with the spices and jewels and exotic treats came stories and drawings of unusual animals, things the French had never seen before and well before the attacks by the beast. King Lui's great grandfather starts collecting these animals. And because everyone wants to feel like royalty, this becomes a popular hobby. But like with most new activities, there's inherent risks in this case, the escape of a violent creature. So basically, the theory is that the beast of Gebo, Don, could have been someone's pet.
One day the animal gets loose and kills people, but the owner doesn't want to come forward because, well, he or she doesn't want to be deemed responsible and thrown in jail. So if the beast really is an exotic animal, which at them is deadly enough to cause all the killings. Here we turn to a book by S. R. Schwalbe and Gustavo Sanchez Romero. In it, Schwalbe and Romero suggest all sorts of animals that could fit the beast.
Monkeys and snow leopards and even some prehistoric type of creature called a bear dog. Now, I don't want to get too bogged down with animal anatomy here, but of all these animals Schwalbe and Romero mention, our best bet is probably an animal called the African Striped Hyena. You might remember one specific detail about the beasts fur. It had a distinctive dark stripe down its back. And this description remains pretty consistent throughout all the sightings. A few other things seem to support the striped hyena theory first.
In the 1990s, an employee at the National Museum of Natural History in France came across a pamphlet from 1819 describing the animals on display in one of the museum's past exhibits. One of the animals is described as a striped hyena from the east, brought to Paris by a menagerie keeper. So it proves that hyenas did exist in France, but that's not all. The pamphlet goes on to describe the animal as having eaten a large number of people in Geveden, comparing it directly to the beast.
Now, it's probably not this exact animal that was doing the killing, but it means that the striped hyena theory was probably pretty widely accepted in the century after the attacks. That plus hyenas have the ability to crush bones and chew up bits of flesh that others can't digest. And the Beast was known for literally ripping apart its victims. There's even contemporary accounts of similar attacks where the animal was known for sure to be a hyena. In the eighteen eighties, a hyena attacked in Turkey, prompting the government to offer a reward for the slaying of the animal.
Similar to King Luis Leaf in 1930s Azerbaijan, a hyena was said to have entered courtyard's just like in Gebo done. And in 1962, nine children were reportedly taken in a period of six weeks. In India, a similar rate to the beast. But here's the thing. The hyena theory doesn't explain something else. We know that most bullets were unable to pierce its skin. So the question becomes why on earth was only John just sterols bullets able to kill it?
Well, it turns out that she'll still didn't just use any bullets, his or her actually made from silver. And not just any silver. The bullets were supposedly made from melted down coins, coins with the image of the Virgin Mary, precious metal blessed by God. It's very possible that we are, in fact, dealing with a wolf, but not just any wolf. Now, I know this sounds absolutely crazy, but bear with me. The Beast could really be a werewolf.
This theory was first proposed by newspapers at the time of the killings, but it still holds true today. We've already said that the French were kind of obsessed with exotic animals, but they were and still are also really interested in creatures that were mythical and spooky and romantic. Now, you might be thinking, well, we're going to talk about werewolves.
Werewolves only come alive during a full moon and the attacks were all month long and even during the day, so it couldn't possibly be a werewolf. But you'd be wrong. The earliest known real life werewolf, at least alleged werewolf, is a man named Peter Stuber who lived in 16th century Germany. Now, the legend is that Stupa makes a pact with the devil. He gives up prosperity for the power to take the shape of some sort of beast and to more easily attack men, women and children.
Satisfied with this exchange, the devil gives him a girdle, one that would turn him into a wolf whenever he desired. Werewolves don't have to only come out during a full moon, nor do they necessarily only attack at night.
But here's another thing to consider the true medical definition behind werewolf's is a term called like hand therapy, which, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, means a mental disorder in which the patient believes that he is a wolf or some other nonhuman animal. So basically, there's the mythical form of it. A person magically turns into a werewolf. But there's also the psychiatric version of it where a person believes in the delusion that they are a werewolf and is basically pretending, which means that the werewolf in question wouldn't necessarily have to attack in wolf form.
And think of the accounts were the victim's clothes were found folded next to their dead bodies. I don't know about you, but I've never seen any animal of any kind. That was able to take clothes off of a small child and then fold them no matter which way you look at it. This act alone suggests that there was something human about the beast, which forces us to consider something else. In the late 19th century, a different kind of beast starts appearing something that is very capable of stripping down a child and folding clothes neatly.
And I'm talking about a serial killer. Serial killers are notorious for being meticulous about what they do in a creepy, kind of artistically mad sort of way. Even John Wayne Gacy would sometimes sneak into the funeral homes of his victims and fold their clothes. And the sightings, the horrific descriptions, the fur, the things that make you think it's an animal could be explained by vivid imaginations under stress or by something else. In the 18th century, the military often used boar skin to protect dogs in battle.
It's very possible that whoever was behind the beast was doing the same thing, covering himself in animal skin, kind of like a costume. And this could also explain why some of the bullets completely bounced off its hide or why, after a big blow, the beast was still able to stand up. But if there really was a human behind the beast, then who and why? Winshaw style killed an unknown animal. In June 1767, did the killings end?
It might be because just Stelle was more closely connected to the beast than anyone could have imagined. We'll dive into this more right after this. Now let's get back to the story. It's hard to pin down a ton of information about just Dell. Most records say that he was either a farmer or an innkeeper, basically a peasant. And so it makes sense then that he would be penned as a sort of hero. It's a classic David versus Goliath story.
The lowly innkeeper taking on the town monster, the poor farmer getting all the riches, et cetera. But in 2013, a researcher named Phil Bahnson starts looking a little bit closer. He always thought something was off about the story. For one, how was a poor peasant farmer able to afford silver bullets? So he tracks down all the old signatures of Shasta sterols and he notices something peculiar. Just still seems to have been signing off on burials, baptisms, marriages, all the things that would require someone of importance.
Not only that, but the style of Shasta El signature suggests a sort of bourgeois upbringing. And when Bahnson tracks down his family lineage, he figures out that she'll still might have actually descended from nobility, not a poor innkeeper or farmer at all. Which would explain how he's able to afford those silver bullets. But what's really curious about Schuss style is his son, Antoine. Now, there is a lot of stories and myths around Antoine Shuff style. But here's what we generally know.
At some point in his life, he travels through the Mediterranean. We don't know why or how. Presumably there's some family money. But we do know that he eventually ends up on the island of Minorca, where he works as the keeper of a menagerie. And here's where it gets really interesting. Antoine supposedly returns to Gebo Dawn with a hyena. It's rumored that he even trained it to attack at some point before the killings begin. He sets himself up in a makeshift home somewhere hanging way up in the forest.
Now, it's possible that Antoine could have set his hyaena lose to do the killings. But as it turns out, Antoine might have suffered from hyper trichinosis, a disease that causes excessive wolf like hair growth on the body and face. Which brings us right back to our werewolf theory. Antoine himself could have also been doing some of the killings. And amongst the stories that had been passed down about the beast, we have an account by a local peasant named Bei Goo that might just confirm this.
It's early morning before Dawn and Bago is taking a walk through the forest. It's bright, a full moon, and he's enjoying the smell of the fir trees and the early morning peace and quiet when he sees something strange in the river. Up ahead, something moving. So he walks towards it and then he realizes that he isn't alone. There's a bather in the river. A young, hairy man. It's a bit strange. Then suddenly the bather spots him big.
Who freezes for a second? He doesn't know whether to say hello or to turn around. So he simply stops. And then the man jumps out of the water, turns fully into a beast and lunges right at burgoo big who runs so fast back to his house that he doesn't even turn around. He shuts himself inside, terrified of what he thinks he's just seen. Now, he doesn't come out until the next day. But when he does, he says that the bather looked rather similar to none other than Antoine.
Just tell. Believe what you will about werewolves and man beasts and pacts with the devil. But the theory that Antoine Schuss style was some sort of Harry serial killer looks pretty good if you assume that his father might have played a role in getting his son to stop killing, meaning it could be that John learned of his son's wrongdoings and fearing his son's imprisonment, got him to end his gruesome hobby and then killed some other animal. Just to refute any leads.
Unfortunately, we don't really have any proof for this theory. All we know is that after John Style shoots this animal with a silver bullet, the killings end. And we don't really know what happened to Antoine after all of this. But some records do show that he might have been married and had a few children of his own. The truth is that even today, it's hard to know exactly what the beast was. But recent researchers have proposed what is probably the best explanation, or at least a theory for why the beast might have developed an appetite for humans and why those years were especially ripe for kills in the 18th century, an increase in hunting activity, deforestation and the expansion of agriculture in the region.
All made space for humans, but it reduced space for the small, wild animals on which wolves normally fed. So it's possible that the wolves might have dug up corpses in the area, bodies left over from famine or disease or war. And all that human flesh helps them develop an appetite for small children who are the primary shepherds in the area. It makes total sense that the beast might have just been a pack of wolves in the area forced to eat whatever they could find in the hills, which again happens to be humans.
And as to why the beast might have eventually gone away, we turn again to the book Beast, Werewolf, Serial Killers and Man Eaters by Essar Schwalbe and Gustavo Sanchez. Ramiro Schwalbe and Romero suggests that some of the wolves could have been suffering from a disease called mange, which causes skin lesions and odd patches of hair loss and makes them horrific or even hyena looking. Schwalbe and Romeros suggest that the distinct smell of the beast with the smell of oral infections something associated with old age plus the beast, seemed to have a preference for eating organs, indicating that they were sick and needed the protein specifically provided in livers and hearts and brains.
So if these wolves were sick and old, then after a few years they would have just died and decayed away. Now there are still some things that can't be explained by the pack of wolves theory. The bullet proof quality of their hides, the folding of the clothes, the decapitations. So there are still plenty of holes even in this theory. But regardless of what it actually was, the beast became a dark romantic myth to the French. The wolf population in France largely decreased.
But the beast of Jabu done haunted the bedtime stories of children for centuries to come. I'll leave you with this. In 2017, it was reported that wolves have recently been migrating into France from the Italian Alps. And wolf sightings are increasing in the tiny pocket of the country now called Lozier. It's very possible that for the people of the Geveden, an old enemy has returned. Thanks for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other precast originals for free on Spotify.
Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place. They're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is APAR Cast Studio's original. It's executive produced by Max Cutler Sound, designed by Carrie Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Carly Madden. This episode of Supernatural was written by Stacy La Niemiec with Writing Assistants by Drew Cool.
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