Grunch Road Monster: New Orleans Devil or Chupacabra's Cajun Cousin? TAP TO GET PODCAST
New Orleans is home to many eclectic oddities and curiosities. From Cajun cuisine to French roots and Voodoo Magic, there’s a lot to explore. But despite all of the amazing beauty things Louisiana has to offer, it may just be home to a menacing monster lurking beneath swampy territory.
It was the perfect evening for a late-night cruise around New Orleans’ backroads. The sky was clear, the moon full, and the crisp, cool mid-autumn air was just right. For the 17-year-old boy and his girlfriend, they knew tonight would be a night to remember.
As the clock struck midnight, with her parents fast asleep and her younger brother gone for the weekend, his girlfriend was able to sneak out her second-floor bedroom window. As she walked up to the passenger door, he told her he had the perfect place for them to spend the evening. As he pointed to the picnic basket and blankets in the backseat, she excitedly hopped in the car, and they drove to the outskirts of town.
Although she was starting to get nervous as it was getting later and later, they finally reached their destination. She had never driven this far out of town before, and especially not at this hour. Still, spending time with her long-term boyfriend was all she could think about. And now that the moment finally arrived, she unbuckled her seatbelt and put her worries behind her as they pulled off on an old dirt road.
As her boyfriend turned off the headlights and began climbing in the back seat, the girl’s fears slowly began to resurface. With nothing but the glow of the radio, suddenly, the feeling of uneasiness began to creep back in. They were alone, on an abandoned dirt road, late at night, and completely surrounded by the swampy forest. But she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that they weren’t entirely alone.
As she tried to persuade him to take her back home, he assured her that they were safe, but if she still felt uneasy, he’d take her back home. Not wanting to give up so easily on their date, she agreed that it was all in her head. But it wasn’t long before they heard a loud shriek that startled them both.
As the boyfriend quickly got out of the car and began looking around with his flashlight, he noticed rustling leaves straight ahead. Yelling at his girlfriend to lock the doors and stay in the car, he took a few steps further and started to hear loud grunting. After hearing another guttural shriek just a few feet away, he quickly ran back to the car. Just as a white arm scraped the passenger door, he threw the car in reverse and drove away as fast as he could. As the teens were in total shock, the only word they could muster up was “Red” – the color of its menacing-looking eyes.
While this may sound like a campy, 80’s horror flick about teen lovers and serial killers, it’s by far not the only creepy legend in this area. Not long after this incident, more and more townsfolk began sharing their own versions of creepy monsters lurking in Louisiana’s swamps. Another story involves an unlucky motorist and a wandering goat. Legend has it a man traveling through Grunch Road and Haynes Boulevard in the middle of the night slowed down as he saw a goat wandering off in the middle of the highway. Not wanting to accidentally hit the animal and risk killing it or hurting himself, he stopped off on the side of the road and walked over to the goat to try and lure it out of harm’s way. However, once the goat was spotted, it began running off into the woods. Unsure of what to do next, the motorist followed the goat into the wood line to ensure its safety. But unfortunately, the next day, many passersby saw the abandoned motorcycle, but the man had never been seen again.
In another account, a Lake Pontchartrain resident reported her husband missing from a weekend fishing trip in Little Woods, about 30 minutes away. When he didn’t come home, she called the New Orleans Police to see if they could find him. As they patrolled Haynes Boulevard, they found his abandoned car, trailer, and boat still attached. They also found all of his prize winnings from the weekend simply rotting away in the cooler. What’s more, is that the driver’s side door was wide open as if it were pointing in the direction of Grunch Road. Disturbed, local police drove down to investigate the scene.
Although they never found the lady’s husband, and nothing was ever documented in the official police reports, there were odd occurrences described off the record. According to a few officers, when they drove down Grunch Road, they found a few broken-down trailer homes off in the deep woods. The creepy part, many of them felt as if they were being watched. They also claimed that they caught a glimpse of a couple of ghostly-white figures with red eyes peering through the busted-out windows. But because this was “off the record,” we don’t officially have any proof of these sightings.
Because we don’t have clear evidence from these various stories, it’s hard to believe an unknown treacherous monster lives out in the woods, simply waiting for unsuspecting victims. But what we do know is that all kinds of wildlife call swampy forests their home. The young couple could have seen and heard wild boar late at night. The motorist could have easily been attacked by an alligator. And the same with the woman’s husband, who went missing on his fishing trip.
As we all know, unfortunate things happen all the time, especially late at night when no-one’s around. But that didn’t stop the local residents from sharing countless stories throughout the 1980s of something much more menacing than a hungry alligator.
The monster in question? The Grunch Road Monster.
What do you get when you mix a reptile, a werewolf, and the devil himself? According to New Orleans’ residents, The Grunch Road Monster’s origins run much deeper than you might think.
Commonly known as The Grunch Road Monster, New Orleans Grunch, or even the Cajun Chupacabra, this cryptid is often described as a “goat-like being that appears to have leathery or scaly black-grey skin,” depending on who you talk to. Others describe that this creature has sharp spines, long horns or quills running down its back, and stands about 3-4 ft high. Many also add that it is highly intelligent and has “human-like skills,” and is able to “open doors and use tools similar to how a primate would.”
But that’s not all. Many residents have also claimed that the Grunch often howls like a wolf, especially during full moons. It’s also described as having a scream like a banshee and letting out a terrible screech like an angry ape when alarmed. Other reports say that it leaves a strong stench wherever it goes, and its eyes glow a bright red-orange or even a blue-green color. Oh, and it also supposedly has bat-like wings, long, dark fur, and a tail like a dog, and drains the blood of any human or animal it comes in contact with.
For the most part, all these descriptions definitely portray an El Chupacabra-like cryptid, especially the ones we covered from New Mexico a few episodes back. The glowing eyes. The sharp, spiny body. The vampire-esque nature. Even the weird bat-like wings resemble much of the descriptions told by Albuquerque residents.
But this Louisiana cryptid isn’t just your average blood-sucking monster. No, the Grunch may have deeper roots elsewhere, depending on its origin story. According to folklore, it may just have something to do with either a traveling circus, Christianity, or Voodoo.
Let’s start with the traveling circus theory.
Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, traveling circuses featuring strange, mysterious, and paranormal oddities were pretty common. In fact, we covered a lot of the history behind traveling circuses in our episode on the Chatawa Monster. In this previous episode, we explored Chatawa, a small town on the border of Mississippi and, you guessed it, Louisiana. Legend has it a circus train on its way from Chicago to New Orleans hopped the tracks and inadvertently released a ferocious, unknown monster from its cage that’s said to still terrorize the Mississippi swamps to this day.
Well, according to folklore, towards the middle of the 20th century, traveling circuses started to fizzle out. While some side-show performers were able to re-integrate into society, others weren’t so fortunate. Many of these past performers were looked down on because of their unconventional appearances at the time. It’s often speculated that many of these individuals were people with albinism – a genetic disorder that results in decreased production of melanin in the skin, hair, and eyes.
At the time, New Orleans residents would often cast out these individuals because they didn’t fit in with their societal standards. Stuck without jobs or places to live in the city, these individuals would have to rely on each other to survive. Because these individuals were ostracized, they tried to seek refuge in the swampy forests.
But that still didn’t stop the local hatred. Many residents would often go to the woods to stalk and harass them in the only place they could find safety. Fed up with the hatred, this community banded together to get help from an unlikely source. The devil.
After striking up a deal to protect them in exchange for their souls, the devil then created the Grunch monster to ward off anyone who dared to venture off in the forest. With the legs of a goat, large claws, sharp teeth, and an appetite for revenge, the harassment quickly ceased. But the stories of missing persons in swampy Louisiana only increased, thus, creating the notion of Grunch Monster killings. And just like the Chupacabra, it’s believed that a Grunch kills by sucking the blood of any animal or human it comes across.
So we have the traveling circus theory, where the monster aided in protecting outcasts living in 20th-century New Orleans. Next, we have a more religious origin theory.
Centuries ago, it was pretty uncommon for young women to marry outside of their religion. Afraid that it would bring evil upon their families, mothers would pass down tales warning young girls of the detriment they could bring if they should marry an unbeliever. The most popular tale? The Devil Baby.
When you hear this title, you probably think about horror movie nights featuring films of fictional evil children. All in good fun for Halloween, but to young daughters looking to marry a few hundred years ago? This was no laughing matter. To marry an atheist would mean a possible death sentence for you and your family.
One version of this story includes a young Italian woman who had been a devout Catholic but chose to marry an atheist who despised her faith. One day, after fighting with his newly married wife, he tore down a picture of The Virgin Mary from their bedroom wall and said that he’d rather have the devil himself in his house than have to look at that photo all day. But soon after, this would later become his reality when his wife gave birth to a baby known as The Devil Baby. According to legend, the baby was born with “pointed ears, horns, scale-covered skin, and a tail.”
In fear and disbelief at his newborn child, it’s said that he would go on to take the infant to be baptized and locked away in an attic. It seemed as though seeing the devil face-to-face made a believer out of him after all.
Another version of this story includes a Jewish man who, although he was of the same religion as his wife, simply grew tired of his ever-growing family of girls. Proclaiming that after the birth of his 6th daughter, he’d rather have a devil in the house than another girl. Unfortunately, when his wife gave birth to their 7th child, he got exactly what he wished for.
While the traveling circus bit makes sense for lore, you may be asking yourself what The Devil Baby has the do with the New Orleans Grunch. It’s a supposed evil entity but not really in the way of vampires. Well, let’s just say it’s a little unsavory. But I’ll spare the gory details.
According to legend, Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau, a free woman of color who descended from enslaved Africans and French colonists, was known as the Voudou Queen of New Orleans. Born in 1801, Marie Laveau grew to become a prominent figure during the 19th century and was highly respected by politicians, businessmen, and wealthy landowners.
She was placed in such high regard that she was often consulted by the community before making big decisions in their personal and professional lives. Not only that, but because of her strength, honor, wisdom, healing properties, and inherent beauty, she becomes a figurehead in a multiracial religious community. In addition to her Voudou practice, she was also a lifelong Roman Catholic who frequented mass and had her children baptized in the Catholic Church.
And while she lived a long, fruitful life, passing away just a few months shy of turning 80, something sinister happened during the peak of her career. Because she held both her Voodoo practice as well as her Catholic faith, it wasn’t uncommon for her to cast out evil spirits. So when one of these supposed “Devil Baby” was brought to her attention, she sought to end the evil from spreading.
Now, I’ll let you read our resource material for details, but to keep this PG, let’s just say that in an attempt to castrate one of these devil babies, it’s said that the repercussions of this action inadvertently created a male and female Grunch. Unfortunately, in an attempt to cast out evil, it only replicated it. And the Grunch’s next victim? Marie Laveau herself.
As the newly morphed male and female Grunch caught their sights on Marie, they viciously attacked. Brutally biting, gnashing, and puncturing holes in her skin, she ended up passing out from the pain and shock of it all. When she eventually came to, bloodied and scarred, they seemed to have taken off into the swamps where they have been reportedly stalking their victims ever since.
Okay, we can all agree that was a roller coaster of a story. But with tales like these, it’s easy for folklore to get muddied up over time. Especially with other stories of cryptid sightings, it’s hard to recognize which origin stories are rooted in truth, much less believe that these types of things even exist in general. And although most of these supposed sightings happened a couple of hundred years ago, many Louisiana residents swear up and down that they had Grunch’s lurking in their backyard after the disastrous Hurricane Katrina.
But here’s what we do know. Traveling circuses were a thriving industry at one point. And we know all too well that throughout history, there’s been hatred, mockery, and slander simply for people who look different from the “norm.” And, of course, we know that other religions, faiths, and spiritual practices all have their own rich history behind them. Mix these stories with mysterious missing person cases and unidentified animals roaming the earth, and you have a hodge-podge of beliefs.
In all honestly, I don’t know how to explain this creature. Maybe the Grunch Road Monster really is Chupacabra’s swampy cousin. Or maybe it’s just a rabid dog that attacks upon proximity. And with all of the goat-human hybrid features that are often depicted, it could also be a serial killer that has a penchant for dressing up like an animal who preys on lone individuals. But no matter what this cryptid can be chalked up to, my biggest piece of advice is that if you see a strange-looking goat wandering off in the middle of the highway, in the middle of the night, by all means necessary, just stay in your car, keep your eyes ahead, and keep driving. You don’t want to be caught rubber-necking.
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Thanks for touring Cryptids Across the Atlas. Until next time, keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see just on the edge of the road.