25th anniversary of this unsolved Welsh mystery
Rhayader is one of the oldest towns in mid-Wales, with evidence of human settlement dating back over 5,000 years, including both axe heads and mysterious standing stones. The Welsh countryside is filled with centuries of myths and legends, but this year we celebrate a newer one: this is the 25th anniversary of the mysterious Monster of Rhayader, which terrorized mid-Wales from September through December, 1988.
The mystery has never fully been solved, although the evidence is clear: during those months, something was slaughtering Welsh animals and livestock at night.
Many people attribute the problem to an ABC: Alien Big Cat, which is basically the British equivalent of the chupacabra. From escaped leopards to breeding colonies of ancient large cats, rumors of big cats stalking the Welsh and English fields have been common for centuries.
The problem in this case is that the monster did not kill the way a cat would. Large cats will invariably kill by biting an animal's throat, either tearing it out or asphyxiating its prey.
By comparison, the animals killed during this time were slaughtered by a single deep bite to the sternum. A strange (and generally inefficient) means of dispatching a large animal. Stranger still, the animals were surrounded by circular tracks of flattened grass, as if a very large predator had circled the animal several times before killing it.
These tracks led off into the distance. When followed, they led to the banks of a nearby river. This led some to speculate that it might be the work of a river monster. A giant serpent, perhaps, or a Loch Ness monster/plesiosaur type of animal.
Hunting dogs were brought in, but they were unable to trail any scent very far. No paw prints or other evidence were ever found.
Here is what I think is the most salient fact of this case: none of the animals had been eaten. They were killed and their bodies abandoned, seemingly untouched (beyond the original fatal injury). This is definitely not the work of a normal predator. A predator, after all, is out for a meal!
This fact leads me to believe that the monster which terrorized Rhayader was not a paranormal beast, but a human being suffering from a psychiatric condition which compelled them to commit these acts. Perhaps a serial killer in the making, a delusional schizophrenic, or just your garden variety psychopath.
If I could go back in time, I would research who in Rhayader owned a small boat, and left town in December of that year, either moved away, was committed to a mental institution, or died. (Let's hope they didn't simply move away and start killing other animals or people.)