The Great Kansas “Wolf Girl” Hoax
By James Donahue
In my years of newspaper reporting I encountered
several interesting “sightings” of hairy creatures, UFO landings, alien abductions and other oddities that were
obvious hoaxes although they made great news stories at the time.
Among the best I have ever encountered involved
a series of sensational news reports from Delphos, Kansas, about a sighting of a large “mushroom shaped” UFO followed
three years later by strange sightings of a small hairy “wolf girl” darting through the trees and brush surrounding
Authorities later declared it all a hoax
perpetrated by some very bored and creative teenagers with time on their hands during the summer of 1974. Yet to this day,
internet searches for the Delphos Wolf Girl or just Feral Children will turn up articles that declare the Delphos Wolf Girl
among the great unsolved mysteries of human history.
We have to say if it was a hoax it was cleverly
pulled off. It began with a 1971 UFO sighting story by Ronald Johnson, a local 16-year-old boy. Johnson’s story was
quite elaborate. He claimed he not only saw this mushroom-shaped craft, but watched it land in a wooded area near Delphos.
He said watching the craft somehow injured his eyes, but later he discovered that he had acquired strange new psychic powers.
Johnson said he was alone in the back of
the family farm when the craft, estimated to be about eight feet in diameter and sparkling blue, red and orange lights, dropped
behind the trees and seemed to hover there about five feet from the ground. As he watched, he said the ship began to glow
at the base then flew off with a whining noise. The glow was so intense he said he was temporarily blinded and never fully
regained his eyesight.
Johnson reportedly ran to the house and brought
his parents out in time for them to see the UFO as it flew off, by then a glowing light in the sky. When they went to the
scene where Johnson said the ship had landed, they found a glowing grey-white circle. Mrs. Johnson said she put her held inside
the circle and the soil felt to her as it it had crystallized. She said her fingers were numb after she touched the soil.
The story brought UFO chasers to the farm,
including Ted Phillips, a so-called “ufologist,” who had some of the soil samples tested by seven independent
laboratories. The tests revealed the presence of a fungus but no proof of having been altered by the landing of an alien craft.
The story remained the subject of much debate for years.
The story gets stranger from here. For days
after the UFO sighting, Johnson complained of headaches and nightmares and he said his eyes hurt. Later he claimed he acquired
psychic powers since his close encounter, but never explained what these powers were. And about the time the publicity from
all of this began to subside, Johnson reported meeting a strange “wolf girl” with wild blond hair and wearing
a torn cloth coat running through the woods on all fours. This happened in November, 1971.
Earlier that same year some people near Mobile,
Alabama, claimed an encounter with a “wolf woman” roaming through the countryside in the night. They described
the creature as having the top half of a woman and the bottom half of a wolf. This gives us the strange image of an odd-shaped
mythological Centaur, with a full human top half mounted on the small torso and legs of a wolf rather than a horse. The police
investigated but found nothing to support the story.
In July, 1974, at least four people in and
around Delphos started reporting sightings of a child of about ten or twelve years, with blonde, matted hair and wearing tattered
red clothing, running wild through vines and bushes in a wooded area northwest of town. Some said the “wolf girl”
never spoke, but growled, and had been spotted eating from cat and dog dishes.
One specific witness, Mrs. Joe Stout, told
authorities she had a face-to-face encounter with the creature in a shed in a vacant and overgrown lot. She said she found
it sitting on a picnic table inside the shed. She wasn’t sure if it was a male or female except that it was wearing
a tattered red dress. It was definitely human although it had a horseshoe shaped scar that appeared from its right eye to
the mouth. She said the girl made an odd gurgling sound then jumped from the table and disappeared through a small hole in
Stout and a neighbor searched the area, both
of them claimed to have encountered the wolf girl again, and both of them getting close enough to have been scratched. Stout
was scratched on the shoulder and her neighbor, Kevin March, a teenager at the time, was scratched on the throat from behind.
Sheriff Leonard Simpson organized a posse
to search the area, but found no sign of the creature. Deputies responded to a report that people had the creature trapped
in a shed. They said they arrived to find about 35 people surrounding the shed, but when they looked inside, they found nothing
Eventually police wrote off the whole story
as a hoax, aided by the wild imaginations of others in the area who apparently wanted to believe the story. No further trace
of the “wolf girl” was ever found.
Was it all a hoax?
A Ronald Johnson still lives at Delphos,
A Google search reveals he is now 52. There is a Stout family still living in the area as well. The woman who claimed
to have encountered the creature in the shed could still be living in the area. They may know the truth behind this odd story.