Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Neil Arnold and the New Jersey Devil Hunters

Neil Arnold, author of the excellent book Monster!, contacted me yesterday to let me know he had just posted to his Zooform blog a lengthy interview with Laura Leuter of the New Jersey Devil Hunters.

Having read the interview, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. I have copy-pasted below Neil's Introduction to the interview, as well as the first two questions and answers, which are followed by a link to the full interview.

Now, here's Neil:

In January 2008 I interviewed Laura Leuter, president of the New Jersey Devil Hunters http://www.njdevilhunters.com/ regarding the long-running mystery of one of cryptozoology's strangest creatures, the Jersey Devil, said to have roamed the dense Pine barrens for several centuries.

Laura gave me the lowdown on her investigations and theories, and with her kind permission allowed me to use some of her photo's from the 19th January hunt:

1) Laura, firstly, please can you explain a little about the legend of the Jersey Devil?

According to legend, in 1735, a woman named Mrs. Leeds from Leeds Point was in labor with her 13th child. During a fit of pain, she cried out, “Let this child be a devil!” and when the infant was born, it morphed into a hideous creature. The creature then devoured everyone in the room, and fled through a chimney to the Pine Barrens, where it has haunted the area ever since.That’s one variation of the legend, probably the most widely known. Other variations say that he did not eat the family, and instead used to visit them for many years, due to Mrs. Leeds feeding it. One day, she shooed it away, and it never returned.Other variations say that Mrs. Leeds was cursed by a gypsy in the woods after refusing her food, or was cursed due to the fact that she was having an affair. Others say that it wasn’t Mrs. Leeds, but actually Mrs. Shrouds.It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the legend is, as it is a tale that has traveled through generations and of course things were changed over the years.

2) Can you tell me a bit about the Devil Hunters, what made you start a group to investigate the sightings, how many members you have, your aims etc?

We are a group dedicated to the search for the truth about the Jersey Devil. We conduct research through written word as well as actual field work. We research the legend itself, and the history surrounding that, while also visiting witnesses and gathering their accounts.At the current moment, we actually have 13 regular members, which is just a coincidence. We’re looking to continue expanding our regular member base. Regular members are the people we count on for conducting the research and going on hunts. We also offer a second membership option, which is known as Associates. We’ve got about a 100 or so associates, located around the world, who help with online research, theories, etc.I was prompted to start this group back in 1999. I had been researching this creature when I was a little girl, and I had always had the hopes of going out to the house foundation where the Jersey Devil was supposedly born. But, at the time I was about 12, which meant there was no way it would be possible for me to even consider going out in the woods in search of a burnt down house. However, as I got older, and found myself in discussions about the Jersey Devil, the two original founders and I decided to put the group together and go do this. So here we are, almost 9 years later, still in search of the truth.

Click here for the rest of Neil's interview with Laura.

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