Big Muddy Monster A Favorite Local Legend
By Amanda Schmid
Volunteer News Staff
In the small town of Murphysboro, Illinois, several sightings of an unusual creature have been reported. This creature is rumored to use the Big Muddy River as its means of travel. Nicknamed the “Big Muddy Monster”, the legend says that it is tall, and matted with mud and hair.
A young couple reported the first sighting of the Big Muddy Monster during June of 1973. Randy and Judy Needham were sitting in their car near the boat ramp at Riverside Park, when they heard a loud, long scream.
Randy Needham says, “I’ve never heard anything that sent that kind of chill through me. Nothing could imitate that noise.”
Needham reports seeing the outline of a large, indescribable shape lurking in the streetlight. The scared couple started their car and headed for the Murphysboro Police Department. Two police officers went with Needham to the scene, and in the woods they found large impressions in the mud. The officers, as well as Needham, heard the strange scream again. Needham stated that neither he nor the officers had ever heard an animal produce a similar noise before. Needham explained that he never gave specific details of the creature’s description or its exact size.
Shortly after, former Murphysboro Police Cheif [sp] Ron Manwaring received a call from two teenagers in Westwood Hills who spotted a similar creature just outside of the woods near their house. Another young child from the subdivision reported seeing something strange while playing outside. Manwaring went to investigate and discovered tracks and a “slimy film” in the woods.
Other incidents around that time period were rumored to be appearances of the Big Muddy Monster as well. On the 4th of July that summer, the police were called to the celebrations at Riverside Park because something strange was spooking the horses.
There have been no more sightings of this strange creature in many years, but the legend is still discussed today. According to Needham, it is a story he has never escaped from, and he doubts it will ever be solved. The mystery of the Big Muddy Monster is one of the only unsolved cases in Murphyboro to this day.
Although he can’t explain the source of the noise he heard that day, Needham swears that it was not like anything he had heard before.
“To think that humans have everything figured out in this world is unrealistic.” he says.