4. Chupacabra Sightings
The fearsome "goat sucker," so-named because it drains its victims of blood, made the news several times in 2005. In February, KOBTV reported the discovery of a strange corpse on Albuquerque's West Mesa. Although the creature did not really resemble the eyewitness reports of chupacabra, reporters hung the label on it anyway. In June, residents in South Texas wondered if they caught a chupacabra sighting on videotape. Most researchers believe, however, it was merely another case of a coyote with mange, as in the Elmendorf case of 2004. In August, a Texas farmer actually caught and killed one.
The top story was in December, when the real thing might have struck in Uruguay. Researcher Scott Corrales reported strange deaths of deer in a hunting preserve; they were mutilated and their genitalia and reproductive organs were removed.
5. Exorcisms on the Rise
With the screening of the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, based on the true experiences of 19-year-old Anneliese Michel, came a new wave of interest in demonic possession and exorcism. The Vatican, it was revealed, now provides a course for priests on conducting exorcisms and casting out demonic spirits. Bob Larson, a controversial American preacher, took his "deliverances" to Australia, where he said Melbourne's demons are "the most vicious in the world" because its society is in a religious vacuum. And people continued to be possessed, including a 43-year-old mother in Arizona, who claimed to have been possessed by as many as 10 demons over the last 23 years. The popularizing of such rituals became so offensive that in February a British television station came under public attack for planning to broadcast a live exorcism.
The top story in this category is quite different, however. Understandably, the scientific and medical community spoke out against exorcism practices, saying that they can do more harm than good, as in the case of Anneliese Michel. Whatever afflicts these people should be treated by psychiatrists. Misguided exorcisms can go horribly wrong, as in the case reported in June when a Romanian Orthadox priest faced murder charges after crucifying a young nun that he believed was possessed by the devil. There are other similar cases.
6. Bigfoot Sightings
Despite the claims of recent years that many Bigfoot sightings and footprint evidence were hoaxed, the large, smelly biped made several appearances in 2005, and new expeditions were launched to find good proof. William Dranginis investigated Virginia sightings, Jason Valenti and John Andrews searched Washington State, the beast was sighted in LeFlore County, Oklahoma, and Floridians hunted for Bigfoot's cousin, the Skunk Ape.
Some tantalizing new evidence came to light. Ferry operator Bobby Clarke thought he might have videotaped a Bigfoot in Northern Manitoba, Canada back in April. Unfortunately, the creature was too far away and the image too blurry for any definitive conclusion. Then in July, a hair sample was recovered in the Yukon after a claimed Bigfoot sighting. DNA analysis, however, proved that the hair was from a bison. More controversial video footage came out of New York State, where those who taped it say it could show a baby Bigfoot clambering up a tree.
The top Bigfoot story consists of two new photos. In November, a backpacker snapped photos of a hulking creature on a ridge on Silver Star Mountain in Washington, where other sightings of Bigfoot have been claimed in the past. And in early December in West Virginia, a motion-triggered camera captured the image of an unidentified bipedal creature dubbed the Braxton Beast.
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