Magickal Compendium – Supernatural Encounters – Cryptids & Other Magickal Beings – The Dog Boy

Stories began circulating in the 1990s of a mysterious being that appeared to be a man, but walked on all fours like a dog. According to lore, this hybrid creature had once been a man who had spent his mortal life sacrificing canines to the devil in order to gain their power. As a reward for his diligent brutality, he was eventually transformed into what would be known in the annals of urban legends as “The Dog Boy.” This staple of Arkansas folklore was said to have terrorized all whom he encountered. Even after his transformation, the thing that used to be human could only be sustained by feasting on the blood of animals; his preferred victims being dogs. People out walking their four-legged companions would report being followed by something that stayed in the shadows, just outside of their line of vision.

All that they could see during the encounters was a pair of glowing eyes reflected in the moonlight. Even though the stalker could not be seen by the person walking their dog, the pet was instantly aware that something was wrong. Normally docile animals would react violently to the thing that lurked in the darkness. The most obedient of dogs would attempt to escape its tether in a bid to either flee the scene or confront the threatening presence. Pet owners who let their animals out to roam freely sometimes never saw them again. Some dogs that disappeared were later found mutilated or half-eaten. Before long, sightings of a large predator, thought to be to blame for the rash of killings, began to make the rounds in the community.

Those who saw the creature firsthand claimed that it appeared to be a very large man who walked on all fours. He wore tattered clothing that looked like it had not been changed in years. His face was still human, but had taken on the characteristics of a canine, most notably, a long snout. With the passage of time, the reports died down as did the dog slayings. It was assumed that either the suspect had moved on or met its demise when it encountered prey more formidable than itself. It was also possible that the man/dog had never existed at all. That would have been the most likely scenario had it not been for the abominable acts of one of Arkansas’ native sons. Gerald Bettis was born in Quitman, Arkansas in 1954. His parents, Floyd and Alline had tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child. They had all but given up on the idea of being parents when, out of the blue, Alline found out that she was expecting.

The Bettis’ were approaching middle age when their tiny miracle was born. The child they never thought they’d have quickly became the center of their universe. The couple doted on Gerald to such an extent that he grew up believing that the world did, for all intents and purposes, revolve around him. From early on, Gerald showed a penchant for cruelty that should have sent his parents scrambling for help. Instead, they chose to ignore their son’s actions even when he turned his aggression on them. Little Gerald’s favorite pastime as a child was capturing and torturing animals. Concerned neighbors complained to his parents that they could hear the cries of these unfortunate souls as they were being subjected to the boy’s twisted experiments. As was their habit, Floyd and Alline made excuses for their son’s behavior.

The one thing they didn’t do was confront Gerald. It would only upset him which was something they had learned to avoid at all cost. The Bettis’ were, at least until Gerald entered the picture, considered by their neighbors to be good, Christian people. The couple had always been kind and thoughtful. What they had done to deserve the tiny terror that was Gerald was beyond anyone’s comprehension. According to locals, the boy collected so many animals that his family had to build on to their house in order to accommodate their son’s hobby. Townspeople had learned over the years that they had to keep a close eye on their valued pets. To let a dog or cat out of one’s sight for even a moment could leave it vulnerable to the ever watchful eye of Gerald Bettis. Although he was merciless to any creature he deemed weaker than himself, Gerald was a perpetual victim in the human world.

Relentlessly bullied at school, he cowered when in the company of his peers. Oddballs don’t normally fare well on playgrounds and Gerald most assuredly fell into that category. By the time Gerald reached adulthood, he stood well over six feet tall and weighed three hundred pounds. His parents took to spending all of their time upstairs in their room while their son had free rein of the rest of the house. The now elderly couple relied on their son to bring them food, which he did if he was feeling charitable. It was rumored that Gerald was physically abusing his parents, but no one knew for sure since visitors were not permitted in the home by order of the suspect himself. It wasn’t until their brutal family life spilled out for all to see that the suspicions were confirmed.

It is uncertain how the incident that brought the family’s living situation to light began. What is known is that, at some point, Gerald had thrown his aged father out of a second story window. Floyd had clung to the ledge as panicked neighbors phoned police. Local residents stood by helplessly while they waited for emergency personnel to arrive. From inside the house, Gerald could have easily pulled his father to safety, but he didn’t offer any assistance. After all, it was he who had caused the predicament in the first place. Floyd was rescued and, as was to be expected, made excuses for his son’s violent outburst. Gerald remained in the house with no charges filed against him. The incident had, if nothing else, alerted the public that the elderly Bettis’ needed someone other than their son looking out for them. Floyd died in 1981 under questionable circumstances.

Official reports state that he passed from natural causes. Those close to the situation claim that he died at the hands of his only child. The truth, unfortunately, will probably never be known. With only his mother left to keep him company, Gerald began spending time outside of the house. He was said to have struck fear in the hearts of locals who had the misfortune of crossing his path. They all sighted one thing in particular as being at the root of their gut reactions: his cold, dead eyes. Gerald was described as having eyes completely devoid of emotion. They were simply dark pools that held not an ounce of humanity. If eyes are the windows to the soul, then Gerald Bettis had none. His was a body without substance. Shortly after Floyd died, Alline suffered a fall which resulted in a broken hip. At least that was the story that Gerald told.

When he visited her in the hospital, witnesses claimed that they saw him slap her as he warned the frail woman to keep her mouth shut about “what he had done.” As a result of this public display of aggression, Adult Protective Services stepped in and removed Alline from her son’s care. Finally, after years of living in fear, Gerald’s mother escaped the one person she had once worshipped above all others. Gerald was arrested and tried for the assault on his mother. Under oath, Alline recounted the years of abuse both she and her husband had suffered at the hands of the son she had longed for her whole life. Gerald Bettis was sent to prison where he died in 1988 of a drug overdose. His mother would outlive him, passing away in 1995 of natural causes. As their story ended, another was about to begin. The family home was put up for sale as the last of the Bettis family left this earth. Subsequent owners soon reported a spate of strange phenomena that plagued the dwelling.

Among the odd occurrences were lights that would be turned off at night only to be found blazing brightly come morning. Tony Weaver and his wife purchased the property following the deaths of the former owners. He claimed that on one occasion pennies could be seen floating down the stairwell. The coins stopped and hovered in mid-air for a few seconds before all at once falling to the floor as if being dropped by unseen hands. Weaver also reported that he had witnessed a man standing in the foyer peering into the living room. The intruder was dressed in a soldier’s uniform that appeared to have been from WWI. When Tony attempted to confront the stranger, the man disappeared into thin air. The Weavers eventually moved out of the house, although they retained ownership.

Rather than living in the place fraught with bizarre activity, they opted to turn it into a rental property. In 2003, Quinton White and his wife Stephanie moved into the house. One day, they heard a loud crash coming from upstairs. When Quinton went to investigate, he found that a stack of boards that had been piled in a corner were all standing upright in the middle of the floor. Tony Weaver has attempted several times to sell the old Bettis house. One after another, prospective buyers are scared off before an offer can be made. Try as he might, Weaver can’t seem to quiet the restless spirits long enough to ensure a sale. On one occasion that the house was being shown, an empty reclining chair suddenly flipped back on its own as if someone had taken a seat and prepared to enjoy the upcoming show. Needless to say, the would-be buyers beat a hasty retreat.

One couple who brought their dog along for a viewing had their plans stymied when their normally adventurous pet refused to set foot passed the threshold. Others who came to see the house accompanied by their canines were met with similar outcomes. Dogs, as it happened, would have no part of the Bettis house. While a remodeling project was in full swing, one of the contractors claimed that he had encountered a large cat with long brown hair and piercing eyes. He also noted that the animal had sported the arms and hands of a human. In 2005, paranormal investigators descended upon the house in an attempt to find out who, or what, was at the heart of the alleged haunting. Their efforts uncovered multiple cold spots and pockets of energy in various areas of the home that indicated that a non-human entity was present.

While exploring the exterior of the home, the team reported seeing someone watching them from an upstairs window. Who the observer was remains a mystery since no one was inside the house at the time. During the course of the investigation, contact was made with a spirit that claimed to be Gerald. Seething with hostility at the presence of the perceived interlopers, he had demanded that they get out of his house. Having said his peace, Gerald retreated and refused to communicate further. It is theorized that the man/dog that terrorized the area was actually Gerald Bettis in the form he assumed after death. Since he wasn’t one to confide in others, no one knows for certain if the years of animal sacrifices were conducted to satisfy his sick urges or, perhaps, as offerings to a dark force in exchange for immortality.

The connection between the two entities that sullied the area, one being Gerald, the other being the human/canine hybrid, can be found in the descriptions of their eyes. Both were said to possess the unfeeling orbs of something lacking empathy of any kind. The same word was used in both cases; “soulless.” It is worth mentioning that speculation abounds that the house was cursed long before the Bettis’ moved in. No one knows why or how the structure gained this reputation. At any rate, some believe that the house had gifted a baby to the barren couple who had lost all hope of conceiving. Perhaps whatever evil had attached itself to the property, found its outlet in Gerald. Unfortunately for the Bettis,’ the beast they brought into the world would be the source of great suffering for countless living beings, themselves included. Whether the infamous Dog Boy was an accident of nature or a creature whose conception was instigated by forces that waited for an innocent couple who would not see the truth until it was too late, will never be known. What is certain is that Gerald Bettis, evil by chance or design, left his mark on the state of Arkansas and in the world of urban legends.

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