MO-MO THE missouri MONSTER
STRANGE TALES OF UNEXPLAINED AMERICA
On July 19, 1972, a 20-mam search party was organized in the small town of Louisiana, Missouri, to track down the huge, black, hairy beast that was being reported by local residents. Louisiana’s Police Chief Shelby Ward was afraid that nervous residents would start shooting the monster and hit a local by mistake. The media whipped up the frenzy about the monster and the quiet, unassuming community was launched into the national spotlight. The press humorously dubbed the reportedly foul-smelling creature “Momo,” which stood for the “Missouri Monster,” but local residents found the frightening encounters anything but funny.
The "Missouri Monster Scare" actually began on July 11, 1972. The first encounter with the creature occurred on the outskirts of Louisiana at the base of Marzolf Hill. An eight-year-old boy named Terry Harrison and his brother, Wiley, 5, were playing with their dog in the woods at the edge of their yard. Suddenly, an older sister, Doris,15, who was inside of the house, heard them screaming. She ran to look out of the bathroom window and saw something standing by a tree. It was "six or seven feet tall, black and hairy," she said. "It stood like a man but it didn't look like one to me." She began crying and ran into the other room to call her mother on the telephone.
Both Doris and Terry got a good look at the monster and agreed that its face could not be seen because of the mass of hair that covered its body. The creature seemed to have no neck and it was flecked with blood, likely from the dead dog that it was carrying under its arm. The smell of the creature was said to have been horrendous and it may have been this odor that made the Harrison's dog violently sick a short time after the incident. The dog's eyes grew red and it vomited for hours afterward.
At 4:00 pm, Edgar Harrison, the children's father and a deacon in the local Pentecostal Church, returned home from his job at the town waterworks. He found no monster, but he did find that the brush was beaten down where the children said that the creature had been standing. He also found faint footprints in the dust a few black hairs scattered about.
That same afternoon, a woman who lived about three blocks away from the Harrison's, Mrs. Clarence Lee, reported that she heard animal sounds outside her home. Not long afterwards, she allegedly spoke with a local farmer whose dog had disappeared. Remembering the Harrison children's report, she wondered if the monster had taken it.
On July 14, Edgar Harrison was conducting a regular prayer meeting at his home and soon after it ended, heard clanging sounds like someone was throwing rocks into the metal water reservoir on top of Marzolf Hill. The reservoir was an attraction for neighborhood children but it was unlikely that any of them would have been playing there at that hour. As he listened closely to the sounds, he heard one especially loud ring and then an animal-like growl. The sound came closer and closer and was so loud that his family came running out of the house. They urged him to leave the neighborhood but Harrison wanted to see what was making the sound. Finally, he agreed to leave and as he drove down Allen Street, he met about 40 people, some of them carrying guns, who were on their way to investigate the sounds at the reservoir. For some reason, Harrison shouted "Here it comes!" and the entire crowd turned away and ran. A number of people reported hearing the strange cries and screams that night but by the time that police officers Jerry Floyd and John Whitaker arrived on the scene to investigate, they found nothing out of the ordinary.
Later that evening, Harrison and several friends explored Marzolf Hill and found an old building from which a strong and unpleasant odor lingered. Harrison described it as a "moldy, horse smell or a strong garbage smell." In the days that followed, he and others would experience the same smell around areas where the bizarre sounds were heard.
The creature continued to be seen in the days that followed, leading to Chief Ward’s “monster hunt” on July 19. The posse included Edgar Harrison and State Conservation Officer Gus Artus and they covered Marzolf Hill and the surrounding area using two-way radios but found nothing. While it was taking place, residents reported animal sounds in other parts of town.
On July 20, more investigators joined the search and again combed the area behind the Harrison house and all along Marzolf Hill. The found trampled brush, signs of digging, and large tracks that were more than 10 inches long. Handprints were found pressed into the dry, hard soil, which investigators were convinced it would have taken immense pressure to make. They also smelled the beast, believing that it was close, but saw nothing.
On July 21, the monster was seen again, this time on the Great River Road, which runs along the Mississippi River. Ellis Minor, who lived on the road, was sitting in front of his home late in the evening. It was very dark and suddenly, his bird dog began to growl. Minor switched on a powerful flashlight that he used for hunting and he spotted the monster about 20 feet away from him, standing in the middle of the road. He later told reporters that it had "hair as black as coal" and that he could not see its face because the hair on its head hung down to its chest. "As soon as I threw the light on it," he recalled, "it whirled and took off thataway." He did not report the sighting to the police but he did call Gust Artus, the local conservation officer.
By now, national publicity was turning Louisiana into a three-ring circus. People were driving in from surrounding states, hoping to get a look at the creature. Edgar Harrison had become obsessed with finding a solution to the monster mystery. His family refused to come home again, taking up residence in a restaurant the family owned, and so his house was turned into a "monster outpost." The phones rang constantly. Meanwhile, Harrison had taken a leave of absence from his job at the waterworks to hunt the monster full time. In the company of friends and investigators, he camped out at the foot of Marzolf Hill for 21 straight nights. And while he never saw the monster, he did hear and smell it and noted that whenever the searchers were onto something, they were overwhelmed by the terrible smell.
During the last week of July and into the early days of August, more prints were found south of town. More tracks were discovered on the early morning of August 3 at the farm of Mrs. and Mrs. Bill Suddarth, who lived just northwest of town. In the middle of the night, they heard a high-pitched howling in their yard and ran outside with flashlights to see what was going on. In the middle of their garden, they found four large prints. Suddarth quickly called his hunting buddy, Clyde Penrod, who drove over and made a plaster cast of the print. Penrod, who was an avid outdoorsman, was puzzled by the whole affair. With the tracks being 20 feet away from anything else, he couldn't understand how they could have been made. They began abruptly in the center of the garden and ended just as mysteriously. It looked as of the creature had just appeared in the center of the garden and then vanished. No tracks were found anywhere else on the property and there was no sign that any prankster could have made them either. This was the last encounter with the creature and perhaps it is fitting that the "monster flap" ended on such an inexplicable note.
The discovery of the strange tracks at the Suddarth farm ended the “Momo” sightings and encounters in Louisiana and the story has become little more than a remembered curiosity in the area today. There are some though, who are likely never to forget the summer of 1972. For those people, and for those with an interest in the unexplained, those days in July will always remain a mystery.