Wolf Girl of Devil’s River

In 1835, a group of American colonists, led by Dr. Charles Beale, were camped at Lake Espantosa, a renowned haunted location near what is now Carrizo Springs in southwest Texas. Half a mile away from the Beale group, John Dent and his pregnant wife Mollie Pertul Dent, both from Georgia, had built a brush cabin. Dent had come to trap beaver in the Devil’s River area, north of the present day Del-Rio, but was also on the run from the law for the murder of a fellow trapper in Georgia. The Dents were to prove fortunate in their choice of a site distant from the lake. A band of Commanches raided the main Beale camp and massacred most of the inhabitants, afterwards throwing the bodies of the victims and their carts into the lake.

Wolf Girl of Devil's River - Map of the Rio Grande watershedA Haunted Location

Apparently even at this time Espantosa Lake had acquired a reputation throughout this part of Texas for ghostly goings-on, this incident adding to the store of ill-luck and sorrow centering on what, to this day Mexicans consider a haunted location, the name Espantosa meaning ‘frightful’. A mysterious ghostly fog, a lake monster and a spectral headless rider are some of the ghosts that have been recorded at this supposedly haunted location.

As Mollie was approaching the end of her pregnancy, the couple were reluctant to travel despite the danger of hostile Indians. One night in May 1835, there was a severe thunderstorm and Mollie went into labor. Without the help of modern medicine or the aid of a nurse or doctor Mollie was having problems with the birth and Dent needed to do something about it so he decided to ride westward for help. He arrived at a Mexican goat ranch on the Pecos Canyon, and told them desperately about his wife’s condition, begging for someone to ride back with him.

But as the Mexicans prepared their horses to leave there was a furious crash of thunder and a bolt of lightning struck Dent from his horse killing him instantly. After a considerable delay the goat herders mounted up and followed Dent’s directions. However, darkness fell before they had got over the divide to Devil’s River, thus delaying the search. Finally, at sunrise the next morning they located the Dent’s isolated cabin.

But what they found outside the cabin, in an open brush arbor, was Mollie Dent lying dead, alone. She had apparently died in childbirth, but there was no trace of the baby anywhere. The child was never found, but fang marks on the woman’s body and numerous wolf tracks over the area made the goat herders naturally assume that the infant had either been devoured or carried off by lobo wolves.

First Sighting of the Wolf Girl in Texas

But this was just the beginning of the story. Ten years later, In 1845, a boy living at San Felipe Springs (Del-Rio) reportedly saw ‘a creature, with long hair covering its features, that looked like a naked girl’ attacking a herd of goats in the company of a pack of lobo wolves. The story was ridiculed by many, but still managed to spread back among the settlements. Around a year after this incident, a Mexican woman at San Felipe claimed she had seen two large wolves and an unclothed young girl devouring a freshly killed goat. She approached close to the group, she said, before they saw her and ran off.

The woman noticed that the girl ran initially on all-fours, but then rose up and ran on two feet, keeping close to the wolves. The woman was in no doubt about what she had seen, and the scattering of people in the Devil’s River country began to keep a sharp watch for the girl.

More Texas Stories of the Wolf Girl

There were similar reports by others in this region of Texas during the following year and Apache stories told of a child’s footprints, sometimes accompanied by hand prints, having been found among wolf tracks in sandy places along the river. A hunt was organised to capture the ‘Lobo (or Wolf) Girl of Devil’s River’ as she had now become known, comprising mainly Mexican vaqueros. On the third day of the hunt the naked girl was sighted near Espantosa Lake running with a pack of wolves.




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