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MoMo, The Missouri Monster

Twisting its way through the American midwest, past corn fields and major urban areas alike, the Mississippi River is in a way timeless. Controlled now by wing dikes and dams, the great river still bears a strong resemblance to its prehistoric self. Complete with long expanses where human activity is difficult to discern, and lined by high limestone bluffs, one of the world's greatest rivers is steeped in history, and stories of cryptids.

Whether it's a seven-toot-tall Bigtoot at Ft. Leonard Wood, booger dogs, or the Ozark Howler, monstrous beasts seem to be lurking in every nook and cranny of Missouri. In the Show Me State, these creatures are usually all grouped under an umbrella classification of MoMo. MoMo, the Missouri Monster. And some of the reports of these mysterious creatures are scary to the point of making a fellow not want to go out at night.

Missouri's main monster is clearly MoMo, the Missouri Monster. MoMo takes on many shapes and forms, but typically remains something close to a bipedal humanoid that lacks social interaction skills, is impossibly sneaky, and clearly has personal hygiene issues - sort of like a neighbor, but not around as much. It all began about thirty-six years ago.

Momo is reported to have a large, pumpkin-shaped head, with a furry body, and hair covering the eyes. First reported in July 1971, near Louisiana, Missouri by Joan Mills and Mary Ryan, Momo has been spotted up and down the Mississippi River. It is supposedly a large, 7 ft tall, hairy, black, manlike creature that eats dogs and emits a terrible odor. Some suggest it was a rogue black bear.

On July 11, 1972, two young boys, Terry and Walley Harrison, ages eight and five respectively, were playing close to their home near Marzolf Hill in Louisiana, Missouri. Louisiana is located about thirty miles south of Hannibal and about ten miles east of Bowling Green.

The two children sighted a creature that matches all the countless later descriptions of MoMo. Did they set the standard by which MoMo was to be described? A man-shaped biped that stood between six to seven feet tall and was covered head to toe in long hair. They, along with their sister Doris, who witnessed the sighting through a window from their house, said that "it stood like a man, but it didn't look like one to me." They both also said it seemed to have no neck, and held what looked like a bloody dead dog under its arm.

Of course this story spread like wildfire within the press and had a profound psychological impact on the community. The Louisiana chief of police organized a twenty-man team, who searched Marzolf Hill from top to bottom and along its entire length. Paranormal and UFO investigators converged on the scene to offer their unique take on the origins and purposes of this disturbing addition to the countryside's population.

But yes, you guessed it. All the efforts to sight the creature on the investigators' terms went for naught. One thing is for sure, MoMo must be far smarter than those folks trying to track, photograph, and capture his likeness. Because to this day, the Creature of Marzolf Hill remains free to roam the countryside, often wandering into a different neck of the woods.


Momo ("Missouri Monster") is another of the localized names given to hairy bipedal creatures sighted in specific geographic locations much like the Jersey Devil. Reports of hairy half-human creatures in the area of Louisiana, Missouri, had circulated since the 1940s, and in July 1971, Joan Mills and Mary Ryan allegedly encountered a hairy half-ape, half-man on River Road near Louisiana. On August 13, 1965, a similar-looking huge, dark, hairy creature attacked Christine Van Acker as she sat with her mother in their car near Monroe, Michigan. A picture of Christine's face with its highly visible black eye appeared in many newspapers around the country the next day.

The real Momo scare began on July 11, 1972, at about 3:30 P.M. on a relatively sunny day near the outskirts of Louisiana. After Terry Harrison and his brother Wally had gone off to look at some rabbit pens at the foot of Marzolf Hill, their older sister, Doris, who was inside, heard a scream. Looking out the bathroom window, she saw a creature standing by a tree, flecked with blood, with a dead dog under its arm. Doris and Terry described it as six or seven feet tall, black, and hairy. Its head and face were covered with hair, and no neck was visible.

It "stood like a man but it didn't look like one," Doris said. It soon waddled off, still with the dog under its arm. The Harrisons's own dog grew violently ill and vomited for three hours. Neighbors told of dogs that had disappeared. On July 14, terrible odors emanated from the sighting area, and the children's father, Edgar Harrison, heard eerie howls as he and investigators prowled the site. On July 21, Ellis Minor, who lived on nearby River Road, heard his dogs bark; thinking it was another dog, he flashed a light out in his yard, then stepped outside to observe a six-foot-tall creature with black hair. It was standing erect in his yard. Shortly thereafter, it dashed into the woods.

After two weeks, the scare-which had attracted national attention-ended. Similar creatures, reported throughout the Midwest and eastern United States and Canada, are often referred to as "Eastern Bigfoot." But in temperament, overall descriptions, body build, and the clear lack of similar facial features, these nonmontane, unknown hairy hominoids seem unlike the Pacific Northwest's classic Bigfoot/Sasquatch, and may be a hybrid of these classic Neo-Giants and the Marked Hominids.

Over thirty years ago, a man and his wife were jugging for catfish while floating in their boat just north of the St. Louis Water Department facility on the Missouri River. They had just set the jugs when they both noticed a Sasquatch-looking creature on the river's bank getting a drink of water. The beast was very relaxed and at first seemed oblivious to their presence. However, once aware that he had been seen, he calmly walked back into the woods.

They actually got very close to this Sasquatch, as they described its appearance in detail, telling of its black body hair, about six inches in length. They were even near enough to smell it, saying it had a musky odor like a wet dog. The husband stated that he had been deer hunting in the same area several other times and had heard trees being knocked down - a sound such as they had heard the day of the sighting. It appears that this six-foot-tall long-armed Sasquatch is hell on trees.

On the other hand, if the stinking, hairy beast left a trail of uprooted and mangled trees, wouldn't it be relatively easy to track him? But then, if you find MoMo, you have to deal with him. Maybe the wise choice is merely to relate the story to those who will listen.

MoMos seem to be evenly distributed across the entire state of Missouri. And they either have no fear of military firepower or lack the ability to distinguish the difference between an unarmed civilian and an M-16-wielding army recruit. On a beautiful spring day in 1982, a U.S. Army recruit was taking basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood. On this particular morning the recruit had been assigned to guard a bridge crossing where combat engineers routinely trained. He was armed with an M-16 and three rounds of live ammunition. While being transported to this remotely located bridge crossing, his two-and-one-half-ton transport truck stopped at a T intersection. It was during this brief stop that the MoMo sighting took place.

The MoMo was standing in the middle of the joining road where no one except the reporting soldier could see it. It had a height of about six to seven feet and hair that was light brown. The creature seemed unconcerned at the sight of the truck and casually walked into the woods. While the guard duty was actually a training event, the soldier was glad to have been issued live ammunition. This soldier went on to spend fifteen years as an army intelligence officer and worked as a civilian employee for the U.S. Coast Guard as an intelligence specialist. He maintains that he is a most credible witness.

At least this witness was honest. His report stems from a 1985 sighting of a Bigfoot after the witness had had a "couple" of beers at a local tavern and began to walk home. As he walked, he heard a loud animal-like roar, causing him to look just in time to see a large shape run into the woods. His fear factor now elevated, his walk took on a brisk pace, and he was purposely not looking into the woods, hoping that, by ignoring whatever it was, it would not exist. However, soon he sensed something directly in front of him.

Fearing the worst, he looked slowly in the direction of his fear and found a thing standing in the middle of the road just a few yards ahead. A stare-down lasted for a few seconds until the witness finally found his legs an made a run for home. He did have the presence of mind to look back to see if the thing had given chase, only to see it walking back into the woods. The next day he returned to the site of the encounter and found huge footprints; he also discovered that corn had been taken from his field and that someone had broken into his chicken coop.

As recently as 1997 a MoMo was sighted near the St. Louis Water Works. This account comes from a man who was bow hunting all day long and had climbed down from his tree stand to "stalk" along the parallel Missouri River bank. As he walked the trail, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye and immediately spun around. His skilled hunter's eye recognized that the shape was not that of a deer - it was more like a man. He immediately released the tension on the bow. But what he saw was not a man.

It was a large-torsoed being that by his estimate would have reached seven feet in height had it stood erect. The creature seemed to be either relaxing or sleeping on the ground. Sleeping, that is, until it noticed the bowman's presence. It made direct eye contact with the hunter, and from there on the story simply reveals that the hunter's first and foremost urge was to go somewhere else. He stated that he was not frightened, but that his need to leave the area was intense - also known as "scared, er, silly."

A sighting in 1999 took place near Festus, in Jefferson County. In the early morning, with excellent light, a man driving east on Hillsboro Hematite Road witnessed a large hump-shouldered creature walking across the road headed north. It appeared to be about six feet in height, with slightly elongated arms and a walking gait similar to that of an ape. Even though the apelike creature was large and stoop-shouldered, it moved with swiftness and stealth, and was not heard to make a sound as it disappeared into the heavily wooded thickets. Later the witness reported that the creature was heavily muscled and covered in dark black hair from head to toe.

The Momo sightings coincided with a UFO flap of sorts. Throughout the 1970's, multiple reports of UFO activity, particularly disc shaped craft, accompanied by cattle mutilations gripped the area. Theories have been advanced for years that the Bigfoot and UFO phenomena are somehow linked, and in the case of Momo that may have been true, but most of the time these events often seem seperate, linked perhaps only by circumstance in all but a few cases. Was Momo a creature left here by an alien craft, or just the overactive collective imagination? We will probably never know, but what we can say for sure is that the Mississippi still has secrets, and some day, Momo may yet appear again.

Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark. Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature . A Fireside Book. 1999.
James Strait. Weird Missouri: Your Travel Guide to Missouri's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. Sterling Publishing Co. 2008.

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