The “Wild Man” of Tularosa
A long time ago, in the archives of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico, someone asked me to look up an article about Carrizozo. Searching through the article, whatever it was, I stumbled upon something infinitely more interesting: the Malpais “goat-man.” In an old newspaper clipping dated January 12, 1934, I read the following:
Mysterious Goat Man of Sacramento Mtns. Reported seen again
CARRIZOZO, Jan. 12 (AP) — The “goat man” of the Sacramento and San Andres Mountains has surfaced in north-central Lincoln County, and as proof, James Greer, a rancher around here, is offering a strange coyote-skin hat that who it is said to have been lost by the “man”.
For several years, residents of the Sacramento and San Andres areas have recounted seeing a “wild man” who was always found near flocks of sheep and goats. The strange creature has been shot multiple times, but no one has ever captured it.
Recently, Greer, who lives three miles west of here (Carrizozo), went in search of one of his herds of goats in the Malpais Beds near his ranch. Returning with the lost herd, he suddenly saw that the goats were being chased by a strange-looking creature, which he at first thought was a coyote, since it sometimes walked on all fours.
Unsure of what to do, Greer shot the creature, which let out a scream and disappeared into the hollows of the lava beds. Greer ran over to where the creature had disappeared and found a hat made from coyote skins.
The hat on display here resembles Daniel Boone’s old hat. To all appearances, the skin was stretched over a stump or rock, the hair completely shaved except for the tail, which hung in a streamer at the back. In this state it had been dried for use.
Greer said the creature also appears to be dressed in the skin of various animals.
Although he had searched diligently for the creature, Greer said he could find no trace of it, and others who had searched for it had also been unsuccessful.
The yellowed newspaper clipping has fascinated me for years. Due to the name “goat man” and also the fact that the man was often referred to as a “creature” in the article, my understanding is that the author was trying to draw a parallel between this “goat man” and the alleged creature , half-man, half-goat seen along various Lovers Lanes in the United States, particularly in Prince George’s County, Maryland. However, as it turned out, Carrizozo’s “goat man” was actually just Tularosa’s “wild man.” I had heard of the wild man of Tularosa long ago from my late friend Luciana Villescas Scheve. She had mentioned that she had seen the wild man many years ago and given him tortillas as a child. The wild man of Tularosa was fairly well known, and as far as I know, the January 1934 article was the only time he was called the “goat man.” As it turns out, the “goat man” of Tularosa may also have been the wild man of Hope, New Mexico. The Carrizozo Goatman was reported in January, while the Hope Wildman began his reign of terror in the fall of 1934.
The largest and most sensational article was, “Group Search for ‘Wild Man’ Unsuccessful Near Carlsbad Yesterday” and appeared in the Clovis New Mexico Evening News Journal on September 7, 1934. More than a dozen men swept the hills of Queen, New Mexico to find him: “…The man who has been terrorizing women and children and robbing sheep camps and ranches in the area for the past month is said to be hiding in one of the numerous caves in hid in the hills. The country where the search was conducted is so wild that officials said they could have walked within 10 feet of the man without seeing him.”
The next paragraph certainly sounds similar to Carrizozo’s “Goatman” affair, as it reported:
Officials said they believed Murphy Hayhurst, a rancher who surprised and shot the man at his home on Wednesday night, did not hit him. They found evidence that the man had returned to Hayhurst’s home and stolen a kid while Hayhurst drove six miles to get help. The goat had been grilled and eaten just a few hundred yards from the Hayhursts’ home. Other campfires were also found near the house.
Later, an October 4 Albuquerque Journal article carried the headline “Wildman Leaves the Guadalupes” and concluded that the infamous Wildman had departed for regions unknown. Before doing so, however, he apparently returned several stolen items to the ranchers who owned them, including a horse and saddle. It is possible that he traveled north toward Tucumcari, as evidenced by this October 30, 1934 article, “Wild Man Scares New Mexico Folks,” published in the Lowell Sun:
A “wild man” described as tall with a long, shaggy beard is said to roam the sparsely populated region 60 miles south of (Lowell Sun: Tucumcari). Kitchens were searched in the absence of ranchers and their families. He has been sighted by several people including a young school teacher driving through this lonely area. She said he fled into a cabin and disappeared.
Did New Mexico have three different wild men roaming free in 1934, or was what started out as the Tularosa Goat Man later also become the Tucumcari Wild Man? In any case, when I looked for the wild man in the newspapers in 1935, I found no trace of him. All I found was the mention of a New Mexico wild man exhibited with a traveling circus, published in the August 7, 1935, issue of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. If this was the same wild man, it certainly provides a fitting conclusion of his wild life.