Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: Big Muddy Monster


Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

Big Muddy Monster: A Big, Muddy Monster

Many creatures have called the swamp their home. Whether it be lizards, big hairy men, or sea monsters, the swamp is a biome surrounded by legend and fear. The beasts that inhabit it are known to be twisted and terrifying with horrid appearances and even more terrible tales. So I’m sure when you hear the name “Big Muddy Monster” you get the chills, right? A sinking feeling in your stomach or a shiver out of terror? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Any legend with the name of something out of Sesame Street doesn’t have much of a reputation for scaring people. Despite this, the legend of the Big Muddy Monster is pervasive throughout Southern Illinois, and its significance is undeniable.

The Big Muddy Monster is a key part of the culture in Murphysboro, Illinois. On June 25, 1973, Randy Needham and Judy Johnson were spending some time alone together in their car alongside Big Muddy River when they encountered a rather putrid odor. Curious, they examined their surroundings until they laid eyes upon a seven foot tall monster with white hair—and a thick coat of mud all over its body. Terrified, Needham and Johnson fled, reporting the incident to the local police. The police reported to the scene the next day to discover massive footprints leading along the riverside. When Officer Jimmy Nash observed them, he immediately became enthralled with the mystery. The police had no choice but to believe the two since Judy Johnson had not been married to Mr. Needham. Despite the footprint evidence, police continued lurking through the swamp, discovering nothing. The local newspaper known as The Southern Illinoisan wrote a short segment about the account (but did not include the names of Mr. Needham and Mrs. Johnson).

On the same day, Cheryl Ray and Randy Creath were resting on their porch in the darkness of summer when they were alerted to a strange creature in the backyard. Cheryl lit the porch while Randy ventured out to discover what he thought would be an odd bush or tree. What Randy found was an eight-foot tall gorilla-like creature towering over him at a height of 8 feet and appeared grotesque, with a thick mud covering and a horrid smell. Randy stood about 15 feet away from the beast for a little while before it bolted away through the bushes and back toward the river. 17-year-old Randy drew a detailed picture of the monster he had encountered. After Randy and Cheryl’s run-in, the local police chief brought his men to the swamp next to the river for a stake-out. After some exploring, the officers discovered a beaten trail, with black sewage covering nearby tree branches and naturally-occurring shrubbery. It led them to an abandoned, dilapidated barn off the beaten path, which was where their investigation ended. 

The Miller Carnival, a small event for the local townspeople, was pitched nearby the place where the Big Muddy Monster had been sighted. At around 2 AM on July 7th, the ponies serving as attractions for the kids attending were missing, and after some searching they were discovered to be trapped in the nearby bushes. Three attraction workers neared to try and free the ponies from the trap when a massive creature emerged from the bushes, gazing down at them with curiosity rather than bloodlust and watched. The three men ran away, with one citing that he turned around and saw the creature watching the ponies. This report is the last police-filed claim of the Big Muddy Monster of Murphysboro, Illinois.

Despite the lack of recent sightings, people still come from all over to the marshland near Murphysboro in an attempt to receive glory for capturing the beast. Illinois is filled with game hunters and other rifle-owning townspeople ready to take a shot at whatever is plaguing the locals. No shots have been fired as of now, but the police have had to close off the area on multiple occasions due to the sheer amount of people crowded around. 

So what is this massive, mud-loving creature? Well, the conclusion of most townspeople and cryptozoologists is similar; the animal is a sasquatch. Sighted in every state in America, the sasquatch is one of the most popular urban legends in existence. The shy yet powerful creatures have been hunted for decades, with countless spin-off creatures taking after their legacy, and this Big Muddy Monster might yet be one of them. If you wish to visit Murphysboro, Illinois, try not to go while covered in mud, as some locals might be ready to file a police report on their odd encounter with you.