Shawn Lindseth / Heckler Spray / March 20, 2006
Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, ghosts, myths, strange facts or just plain weird, weird goings-on.
Does anyone remember the Salem Massachusetts witch burnings of 1692? Yeah us neither, hecklerspray was barely beginning to walk back then. We're told it was a horrible ordeal where 19 men and women were hauled off to a proper hanging after being wrongly convicted of witchcraft in a court of "law".
Another man - one who was over 80 years old - was killed by placing incredibly heavy stones on his chest. His only crime was refusing to submit himself to a witchcraft trial, which would have resulted in his swinging boots anyway.
This witch burning madness is generally considered to be a black stain on the pages of American history. What if, though, those had been actual witches - evil people killing witches? Had that been the case, then you'd have a case very similar to that of Peter Stubbe, who was put to death for being a werewolf in 1591 Germany.
It was a panic-stricken Germany in 1591, and some of the biggest reasons for that panic were wolves. Many of the towns back then were surrounded by woods - lots of it. The forest was commonly abundant with in hungry wolves. At that time it wasn't uncommon to find partially eaten people strewn about the town's fields come morning. The townspeople weren't satisfied to hide in their homes, quivering for fear. They'd organise themselves into groups armed with an assortment of sharp farm tools and weaponry and hunt the wild dogs down.
A very old pamphlet from the time tells the tale of Peter Stubbe. Local farmers had cornered a ferocious wolf. They were prodding it with sticks and spears and their dogs were wildly attacking it. Then a curious thing happened - instead of the wolf running, it turned into a local man right before their eyes, standing on it's hind legs. That man was Peter Stubbe.
Stubbe admitted under torture to being a werewolf. As bad as that sounds, it seems to have been a confession extremely close to the truth. Though the thought of a man changing into a wolf is absurd, Stubbe was something much worse - a serial killer. One of those he'd killed was his own son, who he confessed to dragging into the woods and eating his brain. He also confessed to the killings of 15 others.
Stubbe's dark path started when he'd put on what he said was a magic girdle (he thought himself a sorcerer), and then attack his enemies - actual or imaginary. Eventually he began carrying out his atrocities in the guise of a wolf. He'd chase people down as a wolf would, tear open their throats, drink their blood and eat their flesh. The spree lasted about 25 years.
Think there's no punishment good enough for crimes like this? You're probably right, but the villagers tried anyway. They sentenced him to be strapped to a giant wheel, have his flesh pulled off his living bones with red-hot pincers, broke both his arms, broke both his legs, lopped off his head, and burned him to ashes.
Of course this is all extremely Off-Putting. Werewolf or not, Stubbe was truly a monster.