Are werewolves real or are they just part of stories designed to stand our hair on end? Are they the “real deal” or just the figment of the fertile imagination of horror story writers? I’ll let you decide.

It happened in England in 1591. The details are a little sketchy because the only remaining written account was taken from a 16-page pamphlet that was written about the events. Only two copies remain. Many records of the period were destroyed during wars that have been fought in the region over the centuries. But here’s what we know:

There were a rash of horrible deaths in the countryside around the German towns Cologne and Bedburg. The accounts are really gruesome (half-eaten human remains). A few people cornered a large wolf that was thought to be responsible for the deaths and set their dogs on it. They started to attack the wolf with sharp sticks and spears. The wolf didn’t try to run away or to protect itself. It stood up on its hind legs, and the villagers recognized him as a middle-aged man. He was Peter Stubbe from the same village.

Stubbe was put on the torture wheel. He finally confessed to having murdered, drank the blood of, and eaten 16 people, including two pregnant women and 13 children. According to the sketchy accounts of these events, Stubbe began to practice sorcery when he was 12. Eventually he began to take the guise of a wolf. When he was in the form of a wolf, he would rip the throats of his victims and drink their blood and then eat their flesh.

Stubbe was tried, found guilty, and executed. The execution was a rather grim affair. His skin was pulled off with a red-hot pincer. His arms and legs were all broken and his head was cut off. What was left was burned to ashes.

Stubbe’s brutality and savagery were inhuman and his acts were easily associated with the behavior of a wolf. People started to believe that such part-human/part-wolf creatures were living among them and they called them werewolves.