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According to urban legend, the Goatman is an axe-wielding half-animal, half-man creature that was once a scientist who worked in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. The tale holds that he was experimenting on goats until one experiment backfired, and he was mutated, becoming goat-like himself. He then began attacking cars with an axe, roaming the back roads of Beltsville, Maryland. A variation of the legend tells of the Goatman as an old hermit who lives in the woods, seen walking alone at night along Fletchertown Road.
One variation of the story has it that the Goatman was the result of a (very early) DNA experiment conducted by a scientist named Stephen Fletcher, though other variations suggest a more supernatural origin involving the Devil.
According to University of Maryland folklorist Barry Pearson, the goatman legends began "long, long, long" ago and were further popularized in 1971 when the death of a dog was blamed on Goatman by local residents. Pearson says "bored teenagers" keep the Goatman legend alive by repeating the story and suggesting that the creature attacks couples frequenting the local lovers lane, subsequently stirring interest in sites like Fletchertown Road.
- The Goatman legend was featured on an episode of Creepy Canada entitled "Goatman: Prince George's County, Maryland" in 2006.
- Another reference to the Goatman (only name) suggests similarity to another cryptid from Kentucky, known as the "Pope Lick Monster", which appeared when a woman was found dead while searching for the Goatman from Pope Lick Trestle. "Couple’s curiosity about Kentucky’s ‘Goatman’ legend takes fatal turn on railroad trestle" in April 26 of 2016.
- Aratani, Lori (October 26, 2008). "The Keeper of Local Haunted Lore". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- Wright, Andy. "Maryland’s Goatman Is Half Man, Half Goat, and Out for Blood". Modern Farmer. Modern Farmer. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
- Reel, Monte (Nov 8, 2000). "Famed Goatman Forever Held In Dusty Room". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2011.