Unearthly sound plagues Crownpoint

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, Sept. 19, 2011

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Residents of Crownpoint Chapter are used to hearing dogs, coyotes and even the occasional bear. But since July, a distant, unearthly moan in the middle of the night has the hairs on the back of their necks standing on end.

"You can't even really describe it," said Natalie Murphy, who was visiting her hometown from Denver when she heard the sound shortly after midnight the night after Labor Day.

"It starts out as a very low, raspy growl and ends up like a big man yelling," Murphy said. "It sounds like something in pain. There's something human about it, but not quite."

Shortly after it starts, the sound is obscured by "every dog in Crownpoint barking," according to Murphy.

Murphy said several of her acquaintances and relatives have been hearing the sound since July, always between midnight and 2 a.m.

She was quick to add she's not a person who's into psychic phenomena.

"I heard all the scary stories, skinwalkers and things, since I was a kid," she said. "This is the first time I've personally experienced anything."

A Crownpoint Chapter employee who asked not to be identified said he's heard the strange sound, and it's pretty much common knowledge around the chapter that something is out there.

"There's a lot of strange things that go on around here, over and above the usual kids causing trouble," he said. "We're kind of used to it."

To his knowledge, nobody has tried to track down the beastie.

Murphy thinks everybody's waiting for the next person to do it.

"If this were a typical American city off the reservation, somebody would have tried to find whatever it is," she said. "But Navajos, we have this idea of, 'Let it live, don't talk too much about it. It's just something that's supposed to be there.'"

Besides, she said, the sound is distant and seems to be coming from one of the small mesas south of Church Road - not a place that's easy to navigate even in the daytime.

Navajo Nation Police Sgt. Tommy Rogers of the Crownpoint District has heard enough complaints about the eerie howl that he set aside Sunday night to get to the bottom of it.

"I had several officers assigned to stay up all night, listen for the noise and try to find whatever is causing it," he said. "They didn't hear anything except dogs."

Rogers said as long as the creature isn't bothering the citizens further than an occasional wake-up call, he's not willing to devote any more energy to the investigation. He himself, he said, has never heard it.

"As far as we're concerned, the complaint is unfounded," he said.

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