August 28, 2016

Weird New England News: A Giant Snake in Maine, A Witch on Trial, and A Witchy Author

There's been some weird stuff happening in New England recently.

First up: is a giant snake on the loose in Westbrook, Maine? It seems like the answer is "yes."

The story began back in early June, when a woman reported seeing a large snake in Westbrook's Riverbank Park. She told the police it was as big as a truck and had a "head the size of a basketball." Snakes in Maine don't get that large, so no one took her claim seriously.

However, on June 29 a Westbrook police officer reported seeing a ten foot long snake feeding on a beaver in the Presumpscot River. A second officer arrived and the two watched the snake swim across the river to the other side, where they lost sight of it. Game wardens investigated but found no sign of the snake.

The summer passed without any further snake sightings, but on Saturday, August 21 a Westbrook resident found a gigantic snake skin near the river:

Photo courtesy Westbrook Police, via The Portland Press Herald.
The shed skin is estimated to be at least 12 feet long. Snakes shed their skin when they outgrow them, so Wessie (as the creature has been named) is bigger than 12 feet and probably still growing...

The snakeskin has been sent for tests to determine what species it is from. Derek Yorks, a wildlife biologist with the State of Maine, said Wessie is probably not indigenous because the snakes native to Maine don't grow larger than five feet. He also said Wessie would probably not survive the winter if s/he is not a local snake species. I don't know - we've have had some mild winters lately...


An animal of another kind created a frenzy in Salem, Massachusetts, but rather than a giant snake it was a dog locked in a car on a hot day.

On Saturday, August 14, Lorelei Stathopolous was arrested by the Salem police for disturbing the peace. But Stathopolous says the police didn't do enough to help a dog locked inside a car on a hot day.

Stathopolous is a witch and owns Crow Haven Corner, Salem's longest-running witch shop. She is also an animal rights activist. On August 14 Stathopolous received a phone call from the manager of Hex, another witch shop in Salem, who told her that a dog had been locked in a parked car in front of Hex. The temperature was around 90 degrees.

Lorelei Stathopolous

Stathopolous called the police and ran down to the parked car. The police officers on duty didn't think the dog was in any danger because the window was cracked open. Stathopolous thought otherwise and urged the police to summon the fire department to free the dog. They refused. Stathopolous then tried to pour water through the window for the dog over objections from the police. When the owner of the car finally arrived Stathopolous urged the police to arrest him. They refused, but instead arrested Stathopolous for disturbing the peace.

Stathopolous will go on trial October 26. You can see WHDH's coverage of the story here.


Finally, if you'd rather learn about the historic Salem witch trials, head to the Boston Public Library on September 20 to meet Stacey Schiff, author of the recent bestseller The Witches: Salem 1692. The talk is free, and will be hosted by Brenton Simons, CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and author of Witches, Rakes and Rogues


Sue Bursztynski said...

I'll be interested to know what they learn about the giant snake. Surely it must have escaped from a zoo or some such, but odd that no one has said anything... At least they have the snakeskin to prove it's real. We have all sorts of weird sightings here Down Under, including large cats - it has been suggested there were some escaped mascots from US units here during WWII, though there would have had to be more than one to breed, and with no natural enemies, they would gave bred enough nit to be a mystery by now!

Anonymous said...

I'm in Maine and his is a non-story. It was confirmed in early July that the snake is just an escaped pet python but now the media is playing up the dumb angle of a "giant mystery serpent". Yes it's mildly interesting that a 10-foot python is on the loose but since we don't have Floridian conditions here, it won't survive the winter unless captured.

For a Maine giant serpent story that's actually intriguing check out the Pocomoonshine Lake monster: .

Peter Muise said...

Thanks both of you for your comments. Work has been crazy busy lately so I am very slow at responding right now.

Thanks for the link about the Pocomoonshine Lake monster. I think I've seen that story somewhere before, but it's really interesting. At some point And let's face it, Pocomoonshine is a great name for a lake.