Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Legend

The '''Sheep Man''' is an urban legend that originated from two incidents in Loudoun County, Virginia in 1995 and in 2001. Several variations of the legend exist, but most involve a tall bald man wearing a work suit who confronts people who "trespass" on the Lanesville House property. Before seeing the man encounters with sheep often occur.

==Origin==

Claude Moore Park in Sterling, VA was once the home of Dr. Claude Moore, a noted radiologist, professor, and real estate investor. Upon his death the land changed hands several times, eventually ending up in the hands of the Loudoun County Government. A park was made, complete with athletic fields, nature trails, and a recreation center. However in the early 1990's the park was much less developed than it is today and only one person was hired to keep up the property, Mr. David Waynes of Centreville, VA.

On the night of August 16, 1994 Mr. Waynes failed to radio in that he was finished with his daily rounds. This was out of the ordinary, as Mr. Waynes was known as one of the most reliable employees of the Parks & Rec department. The next day, two hikers found a large patch of wool stuck twelve feet above the ground on a tree's branches approximately a quarter-mile west of the Lanesville House. Though they found it odd that something from a sheep would be so high off the ground, the pair continued on their hike until they found a pool of blood located on the steps of the Lanesville House. The hikers called the police who discovered that the pool contained a mixture of blood from both sheep and human. The next day, the well was searched and at the bottom laid David Waynes and the head, front hooves, and torso of a sheep later that lived in the nearby animal pens, later identified as “Betty.”

Different theories exist about what happened on the night of the Mr. Waynes’ death. No wounds or any signs of struggle were found on his body and an autopsy revealed that no traces of any substance that could have caused his death were present. Perhaps even more strange was the fact that the front half of a sheep was found at the bottom of the well with the body; the back half was never located. The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office could not find signs of foul play and the coroner ruled the death a suicide. While investigating the case detectives uncovered that Mr. Waynes was not the actual name of the man whose body was found at the bottom of the well, rather he was Clyde Vandervelt, a Dutch national who was in this country illegally after fleeing the Netherlands because the KLPD had a warrant for his arrest on charges that he had slaughtered seven house pets in his neighborhood in Amsterdam, including a seeing-eye dog, three house dogs, two cats, and a domesticated chimpanzee belonging to his brother.

In late October of 1995 a student at Park View High School named Sarah Baxter and her friend Sarah Flescher of Leesburg, VA were walking through Claude Moore Park at night after the two got locked in. The two approached the Lanesville House thinking it was a residence. Ms. Baxter knocked on the door while Ms. Flescher went over to pet a sheep that was lying on the ground near the steps of the house. Ms. Baxter reported that a “tall man with thinning blonde hair” answered the door and told her that he was going to shoot her if she and her friend did not get off his property immediately. The two girls quickly ran away, hearing the sound of a gun being loaded behind them as they fled. They eventually found their way out near Laurel Avenue, where the two girls called the police from the home of a friend. Police found that the two girls had marijuana in their systems, though despite their doubts about the girls’ story they checked the Lanesville House. No traces of anyone residing in the house were found and nothing was disturbed, although footprints from a sheep were found exactly where Ms. Flescher reported petting the one that was sitting there just an hour before. The police were startled by this news, as all the livestock that had once lived there were moved to various farms after the death of Clyde Vandervelt. Several bulletins were placed around the park in the subsequent months, telling hikers to call Animal Control if any sheep were found, though none ever were.

By 2001 Claude Moore Park had grown substantially, although the Lanesville House and the nearby buildings were not affected by the development. Rumors about the “Sheep Man” had spread through the community and were especially popular among high school students in Eastern Loudoun County and Western Fairfax County. In the late 1990’s reports of teenagers frequenting the house and destroying property occurred, though no arrests occurred and no citations were ever issued. On the night of July 28, 2001 a group of young people trespassed on the property. Peter Shepley, of Sterling, VA, reported seeing a sheep standing on Vestal’s Gap Road, about 50 yards from the Lanesville House, right next to a crumbling outhouse. Though none of the three girls he was with wanted to stay, as they had heard of the Sheep Man, Mr. Shepley advanced toward the animal. Right as he approached it he heard a deep, stern voice to his left. His head jerked around, and standing no more than ten feet away was a tall, balding man. “Get the hell off my property or you will be shot!” Peter and the other members of his party immediately departed from Claude Moore Park. Though the police were not called, the next morning Mr. Shepley returned, finding no trace of the previous night’s events, save for his own footprints and a single hoof print exactly where he saw the sheep.

Today, the legend of the Sheep Man lives on. Some say he appears only to those who aren’t looking for him, others say you have to egg him on. The most common way of “summoning” the Sheep Man is to yell “Come out, Sheep Man” into the well behind the house before running up the front porch and knocking on the door three times.

Claude Moore Park is a great place to have a picnic, hike a scenic trail, or play a baseball game. However, when the sun goes down just make sure you aren’t locked inside or you just may have to face the wrath of…

The Sheep Man

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