Residents of a small community say a mysterious beast is roaming the woods in Cherokee county. Sightings of a large black panther have been made recently in a small community a few miles south of Jacksonville in an area called Dialville. Neighbors in the community are terrified of the eerie sounds and evidence of what they believe is a large predator roaming their area. Some of them say they've seen a shadowy silhouette of a big cat roaming the woods.
"My wife hears me pulling up in my truck and she opens the door and as soon as we get into the house we shut it and lock it" says new area resident Keith Wooddell.
"One man spotted a black panther and 3 cubs on the highway" says another resident.
Big footprints have been found, and more disturbing, animals bones and carcasses have appeared in the area.
"I was getting ready to go to work and there was a bone sitting out there in my yard, it was a skull, looked like it had been killed and shredded" Wooddell says.
But it's the noise that really has them nervous, we're told they began two weeks ago, and sounds like a woman screaming.
"It sounded like a girl a woman a girl screeching screaming crying out it was really disturbing, I think its a really big black cat" said Keiths wife Trai Wooddell.
"The last 2 weeks have been outrageous I mean we've had a cat out here every night around 1 or two o'clock in the morning, it sounds like a lady screaming out there, usually when you think of that you think a panther" said area homeowner Jason Nevil.
But county biologists believe it's probably a cougar, or mountain lion, which are rarely seen in east Texas. But game wardens we talked with today say it's extremely unlikely that a black panther is in east Texas, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility, there's a water source here there's everything that a big cat needs, and jaguars have been known to migrate up from central America to Texas. And jaguars can be black in the wild. For now residents say, at night, they are keeping their children and pets inside.
"Everybody up and down the street's got little kids out here" Nevil says.
"I know there's something back there. Right now when nobody knows where it is it's really scary" says Trai.
Dialville residents have alerted game wardens about the sightings, but so far no signs of what animal might be roaming the area.