Orwin, North Carolina, is a small town located just south of the state line with Virginia. The population of Orwin proper is 2,037, with another two hundred or so people living in the area around the town. Close by, the town of Roan Valley is much larger, with a population of roughly ten thousand, not counting students at the regional Roan Valley University.
Most people have never heard of Orwin, and those who have generally don’t think of it as the sort of place where the events of March 14th, 2008 could have taken place. Orwin is ‘anywhere USA’, a peaceful little slice of Americana where farm kids drive around in Ford trucks, grandma still cooks apple pie, and the biggest news story is usually related to the performance of the high school football team in state competition (where, in 2007, it made the finals). Still, that doesn’t change the horrifying reality of what happened there, and even though the scars are healing and life is slowly returning to normalcy, no amount of time will ever wash all of the blood from the field near the Olberson Homestead farm.
The story of what happened in Orwin is as complicated as it is terrifying, but most sources seem to agree that the first report of anything unusual occurring in the still-unaware community came into the Orwin Police Department late in the evening, at 7:34 P.M. Two elderly women, driving four miles outside of town on a rural back road, called in to tell the police that they had seen something strange in the forest across a grassy field. When asked to describe what they had seen, they told the officer on the phone that it was, “something large,” but indistinct because of the branches obscuring their line of sight. The police decided that the situation was probably nothing to worry about, and did not send anyone out to investigate what the elderly women had seen.
The next calls came in just before sunset, at 7:53 and 7:55. They came from a farmer, who was doing late work feeding his livestock, and from a young man coming out of the woods after a solo hiking trip, respectively. The latter described what he saw as a “black animal, moving through the trees,” by the hiking trail. Like the two elderly women, he did not offer a detailed description of the animal, but seemed to believe that it was very large, and felt horrified by what he had seen. He said, in a later interview, that he had run out of the forest, scared that the animal might follow him, or that there might be others. The farmer described a scene similar to that viewed by the elderly women, saying that he had seen something in the forest, across the field from his farm. It had apparently bothered his livestock, however, particularly the goats, which seemed terrified, and did not sleep throughout the night.
More sightings came in before nightfall, with an increasing frequency, until calls were coming into the small town’s police station every few minutes. Some of them came from people who were absolutely terrified by what they had seen; one woman, alone in her house, said that she had heard something brush against the wall outside of her kitchen, and had gone to the window over the sink to see what looked like black, leathery skin pass by. She stayed on the line with police until her husband arrived, then went with him to a motel for the night, too scared to go back to her house.
After 8:00 o’ clock, the sun didn’t take very long to sink beneath the horizon outside of Orwin, and then, things took a disturbing turn. Whatever was in the forest seemed to get more active at night, and so did another, very human force, living inside of the town.
At 8:36, driving along a dark highway between Roan Valley and Orwin, a group of college students in an SUV saw a sight in their headlights which completely dumbfounded them. A cloister of around eight men, dressed in black robes, crossed the road in front of them, forcing them to stop. One of the men, according to all of the students, paused to look at the SUV before going on. The young man got a good look at the individual, which helped to identify him later as Gregory Santiago, a prominent banker and respected member of the community.
Behind the robed men, the college students reported seeing something else cross the road, presumably one of the animals which others had been encountering. They described it as being, “larger than an elephant”, with six legs, and pitch black skin. They stated that, although they could not see far above the tops of its legs, they believed the animal to be at least forty feet tall, with pointed spines or possibly tentacles sticking out of its back, and pointing up toward the sky. They did not describe the animal as having eyes, but they stated that it did have ‘faces’ covering its flanks. Five in all, one of which had a large mouth, opened in a permanent scream.
The students drove into town, arrived at 8:53, after two other people had independently reported sightings of similar animals in the fields around Orwin. None of the other reports which came in that night were as detailed as the students’ account, however, nor were any of them quite as baffling or horrifying in light of later events.
It was at 11:47 that the occurrences in Orwin ceased to be simply strange, and turned into something much worse. Eight and a half miles outside of Orwin, Janet and Neal Olberson, along with their six-year-old daughter Natasha, experienced a nightmare which none of us can ever really imagine. A group of invaders broke into their home, shattering the window in their living room, and shot Neal Olberson dead. These murderous intruders were later discovered to be the same eight men who the Roan Valley University students had seen crossing the road, and were found to be members of a cult, called the Sacred Arm of Cal U’hunlat.
After killing Neal Olberson, the three cultists who broke into the home, later identified as Nathan Henson, Daniel Walker, and his brother, Norm Walker, took Janet and Natasha Olberson hostage, dragging them outside of the house and into the field behind. There, both were tied to a rocky outcrop near the forest, and surrounded by the ring of eight men. The eight cultists chanted loudly, calling out to the stars in the clear sky high above, and bellowing for their goddess to come and accept her sacrifice.
What happened next is a matter of contention and controversy. Those who tend to believe the account of Natasha Olberson, which was given two weeks later after the child went through intensive psycho-therapy, something simply unimaginable came out of the forest and took her mother. The description of the horror is different from the description of the monsters seen earlier; it was much larger and, according to Natasha, very squid-like. She claimed to be able to see the head of the creature, extending roughly one hundred twenty feet over the trees. Mouths, eyes, and tentacles covered its entire body, along with ropey strands of flesh, which it used to pull itself across the Earth. Natasha told investigators in the case that she had turned away after the monster took her mother, but that she believed it killed her. Investigators later stated that, although they could not accept her testimony on the grounds that she was likely suffering from intense psychological trauma, the basics about the event were correct. Her father and mother had both been killed by eight men, all of whom had been members of an occult group.
Before the eight men could be located and brought to trial, however, they all either vanished off the radar, or were found to have committed ritual suicide. Two are believed to have fled to Mexico following the incident, while the whereabouts of three of the others are not known. All three of the men who broke into the Olberson household are presently known to be dead. It was in their homes that relics related to the cult of Cal U’hunlat were found, tying the obscure, almost unknown group to the horrible crime.
Natasha Olberson is currently in foster care, and is living in an unknown location, under the arm of the witness protection program. Other than her account and those of other witnesses from that day in March of 2008, there is almost no evidence that anything out of the ordinary occurred in Orwin. Time will pass, but the bones of Janet and Neal Olberson will always be interred in the local cemetery beneath two lonely marble markers, testaments to a nightmare which no one can imagine, but which no one can forget.