Spooky Stuff: Is “Courage the Cowardly Dog” Based on a True Story?

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Let’s kick off the first entry of 2020 with a truly weird and unexpected story that I never thought I’d write about. I was born in the 80’s, which means I was a 90’s kid. In 1999, I was 13 years old and trying to get through my last year of middle school when this awesome cartoon series premiered on Cartoon Network: Courage the Cowardly Dog. The show only lasted until 2002, but reruns continue to air. It was probably one of my favorite late night cartoons that I watched before going to bed.

In Case You’ve Never Watched the Show

As the title suggests, Courage is this adorable purple dog that is frightened of basically everything. He lives in Nowhere, Kansas with Muriel and Eustace after he was abandoned as a puppy. Turns out that his parents were sent into outer space. Muriel is a sweet Scottish woman who uses too much vinegar in her recipes, while Eustace is your typical crabby old man that harasses Courage. Muriel is often the one who is kidnapped by the show’s villains.

What is the Show Like?

I have to say that this show is wonderfully weird. There are some weird paranormal elements to it that I absolutely adore. As a kid, I didn’t think much of it when it came to the true stories or lore that may have inspired the series. Now, thanks to the reach of the internet and more, we are discovering more interesting stories behind the series.

Is the Show Based on a True Story?

Yes and no. There have been countless theories floating around the internet for years, and it’s hard to pinpoint what is actually true and what isn’t myth. There’s no doubt that Courage terrified many of us growing up, and it’s human nature to want to find answers to the mysteries we were exposed to.

For example, this image to your left has been floating around as the real-life house from Courage the Cowardly Dog. It is supposedly located in Truth or Consequence, New Mexico and was the location of a murder and a double kidnapping. In my scouring of the internet, I wasn’t able to verify this was true. I have no doubt that old Depression-era houses like this may have certainly inspired the designers from the show. But I have my doubts that the occurrences noted happened at the location above.

And then we have this next image.

This is another one that has been floating around numerous places like Reddit and other community pages. I will have to give credit to the creator of this image because it actually gave me the clue I needed to track down the story that is commonly linked with Courage. However, I soon learned that the caption in the photo wasn’t that accurate.

Yes, there was an elderly couple that lived in a neighborhood known as Kern Place in 1957. It was a historic neighborhood in the El Paso, Texas, right next to New Mexico.

The husband, William, was described as not the nicest person. The wife, Margaret, was described as warm, friendly, caring, and also petite. Yes, this sounds eerily familiar to their supposed cartoon counterparts. They also had a pet. They were last seen March 5th and 6th, 1957 after a neighbor brought over some Girl Scout cookies to them. The neighbor, Jeri Cash, felt unwelcomed and left soon after. She described Margaret as incredibly upset and William wasn’t happy with Jeri’s presence in the house.

They owned the business, Patterson Photo Supply, and were well known in their community. William was 52 and Margaret was 42 at the time of their disappearance. To this day, their disappearance is still an open case for the El Paso Police Department. The couple seemed to have disappeared without a trace. All that was left was their cat, Tommy. The couple did not have a dog.

Some have theorized that the couple was murdered and they were buried somewhere on the property. Former El Paso County Sheriff, Leo Samaniego, thinks that the couple may have been spies and left.

Friends of the couple told police that they went on an extended vacation to Florida and had sent instructions to distribute their assets and property to their friends, family, and employees. If anything, that sounds a bit suspicious. Especially since William owned a boat, a Cadillac, and property in Mexico as well as numerous stocks.

Also, there were friends who had dinner with the Pattersons just days before their disappearance, and they made no mention of having plans to travel. The friends, the Wards, owned an automotive business. They actually made plans with said friends for later in the week. What then became strange was that when Cecil Ward opened his business on March 6th, Patterson’s Cadillac was in his driveway. When Ward asked Doyle Kirkland, Patterson’s competitor, and close business friend, why he had possession of the vehicle, he brushed it off. Kirkland said that he helped Patterson with his boat the night before and he was going on a trip.

Ward was the one who called the cops. Margaret’s fur coat and the couple’s other expensive clothes were left at the cleaners. The house was in complete chaos with piles of dishes in the sink, and the house was described by police as being devoid of life.

The Secretive Couple

Turns out that Margaret wouldn’t tell people when her birthday was. Also, William had a mistress down in Mexico, who was also questioned after the couple disappeared. There were a few odd things about the couple that didn’t really add up. Apparently, Margaret’s parents didn’t approve of William as a spouse and forced their daughter to choose them or him. Well, we know who Margaret chose…meaning she was estranged from her parents.

Margaret and William Patterson

On March 15th, the couple’s accountant, Herbert Roth, received a telegram from a “W.H. Patterson”, which was weird because William’s middle name was Duncan. He was instructed to sell a mobile home owned by the Pattersons and act as business manager for their photo business. He was to use the money from selling the mobile home to support the photo business, as well as rent out the Pattersons’ house for nine months. After that, Roth was instructed to hand off the business to none other than Doyle Kirkland.

The couple was reportedly seen in New Mexico several times, but the couple was officially declared dead in 1964.

What Actually Happened?

Kookier theories explaining the Pattersons’ disappearance also include government conspiracies, UFOs, alien abductions, and skinwalkers. I take the last one back. The urban legend going around about the “true” story of Courage links the missing couple with sightings of skinwalkers prior to their disappearance. But I haven’t been able to find a link between the Pattersons and skinwalker sightings…at least not from a more legitimate news source.

In 1984, the Pattersons’ former caretaker, Reynaldo Nangaray, confessed to seeing (and cleaning up) blood in the garage and part of a scalp on the Patterson’s boat. He also claimed to have seen an associate of the Pattersons putting a bloody sheet in the trunk of their car. The reason why Reynaldo Nangaray didn’t say anything earlier was because he feared deportation since he was undocumented. The caretaker would die in a car accident two years later.

So, here we are. You thought you were going to read about how Courage the Cowardly Dog is based on a true story, and now you’re deep into a write up about one of the most mysterious disappearances of the 20th century! While the writers may have seen this story, they were inspired by countless stories and legends that make our society a little more spooky.





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