Was a Bigfoot shot and killed in rural Pennsylvania? Conspiracy theorists go wild with speculation after local resident's 911 call
John Winesickle set conspiracy theorists into overdrive when he called 911 asking for officers to come and inspect his 'proof' of bigfoot
It is straight out of the X-Files, but conspiracy theorists are buzzing with speculation that the shooting and killing of the legendary Bigfoot in Altoona, Pennsylvania has been covered up by authorities.
According to Bigfoot enthusiasts, on May 14th, police in Altoona, Pennsylvania took a 911 call from a John Winesickle claiming to have proof of Sasquatch a few miles from his property and wanted them to come and verify this.
While the 911 call is not in doubt, what followed has become a matter of dispute and debate as various rumors have circulated - mainly focusing on an unidentified turkey hunter who had shot and killed the mythic beast and a menacing helicopter hovering over the alleged scene.
On Tuesday 14th May, officers with the Somerset County police force traded messages about an individual who had contacted the Game Commission requesting a call back about proof he had of Bigfoot.
The man in Paint Township wanted an officer to come and inspect his 'evidence' for Bigfoot.
That was at around 10.30 a.m. in the morning - after which events began to spiral out of control.
By 2.41 p.m. the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society received an email which claimed that they had overheard chatter on police scanners which seemed to confirm that a Bigfoot had sensationally been shot.'Today in Somerset county PA a turkey hunter shot and killed an animal he claimed is a Sasquatch,' read the unusually specific mail.
'The state police were called and responded to the scene, according to chatter on the local police frequencies the officers confirmed there was an unidentified animal shot and killed. Details are a bit fuzzy at this time.'
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Proof: This is one of the footprints that John Winesickle showed responding police officers claiming they were Bigfoot's - they in fact belonged to bears
The wild and beautiful countryside around Somerset County in Pennsylvania - where John Winesickle claims a Bigfoot lives near to his house
However, 40 minutes later the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society received an even more outrageous email that they claim has a name and contact number attached.
Beginning, 'Hello, YES this is legit, a strange report came over the scanner here in Somerset, Pa. just a few miles from Flight 93memorial,' the email stated that the Bigfoot had been shot on either Russell or Rustic road in Somerset County.
The email goes into detail as to how they heard the police scanner radio, mentioning the alleged turkey hunter.
'What he said he heard was that a hunter had called and stated that he had shot a Bigfoot. He soon heard some radio chatter from police who were reportedly joking about the report,' says the email.
'It was about 20 minutes later that he said he heard a police officer radio back and state, 'there was a body'. He said the next radio transmission to the officer was, 'call the center.'
The email also mentions 'a large helicopter,' approaching where the Sasquatch was.
'The sound was so loud it shook his house, so he went outside to take a look. It was then that he observed a formation of four Army Apache helicopters approaching from the north and moving in the direction of Somerset.'
Officers from Paint Township Police Department in Somerset County, Pennsylvania patiently responded and listened to Mr. Winesickle's 911 Bigfoot call
However, despite the frenzy of speculation that the mythic Bigfoot had been found, it seemed the truth was as disappointing to conspiracy theorists as always.
According to wearecentralpa.com, the origin of the call requesting an officer come and see his Bigfoot evidence was local man John Winesickle.
He did indeed show an officer 'picture after picture' of alleged footprints - but no body and he wasn't even turkey shooting.
Winesickle told police that he has believed in Sasquatch his entire life and that he knows one lives near his Paint Township home.
He even refuted the polite denials of his picture by the police officer.
Bigfoot Country: Pennsylvania has long been known to be a hot bed of Sasquatch activity as this unverified picture from 2007 proves
'No, No,' said Winesickle in an interview with WTAJ. 'A bear can't go down a steep bank on all twos,' he said. 'This is Bigfoot.'
He said he once came close to actually seeing what he claims was Bigfoot, but added whatever he saw quickly ran away.
'It's deathly afraid,' he added. 'It won't hurt you.'
Although the police report concludes that Winesickle saw bear tracks, he's still thankful they investigated, and he still insists Bigfoot was in the area.
'The police have been very nice to me,' he said. 'It wasn't a bear, it was Bigfoot.'
Is this Bigfoot ... or is it a bear with bad skin?
Last updated at 10:02 30 October 2007
It is furry, lives in the woods and walks on all fours.
Beyond that, there are no hard facts about the furtive creature spotted prowling around the foot of a tree in Pennsylvania.
But its mysterious appearance has prompted a storm of speculation - and prompted many Bigfoot believers to grab their cameras and head for the woods.
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Bigfoot or bear with bad skin?: The jury's out
Others, however, believe it's just a bear with bad skin.
The animal was photographed by Rick Jacobs, who captured the images after fastening a camera with an automatic trigger to a tree in the Allegheny National Forest on September 16.
He had hoped to get pictures of deer - but instead ended up with something more sinister.
"I couldn't figure out what it was," he said. "But I've been hunting for years and I've never seen anything like this."
Mr Jacobs contacted the Bigfoot Research Organization, which pursues reports of the legendary two-legged creature, also known as the sasquatch, that some people believe lives in parts of the U.S. and Canada.
"It appears to be a primate-like animal. In my opinion, it appears to be a juvenile Sasquatch," said Paul Majeta of the Bigfoot group.
Captured: The images were taken by a camera set up in a tree
Despite the furore, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has a more conventional opinion.
Agency spokesman Jerry Feaser said conservation officers routinely trap bears to be tagged and often see animals that look like the photos.
"There is no question it is a bear with a severe case of mange," Feaser said.
According to most reports, Bigfoot is a large ape with dark brown or dark reddish hair.
There have been recorded sightings of the creature since 1840 but most scientists dimiss the sasquatch as myth.
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Hoax?: A still from the Paterson film showing another 'Bigfoot'
However, the Bigfoot legend refuses to die and there have been a number of elaborate hoaxes, as well as some possible genuine spots.
The best known and most controversial was a film shot by two Americans Roger Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin which purported to show a genuine recording of Bigfoot.
Photographer Roger Patterson compares his foot with cast in Los Angeles on Nov. 3, 1967 he says he made of California's Legendary "Bigfoot"monster after tracking it in forest country near Eureka, CA.
Photograph from AP
Rachel Hartigan Shea
Published September 9, 2013
There's ample circumstantial evidence for all these creatures: eyewitness accounts, blurry photographs, mysterious footprints. For many cryptozoologists—the people who search for legendary animals—that evidence is enough to confirm a monster's existence.
But it will take more than shadowy sightings to convince Daniel Loxton andDonald R. Prothero that Bigfoot or any of the other monsters are real. What Loxton and Prothero want is scientific evidence. In their new book, Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids, they analyze the history of mythic beasts and the clues to their existence.
Loxton and Prothero come at cryptozoology from different directions. Loxton, a staff writer for Skeptic magazine, was an ardent believer in monsters as a kid, having spotted a Bigfoot print in the woods and a pterodactyl winging over his backyard. (Now, he suspects the print was a prank and the pterodactyl was agreat blue heron.) Prothero is a paleontologist, who is also trained in biology and geology. He has written over 250 scientific papers and 28 books, including five textbooks on geology.
National Geographic's Rachel Hartigan Shea spoke with the two authors about bringing skepticism and science to the study of cryptids.
First of all, what is a cryptid?
DP: A cryptid is any animal that has never been described by science, usually something very unusual along the lines of a Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot, something that stretches the limits of what is scientifically plausible.
DL: It's based on the word cryptozoology, which means hidden life or animals. It implies a creature that's been recorded through folklore, something that we have reason to suspect exists.
What can science tell us about cryptids?
DP: The first thing, of course, is that a cryptid can't be a single animal. If there's one of them, there's got to be many of them. You can talk about their population density, the size of range they should have based on their estimated body size. All of that tends to weigh against them being real because they should have had huge ranges, and they should have been spotted a long time ago if they really did exist. And then there's other aspects, like geology, something you never hear the cryptozoologists mention. All the lake monsters, not just Loch Ness but the ones here in North America, in Lake Champlain and Lake George, were all under a mile of ice 20,000 years ago. The cryptozoologists never asked the question, "Well, how did the monster get in the lake if the lake was completely under ice, the lakes are all landlocked, and there's no way for a marine creature to get there at all?" Those are all things that are not news to geologists, they're not news to biologists, but they're apparently news to cryptozoologists.
Bigfoot lives out west and prefers Missouri to Kansas: All reported Sasquatch sightings since 1921 are plotted on just one map
A new map that plots out every reported Bigfoot sighting in North America for the last 92 years reveals some very interesting patterns, whether you believe in the mysterious beast or not.
PhD candidate Josh Stevens mapped out the 3,313 possible Sasquatch spots since 1921 and people do seem to glimpse the hairy creature much more in some regions than others.
The map and data collated by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization show, for example, that Bigfoot has supposedly been spotted three times more often in Missouri than neighboring Kansas.
Spotting a sasquatch? There are regions of U.S where sightings are very common, despite a low population. And most of them are in the West
Stevens explains on his website: 'Right away you can see that sightings are not evenly distributed. At first glance, it looks a lot like a map of population distribution.'
This makes sense - by a law of averages you would expect an area with more people to report more possible Sasquatch viewings.
Even so, there are some very bright spots around the Ohio River Valley, Mississippi River Valley, the Sierra Nevada mountains, central Florida and the Pacific Northwest.
Yet it gets intriguing when Stevens maps the relationship between reported sightings and population density (right). As he notes: 'There are distinct regions where sightings are incredibly common, despite a very sparse population. 'On the other hand, in some of the most densely populated areas sasquatch sightings are exceedingly rare.' Most of these Bigfoot hot spots are in the Western United States. Stevens acknowledges that 'terrain and habitat likely play a major role in the distribution of reports.'
Proof? There is still debate over the existence of the sasquatch and grainy photos such as this one are often dismissed as hoaxes
He notes that the population data is based on Census figures that only take into account where people live, not where they vacation or travel.
Stevens also says that the reporting mechanism is not hugely precise as the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) only allow spotters to enter the nearest city.
If you're keen to see a sasquatch yourself, the BFRO offers four-day expeditions into the North American wilderness to try and find the mysterious ape.
In 2013 there are still spots left on the trips in British Columbia, North Carolina, Georgia, and a major sasquatch hotspot - Missouri.
Eerie footage shot in the Canadian wilderness has set off speculation that the mystery figure filmed in the distance could be the legendary Bigfoot.
The startling video allegedly shot by a couple hiking in Mission, British Columbia, shows a large, gangling figure covered in hair, lumbering over a forest hilltop.
As always with these kinds of sightings, the clip is very blurry, but from what the viewer can make out the figure emerges from a tree and is visible for around 20 seconds - before appearing to punch a few leaves out of the way before disappearing out of sight.
Close-Up: This zoomed in image shows the figure in the center that was filmed by a couple out for a hike in Mission, Canada
The silent video has been viewed over 50,000 times since it was uploaded onto YouTube on Wednesday - however it is not clear when exactly the clip was filmed.
According to Crypto-zoology website 'Legend Tracker', the couple were on a hiking holiday when they spotted the mythic creature in the distance and began to film. The tantalizing footage has left Bigfoot believers hoping that experts can examine it and therefore prove that the legendary ape-like Sasquatch does indeed live in the forests of North America.
At the beginning of July, the claims of Texas veterinarian Melba Ketchum's that she had proved the existence of Sasquatch with DNA evidence were refuted.
Walking: On the left of center of the image is the figure that is believed to be the mythical Bigfoot
The 'sample' she said proved the existence of Bigfoot turned out to contain mostly opossum DNA, mixed in with markers from other animals, according to tests.
Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger says there is no evidence that any of the DNA in the sample belongs to a Sasquatch or any other hominid cousins of humans.
When Ketchum released her 'scientific study' of Big Foot earlier this year, Berger hammered her for not submitting the paper to a credible peer-reviewed journal and not allowing mainstream researchers to verify her work.
Instead, she launched a journal of her own, the DeNovo Scientific Journal, and published her findings online and charged $30 to read the work.
Remote: Mission, British Columbia is pictured here - the thousands of miles of wilderness would be perfect for Bigfoot to hide
Face-off: Science reporter Eric Berger had the reputed Bigfoot DNA tested by a top geneticist. He found Melba Ketchum's claim of finding the Sasquatch false
Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger says a reputed sample of Bigfoot sample contains mostly opossum DNA - along with traces from other animals
Iconic: This photo shows what former rodeo rider Roger Patterson claimed is the American version of the Abominable Snowman. He said pictures of the creature, estimated at 7 1/2 feet tall, were taken northeast of Eureka, California
'If Ketchum really had the goods she would have co-authored the paper with reputable scientists and gotten the work published in a reputable scientific journal,' Berger wrote in February.
'Instead she’s playing to an audience that doesn’t understand how science works, that wants to believe Bigfoot exists and is willing to send her some cash to further their delusions.'
However, Ketchum approached Berger and offered him definitive proof of her findings - she would let his friend, a top Houston geneticist, take a sample of her Big Foot DNA and test it himself.
Ketchum claims the sample came from a family of ten Sasquatches that lives in northern Michigan. She says the sample was taken from the crumbs left behind after the Bigfoots ate blueberry bagels.
Berger admits he allowed himself to get momentarily excited by the prospect of testing Sasquatch DNA.
'If the evidence backed up Ketchum’s claims, I had a blockbuster story. My geneticist source would have a hand in making the scientific discovery of the decade, or perhaps the century. Ketchum would be vindicated,' he wrote. Instead, he says, rational science came crashing down. The sample contained nothing more than the remnants left behind by common forest animals.
Last November, some geneticists claimed to have sequenced the genome of Bigfoot.People were skeptical. So were all the peer-reviewed journals they tried to publish in. Just couldn't get the damn thing printed.
So the researchers went and founded their own, brand-new journal in which to publish their findings (yes, really). From the website of first author Melba Ketchum (emphasis added):
Published: Texas vet Dr Melba Ketchum has finally published the results of her study she claims to conclusively prove Bigfoot's existence
A Texas-based vet who claimed to have found DNA evidence of Bigfoot has finally published her findings - in a journal she set up.
Melba Ketchum hopes her 'proof' of the existence of the elusive hominids will be the first step towards recognising them as an undiscovered Native American group.
Although she first announced her claims in November, the publication of her full results was delayed because no peer-reviewed scientific journal would accept her study.
Instead, Dr Ketchum, from Nacogdoches, Texas, apparently finally self-published her findings on Saturday in the so-called DeNovo Scientific Journal.
She is selling the study - entitled Novel North American Hominins, Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies - for $30 through the journal's website.
Her rejection by mainstream journals and choice to self publish has, inevitably, raised eyebrows.
Dr Ketchum, a veterinarian-researcher claims to have discovered genetic proof which shows Bigfoot is in fact a human hybrid, descended from human women who mated with men of 'an unknown hominin species.'
She has said that mitochondrial DNA in her samples, apparently obtained from leftover blueberry bagels eaten by a family of 10 bigfoot's who live in Michigan, show clear evidence of genetic mixing.
'Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry,' she said in a statement published last November.
'Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a "license" to hunt, trap, or kill them.' The findings are apparently the result of five years of work by Dr Ketchum's firm DNA Diagnostics. The study concludes that Bigfoot is a missing link that arose approximately 15,000 years ago.
It is the first study which claims to have offered any kind of DNA analysis of the legendary mountain men, also known as Sasquatches.
We are people 2: Dr Ketchum hopes her 'proof' of the existence of the elusive hominids will be the first step towards recognising them as an undiscovered Native American group
But Dr Ketchum's decision to self-publish her findings, and charge for them, has raised suspicions in the eyes of many observers.
Robert Gonzales wrote on science website i09: 'The site claims to be "open access", but charges 30 bucks to access the Bigfoot genome paper.
'It bears mentioning that the Bigfoot genome paper, at the time of this posting, is also the only paper in Vol. 1, Issue 1 of the new journal.
'Seeing as "open access" clearly does not mean what these researchers think it means, you’ll forgive us if we remain skeptical when they say their data "conclusively proves that the Sasquatch exist as an extant hominin".'
A frame of the famous footage purporting to show Bigfoot filmed by former rodeo rider Roger Patterson
According to Fox News, scientists have already issued 'universally scathing reviews' of the paper.
The U.S. network said that it appears that Dr Ketchum 'apparently views herself as less of a Bigfoot researcher than a valiant protector of a peaceful, vulnerable, and undiscovered native people'.
It points to another of Dr Ketchum's sites, The Sasquatch Genome Project, where it is claimed that '[t]he Sasquatch people are more like us than they are different.'
The site goes on: 'The Sasquatch people have their own language, traditions, and rituals. They live in family units, they order their lives according to the laws of their people, and they bury their dead.
'Yet the Sasquatch people are captivating because of their physical, genetic, and cultural differences.
'Sadly, these special traits also make them uniquely vulnerable to those who would see in their unusual lifestyle or appearance a justification to harass, trap, or even kill them.
'Your compassion and understanding will be vital to protect the Sasquatch people.'