Monday,Â MarchÂ 15,Â 1976
Frolicking ‘ape’ startles 2 young campers near Moro
By Dennis McMurray
Two youths camping in an abandoned strip mine pit near Moro claim that they were startled early Sunday morning when a four foot tall “ape or monkey” suddenly bounded with 15 feet of them.
Ron Barton, 19, of Bethalto, and Bo Hester, 19, of Meadowbrook, said they saw the mysterious age through the light of their camp lantern.
They described it as an ape of brownish-reddish color, about 4-4 1/2 foot tall.
Barton said the creature loped down into the pit towards their tent, stared ate them, and then proceeded back up out of the pit, passing within 15 feet or so of their camp.
The youths reported the incident to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department at around 3 a.m. Sunday.
Two deputies, including sheriff’s department spokesman Pete Baetz came out to the strip mine.
Baetz said that “we could not find any evidence of the creature such as footprints or fur, but we have no reason to disbelieve them (the youths) either.”
Baetz said the department also check on whether a pet Asian Rock Monkey owned by a nearby resident might have escaped.
The owner of that monkey assured them it had not gotten out, Baetz said. Baetz added that the department did not plan any further investigation of the reported ape or monkey.
“We don’t normally track down monster stories but if it had been an Asian Rock Monkey it could be a danger to children so we checked it for safety reasons,” Baetz said.
Barton and Hester claimed the ape they saw was much larger than the pet Asian Rock Monkey. They also said that tracks would not have shown up because of the rock and gravel in the strip mine pit.
Barton said that if he could get a permit to use a high powered rifle, he’d like to go back and try to track down the creature, which he said he didn’t think could be taken alive.
Dave Harper, biologist with the Illinois Department of Conservation office in Alton said he has not heard any reports of stray monkeys or apes in the area since a squirrel hunter shot a small rhesus monkey near Pere Marquette State Park several years ago.
He said, though, that sometimes people owning pet monkeys will not report it when they ewcape [sic].
The “Moro monster” meanwhile, remains a mystery today.