Wednesday,Â MarchÂ 30,Â 1977
Spring resurrects ‘Kickapoo Monster’
By Rick Baker
Downs – “You didn’t really see that thing, did you, Dale Mitchell?”
“Yes, I did,” Dale Mitchell said earnestly.
“Aw, come on.”
“I saw it,” Dale Mitchell said.
Dale Mitchell, a 23 year old mechanic from Downs, said he saw, and was pursued by, something about seven feet tall and “covered with fur” late Monday night about two miles north of Downs.
Mitchell said he was driving to his home in Downs from his job in Wapella, when the headlights of his pickup truck shone on what he said looked like “a bigfoot monster.”
“Aw, come on.”
“I saw it.” Dale Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he saw the thing near a bend in Kickapoo Creek, and when he saw it, he said he stopped his truck on a rural road to look at the thing. He said that when he stopped, the thing started rushing toward him.
Mitchell took off. He said he didn’t get a very good look at the thing, but said it “had a kind of human face and hands.” Mitchell said he nervously drove home and, as many people who have seen monsters do, call The Daily Pantagraph.
Since 1970, there were several reports of a “bigfoot monster” in Tazewell County near the Coal Hollow Road. A lot of people got pretty riled up over those monster sightings.
About 75 men in Tazewell County formed a posse, equipped with guns and flashlights to find the monster. The monster wasn’t found and the posse broke up shortly after one of the searchers, an East Peoria man, accidently shot himself in the leg.
Some members of the posse figured the monster went back home in outer space.
And in 1973, the United Press International was moving quite a few stories about monster sightings near the small town of Enfield, in Southern Illinois.
Henry McDaniel, a disabled war veteran from Enfield, told UPI that he heard something scratching on the rear door of his house in the spring of 1973. He said he went to the door and saw a gray, hairy, three-legged monster standing like a human being with pink reflecting eyes bulging from a huge head. (Holy Moses)
“I wasn’t scared.” McDaniel told UPI. He went back into his house and got a gun. Then he shot it four times. He said the monster hissed, leaped 75 feet in three jumps, and disappeared.
The monster story got national attention. When a man in Elyria, Ohio, read it, he recognized the description. It was his pet kangaroo that had escaped. Its tail looked kind of like a third leg. The most reports of a monster in any one place in the area came from Farmer City in July of 1970. Within a week about 30 people reported seeing a “manlike thing” covered with grayish-white fur near a rural campsite.
Four young men camping at the site said they saw it and manged to get a set of car lights on it before it ran away. Soon after the thing ran away, they ran away. One of the young men had his broken foot set in a cast. He ran off without his crutches. They reported the sighting to police.
A couple of nights late, about a dozen people said they saw “a thing’s” eyes glowing at them in the dark. A few nights after that, three people swore to police they saw the furry creature again.
And a couple of nights after that, about 10 people told police they saw the thing standing by a dead tree about 100 feet away from the campsite.
Farmer City police officer Robert Hayslip, after getting all the reports, went to the campsite one morning about 2 o’clock. Hayslip said he heard something running through tall grass, but didn’t see anything.
When Hayslip left, there was a tent standing at the camping area. Four hours later, the tent was found ripped to shreds.
And it hasn’t been heard from in the Farmer City area since.
A couple of weeks after the Farmer City sightings, several youths said they saw a similar creature on the Kickapoo near Heyworth.
“I really saw it,” Mitchell said Tuesday. “I got pretty shook up.”