Jul 18, 2011
Messing with Sasquatch may not be such a good idea
By Kevin Tremain
Springfield â€“ The State Journal-Register
CHATHAM â€“ Thereâ€™s something amiss in the backwoods of Chatham, something potentially big. Lately thereâ€™s been talk around certain areas of town of an unusual howling and screeching sound as well as evidence of some very large footprints.
Since June there have been at least five to six instances of residents discovering or hearing evidence that the infamous Bigfoot may be lurking somewhere in the Chatham community. One case in particular has garnered some attention from local police, as well as a few proclaimed Big Foot experts.
On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, Michael Patrickâ€™s mother was getting the liner to her pool changed at her residence, when workmen noticed an abnormally large footprint under the apple tree in the back yard and brought the footprint to Patrickâ€™s attention.
The footprint measured approximately 18 inches long and eight inches wide according to the Chatham Police Department report. The immense size of the print isn’t fully appreciated until a hand is placed beside it.
Over the years Patrick and his mother had, at times, heard bizarre noises, but had always passed them off as coming from some common forest animal. But they werenâ€™t the only ones that had heard the sounds either. The night before the footprint was found a neighbor had also commented about unusual sounds.
â€œMy neighbor has a German Shepherd, and it heard something that night that spooked him. The dog went outside to investigate, but came back cowering, now it wonâ€™t leave its ownerâ€™s side,â€ Patrick said.
Unsure about what exactly the footprint was, and concerned for his motherâ€™s safety, Patrick called the Chatham Police Department. An officer came to investigate the scene, but was unable to determine what might have caused the print.
â€œThe responding officer stated that there was a large footprint approximately 18 inches long and 8 inches wide, and it appeared there were five claw marks,â€ Chatham Police Department Deputy Chief, Vernon Foli said.
The footprint measured approximately 18 inches long and eight inches wide according to the Chatham Police Department report.
To give you an idea how big 18 inches is, retired NBA center Shaquille Oâ€™Neil’s feet are approximately 15 inches long, and he wears a size 23 shoe. The average human beingâ€™s foot measures approximately 9 Â½ inches. Most shoe size charts end at a size fifteen shoe. An 18-inch footprint is about the size of a healthy newborn baby. Considering the size of the print, itâ€™s understandable for a person to show a little concern if they found such a print in their yard.
Patrick documented his discovery on Facebook where he struck up a conversation with a friend. Patrickâ€™s friend knew John Winterbauer, a Bigfoot investigator. Winterbauer in turn contacted local Bigfoot expert Stan Courtney.
Courtney has documented sightings and gathered sound recordings and evidence of Bigfoot for years. He has interviewed over two hundred witnesses who have seen Bigfoot.
â€œI literally know hundreds of people whoâ€™ve seen these animals. There have been lots of them in central Illinois. Iâ€™ve recorded lots of sounds that other researchers and witnesses believe come from these animals. People in Springfield donâ€™t realize it, but there have been a lot of reports from the Sangamon River around Riverton.â€ Courtney said in a previous interview.
Courtney said that there have been five to six other reports of finding footprints and howling in the Chatham area since June.
So why is Bigfoot in Chatham? Well itâ€™s hard to say really. Patrickâ€™s property does back up to a wooded stream which flows into Lake Springfield. Courtney proposed that the creature was drawn to the house because of the apple tree that grows in Patrickâ€™s motherâ€™s back yard.
Stan Courtney explained to Patrick that the apple tree might have somehow been interpreted as a gift of food. In the past the Patrickâ€™s had noticed that apples from the tree had been picked, but only to a certain height. They believed that the culprit was a wily raccoon, but the large footprint seemed to suggest otherwise. Courtney told Patrick that a creature such a Bigfoot will usually return the favor, and present a gift of its own as a show of appreciation in the form of a dead animal or a strange arrangement of flowers.
This is the apple tree in the back yard of Michael Patrick’s mother’s house where the Bigfoot footprint was found. The print was found by workmen who were installing a new pool liner for Patrick’s mother.
The day after his meeting with Courtney, Patrick discovered the Sasquatchâ€™s gift, a decapitated rabbit, near his motherâ€™s house. In Courtneyâ€™s account he stated that the rabbit had, â€œits head pulled off, not bitten or cut, but just simply pulled off.â€
Since that strange June evening, no more incidents have occurred at Patrickâ€™s motherâ€™s residence. You might think that such a strange series of events would frighten most people in to staying out of the back yard, but the occurrence has not deterred Patrickâ€™s mother from going about her normal routine.
â€œSheâ€™s not scared, she continues to do her yard work, she thinks itâ€™s neat. My mom has never been skeptical of it.â€ Patrick said.
While his mother may not be skeptical of what happened, others arenâ€™t ready to pin the event on Bigfoot just yet. Vernon Foli posed a possible explanation, albeit an indirect one.
â€œOne thing I can tell you is that approximately Â½ mile south of this location is the former Grindstone Valley Zoo that use to have exotic animals. The zoo is no longer in existence but the owner is Brad or Larry Reynolds and he still has some animals at this location,â€ Foli said.
Could the print have come from an animal from the old zoo? The Reynolds had kept large animals such as buffalo, antelope, elk, deer, tigers, leopards, monkeys, and zebras while the zoo was open. Or could it be a bear footprint? Itâ€™s widely believed by many that there are no bears in Illinois, but with their presence in neighboring states, Wisconsin and Missouri, would it be so far fetched to think that there are indeed bears in Illinois?
At this point itâ€™s hard to tell what exactly made the footprint, but with other accounts of strange happenings and unusual howls and screeches in Chatham, many residents are raising an eyebrow.
â€œI definitely donâ€™t think it was a hoax, and it was more than just a coincidence. I think that people should just be a bit more vigilant and careful, because you never know what youâ€™re going to find out there,â€ Patrick said.
To check out local sightings and accounts gathered by Bigfoot expert Stan Courtney clickÂ here.
To read a previous interview of Stan Courtney by the State Journal â€“ Registerâ€™s Dave Bakke, clickÂ here.