Archive for October, 2011
“We have what may be the best evidence for what the North American Indians call Sasquatch,” declared Jeffrey Gonzalez, at a recent press conference held in the shadow of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
Armed with motion detectors and camera equipment, DavidRaygoza had logged thousands of hours hiking the remote area, on a “mission” since stumbling upon tracks 18 years earlier, and had initially contacted Gonzalez’ Sanger Paranormal Society to examine his photos. An expedition was planned. Gonzalez, Raygoza and a group of experienced outdoorsmen had spent Memorial Day weekend camped 5500 feet up in the rugged range at spot Raygoza had been led to by Native American elders. “We didn’t go there willy-nilly,” Gonzalez said. “They’ve been there a long time.”
Days of “rain, snow, rain” proceeded a snowstorm, which the troupe beat a hasty retreat to avoid, abandoning Gonzalez’ food-laden pick-up truck. With his laptop and video gear still in the cab, he asked fellow expedition member Allan Thomas to drive him up to retrieve it. “You don’t want to walk around there alone,” Gonzalez said. “You have bear, mountain lion, Sasquatch.” What they found was a series of trees, seemingly “ripped from their roots,” blocking the road leading to their camp. “It took four people to push the biggest one out of the road,” Gonzalez said.
What they found astounded them. The food in the truck’s bed was untouched, but a series of greasy impressions were found all over the rest of it. “Something had stopped and looked in,” said Gonzalez. “It raised the hair on the back of my neck.”
“After a bit of hooting and hollering,” Gonzalez says, he “treated the truck as if it had been vandalized.” The massive storm had washed away any footprints, but the amount of possible DNA in the prints all over the truck was impressive. “Oil sticks. The fact is, if you touch or even breathe on something, DNA can be extracted from that,” noted Burrow, who boasts 14 years of experience as a crime scene investigator. “And cold weather preserves its integrity.” After a presentation of photographs and some intriguing video Raygoza had taken over the years, Burrow compared the prints left on the truck with the facial features of possible, more mundane culprits. “If it were a mountain lion, it’d have to be 20 feet wide.”
Major American news networks ran a live feed of the press conference, which attracted an assortment of curious locals. One pinch-faced news anchor almost misquoted Gonzalez’ joke about gorillas on the loose in the Sierra Nevadas. One woman asked if they believed bears feared Bigfoot. “What about dermal ridges?” a serious-looking 20-something asked. Burrow answered at length, explaining that dermal ridges keep us “from falling down,” but Gonzalez lamented that such prints, if any, were probably destroyed when he drove the truck down the mountain, when conditions were still so hazardous he blew out two tires.
The fact that the press conference—both an announcement, perhaps premature, and a plea for assistance to examine the DNA—was so hastily assembled, coupled with the witnesses sheer earnestness and lack of media savvy, left this writer intrigued.
“Both Jeff and David are well-known in the community,” explained Leon Windham, a mechanic and three-time Bigfoot witness from nearby Tulare. “David is one of the most dedicated, time-wise. And that altitude is no joke.”
It was three years ago that two Georgia-based opportunists made a similar announcement in nearby Palo Alto, having partnered with “Searching for Bigfoot, Inc.” founder Tom Biscardi. Researchers smelled a rat before their plane even landed, their alleged Sasquatch “corpse” found to be an elaborate movie prop.
“We kept our discovery a secret for three weeks,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve been slammed on the internet. What we have here is something we need to show the world, because we don’t know what it is. Consider the totality of the circumstances. We have honest evidence. We hope this will encourage those with great evidence to come forward.”
For even those fairly obsessed with the unexplained, it’s difficult to comprehend the scope of Sasquatch until one interacts with witnesses. “You don’t know how it is up here!” one local explained. “It’s different in ‘Squatch territory. Once you’ve seen one, or heard one… the volume—you can’t deal! You just become obsessed.”
Post-conference, Gonzalez and a handful of attendees discussed how to proceed, as well as the differences between “coastal” Sasquatches and those found elsewhere. (This writer learned that Bigfoots are known mimics; extremely agile and stealthy yet capable of intensely loud vocal projections.) One witness suggested finding the lab that analyzed hair for Monster Quest. Primatological organizations, wild animal parks, universities were suggested. A lab would need to have comparative DNA already available in order to run proper tests. Perhaps a zoo with forensics capabilities? “If we went to the Fresno zoo and said, we have possible Sasquatch DNA, they’d probably laugh us off the property,” Gonzalez noted, while showing this writer his still-muddy truck.
Gonzalez, president of the Sanger Paranormal Society and a MUFON district director, has been approached by television (“a cut-throat business”) for their evidence. “I wouldn’t give this to Matt [Moneymaker, BFRO founder and 'star' of US Animal Planet programme, Finding Bigfoot] for $1 million dollars. We do this because it’s our passion.”