Tall, elusive creature with big feet baffles authorities
By Nathan Dickinson, Staff Writer
© 2000 The Capital Newspaper, Annapolis, Maryland

County police were surprised this morning when the TV show "Unsolved Mysteries" called about a "12-foot-tall animal" spotted yesterday near the Arundel Mills mall construction site. The creature was seen at the Hanover mall by three construction workers at about 12:30 a.m., and then later by a police officer working as a security guard. It didn't take long for the producers of the show known for its eerie theme music and features on haunted graveyards and UFOs to join in the search for an explanation of the mystery along with police and state wildlife experts.

The construction workers were spending the night in a van when they spotted the towering animal running away from their vehicle on two legs, according to Sgt. Joseph E. Jordan, police spokesman. Officer Nicholas DiPietro, an off-duty officer working as a security officer at the construction site, heard the call and quietly approached the darkened spot where the men had seen the creature. There he stumbled upon two inhuman-like eyes glaring back at him, Sgt. Jordan said. The animal did not make a noise but only stared, he added.

After reporting the incident, the three construction workers fled to a nearby Roy Rogers restaurant on Dorsey Road, where Officer DiPietro caught up with them for questioning, Sgt. Jordan said. At first the three would not return to the spot with Officer DiPietro, but after some persuasion they agreed. Soon after they returned, Officer DiPietro discovered a footprint unlike a human -- 15 to 20 inches long, Sgt. Jordan said. While the Department of Natural Resources reported a sighting of two black bears near Baltimore-Washington Parkway recently, and a young bear was struck by a car in the area, the footprint found by Officer DiPietro is larger and longer than a bear's, Sgt. Jordan said.

The Department of Natural Resources has dispatched wildlife officials from Calvert County to investigate the incident. "The official will look at the paw print to determine whether it was a bear or something else," DNR spokesman Susan O'Brien said. "This is the first time we've heard about something 12 feet tall in that area." She cautioned that ground conditions, and whether the animal was running, could alter the shape of the footprints. "Bears will see you before you see them and will run," she said. The three men did not appear intoxicated at the time of the sighting, according to police.

Officer DiPietro remained in the area in case the furry creature was a bear, watching from his vehicle near a sediment pond in case it returned in the darkness. After about 20 minutes Officer DiPietro flashed his spotlight around the area and saw a very large creature on a hill across the pond. It was sitting still and staring directly at him. But when Officer DiPietro blew an air horn, which emits a painful blast, the mysterious, glaring eyes remained locked on him for another 45 seconds, motionless and silent, Sgt. Jordan said. The creature then ambled down the hill away from him and disappeared, not to be seen again. Today officers had still not determined what the thing spotted at the site was, Sgt. Jordan said. He reminded residents who might come across an unidentifiable creature in the area to be cautious. "If you spot a large animal, call 911 and keep your distance," Sgt. Jordan said.

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Published August 01, 2000, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
© 2000 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.