Bigfoot Encounters

‘Bigfoot' was monkey business, Decatur residents, police say
By Phillip Ameling, Staff Writer

Thursday, July 1, 2004 ---- DECATUR — So-called Bigfoot sightings from nearly a year ago are extinct.

Early in October 2003, the Decatur Police Department received several reports of a large, hairy animal roaming the area. Since then, a number of theories have been offered by Decatur residents.

Police Chief Terry Luker said the animal was never caught, and there have been no calls in recent months regarding the appearance of an animal like the one reported last year.

Decatur caught news focus from CNN, CBS and ABC, as well as international papers in regard to the mystery animal. Many Decatur residents agreed that the press coverage was blown out of proportion. "It's Bigfoot; it's a monster," Decatur resident Andrea Campbell said sarcastically. She added that the press attention was unnecessary. "It was stupid. I believe in Bigfoot, but that was not it."

Retired police chief Coy Hendrix agreed the press attention was unnecessary. "People got interested; I couldn't see the big deal," he said.

Some residents pointed to a possible prank perpetrated by high-school students. "It was pretty comical," said Bob Holcomb, who has worked in Decatur for three years. He said he knows the people responsible for the sightings. "They let me in after (coverage dissipated), and quit before they got caught," he said.

The prank was done by a small number of high school seniors who had an ape costume, he said.

Some Decatur residents believe the animal came from the Wild Wilderness Animal Safari, located south of Decatur in Gentry.

Frances Keenom, employee of Peterson Farms in Decatur, claims to have seen the animal, though the animal she saw does not fit Bigfoot's description.

She was leaving work one afternoon in October when she spotted the animal from her vehicle. "When I opened the door, it stopped and looked at me and went west," she said.

The animal she saw had a long tail, dark tan hair and ran on all fours. It was nowhere near the size of the descriptions of Bigfoot. She said it was about a foot and a half tall. "I thought at first it was a dog until it came closer. It looked like a scared monkey," she said.

It seems logical that a small monkey would have come from the animal safari, according to Luker. "Not too many people have monkeys," Luker said.

Employees of the Wild Wilderness Animal Safari refused to comment.

Luker said that if a primate were loose in Decatur, police would take care of it with a tranquilizer gun.

A similar incident occurred in 1995, when a primate was loose near the Gentry Elementary School. The Gentry police shot and killed the primate after cornering it on the playground. Students were inside the school building at the time. ‘Bigfoot' was monkey business, Decatur residents, police say

By Phillip Ameling Staff Writer
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