Bigfoot Encounters

Union County, Ohio --June 29, 1980

Bigfoot May Be Stalking Farmland in Central Ohio

The creature caught Poling's eye as it walked along the fence, Bigfoot?
© Akron Beacon Journal By Bill O'Connor, Beacon Journal Staff Writer

Marysville, Ohio-- Union County sheriff's deputy William Griffith looked over some paperwork Friday while a white-hot sun beat against the window.Griffith often buys drugs from men with watery eyes; some of these men now are -growing old in Ohio prisons.

On the other side of the room, Detective Mike Powers was reading a report that told about a tall hairy fellow with 17-inch feet. "Hey Griff," Powers said, "What do you think of Bigfoot?""Don't bother me with that unless he wants to sell some drugs," Griffith snapped.

But residents of Union and Logan counties have been both bothered and amused by accounts that the legendary monster has taken up residence here. Those who live in the small towns and villages of these two mostly rural counties joke about Bigfoot's appearances. But those who live on the farms in the area of the sightings are a bit more cautious.

They are cautious mainly because of the reputation of those who have claimed to have seen Bigfoot."Hey I laughed at this whole thing at first," Powers admitted. "But now I'm not so sure, I think it should be looked into.

You talk to Pat Poling and you won't be so sure either."Poling farms on the border between Logan and Union counties. He was the first to sight the creature in the area. There are 434 square miles in Union County. There are only 28,100 people and 12,000 of them live in incorporated areas. There are a lot of lonely places in Union County.

Logan County has 469 square miles with a population of 37,000. About 13,000 of them live in incorporated areas. the rest of the population in each county live on farms. There are 2,598 farms, about evenly split between the counties.

When television commentators talk about "the heartland" they are talking about such counties as Union and Logan. Come summer, a farmer there spends long solitary hours driving a tractor across one field or another. He is alone. He is miles away from other humans.On June 17, Poling had been to a baseball game.

Poling is in his 30's and has two adolescent sons. He returned from the game where he had watched one of his sons play and decided to do some cultivation in one of his cornfields before the light failed. It was about 8:30 pm. Poling had worked for a short time when he glanced along his fence line at the edge of the woods. "Something caught my eye," he said.

"At first I thought it was a bear. But it wasn't no bear. It came out of the woods and had to duck under a branch hanging out over the fence. Then it stood up. It was about 7 feet tall. But maybe more. I mean, it walked with its knees bent a little. It walked along the fence line. I t wasn't like anything I seen before. It wasn't a monkey or a gorilla or anything. I watch it. I was really scared at first.

"But then I figured it couldn't hurt me as long as I was on the tractor," he said. "So
I gassed the tractor to head it off. "That is when it stopped and turned and looked at me. It turned around like this." Poling crouched, held his hands at his side and turned his whole body. When facing front, his palms were out in a curious gesture almost as though in appeal for understanding. When asked about the gesture, Poling glanced in surprise at his hands. "Yeah," he said. "Like this, this is how he stood." Poling said he is most upset because he could see no facial features, even though he estimated the creature was only about 30 yards away. "I just couldn't see any face. There was just nothing there," he said.

Poling is reluctant to talk about his experiences. He has been plagued with phone calls, he said, and goaded by radio and television people to make some controversial statement or other. One television crew came to his home while he was in the fields and took his two sons and talked the boys into taking them to where the creature was sighted. "I'm tire of it, " Poling said, and shook his head. "I refused to go on television.

The radio called and I said I wouldn't go on the radio and they said OK and then they taped the telephone call. "One television station told me everybody wants to be on television. I told them I didn't."

Tired of the whole business, too is Donna Riegler. A legal secretary, she is the wife of a Union County game protector. She was on her way home Tuesday. It was about 5:30 pm. It had been a hot muggy day.

The sky darkened, electricity crackled and when the rain came it fell in large drops. "I was in a good mood. I just wanted to get home," Mrs. Riegler said. "I went over the railroad tracks slow. I always do because

I don't want to knock my wheels out of line. Then I saw this thing laying on the road, hunched over. I thought it was a big dog at first.

Then it stood up and I thought it was a man. I thought he was crazy, laying on the road. I couldn't figure why he was out there. He had no golf clubs. No luggage. Then he turned around and looked at me."

She said the creature was about 60 yards away. Mrs. Riegler was asked what it looked like. She stood up, bent her knees a bit and then held her hands, palms out in the same gesture of appeal that Poling had taken.

When that was pointed out to her, she glanced down at her hands, surprised. "Well, yes, that's how he stood," she said.

Mrs. Riegler said she could see no facial features. "I was scared," she said. "I was afraid he was coming after me. Maybe he didn't really come toward me, I was just scared.

Mrs. Riegler said she backed the car over the railroad tracks and onto another road. She said she stopped at a stranger's house, was admitted and broken down sobbing.

When she collected herself, she said she called her husband. Both Poling and Mrs. Riegler are believable witnesses. Each reacts with suspicion when asked about the creature.

Believable too is Larry Ramey, 27. Ramey sighted the creature Thursday night. He was on a tractor in Logan County, just across the border from Union County.

He said the creature came out of the woods saw the 13-foot, 270-horsepower tractor and come toward it."At first I took it was Al or Billy," Ramey said, meaning two other men working with him. "But then I saw it wasn't them. It was big." He said the creature went back into the woods when another tractor approached.
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Article insert:"Five have sighted a big, hairy creature"Within the last two weeks, five people claimed to have been Bigfoot. The sightings were within a five-mile radius. Each witness gave basically the same description, although Donna Riegler said that a driving rain prevented her from see some details.

The sightings:June 17:
Patrick Poling, a farmer, while cultivating a cornfield saw the creature come out of the woods.

June 19:
Ray Quay said he came around his barn and saw the creature, yelled and it walked off into some heavy undergrowth. Quay's son, Thomas, 17 said he saw the same creature a little later.

June 24:
Mrs. Riegler, a legal secretary saw the creature lying on the road while she was on her way home from work.

June 26:
Larry Ramey saw the creature at the edge of the woods while Ramey was driving a farm tractor. Each witness told of a man-like creature more than seven feet tall, with long hair, broad shoulders, and a well proportioned body. The creature they said was not exceptionally long legged or long-armed but built like a very large man. Each said the creature moved stiffly and turned its whole body rather than just the upper portion. Donald Mathys, a neighbor of Poling, made a plaster cast of a footprint found near where Poling sighted the creature. The footprint is about 17 inches long and 7 inches wide and has four toes.

Union county Sheriff's Deputy Mike Powers took a team into the area Friday night. The group spent the night there. Powers told the Beacon Journal Saturday "We found definite signs that indicate something is there.

We have to look into is."Powers said hundred of people already have driven around looking for the creature. The county detective said he is concerned that gawkers could pose a threat. Some of them, he said, are armed and he is afraid an overeager sightseer might shoot someone.

Powers said there is no indication the creature is dangerous. But he added, he wants no one taking chances and he wants no one shot.
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Credit Source: From the files of Ron Schaffner


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