The creature caught
Poling's eye as it walked along the fence, Bigfoot?
© Akron Beacon Journal By Bill O'Connor, Beacon Journal Staff Writer
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.
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
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
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.
Credit Source: From the files of Ron Schaffner
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