FRUITHURST, Ala. – The Mystery of the Monster pig appears to have been solved.
The 1,051-pound hog, shot and killed by 11-year-old Jamison Stone and the subject of a world-wide Web firestorm over the photo's authenticity, really is...
That's "Fred" the pig, and according to Rhonda and Phil Blissitt their humongous hog escaped on April 29, four days before it was killed, according to the Star newspaper.
Late Thursday evening, their claims were confirmed by Andy Howell, Game Warden for the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
"I didn't want to stir up anything," Rhonda Blissitt said. "I just wanted the truth to be told. That wasn't a wild pig."
Her husband agreed.
"If it went down in the record book, it would be deceiving, and we'd know that for the rest of our lives."
The monster hog gained worldwide acclaim after he was bagged by 11-year-old Jamison Stone, a Pickensville native, with a .50-caliber pistol on May 3 at the Lost Creek Plantation, LLC, a hunting preserve in Delta. The big boar was hunted inside a large, low-fence enclosure and fired upon 16 times by Stone, who struck the animal nearly a half-dozen times during the three-hour hunt.
The saga of young Jamison's hunt spread as the family posted the story and photos on their Web site, monsterpig.com.
The Blissitts said they were unaware that the hog generating all the media attention was once theirs. It wasn't until Howell spoke with Phil Blissitt that the pieces of the puzzle came together.
Phil Blissitt recalled Howell asking him about the now-famous hog.
"Did you see that pig on TV?" Phil Blissitt recalled Howell asking him. "I said, 'Yeah, I had one about that size.' He said, 'No, that one is yours.'
"That's when I knew."
Phil Blissitt purchased the pig for his wife as a Christmas gift in December of 2004. From 6 weeks old, they raised the pig as it grew to its enormous size.
Not long ago, they decided to sell off all of their pigs. Eddy Borden, owner of Lost Creek Plantation, purchased Fred.
Attempts by The Star to reach Borden were unsuccessful.
While Rhonda Blissitt was somewhat in the dark about the potential demise of her pet, Phil Blissitt said he was under the understanding that it would breed with other female pigs and then "probably be hunted."
Many other of their former pigs — like their other farm animals — had been raised for the purpose of agricultural harvest.
As the Blissitts recounted the events of the last two days, they told stories and made many references to the gentleness of their former "pet."
From his treats of canned sweet potatoes to how their grandchildren would play with him, their stories painted the picture of a gentle giant. They even talked about how their small Chihuahua would get in the pen with him and come out unscathed.
"But if they hadn't fed him in a while," Rhonda Blissitt said, "he could have gotten irate."
Phil Blissitt said he became irritated when they learned about all the doubters who said photos of Fred were doctored.
"That was a big hog," he said.
The information of the pig's previous owner came out on the same day that officials from the Fish and Wildlife concluded their investigation of the hunt. They concluded that nothing illegal happened under the guidelines of Alabama law.
Allan Andress, enforcement chief for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, said they learned the hog's origin as the investigation unfolded.
"We were able to determine that he came from a domesticated environment," he said. "So, he was not feral to start with. Therefore, he would not violate our feral swine trapping and relocating rule."
Mike Stone, Jamison's father, contends that he was unaware of the origin of the pig. Before, during and after the hunt — and until late Thursday night, when contacted by The Star — Mike Stone was under the impression that the hog was feral.
"We were told that it was a feral hog," Mike Stone said, "and we hunted it on the pretense that it was a feral hog."