Published August 20, 2008
So it really was a rubber suit after all.
Last week's excitement over a supposed Bigfoot body, which culminated Friday in a circus-like press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., collapsed like a wet soufflé Sunday as an independent investigator determined it was all fake.
SearchingforBigfoot.com owner Tom Biscardi had paid an "undisclosed sum" — Internet rumors put it at $50,000 — to Georgia residents Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer for their frozen "corpse" and the privilege of trotting them, but not the body, out in front of TV cameras.
At the same time, Biscardi sent self-described "Sasquatch detective" Steve Kulls to a secret location — apparently Muncie, Ind. — to check out the specimen.
Kulls, it's safe to say, was severely disappointed.
The upshot? Bigfoot, once found, is now again missing. So are Whitton, Dyer and Biscardi's money.
In a long statement on SearchingforBigfoot.com, Kulls reveals what he found early Sunday morning Eastern time as the body thawed out.
"I extracted some [hair] from the alleged corpse and examined it and had some concerns," Kulls writes. "We burned said sample and said hair sample melted into a ball uncharacteristic of hair."
Kulls called Biscardi in California, who told him to heat the body to speed up thawing.
"Within one hour we were able to see the partially exposed head," Kulls continues. "I was able to feel that it seemed mostly firm, but unusually hollow in one small section. This was yet another ominous sign."
Then came the clincher.
"Within the next hour of thaw, a break appeared up near the feet area. ... I observed the foot which looked unnatural, reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot."
That jibes with what Jerry Parrino, owner of Internet Halloween-costume retailer TheHorrorDome.com, told FOXNews.com last week.
"It definitely looks like our [Sasquatch] costume," Parrino said after viewing photos of the body.
The Biscardi team immediately went into crisis mode. Biscardi called Whitton and Dyer at their California hotel.
They admitted it was a hoax and agreed to sign a promissory note at a meeting set for 8 a.m. Pacific time at the hotel.
But when Biscardi got there, he "found that they had left."
"At this time action is being instigated against the perpetrators of this fraud," Kulls writes on Biscardi's Web site. "On behalf of myself I can say with certainty Matthew Whitton and Ricky Dyer [are] not the best Bigfoot trackers in the world!"
Loren Coleman, who runs the influential Cryptomundo.com Web site devoted to mysterious animals, isn't buying Biscardi's pleas of ignorance.
"He's a huckster, a circus ringmaster," Coleman told FoxNews.com. "It's all about money with him. It probably didn't matter to him whether it was real or not."
So why would Dyer, described as a former security guard, and Whitton, a police officer with the Clayton County, Ga., department, make it all up?
"They probably started out small, as a way to promote their Bigfoot tracking business, and got in way over their heads," Coleman figured. "These are not very intelligent individuals."
The involvement of Biscardi, who Coleman says was introduced to the pair by Kulls, brought them attention they didn't need.
"In a way, both sides may have been trying to out-con each other," said Coleman.
The Bigfoot Field Research Organization, another Bigfoot group that refused to take seriously what Coleman dubbed the "Georgia gorilla," wants everyone connected with the "body" — Biscardi, Dyer, Kulls and Whitton — arrested.
"Warrants need to be issued immediately before Biscardi leaves the country," the organization's Web site states.
As for Whitton, he doesn't seem to have a job to come back to in Georgia.
Asked for comment on Officer Whitton, Clayton County, Ga., Chief of Police Jeffrey Turner, corrected FoxNews.com. "You mean ex-officer Whitton."
"As soon as we saw it was a hoax," Chief Turner explained, "I filed the paperwork to terminate his employment."
Turner said he hasn't heard from Whitton, and that he was mystified at the former officer's involvement in such a blatant scam.
"He was a real go-getter," Turner said, citing Whitton's wounding in the line of duty earlier this summer while apprehending a suspect who had allegedly shot a woman in the head. "For someone to do a complete three-sixty like that, I can't explain it."
The woman who answered the phone at Biscardi's Searching for Bigfoot office in Menlo Park, Calif., said he was out ill but would return calls when he could.