DEWEESE — With the highly publicized movement afoot to storm a highly classified Area 51 federal facility for answers on the paranormal in the news this week, a small group of diversified Bigfoot researchers from multiple states converged on cabin property near the federal U.S. Meat Animal Research Center near Clay Center Friday with similar motivation in mind.
But attendees at the Giants and Bigfoot campout in Deweese weren’t out to overthrow the government or break any laws during their overnight stay. Their mission was to hear two prominent personalities in paranormal studies disseminate information on Sasquatch at a location where sightings allegedly have occurred. Organized by Harriett McFeeley, host of the annual Bigfoot Conference in Hastings who runs the Bigfoot Museum here, the campout included presentations by explorer/author Don Monroe of Lima, Montana, and image analyst M.K. Davis of Yazoo, Mississippi.
Though rain put a damper on plans to explore the property for clues to the possible presence of Bigfoot activity there, campers did report hearing sounds that suggested they were not alone during the campout. Reports of grunting sounds, scratching sounds and a distinct “Whoop,” (a sound frequently attributed to Sasquatch) were brought to light during discussions between presenters and campers Saturday morning.
Monroe, 83, has been exploring caves, ancient civilizations and the paranormal for more than 60 years. Having encountered such unexplainable phenomenon as ghost wolf apparitions and the remains of giants during his numerous delving into cryptozoology, the author of four published books now speaks almost matter of factly of his encounters with Bigfoot through the years, including his most recent sighting of three creatures while “squatching” with Davis just three weeks ago at Bluff Creek in Northern California. He and Davis have revisited the site where the famous Patterson-Gimlin footage of “Patty” was captured in 1967. Davis even captured footage he now believes to be Bigfoot while taking stock footage of the area in 2006.
“I’m not a believer, I’m a knower,” Monroe said. “I’ve seen them several times. I was told by a fingerprint expert years ago that it (Bigfoot) has most of our known blood lines — and something else — mixed with it. That something else is the question: We don’t know what that is. I call them feral wild people or Wild Man.
“I was impressed immediately by what I saw here in Nebraska. I see real possibilities for them to live here very easily. There is lots of cover, endless food, from fish to fowl, waterways and corn.”
Monroe said the true merit in the weekend’s campout is that it provided a forum for those with similar experiences to disseminate and gather information from others equally eager for answers on the creature’s identity. And if he and Davis can serve to keep that conversation going, they perform a service that one day may provide evasive answers to its origin and ancestry.
“We’re the horse’s mouth,” Monroe said. “And not just us, but so many people in the Bigfoot community who are valid. We have presented the facts as we know them short of the total conclusion. But I do know they exist. There’s no doubt about it.”
Davis is perhaps best known for his enhancements of film footage taken of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assignation by Abraham Zapruder and Orville Nix. His latest advancements applied to the Patterson-Gimlin footage can be viewed online at https://thedavisreport.wordpress.com/.
“I’m often asked, ‘Why isn’t there definitive evidence of Bigfoot?’ ” Davis said. “Well, there is definitive evidence. The problem is the bar is too high for that type of thing. The things that normally work that put things in textbooks do not work with Bigfoot. People are very dismissive about it.
“There’s an old saying that if you can improve an image by 1 percent you’ll see 10 new things. The Patterson-Gimlin film holds true to that. At some point and time you just have to say, ‘Wait, this is a much better film than anybody ever told us,’ and re-look at this event.”
Working with high-quality original frames obtained from “people associated with the film,” Davis was able to correct most of what he considered the fatal flaws found within the film. Using the latest stabilization, lensing correction and processing techniques, he has produced a version of Patty’s walk that he believes provides definitive proof of her existence. His hope is that someone credible in academic circles will seize upon his newly enhanced footage to prove once and for all that Bigfoot is, in fact, real.
“We have a system set up where we pay professional people to explain our world to us, and sometimes we don’t get our money’s worth,” he said. “It’s past the point of being real. The next question should be, ‘What is it?’ I think it’s probably an archaic person, meaning a person that is of an older style that they thought was long gone off the Earth.
“I think this is a grand opportunity to get some kind of a grip on it. Film is the best evidence. You can’t beat film. Let the film tell you what is on there and what occurred rather than spend 50 years like they have being tugged back and forth by different ideas, most of them driven by theories that don’t have a lot of hard facts behind them.”
Art Wach, 55, and his brother own the cabin property in Deweese where the campout was held. He said he first observed what he believes are signs of Bigfoot activity on the property in 2010.
“I first heard a ‘Whoop!’ ” he said. “I’ve also seen tree breaks, heard howls, and been screamed or yelled at really close. Last December I heard a double wood knock (a sound Bigfoot are said to make to make their presence known) and saw footprints in 2015 and on April 19 this year.”
Wach befriended McFeeley at her annual Bigfoot Conference and is convinced his property is frequented by at least one creature. That campers over the weekend reported hearing sounds they believed may have been Bigfoot activity simply reinforced his assertion his property may in fact be occupied by inhuman squatters.
“I think it was pretty good,” he said of the campout. “I liked making new friends and just getting more knowledge about more stuff. It was a small group, so we really got to know each other.”
Forrest Simpson, 64, is a retired lawman from Bandon, Oregon. He discovered the Bigfoot Museum while searching online for things to do in the area and registered for the campout upon completing the tour.
“I was absolutely fascinated,” he said. “I don’t know if I believe or I don’t not believe. It’s one of those things where I don’t know that I need to see or hear one to believe because there are so many credible people who have witnessed and experienced them.
“There was a guy in Bandon who put together a whole book of sightings in Coos County that goes back years, with statements from people he talked to. There were timber cutters, timber markers, timber rangers, so many credible people who had nothing to gain but things to lose professionally for saying ‘I’ve seen Bigfoot.’ ”
Intrigued by both campout presenters, Simpson said he plans to expand his book collection with a series of books recommended by Davis on Bigfoot and giants.
“It was almost too much information to absorb at one time,” he said. “I’m an avid reader, so I’m looking forward to when I get home to make Amazon.com my friend: Find the book, order the book!”
Artist Shelly Bible, 48, of Minden always has wondered if the dark figure she saw lingering under an overpass while driving to the a medical appointment in Omaha in 1991 may have been the elusive creature. Her experience at the campout solidified her belief in Bigfoot, she said.
“It was real and it was fun,” she said. “I can’t wait to do it again. I wanted to see a real Bigfoot — I really, really wanted to — so I was hoping we’d go down and knock on trees or ‘Whoop’ or whatever. I’m kind of disappointed in that we didn’t, but it was too muddy.”
Studying an image of Patty displayed on a a poster brought by Davis made her feel pity for the fleeing creature, she said.
“The way she was looking made me feel bad that she got her picture taken,” she said. “You could tell that she was horrified.”
Patrick McWilliams, 52, of Denver is a hospital PBX operator who has attended all three Bigfoot Conferences in Hastings. A member of the Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies (S.I.R.) team, he has been following Bigfoot events since 2015, when he encountered what he believes was a Bigfoot at close range while hiking with his dog in Bailey, Colorado, in 2015.
McWilliams said he heard a “whoop” and scratching outside of his tent at about 1:30 Saturday morning during the campout. The subsequent scratching seemed to be coming from the dark side of his tent.
“I also thought I was hearing a little grunting going on, but I wasn’t sure,” he said. “In hindsight, I think there is probably something here. And yeah, I’d say there’s probably some type of Bigfoot or Sasquatch out on the property.”
Finding the presenters to be entertaining and informative made the campout an exhilarating experience, McWilliams said.
“I had fun listening to Don, M.K. and Art and talking to the other people here,” he said. “I don’t dismiss the idea there are Sasquatch in Nebraska. There’s a corridor they travel, and finding all kinds of stuff in Colorado, why wouldn’t it make sense in Nebraska?”
Bob Wills, 65, of Hastings is retired from a security position at Hastings College. He encountered what he believes were Bigfoot in Oklahoma and Kansas in 1983 and 1992. Awakened by scratching sounds on his camper door just after 1 a.m., he ventured to the camp site area near the cabin to see if someone may have been trying to get his attention. All were apparently asleep when he arrived.
“So what was it, you know?” he said.
The unexplained noise merely added an element of intrigue to what had already shaped into an engaging event, Wills said.
“I thought it was great,” he said “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Stan Mangers, 58, a seasonal fair employee, called the campout “the most different thing I’ve ever been to in my life.” Having experienced mystical visions himself unrelated to Bigfoot, he said the event validated his belief in the existence of the evasive creature.
“I think it’s real,” he said. “Don and M.K. are amazing! I’m glad I went.”
McFeeley said she regards the campout to be her most poignant Bigfoot event to date. Considering the lineups she’s brought to previous Bigfoot events, such was high praise indeed.
“Jeff Meldrum (anthropologist and noted Bigfoot speaker) said, ‘In every legend there is a bit of truth and in every truth there is a bit of legend,’ ” she said. “That’s kind of the way this whole weekend was. We learned from M.K. and Don and the others that going back to things they thought were legend had way more than a bit of truth to them.
“I think the fact that attendance was so small was good (because) we could get personal and intimate with them (the presenters). We got to know them and could ask them questions and get them to explain and clarify. I thought it was terrific.
“They weren’t just some guys standing up there on stage talking. They made the whole thing personal.”
Monroe and Davis will give a condensed encore presentation of their weekend talks at a special event at 7 p.m. Monday at the Bigfoot Museum, 1205 E. 42nd St. The presentation is free with paid admission into the museum.
For information, call 402-705-0000.
First Baptist Church set out Saturday morning to show that raising money for local organizations is for everyone by hosting its second annual cornhole tournament.
Fourteen teams from around the Hastings community came to the parking lot next to the First Baptist Church and played cornhole, a game where two teams try to throw beanbags and land them on a sloped board with a hole in the middle.
This year, the group is donating the money they raised to the Mary Lanning Morrison Cancer Center’s From the Heart Fund. The fund is used to help those going through cancer treatment pay for expenses like prescriptions and transportation.
For Janet Spencer, a volunteer at the cornhole tournament, raising money for the charity is close to home. The From the Heart Fund helped Spencer get through her own cancer treatment after she was diagnosed in 2003 with stage four cancer. She is now cancer-free.
“When Andy (Springer) asked if anyone had ideas for charities, I was quick to raise my hand,” Spencer said.
Andy Springer, a pastor a First Baptist Church, came up with the idea for a cornhole tournament last year as a way to show support for local organizations. By making it cornhole, anyone of any age could play easily.
“It’s fun and everyone can play,” Springer said.
Kids under 10 to people who were retired showed up to the tournament. Springer said most of the people who showed up at the tournament weren’t even involved with the Baptist church. Springer said the tournament was all about raising money for groups that help those in the Hastings area.
“People enjoy church things that aren’t internally focused,” he said.
Some players came to the tournament with plenty of cornhole experience while others were new to the lawn game.
The teams of two were racing to get to 21 points before the other team. Landing a beanbag on the board was worth one point and making the bean bag in the hole resulted in three points. Everyone tossing a bag had to stand behind the front of the cornhole box on their side, while kids under 10 got to toss from a purple line closer to the board they were aiming for.
Last year, the church’s tournament donated money for the Literacy Program, to help purchase picture dictionaries for kids in English as a second language classes. Springer said this year’s event was bigger than last year’s event, with about 10 teams then.
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Anguished families planned funerals in two U.S. cities, politicians pointed fingers and a nation numbed by gun violence wondered what might come next Monday as the death toll from two weekend mass shootings rose to 31.
The attacks 1,300 miles apart — at a packed shopping center in El Paso, Texas , and a popular nightlife stretch in Dayton, Ohio — also injured dozens more. They became the newest entries on an ever-growing list of mass shooting sites and spurred discussion on where to lay the blame. President Donald Trump cited mental illness and video games but steered away from talk of curbing gun sales.
For all the back-to-back horror of innocent people slain amid everyday life, decades of an unmistakably American problem of gun violence ensured it wasn't entirely shocking. Even as the familiar post-shooting rituals played out in both cities, others clung to life in hospitals, with two new fatalities recorded among those injured at the shooting at the Walmart in El Paso.
As in a litany of other shooting sites before, the public juggled stories of the goodness seen in lives cut short with inklings of the demented motives of the shooters, and on-scene heroics with troubling ideologies that may have sparked the bloodshed.
Equally familiar, Washington reacted along party lines, with Trump's vague suggestion of openness to new gun laws met with skepticism by an opposition that has heard similar talk before.
"Hate has no place in America," the president declared in a 10-minute speech from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, condemning racism and rehashing national conversations on treatment for mental health, depiction of violence in the media, and discourse on the internet.
A racist screed authorities were working to confirm was left by the alleged perpetrator in the Texas shooting, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, mirrored some of Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric. Some, like Ernesto Carrillo, whose brother-in-law Ivan Manzano was killed in the Walmart attack, said the president shares blame for inflammatory language Carrillo called a "campaign of terror."
"His work as a generator of hate ended in this," said Carrillo, who crossed the border from Ciudad Juárez on Monday for a meeting in El Paso with Mexico's foreign minister. "Thanks to him, this is all happening."
Trump, in turn, tweeted that the media "contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up."
Trump suggested a bill to expand gun background checks could be combined with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation's immigration system, but gave no rationale for the pairing. Studies have repeatedly shown immigrants have a lower level of criminality than those born in the U.S., both shooting suspects were citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a potential motive in the Texas massacre.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a leading voice on gun reform since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his state rattled the country with the slaughter of 20 children, immediately dismissed the president's proposal as meaningless. "Tying background checks to immigration reform is a transparent play to do nothing," he wrote on Twitter.
Whatever the political back-and-forth, or the re-energized presence of gun control talk on the presidential campaign trail, the very real consequences of gun violence were still being bared by victims badly injured in the two states.
In both incidents, a young white male was identified as the lone suspect. Though authorities were eyeing racism as a possible factor in Texas, where the alleged shooter has been booked on murder charges, in Ohio police said there was no indication of a similar motivation. Police in Dayton said they responded in about 30 seconds early Sunday and fatally shot 24-year-old Connor Betts. While the gunman was white and six of the nine killed were black, police said the quickness of the rampage made any discrimination in the shooting seem unlikely.
Betts' sister was also among the dead.
"It seems to just defy believability he would shoot his own sister, but it's also hard to believe that he didn't recognize it was his sister, so we just don't know," said Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine visited the scene Sunday and said policymakers must consider: "Is there anything we can do in the future to make sure something like this does not happen?"
Hours later, hundreds of people stood at a vigil and vented their frustration at the Republican governor, interrupting him with chants of "Make a change!" and "Do something!" as he talked about the victims.
"People are angry, and they're upset. They should be," said Jennifer Alfrey, 24, of Middletown, who added that she didn't agree with interrupting the vigil but understood why so many did.
In Texas, where 22 were killed, authorities said the accused shooter hailed from a Dallas suburb a 10-hour drive away. Authorities seemed to take some solace in knowing the shooter wasn't one of their own.
"It's not what we're about," El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said.
Sedensky reported from New York and can be reached at email@example.com and https://twitter.com/sedensky
Contributing to this report were John Seewer in Dayton, Ohio; Julie Carr Smyth and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Cedar Attanasio and Morgan Lee in El Paso, Texas; Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas; and Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire in Washington.
This story has been amended to correct that the combined death toll from the shootings is 31.