Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

NEIL ARNOLD: The Hairy Hoax

Over the years there have been some fantastic, as well as downright silly April Fools pranks and hoaxes – from Richard Branson’s attempt to panic London residents in a UFO-shaped balloon, to the alleged reports of a serpent in the River Thames from the 1970s. One of my favourite hoax stories comes from Bluff Creek, California. Now, Bluff Creek has embedded itself into cryptozoological folklore after Patterson-Gimlin film in the late 1960s which purportedly showed a female Sasquatch.

A few years after the Bluff Creek movie the Spokane Chronicle, among others, in 1976 reported that a woman had been kidnapped in the nearby the legendary man-beast. When the woman was eventually found the Chronicle of 25th May ’76 ran the headline, ‘Hoax Is Seen in Kidnaping (sic) by Bigfoot’, with the reporter stating: ‘Eureka, Calif. ;- A young woman reported abducted in rugged mountains by a hairy, ape-like creature known as Bigfoot has shown up screaming outside a rural resort, apparently unhurt.

“She’s not in too bad a shape”, Humboldt County Sheriff Gene Cox said Monday night, adding that he believed the whole affair had been a hoax. Cox said Cherie Darvell, 23, of Redding, Calif, had some minor scratches and bruises on her arms, and told a nurse her left arm was hurt. She was taken to Humboldt Medical Center at Hoopa for examination shortly after she was found late Monday night. Miss Darvell appeared outside the Bluff Creek Resort, about five miles from where she was reported abducted on Saturday, Cox said. She was mumbling, “They wouldn’t stop and pick me up”, he said.

One of her tennis shoes was missing, but her clothing was clean and she smelled of perfume when found, Cox said. He reported that when investigators asked her if she had been abducted by the legendary monster, she began to scream and refused to answer any questions. “I still think it’s a hoax”, Cox said. “I still don’t believe that she was abducted by Bigfoot.” She was one of five members of an independent film crew trying to photograph Bigfoot, a creature reported (sic) sighted in this Northern California area many times in the past 20 years. The crew kept its cameras rolling while up to 150 persons conducted a search for the missing woman.’

On May 29th 1976 the Calgary Herald stated that the woman, despite remembering very little of her encounter, was hoping to take a lie detector test to prove that the alleged kidnap was genuine. Sheriff Cox stated that if could prove the incident was a hoax then he would press charges despite the fact that Miss Darvell had stuck to her story in which she claimed that whilst with a friend scattering marshmallows in a clearing, she was approached by a “big black beast”. Miss Darvell’s friend, 19-year old Kathi Bush was apparently knocked down the hill by the creature which then scooped up Cherie who then woke up in the night, alone in the forest.

Darvell told a reporter at the Redding Record, “I don’ think it meant to hurt me at all…It could have if it had wanted to”. Sheriff Cox believed that because the alleged victim smelled of perfume she could not have been in the presence of a hairy monster, but Darvell argued back that the smell of perfume had come from the woman at the Bluff Creek resort who came to aid her. “I smelled bad, let me tell you”, Darvell commented to the Herald. Cherie Darvell stated that after she wandered through forest all night she was lucky to find a highway where she sought help.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well then did the woman take a lie detector test? because outside of the a priori assumption that her story was a hoax, there seems to be no evidence presented to prove that her story was false. And it was not an April Fool's gag at any rate if it was in the middle of May.

I am not saying that the story was necessarily true, only that the way in which it was presented was most peculiarly and negatively slanted.