From the Omaha, Nebraska; World-Herald; August 6, 1978
TOWN HAS HAIRY TIME WITH 'MONSTER'
By Frank Santiago
World-Herald Staff Writer
Ottosen, Iowa - On a typical August evening,
when the sky is
ablaze with starts and the breeze is warm and slight, you can
stand near the pop machine on Main Street and hear traffic whiz
by on the distant highway.
After the lights go out in Twig's grocery and
office is long closed, the village of about 100 slips into a soft
slumber in the middle of cornfields that stretch to the horizon.
But lately, Ottosen has been no peaceful isolated
It has been more like Times square.
Trucks, cars and motorcycles have roared into
town, some of
the occupants brandishing flashlights - and a few guns.
The visitors have trampled through vacant houses
lots, probing the shadows and knocking on doors and asking for
One resident, appalled by the intrusion, called
County Sheriff Marvin Anderson to complain that she couldn't
safely cross the street in front of her home.
The source of the commotion is stories of a
in Ottosen, a hairy, foul-smelling, 5-foot-high ape-like monster
that growls and grunts and lives in the shadows.
On at least three separate occasions in the
past 1 1/2
weeks, the creature reportedly has been seen.
The witnesses include two women and six children.
Henkins, who said she briefly saw the creature twice, said, "It
isn't anything like I've seen before."
"People think I'm just crazy," she said. "But
I know what I
Mrs. Hawkins said she believes two of her daughters
'monster'. She described the girls as "white with fright."
Adding to the drama are assorted stories of
dogs and rabbits
being mutilated, of cats disappearing, of May Helleseth's
grapevines being mysteriously stripped of their fruit and leaves.
One resident said, "Every dog in town was barking on the nights
when the creature was seen."
The visitor to Ottosen is shown paths of trampled
where he is told "the monster ran". In and near cornfields where
the animal allegedly vanished, there are impressions in the mud.
But they are old impressions and undefined.
There is now the claim of a Des Moines man
that the so-
called Ottosen creature may, in fact, be Bigfoot, the elusive,
legendary primate of the Northwest.
Kevin Cook, who said he has stalked Bigfoot
for 10 years,
said there are a small group of Bigfoots (or Bigfeet?) traveling
by night through the Midlands, generally following the Missouri
and Mississippi river basins. Ottosen is about three miles east
of the west fork of the Des Moines River.
Cook, who pursues Bigfoot as a hobby and works
as a customer
service officer for United Airlines at the Des Moines airport,
said the Ottosen sightings are among many in South Dakota, Iowa
He said there are more than one species of
some as small as 5 to 6 feet and similar to the creature believed
to have been seen at Ottosen.
There are, however, skeptics about the Ottosen
the talk of hairy creatures roaming the Iowa countryside.
The cautious include Sheriff Anderson, who
said he would
like to have "something solid to go on."
"I believe these people saw something, but
I don't know
In his office at the Humboldt County Courthouse
City, Anderson said: "I wouldn't rule out the possibility of
someone wearing a costume. I would think he'd get by with it at
night. But what has me puzzled is that one of the sightings was
during the day. And anybody wearing a costume would be taking an
awful chance. They could get shot."
Anderson took samples of what were believed
to be footprints
where the alleged creature fled into a cornfield, but the
impressions were inconclusive.
Mrs. Richard Kinseth, wife of Ottosen's mayor,
"Possibly there is some large animal. It could be a bear, or
large bird or some creature."
"I don't think you can dismiss what people
said they saw,
but we don't have to go wild about it."
John Wolfe, 11, was walking about 12:30 p.m.,
Greg Masters, 10 and Steve Bennet, 12, near the sale barns at the
edge of town.
"We were sort of goofing around and chased
a cat up a tree.
It was scared and it was bleeding," he said.
"We heard this scratching noise come from in
one of the
small buildings like something rubbing up against something. We
tossed a rock into the building."
Suddenly, in a window, a face appeared and
then as quickly
disappeared, he said.
"It was a big head, square-like," the youngster
had big eyes and a flat nose and broad shoulders. He was covered
by black or dark brown hair."
Frightened, the youngsters ran. John said he
looked over his
shoulder and saw the creature, his broad legs moving in big
leaps, his body hunched over, vanish into the cornfield. He said
the animal had left behind a pungent odor "like stinkweeds.
The sighting was the third in about a week.
Earlier, 9-year-old Donette Henkins, daughter
Henkins, was walking out of her grandmother's home at night, when
she came face to face with a hairy figure.
"It had deep-set eyes and fangs," she said.
"It kind of
growled and grunted."
The girl screamed and fled.
A few days later, her 12-year-old sister Dawn
was riding her
bicycle on Main Street at night when she said she saw a 5-foot-
high figure in the light of a street light standing near a garage
less than a half a block away.
"He just stood there. I couldn't see his face
because it was
in the shadow. But I could see he as broad and was covered with
The girl's scream brought her mother and Gina
Dahl, 12, and
Pat Young, 24.
Riding bikes to where Dawn had been, the trio
they heard a man's voice.
"Somebody asked, "Does anybody know what time
it is?"" Mrs.
"I don't know where the voice came from, but
we looked down
toward the garage and saw this head looking at us around the
corner. It had dazzling eyes, in the dark. They were as big as
golf balls. It had a big head covered with hair."
The women bolted.
Mrs. Henkins said the source of the man's voice
mystery to her.
Sheriff Anderson said he isn't sure what will
He said he has sent a team of deputies to patrol the village at
night "to look around" and to handle the nocturnal traffic of
"There really isn't much we can do," he said.
"If there is an Ottosen creature, it has likely
by now taken
off for parts unknown," Cook said. "townsfolk and curiosity
seekers have long scared it off," he said. But he remains firm in
his belief about Bigfoot in the Midlands.
"He is intelligent in the sense he knows how
to survive. He
is very shy toward people. People have seen him but they either
don't believe what they see or they're afraid to speak out
because people think they're crazy."
"But its only a matter of time before he's
caught. It may be
a hunter or somebody who is out looking for him."
Mrs. Henkins said she hopes that day isn't too far away.
One late evening, when the sightseers are gone
and the wind
whips through the trees, Mrs. Henkins wonders if something is
roaming outside in the shadows.
"There are nights I just can't sleep," she
Submit a report,
an article, or comments.