Geographical Index > United States > Ohio > Richland County > Article # 323
Media Article # 323
Sunday, July 16, 1978
Bighead Causes Stir In Butler Vicinity
What has a head larger than its body, bulging red eyes and stands over seven foot tall? Don't know?...Well, neither do the residents of southern Richland County community of Butler... [remainder of article not included]
From the files of Ron Schaffner
The newspaper goes on to explain an offbeat investigation by Butler's acting police chief and the Richland County's Sheriff's department. Both departments debunked the story as a hoax. We spent several hours interviewing the witnesses and found discrepancies between law officials, the press and local rumors. We hope to clarify the events in question.
Butler is a quiet community of 1300. The town offers a wide verity of outdoor entertainment, such as canoeing, hayrides and ski facilities. On the eastern side lies the Mohican State Forest, which provides an unlimited amount of camping and backpacking trails.
WITNESSES: Eugene Kline, Theresa Kline and Ken O'Neal
LOCATION: Butler, Ohio; Richland County
INVESTIGATORS: Ron Schaffner (Ron@bfro.net), Earl Jones, Richland County Sheriff's Department
The Roger Kline family live on Ohio S.R. 95 at the Butler city limits. Their property extends a few acres back to a branch line of the CSX railroad.(1) Beyond the tracks, lie vast wooded hills and farmland.
The first of these strange encounters occurred on the night of July 8 at 11:00 PM. Eugene Kline and Ken O'Neal, both 17, were walking along the tracks when they heard a strange noise coming from the brush up ahead. The boys turned around towards the left and saw an unknown creature about seven foot tall with large red eyes. The boys instantly panicked. Ken started running back to the house, but Eugene could not move. He seemed to be transfixed to the apparition for what seemed like minutes. Finally, the shock broke and Eugene made his get-a-away back to the house.
Eugene described the creature as being about seven foot tall with a head much larger than its body. It appeared to have red eyes. He further stated that there were no hands or feet visible. They could not give any details as to hair or skin. Both agreed that it made an unusual growling sound.
Eugene's father called the Sheriff's department and they checked the area. They also filed a report. (2)
Within two days, "Bighead" was reported again. This time, the creature was seen by a carload of Mansfield residents. (Names are on police report, but are withheld here due to confidentiality requests.) It was about 10:00 PM, when the group of young adults were at a railroad crossing. They told Bellville Police that a hugh black apparition with red eyes was in a slumped position by the tracks. The authorities were impressed because all their stories matched while being interviewed separately. All witnesses showed signs of fright.
On the night of July 12, the creature was back on the prowl and back on the Kline's property. Theresa and her father, Roger were pitching hay from their barn. A slow freight train was heading eastbound. The train began to sound its horn at long and short intervals. Roger went back to the house while Theresa decided that she wanted to see why the train kept blowing the horn. She had not gone far when she saw a silhouette with two glowing eyes. It omitted a foul odor and a high pitched scream. Theresa threw her flashlight at it and ran.
The Richland County Sheriff's department investigated and found no physical evidence to substantiate this creature. deputies remained skeptical and even mocked the stories. According to Butler Police Chief, Phil Stortz, the Klines were probably seeing a wild animal from the Mohican State Park. He could not see how "Bigfoot" could exist in Ohio. (3)
There seems to be a change of opinion from Chief Stortz. According to the Columbus Dispatch, he stated that footprints and unusual hair were found on the Kline's property. When we asked him about his statements, he denied ever saying that and that the press misquoted him.
We arrived at the Kline residence on September 8. Eugene and Theresa were still in a nervous state as they recalled their encounters. They appeared to be intelligent kids with no apparent reason to perpetrate a hoax. Eugene received much ridicule from his classmates. He is familiar with many domestic and wild animals. It is a common practice of his to observe the local wildlife as they approach the nearby creek. Eugene told us that much of that wildlife wasn't seen during the week in question, although the neighborhood dogs barked constantly and the cattle seemed spooked. One dog jumped through a picture window of his owner's home and ran wildly inside the house. No one was sure what spooked the dog, but it was obviously scared. However, this may not be related to the events in question.
Since there were no specific descriptions of the creature's facial features, we can only speculate as to what it was. The head area is certainly not indicative of our legendary Bigfoot, but that description is probably a bit exaggerated due to a frightened experience. At any rate - Bigfoot or not - this case is extremely puzzling.
(1) CSX abandoned their right-of-way several years ago. The old line is now a paved bike trail.
(2) I have copies of the three original police reports that were filed.
(3) The reader will notice that the Butler Police Chief was the first to use the term "Bigfoot". This wasn't mentioned by the witnesses and we avoid using this term during our investigations.