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COUNTY: Lake County
OBSERVED: Newspaper Article : Chronicle (Houston, Texas), July 2, 1980
"POLICE THINK MYSTERY FOOTPRINTS ARE FAKES"
ALTOONA, Fla. (UPI) - Most investigators figure its a hoax, but there is enough doubt in their minds to order casts made of the size 18 footlike prints found in a remote area of the Ocala National Forest.
"I think its a hoax," said Doug Sewell, chief investigator for the Lake County Sheriff's department. "There was no indication that something big enough to make those prints went back through the woods."
Less sure, however, is Lake County Sgt. Dee Kirby, called out to make casts of the half dozen 17-inch-by-6 1/2-inch footprints found near a bulldozer in the vicinity of Camp Ocala, a federal job training site.
He said the prints showed a definite arching of the instep. five distinct toes and even some wrinkling along the instep.
"(The prints) had a full four feet of distance between each of one," he said, speculating that if they were real the creature that made them must be 10-to-12 feet tall and weigh close to 1,000 pounds.
The prints were discovered by a private contractor doing roadwork for the U.S. Forestry Service. Forestry officials also made casts of the prints, but doubted if they would investigate further.
Informal speculation centered on whether the creature was the infamous "skunk ape" - Florida's own version of Bigfoot and the abominable snowman - reportedly last sighted in the Everglades.
Follow-up investigation report:
Research Credit : Mark A. Hall
From the files of Ron Schaffner (Ron@bfro.net)