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Geographical Index > United States > Ohio > Vinton County > Article # 322

Media Article # 322
Article prepared and posted by Matthew Moneymaker

Saturday, November 1, 1980

R. Schaffner's case report about the Vinton County incidents in fall of 1980.

By Ron Schaffner
Creature Chronicles

MacArthur, Ohio Reports Vinton, County - Southern edge of the Wayne National Forest. The alleged sightings occurred on August 11, 24 and October 5, 10, 1980
Investigators: Ron Schaffner ( Earl Jones Bill Johns George Greene

The MacArthur sightings were probably the most talked about case of 1980. The Columbus Dispatch and the AP wires were pouring out stories of hunters who believed to have found several Bigfoot creatures. The majority of sightings occurred east of MacArthur, Ohio, on U.S. 50. To make sure that you - the reader fully understand the scope of the situation, we will present the background of the incidents in question and our investigative documents. There will be conflicting statements between the media and others involved. With all the facts before us, it will show that this particular case has a high probability of hoax.


The first sightings were reported by Larry Cottrill who says that he saw three "Sasquatch-like" animals near his home. He believes that he may have wounded one in the shoulder from his rifle. This was on August 24. Cottrill has since moved out of the county.

The next sighting was made by Mr. Rodney Peoples, who lives across U.S. 50 from Cottrill. Peoples said that he had heard strange sounds for weeks. According to an article in the Cleveland Press, dated 10/18/80, he told reporters that he saw a large creature three times in the past weeks.

"It was right over there on the hillside. I'm saying 9 or 10 ft. tall and when it moved, it ran faster than any bear or human could", said Peoples.

The sighting that Peoples was referring to was at dusk on October 10. He also stated that the sound was similar to a bark, or growl and sometimes a "chirpping". Peoples and Dean Cotrill (Larry's brother) both agree that the creature leaves a rotten odor.

Earlier in the week, another story had developed. Robert Gardiner, Dean Cotrill and Rene Debros had been hunting for the creature(s) in the woods by a deserted A-frame structure. Their story was printed in the Columbus Citizen-Journal; October 9. After finding an unusual print, they decided to back-track. That is when they claimed to have seen blood dripping from a tree.

"We started looking around for something to take a sample with", said Gardiner. "Then we heard the scream".

The three hunters began to hear other sounds and began wondering if they (creatures) were actually communicating.

"Their bark sounded like an African "silver-tip" mountain gorilla" Gardiner stated.

An article in the 10/10/80 edition of the Indianapolis Star stated: HUNTER THINKS LAIR OF BIGFOOT IN OHIO. Gardiner, Peoples and others have found tracks near U.S. 50. Some prints measured 17 1/2 inches long and 9 inches wide. Casts were made and distributed among them. In the October 9 edition of the Columbus Dispatch, gardiner was quoted as saying that he sent the blood samples to Wyoming for analysis. the results showed that the blood was from some type of primate.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gerald Svendson, an Ohio University zoologist had been doing some checking on his own. According to the Columbus Dispatch, 10/13, the professor found too many things wrong with the footprints and casts. Here is his findings:

"All the footprints were dug out by hand, as you can see where the sand was dug. There are too many things wrong that anyone with any experience with functional anatomy or zoology would know. What we have here is a "small-footed" Bigfoot with variable toes. Sometimes the toes point to the left and sometimes to the right. The tracks are about 11 1/2 inches long, which would be extremely small for an animal reported to be 7 - 12 foot tall."

Dr. Svendson was also shown scratches on trees. He said that they were not done by a large animal, but with penny nails.


We did not reach the Vinton County area until October 18, because of our involvement with the Fulton Case. (Mason, County, Kentucky). The latest sighting was a week ago by Rodney Peoples.

Since there had been heavy media coverage, we decided not to tell anyone of our presence, other than the Vinton County Sheriff's Department. We told the deputies our exact location; a deserted log cabin. We wanted to do a complete field check before talking with the witnesses and locals. However, many of the local hunters did find our camp and we discussed the various stories. That night we set up our cameras with infrared film and connected them to trip lines which surrounded our campsite.

We talked with Mr. Walter Coleman, who owns much of the surrounding property by the deserted A-frame. He had been picking berries before our short interview. He told us that he had seen a mother bear and her cub about a year ago, but has never seen anything unusual.

"I've been out here most of my life and never saw an animal I couldn't make out,"he said.

Of all the people we talked with that day, only Gardiner, Cotrill, and Peoples reported seeing of hearing the creature(s). Of course, there is no way to prove; nor disprove their story.

As mentioned before, the press stated that Mr. Peoples had seen the dark form on previous occasions. However, during a taped interview with us, he explained that he only saw it on the night of October 10. Since it was several yards at dusk, he could not give any real description, other than it being a dark form.

We were presented with several footprint casts that were in People's possession. The prints measured 11 1/2 inches long. There were no heel or toe indentations; no arch and the entire set of casts were extremely flat and irregular.

Peoples told us that the tree scratchings were done (in his opinion) with a phillips-head screwdriver.

There was no documentation to prove that the blood was from that of a primate. Even if it was, it wouldn't prove Bigfoot. According to the newspapers, the blood samples were sent to Wyoming. There is nothing mentioned by Gardiner as to who did the analysis; where it was performed, or what the results were!

The print casts were all different shapes and sizes. Some had 6 toes, some five and a few 4 toes. One alleged hand print had a striking resemblance to a child's baseball glove. (We have these photographs in our possession) We feel that these prints are too small, flat and irregular to support a creature that reportedly weighs 400 pounds and is 7 - 12 foot tall. The toe configurations are not in proportion to the rest of the foot. Therefore, we concur with the findings of Dr. Svendson.

Some of the local hunters said that there hasn't been any wildlife activity in the area. They probably were not looking hard, because we found evidence of white-tail deer, a bobcat, raccoons, rabbits and ringtails within a 20 mile perimeter of our investigations.

Our research group feels that any large form seen at a distance and in darkness can constitute any type of large mammal.

We cannot and will not dispute the sightings of an unknown animal. In fact, we believe that something strange was on-going. However, - in our opinion - the alleged physical evidence was faked. "Monster-mania" was very evident during those weeks. There was plenty of evidence of parties, as beer cans were in abundance. Therefore, we conclude that a third party was responsible for the phoney evidence in Vinton County. This conclusion was agreed by all four of us in the research group and was not the result of just one opinion. R. Schaffner Hominid Research Group (now defunct) Reprint from Creature Chronicles #3

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