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What Was The Mystery Body?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 23rd, 2009

Scenes from the bridge. Photos by Suzanne Feliciano of The Vicksburg Post. (If both images are not visible, click “refresh” on your browser and reload.)

Okay, I’ve been waiting for a week for some followup or conclusion to this, but it doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. Therefore, I’ll post on the story of this mysterious carcass and see if this is the week we can hear more. Or see more.

Last Monday, February 16, 2009, an unidentified body was found in the Big Black River near U.S. 80, outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

It was believed to be human (in conjunction with the search for a missing man). But then, as the autopsy on the body began on February 17th, it was determined it was not human. The Vicksburg Post reported it was an “unidentified animal.”

The finding was announced by the Mississippi State Crime Lab in Jackson, but they didn’t mention what kind of animal it was.

“It is not human,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “I repeat, it is not human.”

Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey, standing in for the Hinds coroner, had said immediately on February 16th that he could identify nothing from the remains.

The body was found by a father and son looking through scopes on rifles on U.S. 80 just east of Warren-Hinds county line at about 3 pm on the afternoon of February 16.

During the body’s recovery, “as many as 20 law enforcement officials were staged on a concrete bridge over Big Black backwater as the remains were taken from the water about 75 yards from the bridge and brought to land,” said The Vicksburg Post.

On the 17th of February, Jackson, Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger noted that Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin confirmed also that state Crime Lab tests showed a body found on February 16th, in the Big Black River was “an animal but not a human.”

There has been no followup article in any media, which, of course, has lead to wild speculation. One comment maker to the Vicksburg paper, who identifies herself or himself as “RangerB” even wrote: “The mystery animal you all wait for, is simply a badly decomposed black bear. NOT A BIGFOOT. Take a deep breath people.”

Of course, without official word from the authorities and it being passed along in the media, such a comment has to be labeled as merely speculation itself.

If I hear of any further information released on what species has been linked to the body, I’ll update this posting.

No closeup photos have surfaced of the carcass. Where’s Boing Boing, Smoking Gun, or TMZ when we really need them?

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


20 Responses to “What Was The Mystery Body?”

  1. Alligator responds:

    It probably will turn out to be a bear. Bear sightings are increasing in Mississippi as their population is increasing and the Black River basin is prime bear country. Here’s a link to information on bears in Mississippi.

    A desiccated, bloated body of bear might resemble a human at first glance, especially if much of the hair has been lost. The big problem here is that the Vicksburg Post needs to do a follow up to the story, even if its on the back pages. That is responsible journalism, but then journalists aren’t very responsible these days.

  2. Andrew Minnesota responds:

    Interesting news Loren and thank you for sharing it. Hopefully an official statement will be released soon. It would be something if this is how a Bigfoot body was found.

  3. shumway10973 responds:

    true as it may be that black bear sightings are increasing, if I were a coroner with a black bear on my slab I wouldn’t claim it to be an unidentified animal. I’d say, “It looks to be a bear.” They also don’t need that many officers for pulling a black bear out of the river. True a black bear’s rear paw looks like a humans, but that is where it ends. There is something more to this story that they are not telling us, and I find it interesting that someone actually said it’s not a big foot.

  4. alcalde responds:

    “The big problem here is that the Vicksburg Post needs to do a follow up to the story.”

    Why? At first people thought there might be a dead person in the water, and it turned out to be an animal. Other than here :-) most people really don’t care what the exact species of animal is. It’d be like people thinking they saw a UFO, and it later turning out it was a plane. There’d be no inclination to do a followup feature story just to report the exact model plane it was.

    “They also don’t need that many officers for pulling a black bear out of the river. There is something more to this story that they are not telling us, and I find it interesting that someone actually said it’s not a big foot.”

    If there’s a potential murder, you usually do have a large number of officers involved, doing everything from cordoning off traffic to managing the press, gathering forensic evidence, etc. They’re not all there to remove the remains. Someone had to actually say it’s not a bigfoot because bigfoot lovers say things like “There is something more to this story than they are telling us.” :-) :-)

    If it WAS a Bigfoot, I think finding remains of a bipedal organism with human hands and feet and humanoid face would not get the remains quickly dismissed as “just an animal”. Hence, there’s really no need to lose sleep worrying about the identity of the remains.

  5. jdillard71 responds:

    I would like to mention the great Grover Krantz. In a documentary called Ancient Mysteries – Bigfoot (A&E DVD Archives) (1994) , which is a great documentary for anyone who is on this site. In the film Dr. Krantz mentions a study/survey he conducted with outdoorsmen, park rangers, hikers, college students & professors, scientists, hunters, etc. about the number of naturally dead bears ever discovered in the wild And the grand total he came up with was ZERO. Dead bear?

  6. alcalde responds:

    JDillard, if you’re suggesting it can’t be a dead bear because Grover Krantz didn’t turn up finds in an informal survey, I suggest just the opposite. This shows that dead bears do turn up, and I’ve read an article in which a teacher finds this claim just as puzzling because he’s personally found two bear skulls during his walks in the wilderness. Tyranosaurus Rex isn’t around for millions of years (I hope) but even its bones turn up once in a while! :-) Bears will also occasionally get hit by cars, shot by hunters (on purpose or otherwise), and perish while interacting with civilization or its trappings.

  7. jd230 responds:

    Although I agree they would probably not follow up on the identification of the animal body in this case, your analogy to a UFO sighting is way off. If a UFO was eventually identified as something mundane, you better believe they would have some story about it on the evening news, right before the weather. There would be the obnoxious graphic of a Martian waving out of a silver flying saucer, the background X-Files music, and many horrible jokes about it.

  8. Alligator responds:

    Well, I think X-Files conspiracy stuff is way out of line on this. “Unidentified animal” simply means that people who see it don’t know exactly what it is probably because of circumstances they are viewing it in (muddy, bloating and desiccated). If they had seen it alive they would have recognized it. Think of the Montauk raccoon…I mean beast found on the beach. Or the Maine ugly dog…I mean mutant. Or the Chilean goat…I mean sea monster found on the beach. A good vet or wildlife biologist would figure out what is was within a few minutes.

    As a volunteer fireman and EMT, I can tell you all kinds of emergency response people show up when there is a possible rescue or a suspected corpse in play. And if you try to pull a waterlogged corpse (be it human, bear, large dog, or bovine) out of the water and up a steep muddy bank you need LOTS of people to do it. Been there, done that for real folks. Things that have been in the water awhile, just really look different than most people expect.

    By the way, its not just the trappings of civilization that kill bears – they die from old age, disease, fights with other bears and accidents. Yes, they fall out of trees and break their necks, slip down banks and knock themselves out and drown. Kinda like people. Bad things happen to good bears sometimes :)

    As for the Vicksburg Post, they should just have someone call up and find out and exactly what the “unidentified animal” was. For all we know it may have been a calf or a dog. Still based on the response they evidently thought it might have been a person. Superficially, a water logged bear might have that appearance from a distance.

  9. maslo63 responds:

    alcalde; In the defense of jdillard71 and Krantz the documentary did specifically state that no one has yet found a bear that has died NATURALLY. Still I’m with you on the survey being informal and likely inaccurate.

  10. Family Guy is on responds:

    I find it werid that they need 20 policemen out there blocking the bridge just for a bear carcass..

  11. springheeledjack responds:

    Decomposition is the problem and it very well could be something mundane like a bear…however, the Grover Krantz study is on the money…and I don’t think jDillard was saying it was impossible, but he was saying that dead bears found in the wild are about as numerous as winning powerball tickets…

    I found a contact e-mail for the vicksburg paper and wrote to them asking for information, updates or names of people to follow up with next…we will see if I get anything out of them.

  12. vamelungeon responds:

    When the coroner found the remains to be non-human, the carcass probably went into the garbage and that was the end of it. There’s probably no follow-up to be done.

  13. A_Human_On_Earth responds:

    Even decomposed, looking at the head would say bear or “not human” right at the site.

    The article did not say badly decomposed or a headless corpse.

    Wouldn’t it be more natural, even for a law enforcement information officer, to use a simple phrase like, “it’s some kind of animal?”

  14. cryptidsrus responds:

    Ok, it’s an animal…what kind???

    I agree with Family Guy is on…20 people for a bear carcass???

    I agree it’s probably nothing-but why the “drama???.”

  15. robynnee responds:

    I think that the officials in this rural Mississippi area don’t want a whole bunch of outsiders tramping through their backyards and woods most likely trespassing, and causing disturbances in an otherwise quiet area. I am sure if one lived there one would feel much the same. Sometimes “city-folk” just don’t understand this.

  16. MattBille responds:

    It’s not mentioned whether the animal had been skinned. A skinned bear looks human enough that the resemblance led some Native American cultures to declare that people and bears were “cousins.” Now if someone would kindly release just a picture of the teeth, we’d be done here.

  17. springheeledjack responds:

    And how…all we are looking for is more information…it is interesting, and it seems if you throw something like that out to the public, the least you can do is follow up with it and let us know the rest of the story…

  18. jdillard71 responds:

    yes. I myself even agree that Dr. Krantz study was “informal” :), but its just a statement as to the odds of it being a naturally dead bear. Just another thing to think about, and I agree with everyone on here: 20 police officers? seems like a bit much don’t you think?

  19. Kushtaka responds:

    I’ve come across SEVERAL dead bears and numerous other wild animals in the wild. (Maybe I should start buying Powerball tickets, Springheeledjack!) I’ve even seen some human bodies. Under the right circumstances, a dead bear DOES look VERY MUCH like a human, without closer investigation. Thus, the need for a whole team of law enforcement to secure the scene while the body is being recovered. I’ve come across bears in several stages of decomposition. When they are skinned, they look horrifically like a human being. I concur with MattBille. When all the remains is bones, again, it looks very human-like. I should also note that all of the bears I encountered were headless. The heads often become detached in the process of decomposition and scavenging (for humans and animals alike). For those of you who have never seen a dead bear, I’m including a link to one of the photos I took of my first dead bear encounter.

    OK, I’m going to go buy some lottery tickets now, because, what are the odds!? :)

  20. Alligator responds:

    “20 police officers? seems like a bit much don’t you think?”

    I’m telling you guys, as a volunteer fireman and EMT and having been a park ranger, when a call comes in “possible human corpse” you are going to see 20 cops and that many fire/emt personnel on the scene. That is standard protocol.



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