Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 30th, 2009
Since many people have mentioned the Paul Freeman alleged Bigfoot video, perhaps it is time to have a new look.
Was Freeman an authentic researcher or a Bigfoot contactee? Neither or both? A lucky Bigfooter or an obsessed hoaxer?
Paul Freeman (August 10, 1943 – April 2, 2003) was an American Bigfoot hunter who discovered alleged Bigfoot tracks showing dermal ridges. The plaster casts Freeman subsequently made were convincing enough to be considered critical pieces of evidence by anthropologists Grover Krantz and Jeff Meldrum, who both put considerable time and resources into studying them.
On June 10, 1982, Freeman reportedly sighted a Bigfoot near Walla Walla, Washington which he described as being nearly 8 ft (2.4 m) tall and covered in brown body hair.
In 1994 Freeman allegedly captured a purported Bigfoot on video near the Blue Mountains region. The footage is considered to be authentic by many Bigfoot investigators and can be viewed in the documentary “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.” It was also spoofed many times by Kokanee beer ads.
Some researchers, notably René Dahinden, believed Freeman may have been nothing more than a publicity-seeker. In any case, Freeman once said he spent approximately $50,000 into searching for the creature, sometimes three days a week at a time, and made only $2,000 once for a television commercial.
In my 2003 book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, I wrote, without judgement, of a special class of Bigfoot eyewitnesses. Frankly, I classified Freeman among what I call “Bigfoot contactees.” These folks have an uncanny ability to go out and almost always find evidence or see Bigfoot. Freeman was even so bold as to tell Jeff Meldrum when Meldrum came for an allegedly surprise visit: “Would you like to see some fresh tracks? I just found the first tracks of the spring earlier this morning.”
A few of Freeman’s “Bigfoot-related” discoveries were found to be faked, including manmade hair samples, and a few of his finds remain “unknowns.”
Some historical highlights include these events:
1982 – June 10 – Forest Services employee Paul Freeman says he sees an 8 ft tall Bigfoot, but he is soon driven from his watershed patroller job because he appears to have hoaxed evidence.
1982 – Grover Krantz shows Paul Freeman a copy of the handcast that Ivan Marx claims is from a Bigfoot hand. Later this year, Freeman finds and casts “knuckleprints” he says are from a Bigfoot. Freeman also finds prints with “dermal ridges” that local forest services officials feel are hoaxes. Krantz declares the Freeman dermals as a remarkable piece of the Sasquatch puzzle, and they would change Bigfoot research forever.
1986 – Paul Freeman finds a handprint he claims is from a Bigfoot, near the Mill Creek watershed, near Blue Mountains, Washington-Oregon border.
1993 – May – Freeman says he finds an imprint of a buttocks from a Bigfoot, he alleges, along Dry Creek, in the Blue Mountain area. (This is years before the Skookum buttocks cast.)
1994 – Paul Freeman says he stumbles across two Bigfoot in the Blue Mountains, near the Washington/Oregon border, and tapes them on video. Some have mentioned the taping was on the Oregon side of the border; still others have noted some confusion on the exact dating of this footage.
1995 – Again in the Blue Mountains, Washington, Wes Sumerlin, local Bigfoot hunter and friend of Paul Freeman, finds a Bigfoot handprint, as had Freeman and Ivan Marx.
2003 – April 2 – Paul Freeman, 59, dies at Airway Heights, near Spokane, Washington, from complications of diabetes.
There is little doubt that one of the greatest proponents of Paul Freeman today is Jeff Meldrum, who has discussed how he has purchased the majority of Freeman’s Bigfoot cast collection for serious scientific study.
A December 2007 Scientific American Magazine article sums up Jeff Meldrum’s and Paul Freeman’s first contacts with each other:
One overcast Sunday morning in 1996, Jeffrey Meldrum and his brother drove to Walla Walla, Wash., to see if they could find Paul Freeman, a man renowned in Bigfoot circles as a source of footprint casts. Meldrum–who has followed Bigfoot lore since he was a boy–had heard that Freeman was a hoaxer, “so I was very dubious,” he recalls.
The brothers arrived unannounced, Meldrum says, and chatted with Freeman about his collection. Freeman said he had found tracks just that morning, but they were not good, not worth casting. The brothers wanted to see them regardless.
“I thought we could use this to study the anatomy of a hoax,” Meldrum says. Instead Meldrum’s visit to a ridge in the Blue Mountains set him firmly on a quest he has been on since.
Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, is an expert on foot morphology and locomotion in monkeys, apes and hominids.
He has studied the evolution of bipedalism and edited From Biped to Strider (Springer, 2004), a well-respected textbook. He brought his anatomical expertise to the site outside Walla Walla.
The 14-inch-long prints Freeman showed him were interesting, Meldrum says, because some turned out at a 45-degree angle, suggesting that whatever made them had looked back over its shoulder. Some showed skin whorls, some were flat with distinct anatomical detail, others were of running feet-imprints of the front part of the foot only, of toes gripping the mud.
Meldrum made casts and decided it would be hard to hoax the running footprints, “unless you had some device, some cable-loaded flexible toes.”Insights: Bigfoot Anatomy; December 2007; Scientific American Magazine; by Marguerite Holloway; 2 Page(s)
I noted in my Paul Freeman obituary that while his supporters like Grover Krantz, Jeff Meldrum, and Vance Orchard would back him, others did not know what to make of Freeman’s claims. The late Canadian Sasquatch researcher Rene Dahinden thought Freeman was manufacturing evidence. Freeman’s old Forest Service employers regularly would withhold comment about Freeman’s findings because of a less than clear past involving produced evidence.
Because of the checkered nature of the man himself, the “Paul Freeman Bigfoot Video” can be viewed as one of the best pieces of evidence for Sasquatch by some or just too good to be true by others.
Paul Freeman cast photographs courtesy of the late Vance Orchard to Loren Coleman.
Update: In catching up on my reading, I see that by mere coincidence, D. B. Donlon has posted that Stan Courtney has uploaded photographs from the Paul Freeman cast collection by the owners Ken, Linda & Brent Steigers of Northern Idaho, with those photographic images courtesy of Dr.Jeff Meldrum, Idaho State University. here.
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.