Posted by: Susan Fair on August 10th, 2012
“There’s a Creature Roaming Around” – The Unlikely Career of John Lutz
It was a situation only someone who started an organization called Odyssey Scientific Research could find himself in.
It was the mid-60’s. After a rather peculiar (think red ants) dinner at the home of cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson “Ivan said, ‘I’ve got something to show you,’” Lutz remembers.
Sanderson then had Lutz and several other colleagues put on coats – despite the warm weather -and accompany him outside into a pitch black night. “He had a refrigerated trailer out there. We went in with just flashlights. It was really eerie.”
Inside the trailer was what Lutz recalls as a “10 ft creature in a block of ice.”
It was none other than the hairy oddity that would become notoriously known as “the Minnesota Ice Man,” “It gave me a creepy feeling to look at that thing, I’ll tell you that,” he says.
Although perhaps best known for his work with Eastern Puma Research Network, Lutz has investigated a lot more than big cats in the last 45 plus years. A good relationship with law enforcement in Maryland (he says he once screened the Patterson footage for approximately 300 police officials) facilitated the ex-911 dispatcher’s involvement in many strange cases.
“The state police would call and say ‘there’s a creature roaming around. Do you want to ride along with me?”’
In 1973 Lutz found himself, along with scores of police and a net-wielding zoologist, in the midst of a manhunt for a creature dubbed “the Sykesville Monster.” For several weeks the Bigfoot-like being seemed to be on a personal-appearance spree in the small Maryland town.
While some wrote off the encounters as hoax or imagination, Lutz’s “in” with law enforcement gave him a piece of inside info that made him take the Sykesville Monster quite seriously: an officer responding to a nighttime sighting of the creature claimed to have been picked up and thrown 15 feet by the unseen assailant.
While the mystery of the Sykesville Monster was never solved, decades of investigations have led Lutz to this conclusion about Bigfoot: “I believe it’s some form of a prehistoric animal. They’re nomads. They’re just traveling around and they don’t’ really stay in one place. That’s why when there’s a sighting and people investigate, by the time they get there it’s probably 10 miles away.”
Another somewhat alarming tidbit of info gleaned from law enforcement connections involved the sinking of a fishing trawler several decades ago. Lutz claims that (off the record) police investigators attributed the incident – in which crewmembers lost their lives – to a possible attack by legendary sea monster Chessie.
At 71 Lutz remains dauntless in his search for mysterious creatures. From knocking on the door of a West Virginia farmhouse to ask for permission to dig for an alleged cougar carcass (“Get off my property!” was the homeowner’s response) to asking the guys at the local firehouse if they know of any local “flying reptilian creatures” (“No, but I’d like to see Mothman!” one gamely answered), Lutz estimates he puts in 35 hours a week in the pursuit of the unknown.
Though he now lives in the hills of West Virginia, Lutz is still on the radar of his law enforcement connections.
“Every once in a while I’ll get a call from state police or one of the County forces with a tip, and they’ll say, ‘You still around? You must be ancient’! And I say, ‘I am!’”
Susan Fair lives on the shoulder of South Mountain in rural Maryland, where she works for a public library system. She can also be found writing for numerous publications, exploring the weird and offbeat, and working at an eclectic museum where she often eats her lunch next to a mummified arm.