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“There’s a Creature Roaming Around” – The Unlikely Career of John Lutz

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?”’

He did.

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 About Susan Fair
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.


10 Responses to ““There’s a Creature Roaming Around” – The Unlikely Career of John Lutz”

  1. Ulysses responds:

    God bless and take care of this gentlemen! It’s something we all should aspire to! It’s true though that the work is never done so keep up the good work Mr. Lutz. Please sir, how about a book?

    Loren, I would recommend a knighthood in the world of Cryptozoology for this gentlemen!

  2. Scopi responds:

    Wow! Is this guy really claiming Ivan Sanderson had the Minnesota Iceman in his possession? Before he “happened across” it with Benard Huevelmans?

    If that’s true, I guess we can stamp a big red “HOAX” on that whole affair. Why else would Sanderson lie so extravagantly about the circumstances of finding the Iceman? And of course if he had it in his possession, he would have no excuse for not being able to prove if it was real or a model.

    The other possibility is that Mr. Lutz’s story is not true. He seems a little fantasy-prone, so I suppose it’s tough to come to a conclusion either way. But we do know that someone’s story isn’t true.

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    John Lutz is absolutely the only person to ever say that Ivan T. Sanderson was in possession of the Minnesota Iceman.

    I decided to post Susan Fair’s article, unedited.

    Nevertheless, I have a hard time considering the Lutz statements as fact-based, since in all the years that Mark A. Hall, myself, and others (who worked directly Sanderson) have any evidence at all that Sanderson did anything other than “view” the Minnesota Iceman. Being a biologist, one of the first things that Sanderson would have done was unfreeze it, not show dinner guests the frozen object, like some sideshow barker!

  4. marcodufour responds:

    The Minnesota Iceman from my memory was nowhere near 10 ft tall, unless the smell is emanating from the Iceman being frozen and warming up ? ; )

  5. pumamysteryman responds:

    Let’s get one thing straight, I never said “the ice-cube thing was “Minnesota Iceman”. After dinner, Ivan seemed hesitant about something. 2 hours of conversation between Courtney Jordan, myself and Ivan’s two friends had left, he said, “you want to see something”. He told us to wear our coats, although it was only October.

    We put on our coats, walked outside to get accustom to the dark, Ivan open a door & the three of us went inside. He pulled back a board & we looked down to see a “figure of a human/animal big in deep ice”, but we never looked if it had legs, was covered by a board.

    Ivan never said much as Courtney & I, looked it over, I believe it was October 1966. Although neither Court nor I ever were fearful of ‘dead of night creature hunts”, this thing gave us the “willies” & we got out of there between Red Ants & the ‘box-man”, we decided to drive home that night…At time, never heard of the Minnesota Iceman”.

  6. pumamysteryman responds:

    BTW, this ‘ice-thing’ was no where near 10-feet tall. Judging from half-way up, I’d would have said 7 feet or a little more….Wish Courtney was still alive, to verify our event. He died April 9, 2011…..

  7. Scopi responds:

    Well, if it was 1966 that would be before the Minnesota Iceman was known. (Sanderson and Huevelmans starting promoting the find in 1969.) If Mr. Lutz wants to stand by the story, than it’s pretty obvious the “Iceman” was hoax Sanderson was cooking up, and Mr. Lutz saw it perhaps while it was still under construction. Maybe Sanderson showing it off in 1966 to some friends was a test run before he handed it off to Frank Hansen to be exhibited at sideshows.

    This Sanderson hoax scenario would explain why Frank Hansen was so cagey about where he got the Iceman. There was no real downside to his admitting it was a fake (no one pays to see the “World’s shortest horse” thinking they’ll really see the world’s shortest horse), yet he consistently refused to give credit to whomever made the model. If Sanderson had provided the model with the intent to create publicity for Yeti and Bigfoot-like creatures he obviously wouldn’t want his involvement known.

  8. marcodufour responds:

    pumamysteryman- Did you ever see the photos of the Minnesota Iceman ? If you did, how did that compare to what you saw ?

  9. pumamysteryman responds:

    Name “Minnesota Iceman”, means nothing to me….I;ve heard the term, but do NOT believe I ever saw it…..
    I can only relate to the “thing” that Courtney & I saw that 1 Saturday Night at Ivan’s.

    If only theis matter had come up 2 years ago, I could have seen if Courtney had any recollections of that night. He was 84 when dying on April 9, 2011.

    The conversation earlier in day at Ivan’s Columbia ‘home”
    centered around ‘creatures’ in Himalayans, British Columbia,
    NWT Headless Valley, to which Ivan remarked such creatures
    had to exist in the western U.S., but there was no proof.

    In 1979, a man in British Columbia described himself to me in a
    letter as a gold-prospector.
    He asked for a $50 grub-stake & said “he was going into
    the Headless Valley to look for gold with 2 others.
    I never heard from him until 1985, when he sent another letter,
    saying he and 2 others went into THE “valley’, found ‘nuggets’
    and was sending me a few small nuggets”….
    that looked more like small dust-particles, which I put in small bottle
    and kept for a years as a conversation piece.
    Somewhere along the line, probably when my Wife & I moved to WV in
    July 2002, the bottle got tossed in garbage,making it the end of de gold..

    He sent me some data on Headless Valley, that I never found in
    any magazines or on RCMP sites…..in which he mentioned at least
    150 miners or prospectors have gone into the “valley”, with only a
    handful, emerging again safe.

    Well, that’s another matter for now……

  10. marcodufour responds:

    pumamysteryman- with respect, could you look online and find the Minnesota Iceman ? any search engine will find it i am sure, and for your own curiousity surely you would like to compare what you say you saw with it ? Regards, Marcodufour.



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