Chris McDaniel: Professional Cryptozoologist

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 30th, 2011

Got an interesting email today, and, with the permission of the emailer [pictured above, with his wife and a great blue heron], here it is:

My name is Chris McDaniel. I am an Animal Control Officer in Columbus, Indiana.

I once read a reply you had given to an individual. The person asked “When can someone refer to oneself as a Cryptozoologist?”

You shared the notion that if you are being paid to investigate a crypto sighting you can then refer to yourself as a cryptozoologist. Until then you could be labeled as an amateur cryptozoologist.

I have been paid by the City of Columbus (Indiana) representing the Animal Control Department in the past years to investigate a mountain lion sighting, a bear sighting, alligators in the city and 3 Bigfoot sightings.

One Bigfoot sighting turned out to be a crank call. The other two had me scratching my head. Being that the City was paying me to investigate these events and being I am the “go to guy” on odd sightings am I justified to consider myself a cryptozoologist?

Side note: I have also assisted Neil Arnold in collecting research on a 1973 sighting of a hairy biped in Columbus, Indiana that was suppose to have a pale green face, labeled: The Mill Race Monster. Though I did help Mr. Arnold in my spare time I was not asking to be paid for any of my assistance in the research. Chris McDaniel

Well, I guess Mr. McDaniel has a point, and he certainly seems to qualify as a “professional cryptozoologist” in my book.

BTW, in the 2010 book, Dark Lore 5, Neil Arnold uncovers the lost history of the Mill Race Monster, which he acknowledges was brought to his attention by a Chris McDaniel.

The Milwaukee Journal, May 26, 1983:


Wilmington, Ill The ‘Millrace Monster’, a mysterious canal dweller blamed for devouring ducks, has been caught with a hook and line. Some residents thought they had their own Loch Ness monster after two people reported seeing ducks snatched from below the surface of the Millrace, a canal off the Kankakee River where a mill wheel once turned.

Arnold Chipusa of the Illinois Department of Conservation said the so-called ‘monster’ could be a snapping turtle, but more likely was a huge northern pike. And then angler Jim Pecoraro of Chicago landed such a fish, a 41-inch specimen weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces. The largest pike ever caught in the state was 22 pounds, 12 ounces.

The Argus Press, February 21, 1984:

‘Monster Fish’ Makes Life Rough For Migrating Fowl – Kankakee, Ill :- A monster fish with a taste for duck is making life rough for migrating fowl seeking a place to rest on the Kankakee River near here, fishermen say.

Several fishermen told bait shop owner Howard Curtis that a large northern pike was “taking swipes” at ducks on the water.

“This fellow, a good customer of mine, came in yesterday and he says, ‘Howard, I couldn’t tell what kind of fish he was, but he was really after them ducks’, said Curtis.

Later, an angler said he saw a duck-chasing fish jump out of the water, and he thought it was a northern pike, according to Curtis.

“I told him I was going to work on some duck decoys with a chain and big hooks and give it a try myself”, Curtis said.

Many fishermen think the big fish might be a cousin of an upstream northern, dubbed the ‘Mill Race Monster’, which lurked in Kankakee River holes near Wilmington last spring. That fish was credited with plucking several ducks off the surface of the Mill Race pond last April.

Chicagoan Jim Pecoraro may have caught the monster on April 23, when he bagged a 41-inch, 22-pound, 2-ounce northern pike there, using a 6-inch fist for bait. Ducks are now being harassed upstream and some folks think the monster itself – not a relative – may be the culprit.

“You think maybe he jumped the dam and came this way ?”, Curtis asked jokingly.

Kankakee may have to prepare for the notoriety of another monster fish story in the region. The tale of the Mill Race Monster appeared in newspapers and on broadcast stations all over the country. Two major national sportsman’s magazines also carried the story. Soon after the story got out, Wilmington business owners began getting calls and letters of inquiry from across the continent.

“They got a lot of publicity out of that big northern in Wilmington”, said Curtis.

Curtis said he might have to stock up on big, fat minnows, a northern’ favorite food.

In 2007, after an alleged Mothman sighting and then a newer bridge collapse, another McDaniel mourned for Minneapolis:

Our hearts go out to those people….You don’t forget these things. They stay in your mind.” Mayor Marilyn McDaniel, August 2, 2007, discussing the collapse of the I-35W Bridge at Minneapolis-St. Paul.

McDaniel, of course, is a name familiar for its Mothman links.

This reminds me of my exchange with [John A.] Keel about the name game in 1973, when we were discussing the new reports out of Illinois, from Enfield. On April 25, 1973, Mr. and Mrs. Henry McDaniel returned to their home and Henry had an encounter with a thing that looked like it had three legs, two pink eyes as big as flashlights, and short arms on a four-and-a-half-feet tall and grayish-colored body, along the L&N rail-road tracks, in front of his house. I traveled to Enfield, interviewed the witnesses, looked at the siding of the house the Enfield Monster had damaged, heard some strange screeching banshee-like sounds, and walked away bewildered.

John Keel wondered aloud with me about these reports, as he had returned from Point Pleasant well aware of the vortex the McDaniel family had found themselves in. One of the first Mothman witnesses, Linda Scarberry, was, after all, a McDaniel. Her mother saw Mothman. The McDaniel home was the focus of MIBs, telephone troubles, and poltergeist activity, thus involving Parke McDaniel and Mabel McDaniel with the Mothman flap.

Keel had uncovered a 1870s story of an individual named McDaniel who had met up with the Devil in New York State’s Catskill Mountains. Western Bigfoot Society member Vic McDaniel led expedition members to where he had found a Sasquatch bed in August 1979. As the 20th century ended, Stanley V. McDaniel, a philosophy professor and member of the Society for Planetary SETI Research, began to make a name for himself, to turn a phrase, when he produced The McDaniel Report, and a book, The Case for the Face, on his research into the possibility of artificial objects on the surface of Mars.Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (NY: Paraview, 2002)

John Keel discussed the 1966-1967 Mothman-McDaniel family troubles further:

The McDaniel family had been living in the twilight zone ever since their daughter and the others had first glimpsed “Mothman.” Linda had repeatedly heard the sound “of a speeded-up phonograph record” around her own home after the incident, and peculiar manifestations indicating the presence of a poltergeist began. Finally she and Roger moved into the basement apartment in the McDaniel’s home. The poltergeist followed them. Strange lights appeared in the house, objects moved by themselves, and the heavy odor of cigar smoke was frequently noted. No one in the family smokes. (The smell of cigar smoke is commonly reported in many poltergeist cases throughout the world.) One morning Linda woke up and distinctly saw the shadowy form of a large man in the room. The house was searched. All the doors were still locked. There was no sign of a prowler. The McDaniels’ experience was one of many during the thirteen intense months of the Mothman flap.Strange Creatures from Time and Space (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1970.

Mabel McDaniel had seen Mothman on January 11, 1967, near Tiny’s Restaurant in Point Pleasant; then later during March, had a run-in with one of those Mad Gasser/Springheel Jack-type fellows, the Men-In-Black. Parke McDaniel had likewise been frightened by the Men-In-Black on December 23, 1967. Keel felt the name McDaniel had a far greater recurrence in these matters than random….

Keel himself has raised the question of name selectivity in his writings: “Hundreds of thousands of phenomenal events have been described in newspapers, magazines and books, and hundreds of thousands of witnesses have been named in print. When dealing with such a large body of evidence—or population—certain laws of probability should surface. We might expect that more Smiths would see UFOs than anyone else, simply because there are more Smiths around. But, in actuality, the name Smith rarely appears in a UFO report.”

What Keel found was that unusual names were the point of convergence for the phenomena. He saw McDaniel, Reeves/Reaves, Maddox, Heflin, Allen, Hill, and others, as being selected for UFO and related experiences. The Smiths, Browns, Williams, and Johnsons—the four top surnames in America—are not the most frequent precipitant names to crop up. I would add that the most unusually named witnesses seem to have the more bizarre encounters.Mysterious America (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2007).

There is a reason it’s called the Name Game.Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (NY: Paraview, 2002)

Bridge Collapse

December 15, 1967: The Silver Bridge – U. S. Highway 35 collapses.

For further information on the context of the McDaniel’s involvement, please consult: Mothman and Other Curious Encounters.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

One Response to “Chris McDaniel: Professional Cryptozoologist”

  1. DWA responds:

    One takes one’s cryptozoology where it happens.

    This is certainly more at the core of crypto than someone who thinks that UFOs transport cryptids. Nice proposition. Where’s the evidence for it? How can it be followed up with the resources at our disposal?

    Any definition I’ve seen of crypto would take in what Mr. McDaniel is doing. In fact, it’s more at the core of crypto than, say, a “new” tree frog being found by an expedition that pretty much knew it would find something like that in a place it hadn’t looked.

    But I particularly liked this:

    “One Bigfoot sighting turned out to be a crank call. The other two had me scratching my head.”

    THAT’s a crypto in the making. Much better than “having no evidence, I’m just gonna say it was a guy in a suit.”

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