Hoodwinked in Arizona

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 6th, 2006

Who is hoodwinking whom?

Tom Biscardi

The Associated Press is carrying a summary article out of Arizona, telling of Tom Biscardi (above) going on an expedition there. The piece leaves out any examination of Biscardi’s past and is a chopped up version of a longer article, which is found below. But what is the background story on this original Arizona news item? Can we pull back the drapes surrounding this media Oz, and figure out how this article was constructed? Here’s some details.

On Thursday, November 2, 2006, a reporter from the Arizona Republic named Dennis Wagner emailed me. He said he was “working on a story about [the] Bigfoot furor on the Apache reservation [there], and Tom Biscardi’s role in it. I’d like to speak with you. Deadline is Saturday afternoon.”

Dennis Wagner and I spoke later that day. I was not too hopeful that reporter Wagner would be doing a thorough or complete story as

(1) he said he only started studying Bigfoot two days ago (please note, not the Apache sightings of Bigfoot, but Bigfoot in general);

(2) he thought that the 1958 Bluff Creek prints and the “Patterson film” had both been completely debunked and Bigfoot evidence was based on hoaxes;

(3) he felt Natives have more acceptance of the “spirit world,” so are more open to “believing” in Bigfoot;

(4) he was using as one of his main sources Tom Biscardi; and

(5) he had done most of his research online, including finding the Coast to Coast recap of Biscardi’s flip-flops.

There’s other disturbing indicators, as well, in Wagner’s article, such as referencing “Wikipedia” as a source, and carrying as a factual statement from an allegedly discredited book that the “most famous film footage was another hoax involving an ape costume made in Hollywood. Bob Heironimus, a Pepsi bottling company employee from Washington, admitted wearing the outfit.”

The reality is the “oufit,” according to that book, was said to have been made from (1) pony skins, and then separately in another place in that volume, as (2) an artifical gorilla costume from the Carolinas. You can’t have it both ways. Hollywood was not part of the confused explanations either, at least for the costume. Likewise there is no definite truths in Heironimus’ “confession.” Wagner’s article merely carries forth these items as foundation points, but they are theories with holes in them, not facts.

Reporter Dennis Wagner has fulfilled my prediction that this article would continue in line with other recent debunking media treatments of Bigfoot. For this Arizona Republic reporter to summarize the entire weekend article about Jeff Meldrum as: “Last week, faculty at Idaho State University complained that a colleague, anatomy Professor Jeffrey Meldrum, is embarrassing them by promoting the Bigfoot myth,” merely reinforced my thoughts.

Hey, lol, the reporter couldn’t even spell my name correctly (yep, that’s me, “Leonard Coleman,” sort of quoted below), despite the fact he emailed me, via my LorenColeman.com website.

This article reflects a level of media mythmaking that appears to be the standard resportage to be expected these days.


Ft. Apache reports spur Bigfoot hunt
Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 6, 2006

WHITERIVER – For centuries, tiny spirit people have been a part of Apache culture, haunting the night with mischief, playing tricks in the shadows.

Now, the White Mountain Apache Tribe has another mystical being to watch for after dark: Bigfoot.

In recent months, the legendary creature purportedly has been chased by police officers, spotted by campers and caught peeking through windows of tribal residents’ homes.

Investigators even made plaster casts of what appear to be footprints and sent hair samples from a reported Sasquatch-like creature to a state lab for testing. Reports snowballed so much that, over the weekend, controversial Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi visited the Fort Apache Reservation northeast of Globe for the second time this year to interview witnesses and launch a mini-expedition.

During a broadcast Saturday on the tribe’s radio station, Biscardi exhorted witnesses to come forward.

"We’re here for the white Bigfoot, the monkey-type creature with a tail, the one that was throwing rocks at people here," Biscardi said. "I gotta tell you, people, it’s here."

By day’s end, at least a half-dozen tribal members had told of seeing a strange beast, hearing blood-curdling screams in the night or surviving other experiences.

Several offered to join Biscardi’s Searching for Bigfoot Inc. team on mini-expeditions. Most backed out, but 18-year-old Laramie Smith came through after explaining that he’d heard Bigfoot noises near a place called Diamond Creek. He said he had found a cave that might be the beast’s lair.

Smith led the team deep into piney woods, stopping under a full moon. Searchers geared up with infrared and thermal-imaging devices. They had a Taser, a tranquilizer gun and a net-shooting canon, just in case. At 11 p.m., the search began in earnest.

A stinky prowler

According to Biscardi, a former Las Vegas show producer, there are at least 3,500 Bigfoots nationwide, a number he derived by counting up one year of reported encounters, then subtracting suspected hoaxes and mistakes.

He has been trying to capture a specimen for 33 years, and his team has visited nearly every state in that quest. Biscardi claims to have seen a half-dozen Bigfoots personally. Recently, team members reportedly chased one into a Texas swamp. Biscardi first visited the Apache reservation in August, after a flurry of strange incidents. The most noteworthy occurred around 2:30 a.m. Aug. 14, when Barry and Tammy Lupe of Whiteriver called 911 to report an un-humanly large prowler peering through their window.

In a police report, White Mountain tribal Officer Katherine Montoya described what happened when she responded to the call:

"It stood approximately 6’7" tall. It appeared to be about 220 pounds or more. It had exceptionally long arms; it did not appear to be wearing any clothes, and just appeared black. When it turned towards me, the most obvious feature was its eyes. The skin around his eyes was a lighter color than the rest of the face. It appeared almost white while the rest of the suspect was black. I could smell a distinct odor, like a stink bug. You know, when you squish a stinkbug it smells. It never made any sounds until it crashed through the fence (while running away)."

Myth or beast?

Beast legends – Yeti, Yowie, the Abominable Snowman – have been recounted around the world for centuries. Bigfoot is among the more recent figures, first described in 1958 after giant footprints were discovered around a logging camp in Humboldt County, Calif.

Academic researchers today are generally skeptical. Last week, faculty at Idaho State University complained that a colleague, anatomy Professor Jeffrey Meldrum, is embarrassing them by promoting the Bigfoot myth.

According to Wikipedia.org, "The majority of scientists reject the likelihood of such a creature’s existence and consider the stories of Bigfoot to be a combination of unsubstantiated folklore and hoax."

Another online publication, The Skeptics Dictionary, scoffs: "There are no bones, no scat, no artifacts, no dead bodies . . . no fur, no nothing."

Stan Lindstedt, a regents professor of biology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, said new animal species are discovered only in the most remote places on Earth and it is unfathomable that a huge subhuman creature would remain concealed over wide sections of the country. "I put that in the category of mythology that can certainly make our culture interesting, but has nothing to do with science."

Biscardi shrugs off the doubters: "The scientific world does not believe. But you know what? Who cares? We’ve had the experiences."

True believers point to the number of sightings, rejecting the idea that every encounter can be explained as a prank or misidentified wildlife. Their position has suffered serious setbacks in the new millennium, however.

Four years ago, the family of Ray L. Wallace, a northern California logger, announced upon his death that he had created the first Sasquatch footprints as a prank, wearing shoes of carved wood.

Then, in 2004, author Greg Long published The Making of Bigfoot, a book that says the most famous film footage was another hoax involving an ape costume made in Hollywood. Bob Heironimus, a Pepsi bottling company employee from Washington, admitted wearing the outfit.


That dubious history has been compounded by questions about Biscardi and his Searching for Bigfoot Inc., which elicits criticism even within the community of Sasquatch enthusiasts.

Last year, Biscardi declared on a national radio show that a wounded specimen had been captured in Nevada, and subscribers who paid $59.95 to access his Web site would see it on streaming video. Instead of film footage, however, the public got a bizarre story that the critter, and its mate, had been abducted by a veterinarian. Eventually, Biscardi conceded that there was no caged specimen. He insisted he had been "hoodwinked" by associates.

Leonard Coleman, a self-described cryptozoologist who has written two books on Bigfoot, said Biscardi first entered the arena decades ago as an associate of Ivan Marx, who created notoriously phony films. Biscardi has since produced documentaries of his own.

"He seems very much to be in this to make money," Coleman said. "He is just shunned in this whole community. He’s been a continuation of the hoax legacy of Ivan Marx."

Biscardi said he got victimized in Nevada by a charade, a chronic risk in the Bigfoot business. "I refunded every damned penny," he said. "I was hoaxed. Everybody’s human."

Biscardi, who sells memorabilia and has sought corporate sponsors, makes no apology for trying to make money. He said he has transformed his passion into a career, and there are payroll expenses to cover.

The anticlimax

Back in Apache country on Saturday, searchers splashed across Diamond Creek and climbed a hill.

There was no cave, no Bigfoot nest.

One team member, noting that Sasquatches sometimes communicate by knocking sounds, picked up a stick and began beating on a log.

Another stood on a rock and cupped her hands to her mouth – "Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!" – using "vocalizations" to lure the beast.

A coyote howled in the distance. All was quiet.

di, who had stationed himself next to a campfire back at the truck, said it was time to move on: "If they did not respond to the whooping and tree knocking, and there’s no signs, then there’s nothing here."

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.

13 Responses to “Hoodwinked in Arizona”

  1. mystery_man responds:

    This kind of media coverage really leaves a sour taste in my mouth. This reporter, Mr. Wagner, had no experience or knowledge about anything he was writing about. What makes him qualified to go out and write an article on this subject? It smacks to me of a high school kid waiting until the night before a report is due to start researching and writing it up. I find it very disturbing that this kind of stuff gets published. People this uninformed and ignorant of their subject should not be writing about it. And TB as his source? The blind leading the blind. Groan.

  2. fuzzy responds:

    “If they did not respond to the whooping and tree knocking, and there’s no signs, then there’s nothing here.”

    Nothing here, indeed.

  3. elsanto responds:

    Well, in a world where America’s all-time most unpopular president gets not impeached (heck, Nixon just taped some doors and got impeached for LYING about it — HELLO!) but re-elected; and given the mass media’s complicit role in this and other shams, is it any surprise that the Associated Press has reached new heights of lacking journalistic integrity?

    Thanks for expose(can’t do the accent egu, here), Loren!

  4. One Eyed Cat responds:

    I am wondering what an ‘investigator reporter’ is these days. Most show no investigation skills, not even to check their sources.

  5. lastensugle responds:

    Yeah, this is just foolish. And speaking of being foolish, I couldn’t help laugh at the “Bringing a taser, just in case” part. I sure wouldn’t want to be the one using it on a sasquatch!

  6. paperdragon responds:

    Mystery_man said ‘People this uninformed and ignorant of their subject should not be writing about it.’ The problem is that the average person reading the article probably has even less knowledge of the subject than the author so they believe what is written. I think we are all guilty of that on some level. If we find someone who seems to know more about something than we do we are inclined to believe them, even if what they are saying is totally BS. We dont know its BS until we take the next step of actually doing some research on our own.

  7. byondbyond responds:

    this has got to win the award for lamest article this year. – definitely sounds like a high school student wrote it.

    “If they did not respond to the whooping and tree knocking, and there’s no signs, then there’s nothing here.”

    gonna use that for my signature – it’s so brilliant

    leonard – LOL!

  8. WVBIG_2006 responds:

    paperdragon says: “The problem is that the average person reading the article probably has even less knowledge of the subject than the author so they believe what is written. I think we are all guilty of that on some level” I agree. For a few months I was under the impression that paper bags were better than plastic for holding hair, fecal matter, etc… because I THOUGHT the person who told me this knew more about Bigfoot than I do. But I kept thinking that plastic must be best. So I posed this question to the “Forensic Files” website. Their reply was that zip-lock, or other plastic bags, are indeed best for holding evidence that you will be attempting to extract DNA from.

  9. Roger Knights responds:

    The most objectionable item in the story was the quotation-as-if-it-were-fact of the Skeptics Dictionary’s claim that there’s no scat, no artifacts, and no fur. An average reader would get the impression from that that we believers must be really credulous to take things on faith, without a scrap of hard evidence.

    But what the SD’s claim boils down to is that IT doesn’t accept the numerous pieces of evidence in those categories as being credible–not that there’s “no nothing.” Murphy’s “Meet the Sasquatch” and Meldrum’s “Sasquatch: LMS,” among other books, describe the scat evidence (SLMS: 267-69), the artifacts (MTS: 156-59), and the fur (hair) (SLMS 261-67, 274-76; MTS: 152-55). And there are dermal ridges.

    The next piece of slanted reportage was the use of the term “true believers,” which is very pejorative.

    The third piece of slanted reporting was his use of the prejudicial word “admitted” in the phrase, “Bob Heironimus … admitted wearing the outfit.” That implies acceptance of his CLAIM. (I thought they were taught to avoid inserting these biased terms in journalism school.)

    It’s too bad he didn’t look at my (spotlighted) review of Long’s book on the Amazon site, which lists “26 reasons BH wasn’t Queen Kong.” Anyone who can laugh off those points WANTS to believe Heironimus–desperately.

    Since I posted it, I’ve come up with a few more reasons, such as the fact, attested to by Forest Service timber cruiser crew chief Lyle Laverty (in response to my e-mail), that there were no tracks at the film site the day before Patterson’s announcement of the filming. That discredits BH’s claim that they were made a week or two earlier. (For details, see Bigfoot Times for Sept. 2006, or the Greg Long Book Review thread in Bigfootforums.com.)

  10. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    There is a reason we here in zonie land call the paper the repugnant! It is the most biased, under researched, half arsed news org you have ever seen.

    As for Biscardi, I still have no idea why they let him on the res. From what I have heard one or two people or tribal police remembered his name when the recent calls for service for squatch related issues was at its height. They called him basically for the lack of another choice altogether. Because the had no knowledge of anyone else, they pick the only Bigfoot related name they have heard of. They pick Mr hoax per view himself.

    I also think it is at least ignorance and worst bigoted, on the writers part, to make assumptions about a proud peoples religious and natural beliefs and use those assumptions to dismiss testimony.

    The fact that the people of the area use terms like spirit or shape shifter or other local terms to describe animals they couldn’t otherwise provide an answer for does not allow one to dismiss it out of hand. People that derive their spiritual power beliefs and history and learned how to survive from the land that has provided them life for centuries can think of no other terms to describe the creatures they see and hear. It’s like us calling something a ufo and those who would investigate our claims dismiss our story because ufo is a sometimes stigmatized term. If we knew better we might call it the aurora d version with anti gravity displacement and hyper g acceleration. or the grey’s aerospace singularity forming
    time traveling craft mark X.

    I can guarantee you the people of the apache res, both in present times and historical, aren’t going to confuse the animals they shared their lives with. They know what they see and they know what it isn’t.

    The other day I was clearly the donkey of the day for making assumptions but my reign has been trumped by the writer from the repugnant.

    I don’t know anyone on the res, and as most know, outsiders questioning things don’t get much in a way of info from the people. You would have to take time to develop trust before you could proceed. I used to spend a lot of time up there as a kid while with my dad who drove a truck.

    The land on the apache res goes from high desert to thickly forested to high peaks and a ski resort. It was in that part of the state I heard what I think is a Bigfoot scream and having elk damn near run me over trying to get away from something that scared them more than I did at 1 in the afternoon.

    The land contains elk, deer, black bear and I think there are even some wolves that have been released in that part of the state. It also has some large tourist areas being that it is on the Mogollon Rim. It has lakes streams and awesome fishing, hunting, camping and backpacking.

    People think AZ is all desert like Phoenix or Tucson. Far from it. The land on the apache res is some of the most beautiful in the country.

  11. Mnynames responds:

    “The land on the apache res is some of the most beautiful in the country.”

    Don’t let that get out, or someone will find a way to take that land from them too…

  12. mystery_man responds:

    Yeah, people will believe anything they read. Unfortunate but true. That doesn’t make it right. And I still don’t think people this ignorant should write about these subjects, especially because people reading it have less knowledge than the people writing it (which in this case, hmmm). This kind of irresponsibility is how rumors and misinformation end up getting spread. Can you imagine if someone this uninformed wrote something up on a truly important article (not TB’s shenanigans)? How is the average person going to know any more than they do when they are force fed this dreck? Sad.

  13. sadisticgreen responds:

    I’m really trying not to offend anyone here (I swear) but I find it curious that so many people find it impossible to believe in Sasquatch when, despite The Arizona Republic article’s claim, there is quite a wealth of evidence to suggest the is “something out there”. Yet an enormous number of people believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God even though the only “evidence” is a book. As I said I’m really not trying to be offensive I just find it strange that one is completely acceptable without question while the other is the subject of media ridicule.

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