Cohomo Monster: 1972

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 6th, 2006

Yes, here comes another piece of news from a series of Bigfoot reports from the 1970s. I wrote about this Illinois series in Creatures of the Other Edge and Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.


Now the media seems to be rediscovering these old reports. Here’s my summary of these cases, followed by the new article.

In May 1972, there were new reports coming in from the Pekin and Peoria, Illinois, areas. In late May, a young man named Randy Emmert, and some friends, reported a large, hairy creature near Cole Hollow Road. This monster was 8-10 feet tall and whitish in color. The witnesses stated that it made a loud, screeching sound and they suspected that it was living in a hole beneath an abandoned house. It also left very unusual tracks, having only three toes on each foot. Soon, others were reporting the same monster and it became known as “Cohomo,” short for the “Cole Hollow Road Monster”.

On May 25, local police logged more than 200 calls about the monster, including one where the creature destroyed a fence. The police departments were naturally skeptical, but the calls kept coming in. By July 1972, there had been so many sightings that 100 volunteers were organized to search for Cohomo. Finally, Tazewell County sheriff’s officers sent the volunteers home after one of them, Carl R. Harris, accidentally shot himself in the leg with a .22 caliber pistol.

The sightings continued and they couldn’t be written off to local “panic” either. One witness, from Eureka, knew nothing about the creature, yet happened to be in Fondulac Park, in East Peoria, for a birthday party. He sighted the creature.

Cohomo was seen again on July 27, 1972, as East Peoria Police reported that he was spotted by “two reliable citizens” swimming in the Illinois River. They got close enough to him to know that he smelled awful and looked like a “cross between an ape and a caveman.”

After that, Cohomo was gone.

Now today’s story….


Did a hairy monster stalk Tazewell County?

November 6, 2006
PEKIN, Ill. – Thirty-four years ago in Tazewell County, 100 armed men walked the woods around East Peoria’s Cole Hollow Road in search of a monster.

The search was called off about 7:45 p.m. when one of the men accidentally shot himself in the foot. The creature was never found.

The monster hunters were looking for was dubbed the Cohomo Monster, a beast thought to be lurking in Tazewell County in the summer of 1972.

James Donahue, Tazewell County Sheriff in 1972, still remembers the infectious hysteria of that summer.

“At the time it was a very big deal,” Donahue recently told the Pekin Daily Times. “Several people indicated they’d seen a monster up in that area. It was described as something like Bigfoot. All the neighbors showed up. We spent a lot of time up there. We never found anything to substantiate the claims. We were up there for a week or two weeks. A lot of volunteer people came out looking for this monster.”

On Tuesday, July 25, 1972, Creve Coeur authorities reported that a witness saw something big swimming in the Illinois River. The following evening, the Tazewell County Sheriffs Department received a call from a Eureka man who said he and his family were having a birthday party in Fondulac Park in East Peoria. The witness said he and his party saw strange lights come in a vertical position and go down behind some trees. The light allegedly left a vapor or smoke trail.

That same night, more than 200 phone calls about monster sightings jammed the switchboard at the East Peoria Police Department.

On July 28, a rural Pekin woman reported that she saw Cohomo while picking berries by an old coal mine. The woman told the Tazewell County Sheriff’s office she was so scared she ran off, leaving her purse behind.

That same night, East Peoria Police said two reliable citizens claimed they saw Cohomo. It was described as 10 feet tall. The creature’s face had long, gray U-shaped ears and a red mouth with sharp teeth. The reliable citizens said the creature possessed thumbs with long second joints and looked like a cross between an ape and a cave man.

Newspaper articles of the time suggest that Cohomo had a horrible smell, sometimes compared to that of a wet dog, rotten eggs, or as sulphur-like. The Cohomo craze swept over Tazewell County.

It’s hard to pin down exactly when and where all the excitement over the Cohomo monster started. Old articles found in the Daily Times archives blame a monster called Momo who was first spotted in rural northeastern Missouri a year before the Tazewell County sightings.


Investigator Walt Andrus’ enhanced drawing of Momo.

One of the first Illinois reports came from Randy Emert, then 18, of Peoria, who claimed he spotted some type of hairy creature in the woods near Cole Hollow Road in Tazewell County. Emert said he didn’t report seeing the monster at first because he feared people would think him crazy.

In 1991, the Peoria Journal Star received a phone call from Emert, who said that he made the whole thing up. Emert told the newspaper that he and his friends made the story up to scare another friend who worked late nights at a gas station.

But one remains. If Cohomo was the product of mass hallucination, caused by the sightings of a Missouri monster called Momo, why did only the citizens of Tazewell County invent the elusive beast?

And although he has no idea what it may have been, Donahue says he thinks somebody may have seen something.

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.

7 Responses to “Cohomo Monster: 1972”

  1. Stan Courtney responds:

    Although Randy Emert has admitted a teenage prank it does not change the fact about all of the reports that have come out of Tazewell County, Illinois over the years.

    I investigated a report in October of 2005.

    I visited the site and spent several hours with a family who was very upset about what had been going on in their own backyard. I advised them to install additional outdoors lighting and not to leave food out in the open.

    I was able to see one of the footprints, although not of good quality.

  2. thatericn responds:

    Quite an interesting incident.

    I have to say though, that hunting a massive, ten-foot tall creature with a .22 pistol seems ill-advised to me.

  3. Grant responds:

    It’s been pointed out that believing one of these hoax confessions is tricky, because (a hoax being a kind of lie) it’s like taking the word of a self-confessed liar. (Sort of like that joke, “Everything I say is a lie- including that.”) I don’t have to tell anyone here this, but any given time, the confession itself could be the hoax.

  4. raisinsofwrath responds:

    What gets me is these stories always use words such as “stalked” and “menacing”, etc…

    The fact of the matter is I can’t remember one legitimate story of an alleged BF attacking a person.

    IMO, if BF is out there, hunting it down with a mob mentality is sad because you know someone is going to shoot the thing.

  5. mystery_man responds:

    Yeah, I don’t think a 22 caliber pistol is the way to go. I guess these people just picked up whatever was lying around the house. Wonder if there were any pitchforks out there? This story reminds me of the Monkeyman incident in India and the hysteria it caused.

  6. Roboo8 responds:

    As far a BF attacking someone. When I went on a BFRO expedition, Matt Moneymaker related a story about three hunters who supposedly shot and killed a BF, while on a hunting trip. Two of the hunters left to get help or a vehicle, while one hunter stayed with the dead BF. When the two hunters returned they found the one hunter ripped to pieces and the dead BF gone. I have never seen the story in writing or heard it from any other source.

  7. fbcolehollowmonster responds:

    After years of living on the famous Cole Hollow Road my brother and I began seeing and hearing things that we could not explain, as kids we would go out camping in the back woods every weekend and always noticed some strange things. we heard a lot of unexplained noises and screams so naturally being younger kids we thought maybe the woods were haunted. The first thing we did after making that assumption was look up “Cole Hollow Road haunted” on google and that’s when we read of the CoHoMo. After doing a lot of research on this “monster” we realized right away what all those strange sounds and shapes and bent trees were all about. And something you should know is These things have been going on still in the last 10 years even to this day i notice new things almost every time i go back into the woods.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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