Man Pulling Off Bigfoot Hoax Killed: Updated

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 27th, 2012

You knew it was bound to happen.

Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, Montana, reportedly was wearing a Ghillie suit, dressed as a Bigfoot, and trying to create a Bigfoot sighting on U.S. Highway 93. Yes, he was attempting to pull off a hoax.

Instead, he ended up dead, struck by two automobiles, on Sunday evening, August 26, 2012, south of Kalispell.

Tenley was first struck by a vehicle driven by a 15 year old Somers girl in the southbound, right lane. She could not get out of the way fast enough to avoid hitting Tenley.

Then Tenley was struck again by a vehicle driven by a 17 year old Somers girl who hit his body in the road.

The first crash occurred at about 10:30 p.m. at mile marker post 106.9.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Schneider told the media: “The mechanics of the crash, everything of that nature, you know that stuff doesn’t change. It’s still a crash involving vehicles and a pedestrian. So we’re still doing the same investigation, but once we started speaking to parties, then someone involved in it, trying to ascertain exactly what brought that gentleman out to Highway 93…I would not guess that would motivate anybody to be out on Highway 93.”

Schneider says that they are awaiting toxicology results to determine if alcohol may have been a factor in Tenley’s behavior.

Schneider says friends of the victim said Tenley was wearing a military-style camouflage ghillie suit in hopes of creating a Bigfoot hoax.

My condolences to Tenley’s family and friends, needless to say, but, also, I have great sympathy and empathy for the two teenagers whose lives have been traumatized forever because of the unwise decision of an older man who should have known better. My hope is that these two young people are receiving counseling and support due to this death caused by Mr. Tenley’s unfortunate hoaxing behavior.

I have not been able to obtain Mr. Tenley’s photo or one of his Ghillie suit. Images here are file photos.

The Internet, Bigfoot forums, Twitter, Facebook, and social media, in general, have exploded with discussion of this news. Despite that, the actual new news in this story is slim.

Sources: 1, 2, 3.

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.

33 Responses to “Man Pulling Off Bigfoot Hoax Killed: Updated”

  1. graybear responds:

    It was bound to happen eventually. My sincere condolences to the families and to the teen-agers who will relive this night for the rest of thir lives.

  2. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I don’t know about the driving laws in Montana, but down here in Mexico it doesn’t matter if the pedestrian jay walked or acted in a completely reckless manner; if a driver hits the pedestrian, it’s ALWAYS the driver’s fault –so sez the law.

    (Then again down here in Mexico one is always presumed guilty until you can prove otherwise, but I digress)

    So I hope these teenagers are treated fairly. Maybe some Bigfoot group in Montana should show some support to them.

  3. mandors responds:

    Knowing this post probably won’t make it past moderation, and feeling true sympathy to the family and the real victims–the teenage drivers, I think there is something poetic in a hoaxer succumbing to a stunt as stupid as this. As reasonable people attempt to assess the veracity of this phenomenon, sophomoric fools such as Tenley are constantly polluting the scientific and public opinion waters. Thus, maybe the karmic lesson–DON’T be a dumbass.

  4. Ragnar responds:

    I feel bad for the two girls who hit him. Thats gonna stick with them forever.

    Him? As a great philosopher once said; “stupid is as stupid does”.

  5. Piltdown responds:

    Poor kids.

  6. Paul V Ruggeri via Facebook responds:

    I usually get a kick out of Bigfoot hoaxes and the like. Not tonight.

  7. Julie Crank via Facebook responds:


  8. Kopite responds:

    A 15 year old behind the wheel of a car? Yet she can’t buy a beer until 6 years later?

    RIP to the guy, even if I dislike bigfoot hoaxers.

  9. Jeff Lake via Facebook responds:

    I feel sorry for the 2 young ladies+this mans family.

  10. CelticBull responds:

    I always thought someone would get shot first..

  11. Pufnstuff responds:

    I think somebody needs to nominate Tenley for a Darwin Award

    The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of
    the human genome by honoring those who
    accidentally remove themselves from it…
    via acts of their own stupidity

  12. Christopher Roxby via Facebook responds:

    The Darwin Awards, anyone?

  13. cryptokellie responds:

    My feelings cry out for the two girls, they will live with this horror forever.
    But consider this…as far as I know, no Bigfoot body has been recovered after being struck by a moving vehicle. If they do exist, perhaps they have a modicum of common sense that some humans obviously lack. And why on earth was Mr. Tenley actual in the path of an on-coming vehicle?
    I hope this unfortunate incident will make national news and maybe give all the future Bigfoot hoaxers some pause for thought.

  14. DWA responds:

    Watch the Patterson-Gimlin film first. It could save your life.

  15. Loren Coleman responds:

    This story is the talk of Bigfoot forums and social media sites two days later.

    Unfortunately, I see that Ben Radford is using it as a vehicle to push his usual global statements regarding the Patterson-Gimlin footage.

    Ben has written today, in his “Bad Science” blog, “The most famous film of a Bigfoot — one shot in 1967 in Bluff Creek, Calif., by a man named Roger Patterson — is widely considered a hoax pulled off by a man in a costume. Whether Patterson was the hoaxer or victim of a hoax is unclear, but anyone pulling such a stunt these days is taking a real risk.”

    “Widely considered a hoax”? I don’t think so.

  16. DWA responds:


    I think Ben calls the blog “Bad Science” because it illustrates the practice so well.

  17. Kimberly Semrad via Facebook responds:

    Sad or stupid?

  18. AreWeThereYeti responds:

    @ mandors: Well said! I agree with you 100%.

    I’ve often maintained that “Stupid people die in stupid ways;” Mr. Tenley’s ill-advised hoax attempt is yet another example…

    P.S. @ Pufnstuff: I wholeheartedly second your Darwin Awards nomination.

  19. AreWeThereYeti responds:

    @ DWA and Loren: Yes, truth in advertising certainly is a rarity these days! 😉

  20. PhotoExpert responds:

    Well, it was only a matter of time. We all knew that something like this would happen. Although most of us probably thought it would be a Bigfoot hoaxer and a hunter with a gun. Hoaxers, let this serve as a wake-up call for you.

    Alcohol involved or not, it was a bad and ultimately, a deadly decision to perpetrate such a hoax. Mix in alcohol, young inexperienced drivers and you have a mix for a deadly cocktail.

    It’s sad that this man’s life had to end because of his bad decision. But I also feel for the two young drivers who now have to deal with the consequences of this man’s bad decision.

    As for Ben, Ben will be Ben. I think it’s “bad science” to compare a hoaxer in a Ghillie suit to the subject we see in the Patterson/Gimlin footage. That’s comparing apples to oranges or dishwashers. Not even in the same league. Ben got it wrong. It is widely considered the best footage of a Bigfoot on record. But anyone can have an opinion. You know the old saying. LOL

  21. Rob008 responds:

    I think everybody knew someday we would read the headlines about some person in a gorilla or guilly suit getting killed. It is a tragedy and something that I hope all would be hoaxers need to know can happen. Here is Florida, the main areas where the Skunk Ape is seen, are also authorized hunting areas. The hunters in this area will shoot anything or anybody. I always where orange when I’m in the area. It’s shame this had to happen. What do you put on this guy’s tombstone. “Lived as Man, Died as a Bigfoot”?

  22. Cardiff Piltdown via Facebook responds:

    Stupid sad.

  23. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Given the reported size and estimated mass of a fully-grown Bigfoot, I think if a car were to hit one it would be like hitting a cow or a moose: it would destroy the car and probably kill the driver. Bigfoot should only weigh maybe 1/3 to 1/2 what a moose weighs, but the bulk of that mass would be held higher up; it would be at just the right height to come through the windshield.

    However, if Bigfoot are out there, they pretty clearly know to avoid roads. After all, they should be more intelligent than dogs, and street-savvy dogs avoid traffic.

  24. Hapa responds:

    When I imagined this eventual scenario, I was thinking it would be a guy in a suit shot at by a man thinking his target was a Bigfoot, not by kids in cars who tried to avoid a head on collision with a guy in a suit. The kids were not out hunting bigfoot or trying to hit the individual perpetrating the hoax, so we still do not have a confirmed case of someone hoaxing bigfoot being killed by someone hunting bigfoot. Nevertheless this is a sad situation, and I feel sorry for both the two girls and all families connected to this.

    I wish bigfoot and other cryptid hoaxing was outlawed.

  25. Goodfoot responds:

    SHEESH, TEENAGE DRIVERS!!!! What’s a Bigfoot-hoaxing Darwin Award candidate to DO? But do I think this will put a stop to this craven idiocy? No….

  26. Brett Austin via Facebook responds:

    how could I not like this? he’s couldve got shot and gutted by his idiot hunting buddies. dumbass

  27. Fhqwhgads responds:


    A law so narrow as to outlaw hoaxing cryptids would never pass, and there would probably be 1st Amendment challenges, too, from the first person busted under such a law. However, anything designed to frighten or distract motorists could surely be outlawed, and maybe something similar for hunters.

  28. RocKiteman responds:

    My sincere condolences to the family of the victim. And my sympathy to the two drivers who will have to live with this for the rest of their lives.

    Having said THAT, my response can best be summed up this way: What I think of whenever I see young guys – in their teens or early twenties – riding around on mopeds or motor scooters & wearing helmets that are unstrapped and just laying on the top of their heads:


    ‘Nuff said….

  29. DWA responds:


    Feel your pain, man.

    But as somebody who is always leery of Passing A Law to Fix That, I would tend to look at existing statutes that would facilitate prosecution, like, say, those against “attractive nuisances.”

    I believe that if anyone like this got prosecuted for anything they did that actually caused trouble, the damper effect on potential actors would be considerable.

  30. alan borky responds:

    Loren did the deceased by any chance know the girls? Was he expecting them to come along? Were they jokingly set up by family members?

    Because it seems rather odd he was hit by of all people two girl drivers in their mid teens ie exactly the sort of inexperienced horror movie fodder you might expect to become hysterical and believe they’d seen something more than an idiot in a ghillie suit.

    Unless maybe that motorway’s celebrated for only being used by nubile female teenage drivers.

  31. alan borky responds:


    I was recently reading in the British media of a mature woman driver who managed to kill her two best friends by supposedly swerving to avoid something she saw in the road and smacking the two of them straight into concrete.

    In other words this story could’ve been far more tragic than it already is.

  32. AreWeThereYeti responds:

    @ DWA re, “I believe that if anyone like this got prosecuted for anything they did that actually caused trouble, the damper effect on potential actors would be considerable.”

    I’d like to think so, too, but the hold-my-beer-and-watch-this crowd is generally not noted for their respect of the law or, for that matter, much forethought regarding its consequences. Nor do they seem to “get it” that the next idiot to stage a similar hoax and wind up run-over, shot, falling down a mountainside, etc., could be them.

    I fear its only a matter of time before another hoaxer, or victim thereof, winds up dead…

    P.S. Having had a few days to mull-over the whole episode I’d like to make it clear that my earlier comments, and those directly above, are directed at hoaxers in general and not, specifically, to Mr. Tenley. While his actions were reckless, at best, he did not “deserve” to die. His death is a tragedy and his family’s grief over the loss of a loved one is very real; they have my sympathy, as do the two young girls – the real victims, here – who will carry the horrible memory for the rest of their lives.

  33. Frank Uckerman responds:

    If one can’t say that this guy deserved what happened to him, then it seems to me that truth doesn’t exist anymore.

    This “stunt” is the product of a mind that has no regard for personal safety, and thus for one’s on existence.

    If you die doing something that was born out of a wanton disregard for your own safety, how can you not deserve it? There was no accident here. There was a series of deliberate acts here–dress up in camouflage, walk out into highway traffic, try to distract people. The only accident was on the part of the teenage drivers, and that is why our sympathy needs to be with them. THEY didn’t deserve what happened to THEM.

    This “stunt” (actually, a crime) was stupid beyond belief, and this idiot most certainly got what he deserved. Sorry.

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