Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lake Worth Monster

Art by David Claerr

**This post is a special guest posting by a researcher I greatly respect, David Claerr.**

Among all the reported sightings and contacts between humans and the legendary Sasquatch, also called Bigfoot, one of the most fascinating and lively documented cases occurred in the community of Lake Worth, just to the northwest of Fort Worth, Texas. Not only did over a hundred people report seeing the creature, in some cases there were up to forty people who saw it at the same time and place, and among them were police officers who noted the episode in their official reports.

The intriguing story, with all the elements of drama and high-camp that are the standard ingredients of a B-grade movie thriller, took place over a few months time, beginning in the summer of 1969. Complete with bizarre descriptions and incredible events, the tale could be dismissed by hard-boiled skeptics as the product of hysteria or hoaxsters. However, to the open mind, there may be something of substance in the records, which include a unique Polaroid photograph. The picture, when analyzed with modern digital image-rectifying techniques, reveals characteristics that are in accord with other, more recent photographic evidence.

(The 1969 Polaroid)

But first, on with the tale. In the pre-dawn hours of a summer's day, six terrified citizens burst into the local police station. John Reichert and his wife, along with two other couples, related that they had been at the park along the lake after in the middle of the night, enjoying the balmy weather and moonlight on the lake. Suddenly, crashing down through the trees above, and landing with a tremendous slam on the hood of the car, was a huge, hideous creature. It reached out for Mrs. Reichart, trying to grab her. John started the car and slammed it into gear. At the roar of the engine and the with the car jerking into motion, the creature bounded off into the woods, having left an eighteen-inch scratch on the side of the car. And here's where the story grew stranger: they described the creature as something resembling a cross between a man and a goat that not only had fur -but also fish-like scales!

The police, impressed by the agitated state and the agreement of all six witnesses, took them seriously. In fact, there had been reports in the previous two months of strange beings lurking in the deep, thick forests to the north of town, that bordered the lake. Four patrol cars were dispatched to the scene. The story generated such interest that it made the second page of the Fort Worth Star Telegram on July 10th. "Fishy Man-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth" read the headline of the article.

But the by the next day it was front-page news. Within twenty-four hours of the first sighting, the creature made an even more dramatic appearance before a crowd of some thirty to forty people. The first article in the Star Telegram, and broadcasts by local radio stations giving breaking reports of sightings had people flocking to the area along what is now Shoreline Drive. One of the witnesses interviewed by the Telegram was Jack Harris, who spotted the Sasquatch as it crossed the road that around, and tried to take two pictures, but the flash bulb failed. Pursuing the creature, along with dozens of other motorists, he followed it into a field bordered by limestone bluffs. The Sasquatch was seen clambering up, down and about the terraced slopes, uttering loud wails and guttural growls, in obvious distress from the mob of people below, some of whom were armed for the hunt.

The witnesses had parked their cars and rushed into the field below the bluffs, shining their flashlights on the figure scrambling along the embankments. Local sheriffs had arrived at the scene and were among the crowd. The vigilantes in the group were working up the gumption to have at the Sasquatch, and just when one of the rifle-toting good ole boys crowed "Let's go get 'im!" the creature made his move. With a piercing howl, it sprung down from a ledge about twenty feet high to the field below. Then, in an incredible feat of strength, it picked up an old car tire, still on the heavy steel rim, and hurled it 300 feet or more straight at the crowd.

The sudden and astonishing gambit by the Sasquatch created pandemonium amongst its pursuers. The crowd fled in a panic to their cars. One of them, Ronny Armstrong, smashed up his car by backing into a tree in his haste to escape. The Sheriff's men were as terrified as everyone else and departed the scene just as swiftly.

"Police, Residents Observe, But Can't Identify Monster," the Star Telegram's first page headline blared, the next day. Included in the issue was a photo with Jack Harris and Ronny Armstrong, who were interviewed for the article. Ronny has the car tire propped up against his leg as he points to the bluff the creature leapt from. A dashed line drawn on the picture traces the path of the Sasquatch's leap, and a big black "X" marks the spot where he landed. Ronny is standing in the foreground, where the tire came to rest, having bounced and rolled through the field after hitting ground.

More headlines and stories were posted throughout the following days: "Witnesses Watch Monster Cavort," "Loch Worth Monster Reportedly Furry, Scaly" and "Ghosts Seen on Greer Island." The reports describe the Sasquatch as being seven feet tall and up to 300 pounds, with grayish-white fur. Over 100 people examined tracks found in a field that measured about sixteen inches long by eight inches wide, with a shape similar to that of a human foot. During that time period, a Polaroid picture was taken by Allen Plaster, who owned a boutique in Ft. Worth. The Sasquatch is seen wading through the tall grass and weeds of a field. The grainy exposure, taken at night with a flash, is overexposed, and the light fur stands out in high contrast to the inky darkness of the background. The blurred view of the creature extends from below the waist to above the nose, and is cropped off at the top.

However with a series of sophisticated digital image rectifying techniques, more intriguing details emerge. The first is the anatomy of the arm, which is partially discernible even in the original photo. In enhanced images, the structure of underlying muscle and tendon is plainly visible, and correctly placed for a hominid primate. The area above and below the elbow show these features most plainly. (Link to Image in Resources below)

Art by David Claerr

The second convincing element is the pattern of marking on the fur of the Sasquatch. Ranging from dark grey to nearly white, the marking are consistent with more recent photographic evidence and eyewitness observations. There is a band of darker fur (or hair) that runs across the chest back across the shoulder. The fur on the back is considerably darker, deepening in shade as it approaches the spine, which makes the contour of the back very difficult to see in the original exposure. The fur on the scalp also darkens toward the back and top of the conical skull. And the creature's goat-like beard is dark, approaching black in the middle.

Enhancement also shows the shape of the Sasquatch's body. Much like a Pro power weigh-lifter, the creature has massive thighs and gluteal muscles, and a pronounced abdomen that could be mistaken for a pot-belly. The shoulders are broad, and the creature has a massive barrel chest. The combination of anatomical features and patterning of the fur or hair closely resemble the type of Sasquatch, or Bigfoot photographed in the mountains of Idaho.

One of the puzzling aspects encountered in the research of Sasquatch is the sometimes markedly different appearance of the creatures from different geographical areas. The answer to the apparent contradiction is that the Sasquatch are genetically diverse, as are humans and canines. Picture an English Sheepdog next to a Hairless Chihuahua. Or a seven foot tall Watusi Warrior alongside a petite Japanese Geisha. In addition to differing lengths and texture of body hair or fur, many Sasquatch have recessive genetic traits, sometimes expressed as partial or full albinism, ranging through the full gamut of colors as seen in humans: black, brown, auburn, red, blond and white, in variegated shades, mixes and patterns.

The curious descriptions of the creature variously known as "Lake Worth Monster", "Greer Island Goat-Man" or "Manny Goat" requires more discussion. The Lake Worth Sasquatch has a long goatee on a somewhat recessive chin. The lips are wide and large in proportion to the face, due in part to the large, robust span of teeth in its forward-jutting mouth. Another feature that mimics a goat's muzzle is the long span below the broad, high-set pug nose and upper lip, which is covered in a long, bushy mustache. The eyes are deeply set under a beetling brow and high forehead that slopes upward to a conical cranium. The resulting impression could easily trigger an association with the appearance of a goat. (In a more comical aside: when working on the digital enhancements, the visage that emerged seemed oddly familiar in some aspects, like some famous personage. At last I made the connection- the creature reminded me of none other than... Charles Darwin!)

Another bizarre aspect in the reports is the description of fish-like scales, although it appears mainly in the Reichert episode. Let's examine this claim more closely. Though the insistence on this feature seems fantastical, there may be a more logical, though mundane explanation for the phenomenon. It is likely that what the Reichert party saw actually were fish scales. Research over the years by the author, and many others, indicate that the primary habitat of the Sasquatch, especially in the southern US, is the woodlands bordering major watersheds: along rivers, creeks and lakes. A major portion of the Sasquatch diet is often fish, clams, crayfish and turtles, which are obtained by foraging in the shallows of the waterways. Skeletons, shells and other remains are sometimes found in piles on hilltops or wedged in the limbs of trees. It is possible that the Reicherts had parked their car beneath a tree where the Sasquatch was eating a large fish such as a carp or alligator gar. The abundant scales, removed by the creature's sharp nails and teeth were likely clinging to its chest and belly fur, adhered by the sticky mucus secretions of the fish. Grizzly bears, coated with salmon scales in a similar fashion, are often observed.

In the following weeks and months, more reports surfaced, with various trackers and hunting parties reporting evidence in the form of sightings, footprints, vocalizations and even pungent remnant odors. Sheep carcasses were found half-eaten, with broken necks and backs, the bodies rent asunder. One group of five hunters reported shooting the creature, and then following a trail that led from a large pool of blood, down into the water of the lake, opposite Greer Island. Three friends, driving around looking for the Sasquatch in a car, asserted that it jumped down on the vehicle. The driver, Jim Stephens of Bluemound claimed that the creature clung to the hood of his car. He swerved the car from side to side, rocking it to shake the Sasquatch off. Only when Jim accidentally rammed the car into a tree did the creature release his grip and flee.

The last high-profile sighting in 1969 occurred on November 7th, when Charles Buchanan claimed that, as he slept in the back of his pickup truck, a Sasquatch lifted up his sleeping bag (with him inside). Charles, thinking fast, then shoved a sack of fried chicken in the Sasquatch's face. The Sasquatch grasped the sack in his mouth and shambled off into the lake, once again swimming to Greer Island.

Eventually the reports diminished. Perhaps the Sasquatch moved on to less hazardous areas, or kept a low profile after suffering some gunshot wounds. There is also the possibility that it died shortly thereafter. However, the Sasquatch are often accompanied in their nocturnal nomadic foraging by related family members, therefore, the Lake Worth region may still be part of the range of the enigmatic creatures.


The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Thursday, July 10 1969. By Jim Marris

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Friday, July 11 1969. By Jim Marris

"The Lake Worth Monster" Fate Magazine. October, 1992. By Mark Chorvinsky

"The Lake Worth Monster of Greer Island, Ft. Worth, Texas" 1969. By Sallie Ann Clarke

Picture of Jack and Ronny 

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