Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bigfoot Body Proved a Hoax, No One Surprised

This may have happened more than a week a ago, but better late then never as the saying goes. I could not resist writing a third post about the Bigfoot body in a cooler story; the third and final installment in what has become a trilogy of credulity, arrogance and, it turns out, enough rubber to excite most people with an S&M fetish.

Yes, as has been reported by the Associated Press and National Geographic News, among others, the Bigfoot body allegedly found by Georgia natives Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer (Larry and Curly to any frequent readers of my blog) turned out to be a rubber suit in a block of ice. This astonishing revelation, (I mean really, who could have seen it coming?), was uncovered by self-described Bigfoot detective Steve Kulls, executive director of squatchdetective.com. Kulls posted a statement on the web site of Searching For Bigfoot Inc., the company of Tom Biscardi; the "real Bigfoot hunter" to whom Whitton and Dyer allegedly first showed the body. From the National Geographic story:

"In a statement posted on the Web site of Searching for Bigfoot Inc., 'Sasquatch Detective' Steve Kulls said he realized the Bigfoot 'corpse' was a fake when the frozen body began to thaw—after the press conference had already taken place."

In his statement, Kulls said he first felt suspicious of the body's authenticity when he and a colleague burned a hair sample for analysis. Apparently, the sample "melted into a ball uncharacteristic of hair." Uncharacteristic of hair? How about the alleged hair turned out to be some form of plastic? It's interesting to me that even after Whitton and Dyer may have perpetrated this hoax against Biscardi, and maybe even stolen his money, a "Bigfoot detective" Biscardi sent to check out the body still chose to parse his words about the hoax. The Nat Geo story continues:

"'Within the next hour of thaw, a break appeared up near the feet area,' Kulls wrote. 'As the team and I began examining this area near the feet, I observed the foot, which looked unnatural, reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot.'"

Once Biscardi confronted Whitton and Dyer about Kulls findings, the pair admitted it was a hoax. But, Biscardi must not be mistaken for the victim here. There is evidence to suggest that Biscardi was in on the scam from the beginning. The Nat Geo story points out that Biscardi claimed at the press conference to have personally flown to Georgia to authenticate the body. With Whitton and Dyer by his side, Biscardi kept a straight face will proclaiming the body ""was not a mask sewn on a bear hide." Technically, he was correct. How did such an obvious hoax escape the allegedly trained eyes of the "real Bigfoot hunter"?

Further research done by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a source used by the Nat Geo story, implicates Biscardi even further. From the BFRO report:

"Biscardi didn't start this hoax, but instead latched onto to it once it was presented to him by his dubious associate Steve Kulls. Biscardi's plot was to hype the "discovery" as legitimate, then collect money in various ways as the world grew eager to get a look at the specimen ... then later claim he was 'hoodwinked' about the body so as redirect blame away from himself."

And collect money Biscardi did. The BFRO claims he was asking a $2 fee to see pictures of the costume in the freezer on his website during the approximate week when this story was all over the major news media. Judging by how much hoopla this thing caused, Biscardi may have raked in a considerable chunk of money.

The BFRO report also points out Biscardi's 2005 Bigfoot-related embarrassment:

"After Biscardi was publicly busted and humiliated in 2005 for a different version of a bigfoot body hoax, he claimed he was "hoodwinked" by some bad people who had deceived him (all the while he was raking in money from a phony pay-per-view "surveillance" project). Roll forward to 2008. Biscardi now claims he was 'hoodwinked' ... again ... This time by some ludicrous liars from Georgia. He claims he is 'planning to take legal action against them' ... in an attempt to distract legal action against himself, by prosecutors, for fraud."

As you can see, the BFRO is seriously pissed about this. They have been quoted in numerous articles expressing a desire to see Whitton, Dyer and Biscardi arrested. The report from which I have quoted even calls upon anyone who has wasted money on this scam to contact the police department in Palo Alto CA, where the press conference was held, so a formal investigation can be commenced. The BFRO report describes the legal options left to the police departments under whose jurisdiction this fraud would fall:

"The police department in Palo Alto, California, will move forward with an investigation and arrest if they receive complaints from people who ripped off by Biscardi. Palo Alto police have thankfully recognized a few very important things: 1) Their department (among others), and Santa Clara County, have jurisdiction to investigate the matter as a wire fraud crime, because the press conference was held in Palo Alto. 2) Biscardi has done this same scam before. 3) If Biscardi profited at all from this scam, then it is indeed a wire fraud crime that can be prosecuted. 4) It is quite obvious to everyone that Biscardi was not only complicit in this hoax/scam, but was also the mastermind behind it, after it was delivered to him by Steve Kulls. This last factor is self-evident due to Biscardi's current and past actions, and his current and past statements."

While a police investigation may never happen, the AP story claims Whitton is in the process of being relieved of his duties at the Clayton County Police Department in Georgia:

"On Tuesday (August 19), Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said he has not spoken to Whitton but processed paperwork to fire him. 'Once he perpetrated a fraud, that goes into his credibility and integrity,' Turner said. 'He has violated the duty of a police officer.'"

So, to recap, what has now become of the "three stooges of cryptozoology"? Whitton is most likely still unemployed, having recently lost his job as a Georgia police officer. Dyer was always described as a "former corrections officer," and will probably remain so for some time after this debacle. Biscardi is probably laughing all the way to the bank, as long as no one complains to the Palo Alto Police Department. Presuming not that many people were credulous enough to pay to see photos that were literally all over the internet, I think this story may have turned out for the better. The news media covering the story from the beginning, if seldom showing serious skepticism, always seemed to approach the farse in a decidedly tongue-in-cheek manner. As Dr. Steve Novella, host of "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe" podcast, writes on his blog NeuroLogica:

"On a positive note I did get the sense that the public was generally skeptical of this event - or at least were waiting for actual evidence. Maybe they are starting to catch on, and this event will help the process - especially since the turnaround from suspected hoax to definite hoax was short enough to be within the public attention span."

Though somehow, I doubt we have seen the last of Mr. Biscardi.

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