By Daniel Silliman
In a room full of reporters, with a world-wide audience waiting to hear what they had to say, two Clayton County men, who claim to have the corpse of a Bigfoot, didn't deliver the evidence they promised would shock the world. Instead, backed by their controversial, California partner, they continued making claims, with a couple of fuzzy photos -- and more promises.
Tom Biscardi, a professional Bigfoot searcher, who has been associated with a number of hoaxes and money-making stunts, said the alleged Bigfoot body was as real as the skeptical reporters. He said Matthew Whitton, a Clayton County police officer on medical leave, and Whitton's friend, Rick Dyer, a tow truck driver, who once worked as a correctional officer, wouldn't be part of a hoax.
"Do you think these fellows would come this far and put their reputations and their jobs on the line, if they didn't have what they say they have?" Biscardi said.
At the end of Friday's press conference in California, however, that claim -- that this was all too crazy to be a con -- seemed to be the strongest "evidence" the three men had.
They have claimed they have the dead body of seven-foot-seven, 500-pound ape-man, with 16-inch feet and a lot of reddish-brown hair. A photo was released on Tuesday, supposedly showing the animal, dethawed in a freezer. The image was met with some skepticism and suspicion, some smugness, and a willingness to wait, see, and to say "maybe," until the evidence was unveiled.
The unveiled evidence consisted of:
· A photo of woods, with what looks like an upright black spot or a solitary, shadow-cloaked figure. Biscardi called this "a bipedal creature."
· A photo of jutting, upper teeth and a flat tongue, sticking out at the viewer.
· Alleged DNA results from a scientist in Minnesota, reporting three tests, one showing an inconclusive gene sequence, one showing a human gene sequence, and one showing an opossum gene sequence.
Loren Coleman, the author of a number of Bigfoot books, who has closely followed Biscardi and watched what he has skeptically called the "Georgia Gorilla" discovery, described the press conference as a carnival show.
"Biscardi is a Las Vegas promoter and a showman, and he's doing it again," Coleman said. "That's what he's really good at. It's like, 'Would you like to come into my tent? I'll show you this one picture. Isn't that interesting? Pay me to see more.'"
The three men claimed there will be an autopsy next week, and more research results coming soon. The Associated Press reported that the 45-minute press conference was attended by several hundred skeptical journalists and a man in a Chewbacca suit. When Biscardi was asked how much money he hoped to make off the Bigfoot body, he said, "As much as I possibly can."
The man reportedly attempted to raise $1.5 million for a Bigfoot hunting expedition in 2004, claimed to have captured a live one in 2005, when he started selling pay-per-view subscriptions on his web site, and then, backed out with a claim he had been hoaxed by "a crazy lady."
"He's already gone through several hoaxes," Coleman said. "We always say, 'This is the end of Biscardi. He's never coming back.' I mean, the man has nine lives."
The Bigfoot Field Research Organization, a group that attempts to verify Bigfoot sightings, issued a release calling the whole thing a hoax, calling Biscardi a "sleazy vulture."
"The purpose of this grand ruse," the release claims, "is to attract lots of attention to himself ... to hold the attention of the mass media while he arranges various deals for documentaries, books, etc."
Coleman thinks Whitton and Dyer may have actually discovered something, and then got suckered by the experienced scam artist. He also thinks it's possible they were running some scam, promoting their web site with videos and hoping to sell T-shirts and ball caps, when Biscardi came in and escalated the enterprise.
The Bigfoot Field Research Operators suggest that Biscardi may have set the whole thing up, but then back down and say Whitton and Dyer were running their own ruse when they got assistance from an expert.
The two men's story has changed constantly since they started their Bigfoot tracking business in June. In early YouTube videos, the animal was supposedly shot by a former felon, and the two men tracked it into the woods. In a second story, they were on a Bigfoot search, looking for a "family of Bigfoot" they claim to have seen in the North Georgia mountains. In a third version, they were just hiking and found it, apparently dead of open wounds.
In the hotel on Friday, Whitton said he didn't even believe in Bigfoot and it was just luck, though he continues to describe himself as "the best Bigfoot tracker in the world."