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Is Bigfoot Roaming the Forests of Rhode Island?

Local paranormal research group thinks they have found sasquatch, and Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" has lent credence to their theories.

The next time you go for a hike through the woods of Cumberland, West Greenwich or Exeter, take caution: You just may run into a giant, hairy beast.

Sasquatch; Bigfoot; or, in this case, Big Rhodey. Whatever you want to call him, the legendary ape man that has been the subject of grainy photos and eyewitness accounts for decades — but has never officially been found, dead or alive — is wandering around the more remote locations of Rhode Island, according to a local paranormal research group.

"Bigfoot is a master of concealment," said Carl Johnson, founder of Beyond the Veil Paranormal Research and the Big Rhodey Research Project. "It's the same as a bear that wanders down here every now and then. People sometimes catch glimpses of it."

There have been seven such glimpses in Rhode Island over the years, Johnson said, most in rural pockets in the western part of the state. Johnson said he has gathered evidence on dozens of expeditions around the state, collecting photographs of over-sized, human-like footprints around stands of broken and twisted trees, and clumps of hair from an unidentified animal.

But the key piece of evidence came last year when Johnson's colleagues, Dina Palazini and Kris Stepney, were on an expedition in Exeter and caught what they believe to be a sasquatch on film. The blurry video shows someone or something — walking upright, if slightly hunched over — appear from behind a tree. The creature or person is on camera for just a matter of seconds as the camera is panning the woods off Ten Rod Road. While Johnson describes a brownish, hairy creature with a sloped forehead, it is difficult to determine from the video just what — or who — is walking through the woods.

But it was enough to interest the team from the Animal Planet series "Finding Bigfoot," who traveled to Rhode Island last month to film an episode about Big Rhodey. Johnson took Matt Moneymaker — founder and president of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization — and his team on a tour of the sasquatch's favorite haunts, and presented the evidence he has collected. Animal Planet has embargoed the video of Big Rhodey for the episode, Johnson said, which should air on Animal Planet early next year.

"They like to debunk, so we'll see when it's edited," Johnson said of the "Finding Bigfoot" team. "They question the validity of what we saw. They said it could have been a person hiding behind a tree. But you can tell it's not a person."

Just what Bigfoot is — an ape? A person? A Neanderthal that somehow survived  through generations of evolution? — has been shrouded in mystery for many decades. Photos and video evidence of the elusive creature are often grainy and taken at a distance, making a positive identification next to impossible. Johnson has his own theory.

"I think it's a type of feral human," he said. "A divergent strain of homo sapien that adapted to its environment. It's called atavism — a reversion to a prior type; a sort of de-evolution."

Johnson — a tour guide at Slater Mill in Pawtucket by day — is adamant that sasquatches are real creatures that live in the wilderness and avoid human contact. While he has not yet seen one with the naked eye, he describes a close encounter he had in September 2010 in the woods near the Cumberland watershed area while he was performing a technique known as "tree-knocking," which some Bigfoot enthusiasts teach as a way to communicate with a sasquatch.

"We started to hear a thumping sound, and it was approaching," Johnson said. "The only thing I can liken it to is an elephant walking on its hind legs. Stomping is a way to scare people away."

Johnson said he understands the skepticism many have that Bigfoot exists at all, and he even acknowledges the humor many find in the dedication of those who comb through the woods seeking the hairy beast.

"I don't think it's always taken seriously," Johnson said of the form of cryptozoology he and his colleagues practice. "Some people are not open-minded. It's certainly not accepted in the mainstream. But we're not just crackpots. We want to help make it a legitimate study. If there wasn't any serious evidence, I wouldn't stick with it."

Johnson and his team plan to continue combing the forests of Rhode Island anywhere a potential sighting is reported. The team plans to search through the woods in Chepatchet, and will return to Cumberland and Exeter in the spring when Johnson believes Big Rhodey returns to "his summer home." Johnson said he desperately wants to see a sasquatch, particularly after his "tantalizing" encounter in Cumberland. But whether he ever sees one, or whether any proof of Bigfoot's existence is ever found, people will continue to hunt the wilderness in search of the legendary creature, he said.

"I've talked to people who have been up close and personal. I believe them," Johnson said. "It upsets people that there's a man-like creature out there. It's scary and spooky; an abomination. It's us, but it's not us. That's what's fascinating — how close to human it is."

Flea Flicker October 25, 2011 at 11:12 PM
Awe come on trt2d! That's an insult to all the peaceful Bigfoots everywhere! Or is it Bigfeet?
AL TRACY October 26, 2011 at 08:14 PM
I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE PEOPLE COME UP WITH THIS CRAP...IVE LIVED HERE ALL MY LIFE AND HAVE NEVER HEARD OF BIGFOOT IN R.I., AND NO ONE ELSE HAS EITHER.....ITS JUST ANOTHER BULL&*$# STORY THAT CAN NEVER BE PROVEN......BUT THEY WILL SAY WHAT THEY WANT AND PEOPLE LISTEN FOR SOME REASON.....OH, HERES ONE, THERE IS A 100FT DRAGON-LIKE CREATURE IN JOHNSONS POND, I DONT HAVE PROOF, BUT ALOT OF PEOPLE TELL ME THAT THERE IS, SO I GUESS THEY HAVE TO BE RIGHT........
therealtaxed2death October 26, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Gee, Al. Panties in a bunch or what? Settle down fella. Settle down.
nunya October 26, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Al you are totally right. These people are frauds! Look them up first they were ghost hunters, demonologists, mediums, and now bigfoot experts! They have been on several television shows about ghosts and are so full of it. Anything for some kind of recognition.
iPatch October 26, 2011 at 10:33 PM
OMG. Are you people serious? Who gives a hoot what they've done or what show they've been on? All you idiots do is rag on everything. Get a life. At least they're making a living...unlike you fools complaining on here! Lol! Losers!
Steve October 26, 2011 at 11:17 PM
Hang on a minute here, if Big Rhodey is undocumented, I think he is entitled to subsidized rent, a free cell phone, food stamps, free medical (god knows he'll need it!) free family counseling, and most of all, in state college tuition! Maybe this is why he is coming out of hiding? He is looking to better himself...........
Alexis Doyle October 29, 2011 at 06:49 PM
I have lived in Rhode Island all my life. and YES i have seen something i belive is bigfoot. ITs because of peoples negative comments calling people crazy for something that they belive they have seen without even having been in the position or are too afraid to admit it might be possible.. That makes people that HAVE seen things fearful of sharing. As far as the 100foot dragonlike creature in Johnson pond. Havent heard that story.. but i am the kind of person that will go out and try to look up the stories. maybe go to johnson pond and see if i can find evidence before i call someone right or wrong.
Yvette M Ayotte October 31, 2011 at 11:01 AM
Steve, you're a riot, I love it!!!!
Jordan Harris January 04, 2012 at 03:47 PM
You know... there are actually cameras out there that can be focused. Why is their "photographic evidence" always blurry? Just more of the same B.S.
Carl L. Johnson January 05, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Hi, all ~ I've enjoyed reading through the comments: pros & cons. Dina Palazini is founder/director of Beyond The Veil Paranormal Research and Big Rhodey Research Project teams. The camera Dina filmed with was set for night vision since it was near sunset and ovecast then.. This was reshot at the same location two days after, but the effect of a figure walking behind the stone wall was not replicated. She would have used a different setting but we can't change the original out-of-focus film. A couple of years ago a comedian said, "Maybe Bigfoot IS blurry!" No one is claiming, "Thar! Thar's the hairy varment!" We simply can't be certain what the film shows. It seems to display an anomalous figure. An illusion created by a combination of foliage and shadows? A human being in the woods? (Unlikely.) Or an adolescent Sasquatch emerging from concealment after the vehicle passed by? Eveyone who's interested is welcome to view the brief footage and contribute an opinion. Carl L. Johnson
OcalaGhostWalks January 05, 2012 at 03:07 AM
those leaving negative comments have no life. Dina Palazini and Carl Johnson are the realest people you will ever meet and I really respect their work. they have been on national television many times.
eric January 09, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Well I'm a hunter an I spend alot of hours in the woods in the area and all around the area,and never heard nor seen any sign of a bigfoot. There is no way it has enough woods to be able to stay out of sight. Now I no people say they saw it but for the amount of time my buddies and I spend out there I think we would of seen some sign of a large animal like that. If they r in fact real there is not enough space for them in that area .
eric January 10, 2012 at 12:23 AM
To add to my comment, the reason I say this is because the amount of drives(pushes) that go on for that size of an area hunters would of smiply pushed them out in the open. When that video was taken what season was it for hunters because it looks like a bow or squirrel hunter to me because some seasons don't require any orange. I think people r seeing black bears because they r just recently making a come back. Now ive done some studies for uconn on blackness bear and moose and there's smiply not enough food out there to support such an animal. I'm am not an expert nor do I claim to know what I'm talking about this is just an honest opinion from an outdoor guy.

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