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The Minerva Monster – huge, hairy bigfoot beast terrorizes an Ohio family

The Minerva Monster - Dennis Haas sketch 1978

The Minerva Monster

Bigfoot sightings in northeast Ohio are nothing new – inexplicable bipedal cryptids been sighted in the area for at least 75 years – but the Minerva Monster incident, which triggered a massive, coordinated search for an elusive “huge, hairy creature” that stalked the woods and terrified a local family near the town of Minerva, has long been regarded as one of the most convincing Bigfoot incidents in history.

Cedar Bog opens – locals report ape-like monster

Trail crossing Cedar Bog Ohio

In 1942, Ohioans shook with excitement when the Ohio Historical Society listed Cedar Bog as a nature preserve, the first of its kind in Ohio. Located in Champaign County, Ohio, the bog was carved by a glacier leaving behind the Teays River, a rich, fertile area teaming with natural wildlife. The new official designation protected nearly 500 acres of the epic 7,000-acre fen (a wetland fed by mineral-rich ground and river water).

Shortly after Cedar Bog was opened, locals began whispering about a large, ape-like creature sighted frequently around the Bog and in particular, near Woodburn Road, a county road that ran parallel to the Bog. Sometime after, the area near where the creature was spotted was enclosed with a large metal fence topped with ominous barbed wire. Some thought the new fence was installed to protect the Bog – to keep people out. Others, however, felt it was installed for a more sinister purpose – to keep something in.

The locals’ fears grew a few years later when a group of teenagers mysteriously disappeared while on a camping trip near the Bog. Legend grew around the incident and locals attributed the unfortunate youths’ disappearance to the “Boggy Creek Monster”, a nickname credited to the creature shortly after the sightings near Woodburn Road (not to be confused with the Fouke Monster of Fouke, Arkansas which spawned the Legend of Boggy Creek movie).

Decades later and about three hours east of the Bog, a documented sighting of the creature would earn a high-ranking position in Bigfoot lore as one of the most interesting and thoroughly investigated Bigfoot sightings in history.

Minerva Monster terrifies Ohio family

Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Minerva station

Minerva is a small town, population just under 4,000 people, in Paris Township, Stark County Ohio. It was here (actually two miles west of Minerva proper), on Lincoln Street SE just off U.S. Route 30 where Herbert Cayton cleared an area near a deep pit by his home. His work done, he disposed of some garbage in the pit and settled in for a few day’s rest after the job. A few nights later, Cayton’s grandchildren and their friends came running into the house, claiming to have seen a large, hairy monster rummaging around in the pit. The children were obviously terrified, believing a threatening mountain man or crazed hermit was just outside their home.

Howe Cayton, his mother Evelyn Cayton, and her daughter Vicki Keck went outside to investigate. They noted that the dogs were “going berserk” as they walked up the small hill leading to the pit. As they approached the pit, they saw a large, thickly-haired “monster”, about seven feet tall and weighing an estimated three hundred pounds. Evelyn later commented:

“It just stood there. It didn’t move, but I almost broke my neck running back down the hill.”

A few days later, Evelyn Cayton saw the creature again picking through the garbage in the pit. She noted that the creature was bipedal (walked on two legs) and had long hair covering its face. The creature’s hair was thick and although she could not make out any of its facial features, she recalled it had no visible neck. Again, her dogs went wild, tugging to get free from the chains that kept them bound to a nearby tree.

Days after the second sighting, the family found one of their German Sheppard dogs dead – with a broken neck. The dog’s collar was found next to the dead dog, still attached to the chain. The other German Sheppard (Missy) appeared in an addled state. The Cayton’s observed that Missy continued acting strangely for weeks after the incident, and out of character, dug a huge 8-foot hole in the ground (investigators later confirmed the existence of the hole and took evidentiary photographs of it).

More friends of the family witness the monster firsthand – August 21, 1988

Strip mining aftermath

The family told little about the sightings to friends, but their problem publicly came to light on August 21, 1978. Around 10:30 PM, the Cayton’s and a few of their friends were relaxing on the back porch of their home. Behind the house was an old, abandoned strip mine that had been out of use for many years. Beyond the mine were dense, unpopulated hilly woods that the family rarely ventured into. Near the mine, was an old chicken coop. Amongst the chatter of conversation, someone heard an unusual noise near the chicken coop. The Cayton’s and friends turned to see what the commotion was and noticed two pairs of yellow eyes peering back at them through the darkness.

A close friend of the family, Scott Patterson, jumped into his car to turn the vehicle’s headlights toward the glowing eyes. As he inched the car forward to better illuminate the pair of animals, the lights revealed a huge hairy creature that stepped in front of two feline-like creatures as if to protect them. The witnesses would later describe the creature as well over 7-foot tall, with black and brown matted hair that covered its head and face. The creature turned its attention to the idling automobile and began running toward it.

Seeing the creature quickly closing in on them, the witnesses ran into the home while Patterson tumbled from the car to join the fleeing party. Inside the home, the frightened witnesses (some of the women burst into tears) called the Stark County Sheriff’s Department. While they huddled inside, waiting for the authorities to arrive, the creature peered through the kitchen window, illuminated by the back porch light. Patterson grabbed a loaded .22 caliber pistol while Evelyn Cayton snatched a .22 caliber rifle and began loading it. They noted that despite aiming their weapons at the creature, it stood by the window for about 10 minutes showing no fear of the guns. Nobody shot at the creature, but all were careful to keep it within their gun sights.

“It didn’t seem to want to bother anyone. It was just curious. We all felt that it wanted to be friends.”

After several minutes, the creature turned and moved silently away from the window.

Stark County Sheriffs investigate the sighting – massive manhunt for an elusive creature

Deputy Sheriff James Shannon arrived about 15 minutes after the call from the Cayton’s (about five minutes after the creature moved away from the kitchen window). Deputy Shannon (he later retired as Captain of the force) interviewed the witnesses who described to him the two “cats” and monstrous creature. Years later, he recalled the incident:

“They heard something at the window, kind of clawing and pawing. From what I remember, I don’t think this creature, whatever the hell it was, was trying to get in as much as it was saying, ‘Hey, look at me!’”

Sheriff Shannon noted that the family’s terror seemed genuine, and everyone’s description of the incident matched perfectly. Shannon did not suspect a hoax – not even a hint of it. The family and friends had definitely seen something, but he could find no rational explanation for what they had seen.

Location of multiple Minerva Monster sightings in Ohio

Shannon searched around the home and noted an alarming, strong stench near the kitchen window (described as an ammonia-sulfur, rotten-egg smell). Additional deputies were called in and searched the area on horseback and in 4-wheel dive Army surplus Jeeps. During their 6-hour search, they found unusual footprints in the woods behind the home. Measuring 14-16 inches long, law enforcement wrote them off as bear footprints. When Mrs. Cayton was asked if she thought the creature could have been a bear, she responded, “No, not unless they were mutated!”

Regardless of the official conclusion, years later Shannon would call the investigation “the most bizarre investigation of his 30-year law enforcement career” and family friend Scott Patterson, who was skeptical of past sightings, admitted to reporters that he was now a “believer”.

Second Minerva Monster sighting – August 22, 1978

On August 22, 1978, at around 9:00 PM, Mrs. Mary Ackerman, daughter of Evelyn Cayton, drove to the Cayton home to pick up her daughter and a friend. Mary turned into the Cayton driveway and to her surprise, saw the creature standing on top of the hill next to the abandoned strip mine behind the home. She described the creature as more than 6-feet tall with stubby legs and hairy, indistinct features. Mary sat in the car and watched the creature until it finally turned and walked towards the woods behind the mine. According to Mary,

“It was shaped like a man, and it walked like a man. When a bear moves away, it does away on all four feet. This swung up over the edge of the strip mine on two legs.”

Third Minerva Monster sighting – August 23, 1978

Howe Cayton had his second experience with the Minerva Monster on August 23, 1978, at around 11:00 PM. Cayton saw the creature appear outside his home and quickly grabbed a gun and fired it into the air. The creature turned and fled. Howe noted that the same night, as the family lay in bed, their home was pelted with rocks which pattered and clanked on the metal roof of the home throughout the night.

The final Minerva Monster sighting?

The last Cayton sighting of the Minerva Creature occurred two weeks after their home was pelted relentlessly with rocks. On September 8, 1978, around 6:00 PM, Mrs. Ackerman saw two “ape-like” animals moving about near the strip mine. She thought at first that they might have been in a tree but could not tell because of the hillside angle and the distance. She watched the creatures for a while until they disappeared into the woods.

The Minerva Monster media circus

Virtually overnight, the Cayton homestead turned into a veritable media circus. The Cayton’s say the crowds outside their home grew so large, they had to post “no trespassing” signs on fences to keep “bigfoot hunters” off their property.

However, not all bigfoot hunters were so intrusive. Researcher Jim Rastetter of Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) arrived on the scene on September 9, 1978 (he returned for a follow-up investigation on September 30) and interviewed residents throughout the area. His first “find” was Henry Colt, who lived about five miles east of Minerva on US 30. Colt told Rastetter that he too had seen the animal while on a walk through the woods near his home. Colt says the animal was squatting near a tree and made a noise that sounded to him like a very loud cough. He described the creature as large, hairy, and bipedal.

Next, Rastetter interviewed the Cayton family about their encounter with the creature. In his report, he noted that the Cayton’s and their friends had no reason to concoct a hoax and seemed truthful and sincere in their stories. He also noted that all witnesses told the exact same story.

“They were very plain, simple, down-to-earth people, and you could tell something had happened that really frightened them. There were never any inconsistencies with their story, however many times we went over it.”

Another researcher who accompanied Rastetter confirmed his assessment of the family’s veracity:

“Some of the persons were interviewed separately and all described the beast identically. All hoped they would never see it again.”

To their surprise, the researchers found that the Cayton’s and many of their family friends were unfamiliar with the term “Bigfoot”.

More Minerva Monster sightings

Within weeks of the Cayton sightings, others in the area began reporting similar encounters with the Minerva Monster. One man saw a large, hairy creature cross Route 30 near the Cayton’s home. It was a fog-shrouded night and as he was driving down US 30, all of a sudden “this thing darted out in front” of his vehicle.

Another sighting occurred on Liberty Church Road SE where a woman reported hearing strange noises in the woods surrounding her home. She described the sound as a “cat fight” or a woman’s terrified shriek. She reported to the authorities that whatever was making the uncanny noises, had been harassing her for several months.

58-year-old David White said he heard mysterious sounds behind his Paris Township home, located at the rear of the Skyland Mills Mobile Home Park, near the Cayton’s property. Similar to the Liberty Church Road report, he described mysterious sounds echoing from the woods next to a small lake.

“It’s a blood-chilling sound. A curdling sound. It will scare the hell of out you.”

His wife, Connie, confirmed hearing the strange noises.

Sightings spread to nearby counties

In the years following the Cayton incidents, reports of the Minerva Monster arrived from the neighboring counties of Logan and Union. On June 24, 1980, Mrs. Donna Riegler, a legal secretary from Union County, was driving home from work on a stormy day. It was hot and lightning flashed in the distance. Riegler slowed her car as she crossed over a set of rough railroad tracks and saw something lying in the road ahead. The creature appeared to be hunched over and at first, she thought it was a dog. Then, as the creature rose to two legs, she felt it must be a man. When the creature turned to face her, she saw it was a huge, hairy creature. It stared at her and held its hands out to her, palms up. She drove away quickly and stopped at the first home she came to. Inside the stranger’s home, she collapsed, breaking down in tears.

The Minerva Monster aftermath – Cayton’s refuse to recant their story

Many years after their infamous encounter with the Minerva Monster, the beleaguered Cayton’s never recanted their story. The family was hassled by neighbors who claimed the Cayton’s were “seeing things”. Locals harassed the Cayton’s at a high school football game when the crowd stood and began chanting “Bigfoot! Bigfoot!” as they entered the stadium. Herbert Cayton told reporters:

“There were doubters. Those who yelled things from car windows when they passed. It was weird. … The way I feel about it is if they don’t want to believe, they don’t have to.”

Despite the alienation of their neighbors, the Cayton’s refused to bend.  Researchers who followed up on the story several years after the events noted:

“Back in ’85, when I spoke with the family, and again in ’91, their reports were the same practically word for word as they were in ’78. If you had a list of the top ten sightings in Ohio based on credibility or believability, Minerva would easily be in the top three.”

The Cayton family today

Today the Cayton family continues living on the property although Evelyn and Herbert Cayton have since died. Family members have installed fences to keep curiosity seekers away. They exhibit much skepticism when it is suggested that the animal they saw was a Bigfoot. They continue to denounce any publicity and insist that they do not want public attention focused on the case.

Documentary – The Minerva Monster

A documentary, The Minerva Monster, premiered May 16, 2015. Seth Breedlove, 33, of Wadsworth; Alan Megargle, 42, of Painesville; Brandon Dalo, 25, of Akron; and Jesse Morgan, 42, of Mentor, the visionaries behind the film, confirm that the Cayton’s seek no publicity from the story. They noted:

“They were quite appalled when all the reporters and the Bigfoot hunters showed up. They were kind of reluctant to even do the story, but on the other hand they felt they had to make it known it was even happening and that this unusual thing was in their area.”

Historic Minerva Monster newspaper articles

Akron Beacon Journal – June 29, 1980

Minerva’s monster is almost like a pet

He’s become, residents of the area say, a fixture in the neighborhood: Everyone knows he’s there, but no one pays much attention anymore. He has a few eccentricities, such as regularly pelting nearby houses with small stones, but mostly he keeps to himself and is generally considered a good neighbor, they say. The so-called “Minerva Monster,” who two years ago created an uproar the likes of which Paris Township had never seen, still is hanging around the densely wooded area behind the home of Herbert and Evelyn Cayton in southeastern Stark County, nearby residents report. “He’s almost like a pet,” said Mary Ackerman, one of the Caytons’ daughters, who lives nearby.

’It was moving pretty good on two legs, pumping its arms like a track star. I got back in the car, rolled up the windows and locked the door.’

– Herbert Burke Jr.

THE CREATURE’S first reported public appearance came in August 1978 when Mrs. Cay ton, her son, Howe, and another daughter, Vicki Keck, were walking up the banks of the abandoned strip pit behind the house. There, they said, they saw a creature – described as over six feet tall and covered with dark, matted hair – standing less than 50 feet away. Mrs. Cayton and Mrs. Keck, along with their friends, Becky Manley and Linda Jones, both of Canton, and Scott Patterson, of Minerva, said they got a better look at the creature a few nights later when he appeared outside a window, less than 10 feet from the kitchen table where the group was sitting. A powerful outdoor light overhead showed the creature clearly, but the witnesses said they could not distinguish arms or facial features because of the thick hair. They said the creature weighed at least 300 pounds.

THE five witnesses said they noticed that when the creature appeared, the usual “night noises” from crickets and tree toads stopped and a strange, peculiar odor like stagnant water was evident.

They called the Stark County sheriff’s and deputy James Shannon was dispatched to the scene. Shannon said he smelled a terrible odor when he arrived. He said later the sheriff’s department did not consider the sightings a hoax. Reports of the creature brought a horde of reporters, photographers, curiosity seekers and “bigfoot” hunters to the area.Some of the hunters came armed with shotguns, high-powered rifles, Dobermans and cases of beer.

TWO YEARS later, it appears no one is any closer to finding out what the Minerva monster is. Sheriff’s deputies who investigated in 1978 say they were never able to identify some pieces of hair and something that looked like a jawbone, found near the strip pits.

Herbert Burke Jr., 24, lived in the trailer park next to the Caytons and said he got a good look at the creature as it crossed Route 30 last summer. Burke, who now lives in North Canton, said he’d heard stories about the creature but decided he would “believe it when I see it.” He said that one night as he was pulling into the driveway of the trailer park, he spotted something tall standing across the road. He ’said he shined his headlights on the creature – which was less than 40 yards away – then got out of the car for a better look. He said the creature was seven or eight feet tall, weighed more than 400 pounds, and was covered with dark, matted hair.

AS THE lights illuminated the creature, it began running toward the woods, he said. “It was moving pretty good on two legs, pumping its arms like a track star,” he said.” I got back in the car, rolled up the windows and locked the door.” He said he and other residents of the trailer park often heard rocks hitting their mobile homes at night and a variety of strange noises coming from the woods. He said the noises ranged from a kind of laughter, to a loud scream, to something that sounded like a baby’s cry.

The Caytons say they often find large footprints in the soft ground near their garden, and Mrs. Cayton has several snapshots of them. She said the footprints resemble those of a human and range from 14 to 21 inches long.

IN THE MONTS following the commotion two years ago, she said, she put out fruits and vegetables behind the house every night on Deputy Shannon’s advice. She said every morning the food would be gone and footprints occasionally would be nearby.

“This year I’ve got a garden out and if any of my vegetables are touched…,” Mrs. Cayton said in a mock-threatening voice. The Caytons and their neighbors say that, on occasion, they still experience the eerie silence and smell the odor, which Mrs. Ackerman says smells like the “seaweed” her son Andy brought up from the lake in the abandoned strip mine last year.

WITH THE silence and the smell, they say, they know the creature probably is near. But they say they have grown accustomed to it and no longer make a fuss. “Whatever it is, it’s not dangerous,” Mrs. Cayton said. “If it was going to hurt someone, it would have done it by now.”

Akron Beacon Journal, Sunday June 29, 1980

Hairy ’7-footer seen hanging around central Ohio farmland

By Bill O’Connor

Beacon Journal Staff writer

MARYSVILLE – Union County sheriff’s deputy William Griffith looked over some paperwork Friday while a white-hot sun beat against the window. Griffith often buys drugs from men with watery eyes. Some of those men now are growing old in Ohio prisons.

On the other side of the room, Detective Mike Powers was reading a report that told about a tall, hairy fellow with 17-inch feet. “Hey Griff,” Powers said. “What do you think of bigfoot?” “Don’t bother me with that unless he wants to sell some drugs,” Griffith snapped.

But residents of Union and Logan counties have been both bothered and amused by accounts that the legendary monster has taken up residence here. Those who live in the small towns and villages of these two mostly rural counties joke about bigfoot’s appearances. But those who live on the farms in the area of the sightings are a bit more cautious. They are cautious mainly because of the reputation of those who claim to have seen bigfoot. “Hey, I laughed at this whole thing at first,” Powers admitted. “But now I’m not so sure. I think it should be looked into. You talk to Pat Poling and you won’t be so sure, either.”

Poling farms on the border between Logan and Union counties. He has the first to sight the creature in the area. There are 434 square miles in Union County. There are only 28,100 people, and 12,000 of them live in incorporated areas. There are a lot of lonely places in Union County. Logan County has 469 square miles, with a population of 37,000. About 13,000 of them live in incorporated areas. The rest of the population in each county lives on farms. There are 2,598 farms, about evenly split between the counties. When television commentators talk about “the heartland,” they are talking about such counties as Union and Logan. Come summer, a farmer there spends long, solitary hours driving a tractor across one field or another. He is alone. He is miles away from other humans.

ON JUNE 17, Poling had been to a baseball game. Poling is in his 30s and has two adolescent sons. He returned from the game, where he had watched one of his sons play, and decided to do some cultivating in one of his cornfields before the light failed. It was about 8:30 p.m. Poling had worked for a short time when he glanced along his fence line at the edge of the woods. “Something caught my eye,” he said. “At first I thought it was a bear. But it wasn’t no bear. It came out of the woods and had to duck under a branch hanging out over the fence. Then it stood up. It was about seven feet tall. But maybe more. I mean, it walked with its knees bent a little. It walked along the fence line. It wasn’t like anything I seen before. It wasn’t a monkey or a gorilla or anything. I watched it. I was really scared at first.”

“But then I figured it couldn’t hurt me as long as I was on the tractor,” he said. “So I moved toward it. It was walking along the fence, perpendicular to me. I wanted to see if I could turn it around so I could see its face. So I gassed the tractor to head it off.” “That’s when it stopped and turned and looked at me. It turned around like this.” Poling crouched, held his hands at his side and turned his whole body. When facing front, his palms were out in a curious gesture, almost as though in appeal for understanding. When asked about the gesture, Poling glanced in surprise at his hands. “Yeah,” he said. “Like this. This is how he stood.” Poling said he is most upset because he could see no facial features, even though he estimated the creature was only about 30 yards away. “I just couldn’t see any face. There was just nothing there,” he said.

Poling is reluctant to talk about his experiences. He has been plagued with phone calls, he said, and goaded by radio and television people to make some controversial statement or other. One television crew came to his home while he was in the fields and took his two sons and talked the boys into taking them to where the creature was sighted. “I’m tired of it,” Poling said, and shook his head. “I refused to goon television. The radio called and when I said I wouldn’t go on the radio and they said OK and then they taped the telephone call.” “One television station told me everybody wants to be on television. I told them I didn’t.”

Tired of the whole business, too, is Donna Riegler. A legal secretary, she is the wife of a Union County game protector. She was on her way home Tuesday. It was about 5:30 p.m. It had been a hot, muggy day. The sky darkened, electricity crackled and when the rain came it fell in large drops. “I was in a good mood. I just wanted to get home,” Mrs. Riegler said. “I went over the rail- road tracks slow. I always do because I don’t want to knock my wheels out of line. Then I saw this thing laying on the road, hunched over. I thought it was a big dog at first. Then it stood up and I thought it was a man. I thought he was crazy, laying on the road. I couldn’t figure why he was out there. He had no golf clubs. No luggage. Then he turned around and looked at me.” She said the creature was about 60 yards away.

Akron Beacon Journal June 29, 1980

Five have sighted big, hairy creature

Within the last two weeks, five people claimed to have seen bigfoot. The sightings were within a five-mile radius. Each witness gave basically the same description, although Donna Riegler said that a driving rain prevented her from seeing some details.

The sightings:

Patrick Poling, a farmer, while cultivating a cornfield, saw the creature come out of the woods.

June 19: Ray Quay said he came around his barn and saw tbe creature, yelled and it walked off into some heavy undergrowth. Quay’s son, Thomas. 17. said he saw the same creature a little later.

June 24: Mrs. Riegler, a legal secretary, saw the creature lying on a road while she was on her way home from work.

June 26: Larry Ramey saw the creature at the edge of a woods while Ramey was driving a farm tractor.

Each witness told of a man-like creature more than seven-feet tall, with long hair, broad shoulders, and a well proportioned body. The creature, they said, was not exceptionally long-legged or long- armed, but built like a very large man. Each said the creature moved stiffly and turned its whole body, rather than just the upper portion.

Donald Mathys, a neighbor of Poling, made a plaster cast of a footprint found near where Poling sighted the creature. The footprint is about 17 inches long, seven inches wide and has four toes. Union County sheriff’s deputy Mike Powers took a team into the area Friday night. The group spent the night there. Powers told the Beacon Journal Saturday that “We found definite signs that indicate something is there. We have to look into it.”

Powers said hundreds of people already have driven around looking for the creature. The county detective said he is concerned that gawkers could pose a threat. Some of them, he said, are armed, and he is afraid an overeager sightseer might shoot someone. Powers said there is no indication the creature is dangerous. But, he added, he wants no one taking chances and he wants no one shot.

The Globe July 1980

Volcano May Have Driven Bigfoot East

Three citizens in Union County claim they each watched an enormous, strange-looking creature emerge from wooded areas. The first witness, Patrick Poling, said the monster was; “about seven feet tall and could weigh 400 pounds.” Poling was plowing a field one evening before dusk, when the beast burst out of the woods and lumbered, along the edge of the clearing. Transfixed, he watched the creature until it was about 100 feet from him. “At first I froze. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t,” afraid at the time and figured I was pretty safe on my I tractor.” he told GLOBE. “He turned and looked at me and then he ran into the I woods. It looked like a big, hairy ape that walked like a man. It had long black hair that wasn’t fur because it hung straight down.” Puling then rushed to a neighbor’s house to report the amazing scene. “I had a hard time convincing people.” he recalls. “The first four or five thought I was kidding. I watched that thing for too long a time to mistake it for anything I’d ever seen before.”

His neighbor Donald Mathys told GLOBE: “Patrick was real excited and said he’d seen an ape-man. I believed he saw something because he’s usually a calm individual.” The next day, Poling, Mathys and a few neighbors went in search of the beast. “Near the edge of the woods I found three huge footprints that were certainly not made by bears or cattle or anything ordinary,” said Mathys. To prove his discovery he made a plaster cast of one of the prints. It measures 17 inches long, seven inches wide and two inches deep. “Whatever it is, the creature seems to have four toes,” he said.

Experts from the Mammal Research Team in Lima, Ohio, who specialize in tracking wild creatures that kill farm animals, rushed to the Union County in hopes of spotting the beast. Team leader Bill Sheets told GLOBE he has between 150 and 200 documented sightings of a similar creature in other areas of Ohio and has himself spotted a hairy beast three times. “In the Union County case we have reliable witnesses and the footprint as evidence. The sighting fits the overall description of a giant, ape-like creature that has been seen before.”

Less than a week later, residents of nearby Logan County claimed they saw a hulking shape rush into the woods late one night. Two days after this, Donna Riegler of Marysville, Ohio, said she was returning home from work when she saw a gigantic, hairy creature lying on the highway. She was so frightened she put her car into reverse and backed away from the beast. Riegler reported it covered with hair and stumbled away with a robot-like walk.

The Union County Sheriff’s department put several officers on the case. “There was no doubt on our minds that somebody saw something out there,” said deputy sheriff Mike Powers.

Officials at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio are now studying the footprint and the Mammal Research Team is continuing its probe. “It may be that Bigfoot is migrating from the West,” Sheets told GLOBE. “Maybe it’s because of the volcano out there.” “Regardless, we’ll keep following it until we find out just what this creature is.”

Rita Ross

Akron Beacon Journal Sunday, April 28, 1985

Note: The following article appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal in 1985.  Although the article is about “cults” found to be operating in the area and the many animal carcasses left after their rituals, it potentially relates to the Minerva Monster case.

Cults’ next sacrifices just may be human

By Bill Osinski

Beacon Journal staff writer

MARYSVILI.E – It started with a pile of dead, broken chickens. Then it was cats, then dogs, then lambs, then a caw. Finding the mutilated carcasses of about 200 animals dumped during the past year near private homes and public places in this mainly rural county was bad enough. It was even worse when police determined most of the animals had been sacrificed at Devil-worship rituals. But the really frightening part is what these bizarre happenings might be leading to. “We know the ultimate goal of these Satanists is human sacrifice.” said Union County deputy sheriff John Lala. “We don’t want to see that happen.”

During his investigation, Lala said he was told by current and former members of five Satanic cults operating in the Union County area that the progression of animal-sacrifice rituals can lead to the sacrifice of a child born of a woman in the cult and a high priest. The child born from this union is considered a “son of Satan,” he said. According to their beliefs, “giving the child back to Satan gives them more power,” Lala said. Union County authorities take the activities of the Satanic groups seriously. Even though the animal mutilations may not constitute a crime – Ohio law protects as freedom of religion some animal sacrifices – Lala has been assigned to investigate the Satanists full time since December. What he has learned disturbs him. “It’s a very secret society; and the members are people from all walks of life – wealthy people, educated people, prominent people,” Lala said. Lala said he wanted to distinguish between the Satanists and the neo-pagans who practice white witchcraft. “When you say witch, most people think of the black side, but there is a difference.” Several of his sources have estimated there are as many as 1,500 practicing Satanists in central Ohio. At first, he thought those estimates were exaggerated, but the more he learns of these groups, the more he believes the estimates may be accurate. Lala’s assessment of the danger from the cultists is shared by Dr. Jeff Hilson, a Columbus historian and an expert on cults. Hilson has unofficially reviewed the Union County case, and he believes the people involved are much more than malicious pranksters.

From the way in which the animal sacrifices appear to have become more blatant, Hilson does not think it improper to be concerned about human sacrifice. “They’re bargaining with their deity, and it is a very greedy god. They have to give it more and more to appease it,” he said. Operating in a rural county also is typical of Satanists, he said. Besides providing the isolation necessary to conduct their rituals, the rural counties often have a large fundamentalist Christian population, people who believe in a real Satan and thus are more apt to be frightened by Satan worshippers. “The Satanists play off that kind of fear,” Hilson said. Hilson also isn’t surprised some of the cult members have given police investigators information on their cults. “It’s the Dr. Faustus thing; these people get arrogant when they’ve gone on as long as they have,” he said. (Faustus is a legendary character who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.) The file that Lala has accumulated on the case reads like the log of a macabre slaughterhouse:

About 60 chickens were found in a pile. Many of their legs had been broken. Some of their heads had been severed and places in a line apart from the pile of carcasses. At least nine dogs have been found mutilated, including a female Doberman, whose pups had been smashed. Some of their joints had been removed. A cache of 24 dead cats, some starved, some with their heads smashed, were found dumped near the home of a worker for the county humane society. Near the home of another society staff member, a cow’s head and an unborn calf with some of its joints severed were found.

The carcasses of six mutilated lambs were found near the trash dumpster behind a Marysville grocery store. Some of the lambs had been shaved near the jugular area, possibly so that their blood could be used in Satanic rituals. A similar discovery was made early this year near a motel trash dumpster in a nearby county. Informants have led Lala to one of the ritual sites used by the Satanists. There he found a fire pit with some animal parts, and a tree marked with a red slash, a black dagger and some Satanic lettering.

People who have left the cults told Lala that the reality of the Satanic rituals was much worse than what they were led to believe when they were first invited to join. “Some people who have been involved now have serious mental problems,” Lala said. “They can’t handle what they’re seeing and what’s going on inside the groups. It’s snapping their minds.” Union County Sheriff John Overly said the fact that he has assigned a full-time investigator to the case shows his level of concern. There are only 29 people in his entire department. The problem he faces is that it is very difficult to build a criminal prosecution on what has been discovered so far, even as grisly as those discoveries have been. Ohio law states that animals can be used in religious services, he said. The Satanists have used this provision, intended as protection for some practices of orthodox religions, to protect their mutilation rituals, he said. Overly said he plans to lobby the area’s legislators to have the law changed. For now, it is difficult even to prove a theft charge, because the animals are mutilated too badly for owners to identify them accurately, he said. So the Satanists continue to operate with impunity. “They don’t mind doing these things, because they think they’re pleasing the devil,” Overly said, “They want to go to hell.”

Akron Beacon Journal October 4, 1980

Team searches for Bigfoot in Ohio

A Canadian dog trainer and tracker plans to lead a team into the Wayne National Forest near McArthur today in search of the legendary creature Bigfoot, which is said to have both human and ape-like features. Tracker Rene Dubros plans to join seven members of the North American Sasquatch Research Team in the search. Sasquatch is another name for the creature. Bigfoot first was reported seen in the Pacific Northwest. For the past month, sightings of the creature have been reported in southern Ohio. No photographs have been taken, although molds of footprints supposedly made by Bigfoot have been made in several locations.

Image Credits

In-Article Image Credits

Strip mining aftermath via Ohio History Collection by Ohio Federal Writers' Project with usage type - Public Domain. Circa 1935-1943
Trail crossing Cedar Bog Ohio via Wikipedia Commons by Mason Brock with usage type - Public Domain
Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Minerva station via Wikipedia Commons by Roseohioresident with usage type - Public Domain

Featured Image Credit

The Minerva Monster - Dennis Haas sketch 1978 via


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