Posted by: Sharon Lee on January 28th, 2012
This post is authored by Bart Cutino, Bigfoot witness/researcher and a member of the BFRO. Bart was an invited participant during the Sierra Kills body recovery effort in July 2011.
Last night while taking a break driving southbound from some winter northern California research areas with my partner Rgr Leiterman, I happened to see both Lindsay’s “interview” with Justin Smeja and the ridiculous accusations & exchange posted with Dr. Meldrum. Having been an invited participant during the body recovery effort in July 2011 & having become the closest confidant and liason (if you will) from the bigfoot community to those involved in the shooting incident, I thought I’d clarify some of the rampant speculation and sensationalized comments.
Regarding the body search effort orchestrated by my good friend Derek Randles-
-Bobo and myself had been invited by Derek to attend the recovery effort a week prior as Bo and I were returning from the NorCal woods together and I can tell you from my participation in the search & my observations over the course of those three days that every word-phrase Meldrum took the time to highlight in red as erroneous from Lindsay’s “source” is 100% correctly “erroneous.”
-First off, Matt Moneymaker, who everyone knows is one of my closest friends in and out of the field for many years, was absolutely not at the recovery effort and was only told there was an outing by me (with very little information) a few days after my return home.
-As addressed, the dog handler visited the site on the third morning and was a very pleasant and professional woman. The dog handler was not looking for credit in discovery as she even declined to to be filmed or photographed with respect to the subject matter. The dog is trained strictly to detect human decomposition (a substantial & lengthy training process) and cannot be manipulated into successfully matching scents from a foreign, unfamiliar tissue sample as it could potentially ruin the dog’s career.
-I haven’t had a chance to talk with Jeff since last July at the site but I will tell you that the suggestion that any respected Associate Professor of Anatomy would make such a bold & presumptuous statement (regardless of his association of subject) without having an opportunity to perform appropriate scientific diligence is ridiculous. He made no such claim and I retrieved the sample for both Meldrum and Mioczynski to initially examine, in which they did using limited magnification that was available. Meldrum admittedly did have some preliminary reservations regarding hair morphology characteristics seen that he shared with all of us and I discussed personally with him at the site over the three days. I’m unaware if he was provided a sliver sample and or he’s personally done any further examinations.
Regarding Lindsay’s interview with Justin, you know immediately when you see a written interview of someone you know fairly well and it’s obviously sensationalized, biased and paraphrased. That’s usually when you can’t see the written responses coming from the interviewee’s mouth any longer and it only took about two questions of Lindsay’s “interview” with Justin to see that from my perspective. Without even having an opportunity to talk to Justin until this morning, I can tell you there are countless mistruths, false facts and exaggerations to mention, but the DFG story is worthy of some clarification.
Regarding the DFG’s visit to Justin’s house a couple of weeks prior to Christmas, Justin had contacted me extremely unnerved a few days before I was planning to head up to pick him up to place Reconyx cams in the northern Sierra foothills (nowhere near “kills” site). The unannounced visit by two officer’s from the DFG was understandably “spooky” considering it was mid-day, they were persistent and very nonchalant in regards to how they verbally approached the subject matter.
Although impersonating an officer was an unlikely scenario as it’s a serious offense in CA, and conspiracy theorists could scream “feds” all day, the real world scenario in my opinion was that it was in fact DFG and they were finally following up on several calls (likely made by internet bigfooters) about the incident and also were concerned more about a potential bear poaching relationship with this incident then animals they’ve likely determined do not exist.
The first thing we wanted to do was confirm it was in fact DFG and then we collectively decided it would be appropriate and in Justin’s & everyone else’s best interests to grant a formal & truthful interview “in office” potentially with an attorney present & officially get the events of that day on record. To Justin’s credit, he was absolutely ready & willing to go on record and although there’s not much to fear since there’s no precedent where someone was retroactively charged with killing a species that isn’t currently “recognized” by science, nor federal or state hunting laws, it’s not always easy by nature for lifelong fisherman & hunters to comply & cooperate with F&G when you’ve perceived them as authoritative eyes on your preferred recreational activities your whole life.
On our way up the I80 towards Reno I coached Justin on what to say when we contacted the DFG by cell phone and my advice consisted of him being 100% truthful, cooperative & professional in manner and language and not get caught in lengthy discussion of incident particulars over the phone (in person only). He left a message with the warden from my vehicle and was not contacted back for almost 36 hrs. By that time I had dropped Justin back off and I was already back home in Monterey (we only went into the field for one quick night). Justin was essentially told that his case wasn’t a priority and that they would contact him should they need to revisit it.
Over time, I’ve gotten to know both Justin and the driver personally & casually, as well as their immediate families. Although I wasn’t with them on that day, I’m fairly confident that they are being truthful to the best of their recollection of the incident and feel that anybody in my shoes would come to the same conclusion if they’ve spent the time I have around them.
However, as I’ve stated previously, it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks, at the end of the day, we’re measured by results (in this case evidence). The boys understand that should the promised DNA results not be what they’re purported to be, then their incident is nothing more then an intriguing but anecdotal account. From the beginning, both have claimed that the sample they found was circumstantial in nature and with some significant time lapsed and I can tell you that both just want the sample verified one way or another and don’t fear the results. They’ve understandably believed by color appearance (with adult) location & circumstance there’s a good chance it’s from the specimen initially shot, but admittedly have never been 100% certain. (sorry- I assure you, no hidden bodies being kept or suppressed by my good friend Wally Hersom).
For what it’s worth, personally, I’ve never been as confident in the sample due to the circumstantial nature and timing in which it was recovered coupled with the concerns Meldrum initially shared from his admittedly “limited observation” of present hair morphology characteristics. I’d be lying if I said that I was optimistic about what results will show in the heavily anticipated “study.” I don’t mean that as a personal knock on Melba, nor let me make clear am I privy to or have any secret insight into potential results to be pessimistic about. I just personally live by “I’ll believe it when I see it” & “it’s nothing, until it’s something” philosophies, particularly in this field and all I’ve seen thus far are speculative leaks, bold claims & conjecture. I would love nothing more to be pleasantly surprised for all parties involved (whom I have the utmost respect for & know just want the truth) as well as the field as a whole.
I’ve also received some emails from people wondering how if I believe the “Sierra Kills” story is true I could be involved in protecting those directly responsible for the shooting & endorse the killing of two sasquatches. I have a similar response as my friend Derek Randles (I consider one of the best natural woodsman and researchers in the game) that as a researcher & personal witness, the thought of two of these graceful animals being slaughtered sickens me to no end and I would never endorse the harming of these animals under any circumstance…. though wasting this opportunity and the enormity of what it could mean from a historical zoological discovery perspective (I cannot go back in time to change if I wanted to)…. would make me even sicker.
In getting to know Justin personally I’ve also come to understand that it’s easy for us that are emotionally invested in this subject matter to sit here, judge and arrogantly proclaim what we’d do or not do in the same situation. A matter of fact, I’ve never told him this but one of the only reasons I refrained from possibly taking a shot at him (other then an unneeded assault charge) when I first saw him was that I didn’t believe him….. “yet.”
I’ve come to realize that maybe I would’ve done something stupid or regretful had I been confronted with a completely unexpected & immediate, frightening physical reality they both found themselves in. In addition, from an accepted biological perspective, what “they” are exactly remains to be seen and we could all argue about it all we want as it means nothing in the interim.
At the end of the day, I believe Justin should be judged by his actions that day not on how you and I as researcher/ enthusiasts (emotionally invested and interested parties & even some of us, witnesess) see & perceive sasquatches, but in how they appeared from “his” perspective initially, appearing suddenly, fully hirsute, somewhat frightening in appearance and potentially unpredictable…. “animals.”