Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 19th, 2006
Update: Ms. O’Donnell changed her mind about the following, and the photographs are to be found on Cryptomundo. August 21, 2006.
All of the photographs taken by Michelle O’Donnell of the "Mystery Beast" or "Maine Mutant" have been removed from Cryptomundo. This has been done at her request because she wants Cryptomundo to block anyone from pirating them. Ms. O’Donnell of Route 4, Turner, Maine, also wishes to be paid the sum of one hundred dollars per picture, if you want to order a copy of any of the photographs. Apparently someone at the Associated Press gave her some advice that she has turned on Cryptomundo as the "bad guy" even though the AP pictures of the "Mystery Beast," uncredited to Ms. O’Donnell, are the ones you will see in newspapers and on websites around the world.
Please note, these photographs were shared with me for research purposes originally by the newspaper that published them, and permission was received from the newspaper to publish and post them here to gain insights from the Cryptomundo community about what someone out their might see in the photographs. Nevertheless, based upon Ms. O’Donnell’s request, we find it necessary to remove the photos now.
Overnight, Ms. O’Donnell emailed requesting the photos be removed and that people be directed to her for the photos, for purchase.
Cryptomundo hesitates putting Ms. O’Donnell’s direct telephone or email contact information on the net because we do not wish to be accused of causing her undue harassment from unwanted callers and angry emailers. We await word on how best to send people her way who wish to buy her photos. In the meantime, the photograph of the body and the head of the beast remain on AP websites worldwide for anyone’s viewing.
Ms. O’Donnell says that she "directed alot of people to your site in the last 3 days and my pictures were pirated from your site."
She wrote: "I want my pictures to be blocked from ANYONE pirating from your site and directed to me for purchase."
The most secure way to prevent downloading of photographs is to remove them. Cryptomundo has.
Intriguingly, since the two (body and head) photographs were published by the Lewiston paper and immediately carried by AP, anyone will find those two photos are the ones showing up all over the globe, from the Drudge Report to Boing Boing. There is no evidence that Cryptomundo has been used to pirate photos. The widest dissemination of the photos has occurred across over 300 newspapers online worldwide that have reproduced her two AP-carried photos. Unfortunately, this may be a case of Ms. O’Donnell having her frustratation with the media misdirected away from the big guys at AP, and instead to the small independent, web-based-only operation here at Cryptomundo.
This Mystery Beast story has drifted and what I am feeling has happened is that Ms. O’Donnell is upset with me because in various edited quotations I am being used as the "skeptical voice" to say this animal is "definitely" a feral dog. Inviting a "world famous cryptozoologist" to comment, from the beginning, added, not subtracted, from making her photos part of a bigger story, and yet the media has slowly used me to be the "skeptical out" for them. Of course, as correctly quoted by the Sun Journal on this point, I’ve never said anything definitely can be known about this animal until the DNA test results come back. I certainly have tried to be reasonable and level-headed about what this body and the photos told me.
But note the AP this morning is back to this published position: "The mystery remains according to Loren Coleman, a Portland, Maine author and cryptozoologist."
I am sorry if Ms. O’Donnell feels that I have done something to betray her. It has always been about the evidence, which I have not taken as a personal extension of her. She did a good thing by taking the photographs, and they will become part of the lore of this story long after we are gone. If anything, I have remained clear in all the interviews I have given that the real Mystery Beast probably remains out there in the Maine woods, despite what we finally discover this dead animal was or is. As a cryptozoologist, I must be truthful about the strange mysteries that remain, as well as the mundane discoveries that are made.
Ms. O’Donnell appears to have enjoyed all the media attention, the interviews, and such, but there’s always the downside when the frenzy becomes so demanding. I wish her well and hope she makes all the money she feels she deserves in selling her photographs.
But now there’s a new mystery. Ms. O’Donnell appears to be withholding something, as she tells me overnight that she did not give me or the reporter "the opportunity to see the part of the animal that is still "missing’."
I can only assume that this means she probably has retained the skull or the tail, items that reporter Mark LaFlamme and I were looking for on Wednesday. The skull would be helpful in determining identification, but at this point, the DNA samples sent off by the Sun Journal should do the trick.
Sometimes it is difficult to be the center of the vortex of such a media frenzy. My best to Ms. O’Donnell.
[Cryptomundo is a sane, kid-friendly site. Comments that are insulting, personality-driven remarks directed at Ms. O'Donnell will be removed immediately.]
Photograph of the Maine Mystery Beast’s dew claws, by Douglas Van Reeth, Sun Journal. Used with permission.