Creature from Big Muddy: An Illinois Bigfoot Legend (2021) - full transcript

In the early 1970's in Murphysboro, Illinois, the town was terrorized by a creature that was thought to come out of a local river called the Big Muddy. This documentary explores the legend of The Big Muddy Monster. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
In the early 1970’s in Murphysboro, Illinois,
the town was terrorized by a creature that

was thought to come out of a
local river called the Big Muddy.

This river gave rise to the creature’s
name: the Big Muddy Monster.

But the sightings go back
much further than the 1970s.

In 1942 there was a flap about a creature
terrorizing the region that was so startling

to the community that
newspapers warned children

not to go into the
woods by themselves.

Livestock was found
ripped apart and devoured

by a creature that locals
referred to as The Thing.

The 50’s continued
with sightings

as workers at the Murphysboro
iron and metal company

had multiple reports of a
creature that frequented the area.

In 1968 another creature was reported, this
one over ten foot tall that was referred to

as the What’s It.

But it was in the 1970’s that the area was
a hotbed of paranormal activity consisting

of curious sight seekers, amateur
monster hunters and cryptozoologists.

Then, during the summer of 1988, an incident
occurred at a local salvage yard that resulted in yet

another flurry of reports.

Although the sightings tapered off, stories
of the creature continue to this day.

This is an investigative look into
the legend of The Big Muddy Monster.

[Three guitar notes plucked.
Music changes to up-tempo,

Usually the first thing that comes to mind
when discussing bigfoot is the vast wilderness

of the pacific northwest
and surrounding areas.

With its mountain ranges and deep, thick forests,
the northwestern portions of the United States

would seem to be a logical location for an
undiscovered primate, if one truly exists.

However, the legendary creature is reported to
have been sighted by thousands of eyewitnesses

across much of the country
and especially in the Midwest.

The southern Illinois landscape is rich in
its biodiversity with its old growth forest,

cedar swamps, soaring bluffs that seem to rise
up out of the landscape around every corner

and deep hallers making it
prime habitat for a cryptid legend.

It should come as no surprise that folklore of
a bigfoot creature exists here, and Murphysboro

found itself smack dab in the middle of the
1970’s flap that was captivating the nation

at the time.

I would describe Murphysboro
as a place that has great pride in itself

and in its traditions
and in its stories.

I think it’s a place that
doesn’t mind to talk itself up.

And it doesn’t mind people inside the community
saying disparaging things even about the community

but people outside the community better not
say anything bad about us because we certainly

take offense to that.

Yeah, the residents of
Murphysboro are a loyal set of folks.

If you put forth an honest
effort they will appreciate it.

I was born in Duquoin and grew up in Carbondale
–only came to Murphysboro in 2005– and

this community has
embraced me wholeheartedly.

Murphysboro is
a skeptical group.

They don’t necessarily buy everybody that’s
coming into town with a new product to sell

or a get-rich-quick
type of thing.

They are a group
that is questioning.

And so you better have your facts together
if you are gonna try to sell them something.

And so,
I’ve learned that as mayor, also.

Well, you hear about the Big Muddy Monster
–I grew up in Southern Illinois¬ from the

time I was a child– you know my family,
particularly my father, did a lot of hunting.

Squirrel hunting,
duck hunting, goose hunting….

I still a lot of
that to this day.

And so, there would be wise cracks made
when you’re in the woods turkey hunting, you

hear a stick break or something and you say,
“Well maybe that’s the Big Muddy Monster.”

You maybe see an unusual impression in the
ground when you’re out in the woods, somewhere,

and somebody says, “Well,
maybe it’s the Big Muddy Monster.

So these types of things weave themselves into
the conversations the people have probably

on a daily basis.

Aside from the original investigators into
the flap of the 70’s, possibly no others

are as knowledgeable of the Big Muddy legend
as authors Chad Lewis, Noah Voss, and Kevin

Lee Nelson who in
2019 co-published a book

documenting the many
incidents surrounding the mystery.

Lewis and Nelson agreed to return to the
area for the making of this documentary.

One of the first experts on the list was Michael
Huntington, an author and researcher on the

many phenomenon in the area.

Huntington searches for some of the more bizarre
tales and anomalous activity, and the Big

Muddy Monster
certainly fits the bill.

Michael, you’ve been researching this
area as an author and a lecturer on topics

of the weird for
a very long time.

What do you remember
about the Big Muddy legend?

here in Southern Illinois…I’m actually

located in Missouri just on the other side
of the river but the lore does permeate all

throughout the river region…

Murphysboro is known
for its mud monster.

He’s called Big Muddy
by the people in the

area, or the Big Muddy Monster,
or Mongo.

You know, there’s a couple of
different names that he goes by.

It all came from a number
of encounters that occurred

in 1973 through
1975 as well as some

cases in the late 80’s.

People in the Murphysboro area,
which is located

on the banks of the Big Muddy River,

seeing an eight-foot tall,
three hundred and fifty pound

creature of some sort, some sort

of ape-like creature that was white,

sort of a shaggy dog
hair that was matted

and muddy.

A number of sightings
occurred to the point

where the police took interests.

Hunters came from
throughout the region to

look for the monster.

Nothing was really found
other than some reports

from people seeing
and hearing the alleged

creature and some tracks.

Despite the absence of any mainstream media
or even local awareness, strange sightings

of the elusive cryptid did not end in the
70s and reports continue up to this day.

Claims include roadside crossings,

around homesteads,
and even encounters with juveniles.

Most reports come from area residents,

bigfoot hunters,
lending some credence to the accounts.

People do come out
here and experience strange sounds.

They listen to the Muddy waters and they
wonder, “Could the mud monster be back?”

And maybe he will come back,
one day.

Who knows?

It almost seems to be a
source of pride within the community, now.

You know, where it’s their local legend
and one that they own, themselves.

all of the local newspapers

have reported on it
the local news stations.

The Mud Monster has
been featured in several

documentary television shows,
and documentary films.

So, you know,
he’s definitely embraced by the region.

And, I think,
most people who have lived here a while…

these towns… the
big towns around

here tend to be big college
towns so people come and go.

But people who live
in the area for a good

long while are very
familiar with the lore

of the Mud Monster.

In truth, there are more people who
believe the idea of an undiscovered, giant

primate to be incredulous versus those who
even entertain the idea of the possibility

the species actually exists.

Even more rare are those who claim to have
had direct encounters and are willing to come

forward with their claims.

Christian Baril had an intense moment in his
childhood that left an imprint of fear for

the rest of his life.

His brief but terrifying
brush with the unknown

was substantiated by other eyewitnesses,

the Murphysboro
Police Department.

So Christian,
we’re in the backyard.

This is where the
incident took place.

Take us back there.

Yeah. It’s been a long
time since I’ve been back here.

I’m fifty years old now.

Back in 1973, the summer of 1973, I was living
in this house with my mother and father and

my little sister.

My sister would have
been about a year old.

It was a warm summer night.

There were fireflies out.

I was in the backyard.

We had a little
sandbox back there.

My parents were in the kitchen.

They could see out
the back window.

I was probably fifty
seventy-five yards away from them.

I can remember all the lights being on in
the house and it wasn’t dark, completely,

but it was getting dark.

In another twenty
minutes it would be dark.

I was out there chasing fireflies
with my friend Jack from next door.

He was probably
around five…four or five.

Jack had to go home so Jack
went off to his house, next door.

I was still out there chasing fireflies and
I do not remember seeing whatever it was.

I mean I do not
know what it was.

I don’t have a memory of seeing it but I
have a very strong memory of being afraid

and spinning around on the balls of my feet,
seeing the house and seeing the house all

lit up and thinking one word, “Momma.”
…and just running as fast as I could back

to that house.

I can still remember to this day, that’s
what I remember most is running back to the

house and being afraid.

So then after that, our neighbors
were teenagers and they were on a date.

They were sitting
in the porch swing.

They were just
hanging out talking.

The girl’s parents lived
right here next door.

They had two or three
sons and one daughter.

The parents were a nice family.

Real conservative.

The girl and the guy apparently saw
something come up out of the woods.

They went in and told her mom
and her mom called my mom.

Their parents were probably a good fifteen
maybe twnety years older than my parents.

They were like a
generation older.

Their mom said,
“What should I do?”

My mom said… at that
point she started putting

everything together and said,
“Call the police."

Perhaps the most widely known sighting

of the Big Muddy Monster
took place at Riverside Park

On June 25, 1973, what some refer to
as the “lover’s lane” incident occurred in

the boat ramp parking lot area.

Many point to this sighting as definitive
proof of the monster while others believe

it to be an obvious hoax.

Whichever the case, It would become the match
that lit the fuse to the biggest explosion

of Muddy Monster sightings
to hit the area in decades.

So I’m here at Riverside Park and
this is where the story really exploded.

In was back in June 25 of 1973, just before
midnight, when a couple of lovebirds pulled

into the parking lot.

They were just getting settled in when all
of a sudden they heard a growl or a shriek

that they couldn’t identify.

Really scared them.

That’s when they noticed
an odd smell in the air.

As they were trying to figure out what was
going on, some giant, eight foot, bigfoot

looking creature, white-furred, caked with
mud from its bottom half, seemingly coming

out of the river
toward their car.

They were so terrified they
shot off towards the police station.

Police sent two
officers out to respond.

When the officers got here they
could smell an odd smell in the area, too.

They also discovered
giant footprints in the mud.

The river had been flooded out recently and
they saw much bigger than a human footprint.

They went out to get boots to go investigate
into the woods and while they came back they

were joined by
the original witness

and an officer, a deputy with

the sheriff’s department.

When I spoke with him, he told me that
you could see something big was leaving

indentations. Even though
it didn’t look like a human

He was also convinced it wasn’t
someone in a suit playing around.

He said at that time
it was gun country.

Everybody was carrying a weapon.

Nobody would be foolish
enough to come out

in a costume and
risk getting shot.

So they could hear the
creature but they didn’t see it.

There was no scat, no hair… nothing
left behind but the footprints.

About 3am they concluded the investigation,
thinking that was the end of the story.

Little did they know it
was just the beginning.

As the saying goes,
there’s always two sides to every story.

Well known paranormal
researcher Bruce Cline

of the little Egypt
Ghost Society threw one

of the biggest wrenches into the Big Muddy
waters when he claimed to know a credible

acquaintance who just may
have hoaxed the legend to life.

So we’re here along the shores
of the Big Muddy River in Riverside Park.

Bruce, you grew up here so I was wondering
if you had any particular stories you could

tell us, or some of your
background with this legend.

Actually, I grew up in Harrisburg
about forty miles east of here.

It was in the mid-seventies
I was in high school there.

Seventy to seventy four.

And around that time there was a lot of sighting
of a creature around here called the Big Muddy

Monster, and the MOMO Monster.

It was quite a big flap back then
so it got a lot of people excited.

I remember we’d get
up groups of people.

We go out around the edge of the Shawnee
National Forest there near Harrisburg…

Go out in the forest looking for
this Big Muddy Monster creature.

A lot of the guys would have their shotguns
and were going to shoot whatever they found.

Looked around
but never found anything.

It was a big flap back then.
A lot of people looking for it.

So back then
people took it very seriously?

It was a real thing that was
happening not just tall tales?


There was sightings all of the time, reported, and
people actively looking for it all of the time.

From the seventies
on where there still accounts?

Were people still talking
about it in the mid-eighties?

Well, maybe into the early eighties
and then it tapered off after that.

As a researcher, have you talked to
people who believe they have encountered it

or spotted it?

I’ve talked to some people,

one in particular,
who claims he was responsible for it.

Yeah, you have this
story of this acquaintance of yours.

Tell that.


This acquaintance, I’ll call him Willy because
he doesn’t want his real identity known…

I worked with him
locally for seven years.

Willy, he was an amateur filmmaker
that was very big into special effects.

He would make his own costumes.

He would go around to the movie fests where
that had actual movie artifacts and costumes.

He would learn part of the
trade from the actual filmmakers.

He was big into science fiction.

He had quite an imagination.

It was in I believe 1973, Willy got together
with a couple of his associates and thought

it would be pretty fun to make up this creature
costume of this big, hairy river monster.

So they got this costume.

It was furry hairy...
about seven foot tall.

They caked the fur with
some river mud from here.

They went to their garage workshop and
brewed up this special stink juice called,

"Eau de Sasquatch.”

It was just horrible.

I mean a horrible smell.

And they made
recordings of these creature

sounds like grunts and
growls and screeches.

Their theory was that they were
going to come out here some night,

set it up in this general

area by the boat dock…

“Cause at the time this area was popular
especially on the weekends with teenagers.

They would come
out here parking.

And they were gonna scare
the bejesus out of people.

So they put on that costume.

They had their recordings
of the creature sounds.

They had their stink juice in little aerosol
sprayers and they waited over there in the

tree line.

Pretty soon a couple
pulls up here in a car.

It was right up in here.

They waited a little bit and made sure
they got involved in the car a little bit.

Okay, now is our time.

So they started spraying this stink juice
around and there was a slight breeze that

drifted right into the car.

About then,
they came out of the tree-line.

One of the guys had on
this big creature costume

caked in mud
and fur all over it.

The stink juice was coming across and they
hit the recordings of all those sounds and

he came out like that.

People saw that and it
scared the tar out of them.

They started up their cars,
spun their wheels,

and went right downtown
to the police station

and reported it.

What do you
think about people saying

it was someone hoaxing
it or several people

hoaxing it?

Because everyone we’ve
spoken to from officers

that were there that
night to just general

people that live in the region
say that this is gun country.

No one is going to be running
around in a costume afraid to get shot.

What are your thoughts on that?

Well it definitely
is rural America, here.

People are inclined to
use their weapons when

confronted by
something frightening.

But I don’t know.

As to a possible hoax,
a hoax is possible certainly.

Somebody could have
made some sort of outfit,

some sort of costume,
to fool people.

But the problem is,
when you get into descriptions

of the creature itself,
it’s eight feet

three hundred and fifty pounds.

That’s a feat in itself
to find somebody

to fit inside of that suit.

And also the number
of sightings and locations

were so divergent at
times that it was unlikely

that it was one or just a small
group of people pulling off all of them.

So the contention is,
at least among cryptozoologists,

is that there is enough
evidence to suggest

there was some
sort of cryptid here.

There’s really no
evidence to speak of other

than some antidotal accounts,
rumors of people

having been involved in a hoax.

Nothing really has been
substantiated to a satisfying degree.

So the monster does
remains a monster.

It remains an anomalous creature
that has not been explained.

Perhaps the most credible evidence
of Big Muddy comes from an average family

whose matriarch had a typical,
momentary road crossing encounter

during the peak of
the 70’s sightings.

Jessica Van Pelt possesses a family heirloom
that is ambiguous and inconclusive yet very

intriguing, and it could be the last surviving,
physical evidence from the alleged creature.

So during the sightings of the mid-seventies,
Jessica, your family had a unique encounter

with the Big Muddy Monster.

Can you tell us a
little bit about that?

My grandmother
worked midnights at the hospital.

She worked in the ER.

She was on her way
home from the hospital and

between Gorham and Route 3

she saw something
go across the road.

And it startled her enough that
she come home visibly shooken by it.

She then proceeded to
tell my grandpa and my dad.

So then my dad and…I don’t know who all
went with him…at least my dad, they went

out to see if they
could find anything.

They did find a footprint.

At that time my dad was a Boy Scout troupe
leader and so he had taken the boy scouts

back out, I think it was like the following
day, and they made a cast of the impression

of the footprint.

I’ve had it in my possession
all this time since the seventies.

Over time its just…

Nobody even asked
about it for the longest time.

It was just part of
our family history.

But you valued it enough
to hold onto it after all these years.

Oh yes.

It was,
my dad you know he was a big outdoorsman.

And so yeah.

It was part of our family story.

We knew how
important it was to him.


So this is the impression.

They took the cast that they made and then
they pushed it into some plaster and made

this impression
that we have here.

We actually had the actual cast
for many years and it sat in a basement and

just over the years
it deteriorated.

Yeah they can be very fragile.

I used to take it
to school for show and tell.

I mean like that
was a big thing.

We were gonna
have show and tell.

“Let’s take the footprint.”

So what was your
family’s basic belief on whether…

Did they believe this
creature was real?

Did they think
someone was hoaxing?

What were their
thoughts on this.

My grandma was a very
strict Catholic woman and she never…

I mean I can say without a shadow of
a doubt that my gradma never told a lie.

She just didn’t make stuff up so If
she said she say something she saw it.

And that’s exactly the family’s belief,
the whole family’s belief, that yeah,

she saw it.

For them to know how she came home and
how it affected her, there was no doubt.

Was she more, would you say,
more excited or more fearful?


I think she was scared.


Originally she was scared.

Now, she drove that same
road every day to go to work so….

It wasn’t, It wasn’t like she

So it wasn’t
a normal occurrence.

And it wasn’t something
that kept her off the road.

She just thought,
“Maybe I’ll see it again.”

As grandkids and now great grandkids, when
we drive down certain areas of route 3 and

of Gorham we always think,
“Maybe we’ll see it too.”

So your family was
very familiar with local wildlife.

If they saw something that was out of the
ordinary they would know Yes.

And not mistake it
for something else.

Oh, no.

And that’s exactly… grandma, I mean she
drove the back roads because it’s a very

rural area.

Other than trailer trucks and farm
equipment, that’s what you have on the roads.

People going to and from work,
that’s it.

And then you have deer,
coons, skunks, stuff like that.

No. She knew what she saw.

Biologist Tony Gerard may be the most level
headed bigfoot researcher and enthusiast

in all of southern Illinois.

Gerard is actually a huge
skeptic of the paranormal

and cryptids but is
open minded to the fact

that a phenomenon
does exist and is willing

to investigate reports in order
to reach his own conclusions.

So Tony, as a biology teacher and
living here your whole life, what kind of

creatures live in this area that you’re
aware of that could be anything like what

people assume are bigfoot?

Is there anything that would
be even remotely similar?


Absolutely not.

we had a lot of black bear here.

I expect to see black bear
back here in my lifetime.

They’ve expanded into
Arkansas from Missouri

and occasionally we
get one wondering across

the river into here but
nowadays nothing like that.

So, we’ve both heard some of the recordings
that people have got in the Shawnee

Forest that are
kind of interesting.

So if not bigfoot what do you think these
calls are that people are saying are bigfoot?

Well, in my opinion, the vast majority
of things that people think are bigfoot are

one of two things.

They are some kind of candid,
usually coyotes

or young coyotes or dogs,
or they’re a barred owl.

Because a barred owl… boy they can let out
a screech that will just raise your hair but

it’s an owl.

And I think a lot of people
who are not deeply familiar

with that kind of stuff often
mistake it for something wild.

Stan Courtney is a well respected
bigfoot researcher who has spent countless

hours trying to obtain audio evidence
of primate activity in southern Illinois.

He willingly shares his recordings and
maintains a free database on his website.

These are some of the samples
he has obtained over the years.

So, of course there’s the famous bigfoot
video that everyone’s familiar with.

People have been picking that apart for
decades saying it’s a man in a suit but so far,

it’s pointing that
it may not be.

Nothing I ever shot when I was involved
in that sort of thing, nothing we tried to

recreate ever looked that good.

Now having said that, that’s what…
forty-fifty years old at this point?

Everybody has a video camera, better than the
camera they used at that point, in their pocket and

nobody has gotten anything
better in the meantime?

There again I don’t
know what to do with that.

So in your opinion based on the size of
this area could it even support a creature

the size of bigfoot?

Yeah absolutely.

Can we have a big,
omnivorous mammal around here?


We had back in the seventeen,
eighteen hundreds

a really large black bear
population in this area.

There’s plenty of habitat.

There’s plenty of food
resources and things like that.

Now, to me, do I think after four hundred,
gun toting years of U.S. history that we just

happened to overlook a giant
ape or some un-described hominid?

No, I don’t.

But, I’ve talked to enough
sincere people I really believe.

I believe there is an
actual phenomenon.

What it is I don’t know.

Folkore is a way for a culture to pass
along moral lessons and helpful information

to help guide the less
experienced through life.

Area author and historian Jon Musgrave
believes there is a logical explanation to the

Big Muddy stories that’s rooted more
in the traditional realm than the physical.

We always want to believe that
there’s more out there, that we haven’t

solved everything,
we haven’t found all the answers.

And the idea that,
oh is there bigfoot?

Does bigfoot exist anyplace.

Does he exist here
in Southern Illinois?

Probably not.

But we have stories of bears long
after bears were supposed to be around.

The story.

The background.

Is it just a prank?

I have come across bigfoot pranks and hoax
stories dating back to at least the 1930’s

where kids would basically make snowshoes to
make footprints in the snow and trick their

neighbors even during
back during the depression.

We’ve seen it during
different time periods.

And I’ve heard people tell me, “Oh yeah,
that’s so and so’s husband that was doing

here in Murpysboro.

I think

as individuals we are drawn to the stories
kind of beyond the edge; the ones that we

don’t think are true but sometimes when
you look into them they actually are true

or they’re really
close to being true.

Just like I think some of the stories about
ghosts are a way to preserve the story of

a crime that took place I think monster stories
in many ways are either a morality tale or

it’s a safety lesson.

You tell kids that there’s a troll underneath
the bridge because you want them to stay away

from the edge of the bridge.

There’s a monster in the pond.. don’t
go… you know that keeps little kids from

going next to the pond when
there’s not adult supervision.

Founder Zach Starrick and team
member Ben Bishop of the Southern Illinois

Monster Hunters have a different point of view
than skeptics when it comes to the existence

of the southern Illinois sasquatch, and they were
more than willing to share personal experiences.

Their familiarity with vocalizations, strange
happenings, and tales of up close encounters

paint quite a picture of the
possibility of a giant ape in the woods.

What really got me into it is when I had
my first encounter whenever I was nine

years old,
in Randolph County, Illinois.

We’d just come home from a baseball game
in St. Louis and we’re in the garage and

we had just heard
this big howl outside.

It scared me to death,
being nine years old you would understand.

Being a little kid you
don’t know what’s going on.

It wouldn’t be until ten
years later whenever

I found the Ohio moaning
call that Matt Moneymaker

and the BFRO
recorded back in ’94.

That was darn near accurate
of what I heard that night.

growin’ up I was an outdoorsman.

I’d hunt and I’d fish with my
grandfather out here on our property.

I know quite a bit like what the wildlife
consists of here in Southern Illinois.

Especially in Randolph County.

I mean, we’ve got deer, coyotes.

We’ve got raccoons, bobcats,
mountain lions.

I go and I try to go study up on their
habits what kind of vocalizations they make.

It was just something I
couldn’t put my finger on.

And trust me I tried to go and rule in out,
what it was.

But it just didn’t pan out to where I could
actually put my finger on what it was until

ten years later and I
found that recording.

And I’m like, “Holy crap!

This is what I heard.”

In my opinion, the bigfoot in southern Illinois,
whenever it comes to being passive or aggressive,

it’s a mix of both.

I have had encounters where they have
been observant and watched me from afar.

And then I’ve had encounters where
I’ve actually been run out of the woods.

I’ve been run out of the woods, a couple
years ago at night, by a big alpha male that

just pushed down a whole tree and
took off running after me, charging.

Well I took off running.

Do I feel like I was going to
die that night if I didn’t get out?

Yeah. I do believe so.

I believe I had overstepped my
boundaries and walked into their territory.

I was getting too close to something that
they were protective over - whether it be

young whether it be what I call the harem
which is all of their females are put together

where the alpha male
breeds with the females.

It could have been one or two of those things
or could have been too close to ground zero

– Its home.

It just depends on what you do,

Like the old saying,
“Don’t poke the bear.”

You know,
it’s gotta be this big, this big ape.

For thousands of
years things evolve.

We’ve evolved over time.

This thing has roamed the
woods and seen civilization

just boom and just get
pushed farther and farther back.

And he’s grown into
himself just like we all have.

I mean he’s… they say he’s over
seven foot tall and huge stride.

He’s gotta be a giant ape
that’s just continued to grow.

I’ve had a couple people now that I’ve
kinda told a couple stories to, they’ve

kinda come out of the woodwork,
“Oh yeah.

About seven or eight years ago I was
out in the woods and heard something.

Didn’t really know what it was.”

Just written it off as a
bobcat or something like that.

A guy that’s actually from West Frankfort,
where I’m from, he told me he had seen one

out in the tree line behind his house which
is a place I actually ride four wheelers at.

So that’s always nice to know that it’s
right there up close and personal with you

at all times.

I think bigfoot can find
shelter in just about anywhere.

In southern Illinois we’ve got so many cave
systems, woods, to old, abandoned houses and

pole barns.

I mean even just broken down pole barns that
are bent over and crust you could easily just

scoot stuff around
and live in that.

Perhaps the most controversial
explanations regarding bigfoot

involve it being an
interdimensional creature,

one that travels to a
parallel reality of our own.

This could pertain to a spirit, an alien,
or something that can step through a portal,

a window area,
or what is referred to as a vortex area.

Shaman Coyote Chris Sutton believes in the
spirit and mystical realms, and his explanation

of the energy surrounding forests are just as
feasible as any when it comes to the mystery

of the Big Muddy Monster.

Where standing here right now in
what’s an old growth area of the woods and

there is energy in these areas that
are more energetic than other parts.

If you live in a subdivision or something
like that it’s not going to be as energetic

because you’ve
got these old trees.

You’ve got all these wonderful brush and
things like that and spirits are attracted

to that.

Elementals are
attracted to that energy.

The very place we are right now there are
small, elemental beings which some would call


But yeah…because I have had
experiences with them out here.

But these places,
they exist all over the place.

And so what happens is that entities are attracted
to this and this is where they will live but

they also sometimes
interact with humans.

You have instances in North America, all over
North America, of people interacting with

elemental beings.


Bigfoot, for an example,
is known to be very elusive.

In the northwest
there are sixty different

names for sasquatch because
there are so many tribes

They are all seen as elusive,
rarely seen, and not necessarily bad.

But seeing him alive is
sometimes very concerning

because it ties into
legends about the changing

of the worlds.

So it’s not always a
great thing to see that.

Now in most cases… now
there’s always a dichotomy here.

Some traditions have him being very nice,
mild, don’t bother people.

Others, they go as far as to stealing
their stuff and taking their children.

These legends all vary but
they all take on a mystical quality.

Because when you’re talking about sasquatch/bigfoot
as a flesh and blood entity whereas they see

it more times as mystical.

They can get in
and out of places

and just disappear.

This area seems to be a hotbed of just odd
things in general, like strange phenomenon.

It’s kind of clustered around southern
Illinois what locals call Little Egypt.

Do you think this is what author
John Keel would call a window area?

Do you think this part of Illinois could fit
that category as one of those weird zones

where just strange
things happen in general

whether it’s UFOs or ghosts
or monsters in the woods?

Well certainly.

I travel extensively throughout the Midwest
looking for places like that where there’s

a conglomeration
of anomalous activity.

Whether it’s cryptids,
anomalous lights in the sky,

places where people
see spook-lights,

or purported haunted locations.

I try to go where
those are centralized.

This area certainly has a
preponderance of phenomenon.

Yeah a vortex
area like Sedona supposedly

has all these vortexes but
you find them everywhere.

Cahokia Mounds, it was a native American
settlement back in the 1300 to 1400’s.

Huge. Twenty thousand
people they think…

The native culture,
anytime something gets that big,

at least in north America,
they tend to disperse.

It doesn’t work because they don’t have
enough materials to keep that many people.

Enough food, wood… but if you go there,
there are vortexes there.

And the places we’re talking about are not
cities where there squatches are coming around

are not big cities.

They’re more rural areas.

They’re not going to
go into the big cities.

These little cities or little towns and areas
like this with all these woods and all this

energy they’re gonna
be more attracted to that.

So some people believe that southern
Illinois, what they call Little Egypt, is

kind of a window area because
so much strange things happen

between hauntings, spook lights,
ufo sightings, bigfoot,

do you think there is something
unique about this region that

sets it apart whether it’s a window area or
some people call them vortexes or vortacies?

No I don’t, actually.

In fact I think anyplace
you go want it to

be a vortex/window area
you can dig up enough

stuff if it’s a long
enough human habitation.

There’s gonna be
stories and things like that.

Where I used to work in northeastern
New Mexico there was also a vortex area.

I just don’t think there’s any more of that
here than there is anywhere else, personally.

Although the vortex theory and bigfoot
traveling interdimesionally seem far-fetched,

what is fact is that there have been many
reports of strange activity in southern Illinois

over the past 100 years.

But it can also be said that one cannot solve
one mystery with another, and trying to do

so only leads to
deeper rabbit holes.

And finally we come to what is perhaps the
most bizarre, reported encounter with the

Big Muddy Monster.

In 1988, what was first thought to be a prowler
in a local salvage yard turned into a night

of terror for those involved, and one that lead
to a second, big cryptid flap in Murphysboro.

The salvage yard event became known internationally,
as researchers as far away as Russia inquired

about the sighting.

Armed security, glowing red eyes, an eight
foot tall, white, aggressive bigfoot, this

encounter has it all and it’s a night that
Bob Reiman says that he will never forget.

Bob, I’m really excited to talk to
you because your story is one of the most

bizarre and terrifying
encounters I’ve ever heard of.

So, take us back 1988.

Where did it happen?

Describe the area
that we're dealing with.

Well, I got a phone
call about 1:30 in the morning.

Usually at the time I…

I did towing for the county and Murphysboro
police and I figured it was you know a call

to pick up a car you know that
needed to be taken off the roadway.

But instead,
it was my security guard Charlie Straub.

He told me that that he really believed there
was somebody out in the salvage yard and he

thought they could have been out there
stealing parts from some of the cars or trucks.

And I told him I said,
“Well, don't do anything

I’ll be there and
I’ll back you up.”

So I drove over there and
we both had flashlights.

We walked straight down the center of the
salvage yard which you had cars on this side

and vehicles on this side and had a
center row that went right down the middle.

We walked it all the
way to the end and as

we got closer to the end
we smell this odor in the air

I mean it was raunchy, really bad. I
asked him, I said, “That's not a skunk.”

I said this I don't know what it is
it's almost you know rotten smell.

He thought maybe it could have been
a dead animal or something like that.

So, we walked a little further and then
we heard some rustling in the brush.

Along my salvage yard there's a fence line
and then there's trees and woods and so we

tried to see if it was a
deer or something like that.

As we brought our
flashlights around this

creature was standing
right next to the fence

and I mean he looked
between eight and ten

feet tall, someone there you know,
and very broad across the shoulders.

I bet three and a half foot,
three foot across his shoulders.

And he had bright red looking
eyes and he let out a scream

It started low and then it raised
almost like a siren, just real high.

And you could feel whenever it screamed
it just hit you, the power in the scream.

And Charlie said,
“You think I ought to shoot it?”

He was scared.

He already had
his pistol pulled.

He was the police chief
in a small town just a little…

right in the area there

And I told him, I said,
“No, I wouldn't shoot it.”

I said, “That that thing probably you'll
make it mad and then it’ll really hurt us.”

So we just took off
with a fast trot back

up to where the shop area
was and we went inside.

Another guy that was there, he worked the
radios and stuff from when we got tow calls

and stuff, and he asked me, he said,
“What's going on down there?

I heard a weird sound.”

I said,
“There's a creature down there.

This thing is not happy.

We disturbed it.”

So I called my wife and
told her what happened

and she laughed at me
and started poking fun

at me, and told me I was just
tired and I was seeing things.

And they showed up and
my wife and my mother

and my sister and
they were teasing us.

But they could tell me and my
security guard was pretty upset.

And it seemed like no sooner than they got
there we heard something just right outside

the metal building.

My building was totally
steel metal.

I said, “There's something out there
and hear it moving around the building.”

And about that time we
heard a “bang.”

I mean it hit the back of the

You could actually see the indent where it
hit on the inside because there wasn't an

inner wall on the building.

It was just plain tin.

They all got scared

and started freaking
out one another.

Immediately, they wanted to leave
but I said, “I wouldn't step outside.

I would not go outside at all.

We go outside and this thing
could it might mean it's harm.”

So we kind of hung
around there and it banged

a couple times and made
some almost like grunting sounds

He did that for I guess 15-20 minutes,

He hung around and then he kind of wandered
off and moved away and we thought it was safe

to go out so we went out.

My mom she got kind of nosey and she
was wanting to see what it was and I kept

telling her, “ Don't.Don't

Let's get out of here."

I told everybody…

I said, “We all need to get a... get
out of here and maybe it’ll move on.”

And so that's
basically what we did.

My mom claimed she saw moving around
the cars down in the yard but you know…

I don't doubt she saw it.

I mean it was big enough it
towered above them cars and trucks.

And back to the when
you and Charlie encountered it.

W,.as there any color to it could
you see besides the bright red eyes?

It was almost like a silvery
white tint or kind of silver looking hair.

And it was real long.

It's probably good
six inches in length.

And he had kind of a high…

I. call it like a
dome in the head.

And his face was kind of leathery
looking and almost humanistic look.

But I think the thing that stayed with
me for the rest of my life was them eyes.

When that light hit his eyes
and they were just glowing.

There were multiple eyewitnesses
that corroborated the salvage yard account

and footprint evidence was discovered,
but nothing beyond that.

After a brief flurry of activity, the Big
Muddy Monster retreated once again into the

murky waters of folklore, rising only on occasion
to frighten residents and monster hunters.

The vast swamps, deep canyons, and high bluffs
await curious seekers, and perhaps may one

day reveal the true nature of Illinois’
most famous river monster, and the people

of Murphysboro welcome any who seek adventure
along the banks of the Big Muddy River.

I would just say that we welcome people
to come and I have an open door here.

I’ve met with many people over the years
about the Muddy Monster and I’d welcome

them to kind of stay for a day and see what
it's all about and decide for themselves.

We're a welcoming community.

We're happy to talk about it.

There was just a new mural painted downtown
that features the Big Muddy Monster.

It’s a part of it.

There are several
things to see here to get

a full grasp of what the
legend all is all about.

I think when we started researching
this case we had no idea that it would have

the span of sightings
or how puzzling and

complex and just how
bizarre it would turn out to be.

I totally agree.

Everyone knows about the sightings that were
in the mid 70s but we found clearly that it

goes way beyond the 70s, both in history
and forward in time up until present day.

After all the research I’ve done,
I feel like the Big Muddy Monster is this

idea that magic or dreams
or stuff is still out there.

That childhood mystery and
intrigue… that that's still there.

The adventure of going
out and exploring it.

I think part
of its the landscape too.

I mean you have the Shawnee National Forest
that's 300,000 acres of swamps and woods.

I mean when you're
walking through that you

just have that feeling that
anything could be out there.

And since we don't have a body that
would provide conclusive evidence you know

part of me enjoys the idea that 100 years
from now people are still going to be camping

keeping an eye out listening that the Big
Muddy Monster doesn't come up on them.

I really hope that these
legends will continue

on forever,
that it only gets weirder and stranger.

And maybe we'll
find out what it is.

We'll prove it or disprove it.

But for me, the adventure, the travel, the
people we met the witnesses we spoke with,

it's not a bad second prize.