The 1976 Whitehall, NY Bigfoot Sightings in Conjunction with UFO Activity
By Richard Bonenfant, Ph.D.
“...the officer drew his sidearm and considered shooting the creature in order to acquire proof of what he had just seen. He didn’t do so because he sensed that the creature before him had human sentiments and that it would be immoral to shoot at it when his self-defense was not an issue.”
At the time I was interested in a flurry of UFO activity taking place in upstate New York and on my free time would investigate some of the UFO sightings that came to my attention in my immediate vicinity. On August 25, 1976 I received a telephone call from Ray Fowler, a well known UFO investigation and author living near Boston. Ray informed me that the FAA had received reports of UFO activity near Whitehall, NY some two hours or so north of where I lived in Delmar. He asked if I would follow-up on these sighting reports. When I agreed to do so, he directed me to initiate the investigation by contacting a NY State trooper in Whitehall by the name of Donovan.
I contacted Trooper Donovan as requested. He verified the sighting of large object accompanied by two smaller red ones at Scott Lake near Whitehall by some 15 witnesses. In passing he then added that strange reports were also coming in of a “big hairy animal” around Whitehall. For further information, I was referred to a Whitehall police patrolman by the name of Brian Gosselin.
Unfortunately, I was unable to reach Patrolman Gosselin that day but left my name and telephone number for further contact. On the following day I received a call from a Whitehall Police Department desk sergeant who told me (off-the-record) that they had in fact received several reports from reliable witnesses of a large, 8 foot tall, hairy ape creature in the countryside surrounding Whitehall. He further informed me that photos and even a plaster cast of the creature’s footprints had been made. I was further told to see witness Darin Lamphere about the affair and referred to the Washington County Sherriff’s Department. When I asked if I could examine their log book for further additional references to the unusual creature, the sergeant told me that I would need clearance from Chief Williams to order do so. Unfortunately, I was never able to reach the man.
That same day, August 26, 1976, I spoke to Deputy Walter Kruger of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Kruger was only able to tell me about the UFOs sighting they had received and who to contact about these sighting but nothing was forthcoming about the hairy creature sightings in Whitehall.
On Friday, August 27, 1988, I received two collect calls from Officer Brian Gosselin. The officer confirmed the local UFO sightings but then also volunteered that he himself had encountered the strange hairy animal everyone was talking about from a distance of only 20 feet. The creature was described as being unusually tall, stood on two legs, and must have weighed about 350 pounds. Furthermore, it had large red eyes, long arms and was covered with dark brown hair.
Officer Gosselin said he came upon the creature one night while on patrol. He first detected the creature when illuminated by his headlights as it crossed the road ahead of his patrol car. When he came upon it, the creature “screamed like a woman,” flung its arm over its eyes, and ran into a nearby field. When he turned his spotlight in the area where it had departed, he saw large, reflective, nocturnal eyes off in the distance. The officer also mentioned that the creature moved as if heavy weights were attached to arms and legs. A state police patrol car happen to arrived at the scene moments later and the troopers within also spotted the creature before it departed into the deeper woods.
When questioned about a possible association of the creature with UFO sightings in the area, Officer Gosselin reported that he felt the sightings were independent of one another and went on to say that there have been several historical reports of such a creature around the area; sightings that many silent witnesses refuse to make known.
On Saturday, September 4, 1976 I went to Whitehall accompanied by my father-in-law to investigate UFO sighting in the region. While there visited Officer Gosselin at home where he filled sighting questionnaire both about UFOs and his bigfoot sighting. It was then that I learned the he had observed the bigfoot creature from his patrol car on two occasion on the night of Wednesday, August 24th. It was observed at the almost the same locating of a similar sighting the previous evening by another witness named Marty Paddock.
During the interview I learned that the creatures hair appeared to be longer about the head. Officer Gosselin also added that the creatures movements were “slow and deliberate.” He then led us to the sites where he had encountered the hairy creature. The second site was about a mile further away than the first one. While there I told by Officer Gosselin that a local man in the area had even taken a shot at the creature. This time the Officer admitted that UFOs sightings had occurred in the same general location as these bigfoot sightings. Lastly, Officer Gosselin reported being annoyed by all kinds of curious people his bigfoot sighting. Before leaving I took a number of 35 mm color slides of both Officer Gosselin and the sites where his bigfoot sightings had occurred.
Later that month, on Sunday, September 25, 1976, I (Richard Bonenfant ) accompanied by two companions (Benton Jamison, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at the State University of New York at Albany and Sharon Ellis - a medical illustrator for Albany Medical College) went to Whitehall to interview Officer Gosselin and two brother who also observed the bigfoot. Our purpose in doing so was to attempt to gain additional descriptive information and allow Sharon Elis sketched the creature they had all witnessed. Her profile and frontal view sketches were continually corrected until all witnesses all agreed on its accuracy. Later she used ink to finalize her sketch (see jpeg file attachment).
In summary, the witnessed agreed that the bigfoot they came upon stood 7 and 1/2 feet to 8 feet tall, was covered by a shaggy dark brown coat, had long arms that swung like a pendulum when it walked, posses large red bulging eyes and weighed about 350 pounds. Officer Gosselin observed the creature for about two minutes that night from as close as 20-25 feet. While unsure, the believed the creature had fingers and that it was slightly hunchbacked. That sighting took place on August 25, 1976 at 11:10 in the evening. The immediate duration of that sighting was about 20 seconds although he could still see and smell the creature for a additional 2 minutes. At one point the officer drew his sidearm and considered shooting the creature in order to acquire proof of what he had just seen. He didn’t do so because he sensed that the creature before him had human sentiments and that it would be immoral to shoot at it when his self-defense was not an issue.
The second witness, Marty Paddock reported pretty much the same thing. However, the creature was only 6 feet away when he initially encountered it. According to Mr. Paddock, it had eyes that were either red or pink, possessed a fowl smell like rotten eggs, and that it screamed like a woman or pig when he first came across it. Mr. Paddock added that it had rugged, muscular build and could move very fast, while not actually running. His sighting occurred at about 10:00 p.m. the day before that of Officer Gosselin (August 24, 1976).
At some point during our meeting, Marty Paddock retrieved a plaster cast of the creatures footprint. It was made by Deputy Sheriff Glen La Rose of the Washington County Sheriffs Department two weeks before. This cast was measured and photographed by Benton Jamison. The total length from toe to heal was 19 and 1/2 inches; maximum width at the ball of foot was 7 and 1/2 inches; maximum with of the arch instep was 5 inches. The heal appeared to be rounded. Faint impressions of the toes were visible. The large toe was prominent. While indistinct, the witnesses claimed that only 3 additional toe prints were observed when the cast was made and that these toes were approximately of equal in size.
We also learned that several additional bigfoot sighting had been reported over the past several days; two by Arnold Mercier of Whitehall, and two more by Tom or (?) Bill Jones also of Whitehall. Still another sighting was reported by a New Jersey couple who were passing through Whitehall. Officer Gosselin claimed that these reports were called in to the local State Police Barracks.
As yet, I have been unable to retrieve the slides that I took of the witnesses and the location of their sightings. However, I offer you copies of my original typewritten notes, as well as an original sketch made of the creature made by Officer Gosselin and another of the scene of the encounter. The most important attachment is a JPG image of Sharon Ellis’s pencil and ink drawing of the Whitehall creature.
I offer this summary because of occasional reports of bigfoot-like creatures reported in concert with, or in proximity to, UFO sightings. It is not my intention to advance the hypothesis that these two phenomena are related. Rather I feel that I would be remiss by not reporting the sighting because of personal discomfort in doing so. I hope my account and the accompanying sketch will prove useful to other researches investigating this particularly aspect of the UFO phenomenon. – Richard Bonenfant, © 1976 - 2014
The sketch of the Whitehall bigfoot was made by Ms. Ellis and should be regarded as her copyright. For permission to use in a different context, Ms. Ellis can be contacted here. I’m not sure she retains any interest in the matter but any person or site other than Global ET Research wishing to use Ms. Ellis’ sketch should seek her permission before doing so. I have lost track of Ben Jamison though he used to live in Delmar, NY and may still be associated with Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222.
This article is published with the expressed written permission of Richard Bonenfant for publication on The Alien Jigsaw: alienjigsaw.com
Richard Bonenfant, Ph.D., is a retired research scientist and lecturer. His research career at Albany Medical Center Hospital and the New York State Department of Health was centered on the study of birth defects in newborn children. He most recently retired from the Veterans’ Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, and is credited with publishing several professional articles on near-death experiences.
He has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Psychology, and is dedicated to the investigation of phenomena that lie on the fringes of scientific understanding. Subjective phenomena include such things as near-death experiences, synesthesia, xenoglossia, savant syndrome and hyperthymestic syndrome or individuals with exceptional autobiographical memories. Objective phenomena include verifiable paranormal experiences, crop circles and strange mutilations of unknown origin. There are other unusual phenomena deserving of investigation which he occasionally delves into under appropriate circumstances. These ancillary phenomena include instances of foreign accent syndrome, cases of apparent reincarnation, and human abduction experiences.
Richard Bonenfant is also the author of three works of “Faction” or Fiction based in Fact: Elizabeth Nolan, The Kendall Stone and The Boy Who Came From Nowhere.
Patrolman Brian Gosselin’s
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