By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 18, 2007
When the foot turned up at the Spotsylvania County landfill, the first thought was that someone had committed a brutal crime. Deputies began sorting through mounds of trash in a somber search for body parts.
Now, the foot is a phenomenon.
The hairless eight-inch appendage with five longish toes isn't human after all. But no one knows yet what species -- known or undiscovered -- it is. And that has led to some wild conjecture.
Spotsylvania sheriff's officials have said the foot may have come from an "ape-like species," leaving Bigfoot believers across the country wondering if there may finally be proof of the creatures' existence. Others think it might not be from any primate, saying it resembles a bear's skinned hind paw.
"Discoveries like the foot in the landfill quickens the heartbeat of every Bigfoot researcher, but all of us realize it probably won't be that easy," read a message on the Virginia Bigfoot Research Organization blog. "Stay tuned!"
Bob Hagan, a former county supervisor and president of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, doesn't wish
harm to any animal. But he said speculation about the owner of this left foot has become a bit of a parlor game around town.
"We did see a suggestion that it might be a Yeti or a Sasquatch, and that might be why they call it Bigfoot instead of Bigfeet," Hagan joked. "People are trying not to talk about it over lunch, the idea of a severed foot isn't really lunch conversation. We talk about it the rest of the time."
Workers at the Livingston Landfill found the cleanly sawed-off foot Feb. 10, and authorities spent the next day painstakingly sifting through 127 tons of trash. Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith told the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg that the search was called off when the Virginia medical examiner's office, after X-raying the foot, determined that the appendage wasn't human and might have come from an "ape-like species."
Arkuie Williams, an administrator at the medical examiner's office in Richmond, said there has not been a determination that it's an ape's foot and an examination is underway. "It's not human," he said, "and we're still trying to determine where it came from."
Tom Biscardi, who runs Searching for Bigfoot Inc. in Menlo Park, Calif., posted an image of the foot on his Web site, http://www.searchingforbigfoot.com. Biscardi doesn't know if this foot is a Bigfoot's foot, but he is certain the creatures are real and he says he is not bothered by skeptics and their jokes.
"I have no doubts in my mind," Biscardi said. "I've had six encounters over the past 34 years. Not in my dreams. Up close and personal."
He supports DNA testing to find out one way or another. If it is a Bigfoot's foot, Biscardi has a theory of how it may have ended up in the landfill. He thinks a hunter may have shot an animal, thinking it was a bear, and then realized the prey was something different. "They said, 'Oh my God, it's human-like. What am I going to do now?' "
Biscardi said casts of footprints believed to come from adult Bigfoots measure from about 15 inches to about 22 inches long. This creature, if it is a Bigfoot, would have been a baby, he said.
Amanda Jones, who works at Hyperion Espresso in Fredericksburg, is pretty certain there aren't any Yetis frequenting the Virginia countryside. "I'm from Washington state, home of the Bigfoot, so no way," she said. "It's too warm here."
She does wonder if the shop should offer a new Bigfoot-size coffee.
Hagan also is considering the marketing possibilities if the foot really does belong to a Bigfoot.
"It might be a real pull for tourism," Hagan said. "Minnesota has Paul Bunyan, we'd have to go with just bunion."