Yakima Herald-Republic

Yakima Herald-Republic (WA)-March 9, 2004
Author: Jane Gargas

Bigfoot as Big Lie -- Is Someone Monkeying Around?



Truth be told, those have been mighty large feet he's had to fill all these years.

Or are they?

For nearly 40 years, Bob Heironimus of Yakima has figured prominently in speculation over whether a legendary creature called Bigfoot exists.

But always before Heironimus has never been named publicly.

Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, is one of the most famous legends of the Northwest - and beyond. Similarly to Scotland's Loch Ness Monster, there have been numerous "sightings" of the ape-human creature for decades.

Heironimus, 63, leapt into the limelight this week because of a newly published book called "The Making of Bigfoot," written by paranormal investigator Greg Long, who lives north of Seattle.

In it, Heironimus bares all - including, he says, one large, hairy suit - telling the author that he donned a gorilla costume in 1967 to pose as Bigfoot in a film clip.

The 60-second, blurry clip has been copiously studied by Bigfoot investigators.

The film was shot in Bluff Creek, Northern California, by two other Yakima residents, the now deceased Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin.

When it first became public, the film put Yakima at the center of on the Bigfoot controversy (does it or doesn't it exist?); details emerging this week about Heironimus' story will no doubt keep it there.

Heironimus, who is retired from Pepsi, is currently staying mum (he didn't return phone calls from the Yakima Herald-Republic), but Long's agent, Kal Korff, said Heironimus will provide details later, possibly at a news conference.

But the controversy by no means stops there.

And everyone is sticking to their own version.

First, there is Long's. Korff, a journalist and investigator for Fox-TV's "World's Greatest Hoaxes" noted that there is more to the story than just a man who says he wore a gorilla suit coming forward.

Rather, for the last 37 years, the filmmakers have foisted an untruth on the American public, according to Korff.

"I want Bob Gimlin brought to justice. It's called consumer fraud," said Korff.

"If he's smart, he'll come forward and confess."

Yet, a lawyer for Gimlin insists that the film is authentic.

Tom Malone (who also didn't return a phone call) from Minneapolis, told the Washington Post that Gimlin (who also didn't return a phone call), maintains that no one ever donned a costume to appear in his and Patterson's film.

But Heironimus' mother, Opal Heironimus, who lives in Union Gap, stands by her son.

"He was the real Bigfoot and that's the God's own truth," she said Monday.

Not so fast, contends Berkeley-trained researcher Erik Beckjord of the San Francisco-based Sasquatch Research Project.

Beckjord, who runs a Website called www.beckjord.com/bigfoot, is convinced the footage is the real thing.

He said he's bothered by the fact that Heironimus has not publicly told his story.

"If he has nothing to hide, he should come forward and hold a press conference," said Beckjord.

Heironimus took and passed a polygraph test about wearing the Bigfoot suit several years ago, said his lawyer, Bruce Woodard of Yakima.

"I have zero doubt in Bob's version," Woodard said.

"I've met family and friends of Bob's, and they've substantiated everything he's said," Woodard added.

But Beckjord is not convinced.

For one thing, he scoffs at Long's mention in the book of tracing the gorilla suit to a man in North Carolina who said he sold it to Patterson.

"They didn't even have gorilla suits, comparable to the one in the film, to buy or rent in 1967," Beckjord said.

He also questions Heironimus' timeline.

"Heironimus said he went to Bluff Creek (where the movie was filmed) two days after Gimlin and Patterson, but their wives both said it was three weeks later," said Beckjord.

"I've been studying this for 25 years," said Beckjord, who has no doubts that Bigfoot exists. He said he has seen the creature four times, at least twice in Washington state.

"This is an 'X File' kind of thing," said Beckjord, referring to the former television show about paranormal events. Bigfoot, he believes, can change form, partly to conform with what the viewer is thinking.

Korff, for one, believes the controversy over the existence of Bigfoot will be put to rest soon. It will all come to light, he said, when author Long, Heironimus and several other people - including the man who claims he made the gorilla suit - tell their account on a national television special.

"This is a huge story" Korff said. "And the Bigfoot market is now dead."

Section: Main/Home FrontPage: A1
Record Number: 101377BBFAFFD288Copyright, 2004, Yakima Herald-Republic. All Rights Reserved.

Yakima Herald-Republic (WA)-October 7, 2004
Author: Leah Ward

Bigfoot Hoax Goes in Halls of Hooey



The Yakima man who made history and legend 37 years ago by walking in Bigfoot's flat feet donned the costume again this week to put the hoax firmly in the halls of hooey.

"I kept it quiet for all those years, but it wasn't a secret to most of the people around here," 63-year-old Bob Heironimus said Wednesday at his West Valley home.

The tall cowboy walked the lumbering Bigfoot walk for filmmakers and anti-Bigfoot authors Tuesday on private property near Rimrock Lake. The group's goal is to make the film behind the film, that 60-second grainy image made in 1967 by a "chronically unemployed ex-rodeo cowboy" from Yakima named Roger Patterson.

Patterson, see, was a prankster who thought he could make a million dollars by distributing the Bigfoot film nationally. Enough audiences saw the image of the hairy primate that it became an object of mythic proportions for some and gargantuan sarcasm for others.

Heironimus said Patterson promised him $1,000 from the takings, "but I never saw a dime."

The two kind of fell out after that, in part because Patterson became sick with cancer and died in 1972. But as cheated as Heironimus felt, his word was his word. "I promised Roger I would keep it a secret," he said.

He buried Bigfoot back in his mind, got a job at Pepsi and rode horses for fun. Then two years ago a sleuthing Seattle-area author named Greg Long found him and coaxed out the story of the hoax. Long's "The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story" was published in March.

The original Bigfoot film was shot next to Bluff Creek in the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California. Heironimus said Patterson chose the area because it was near a recent Bigfoot "sighting." Also on the shoot was friend and cowboy Bob Gimlin of Yakima.

"They got one of my horses and took off for California and I met them down there," Heironimus said. " I drove my mother's 1967 Buick. The whole film thing took 10 minutes.

"I practiced the Bigfoot walk exactly the way Roger wanted it three times. It wasn't easy," he said.

His mother, Opal, found the gorilla suit in the trunk of her Buick the next day.

"It really scared her at first. She wanted to know what was going on and I said, 'You'll figure it out.' She saw the film on television and knew immediately."

But why blow a harmless hoax out of the water now?

"It's dangerous for society to believe in myths," said Kal Korff, a Prague, Czech Republic-based investigator who debunks hoaxes for a living.

Korff has joined forces with Long to repackage the book about the mythical making of Bigfoot. They said they're working on a DVD deal with Wal-Mart, a show for Fox TV and a full-length feature film. They said National Geographic is also making a documentary.

Korff and Long have enlisted Charlotte, N.C.-based costume maker Philip Morris, who sold the original gorilla suit to Patterson. He created a new Bigfoot costume for the film. In the production, Morris, 68, will explain how Patterson likely resculpted the suit to create breasts - yes, Bigfoot was a she - and fashioned a pillow in the back to make a rear-end crack. (Hint: the zipper in the suit helped.)

Will all this truth-telling spell the end of Bigfoot?

Heironimus, the man who would be the beast, said: "It should. Truth is truth."

Section: Main/Home Front
Record Number: 10595417AE185780Copyright, 2004, Yakima Herald-Republic. All Rights Reserved.