Smear Campaign: Sanger Paranormal's Incredibly Disappointing Bigfoot Evidence Press Conference

Smear Campaign: Sanger Paranormal’s Incredibly Disappointing Bigfoot Evidence Press Conference

The real mystery isn't whether bigfoot is real or not, it's what Bill Murray was doing at the press conference.

Early last week, the folks from Sanger Paranormal, a California based paranormal investigation group, made waves in the cryptozoology world by declaring possession of what they have been calling “the best evidence of bigfoot since the Patterson film in 1967”. They announced a press conference to display their evidence to the media, evidence that they “accidentally” leaked well ahead of their intended date.

So in an effort to fill the front page with nothing but Bigfoot related stories, Who Forted made it a point to virtually attend the conference yesterday evening. We were sure to take notes, screen shots, and observations from the crowd. We can say right up front that the entire event was a hot mess.

From the the microphone set up, it was apparent that there were at least two local news crews present in the banquet hall of the Picadilli Inn, though the turn out was clearly not what the investigation team intended. There were a lot of empty chairs in that room.

Undeterred, and flanked by fellow researchers, Sanger Paranormal head honcho Jeffrey Gonzalez (who bears a striking resemblence to Tim Blake Nelson), started the event by leaning into the microphone and letting out a confident, “rock and roll!”

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Proof of Bigfoot was so important to 12 year olds that Nickelodeon sent their own journalists

After displaying a few slides consisting of evidence collected from the same location in prior years (photos that looked an awful like like a human footprint and a bear rubbing on a tree) Gonzalez launched into the events that prompted the “greatest discovery in the history of bigfoot”.

The short, coherent version is that the team of investigators headed to a remote part of the Sierra mounains for a weekend Bigfoot hunt, but as the snowfall became heavy, they were forced to make a hasty exit back down the unused mountain roads, reluctantly leaving behind two vehicles full of equipment.

When they returned a few days later, they encountered crude road blocks made of downed trees. Obstacles that were, naturally, attributed to Bigfoot. Gonzalez went on to say that they found no signs of tire tracks, no footprints, and that it “took four people on their knees giving it all they had” to move the “1000 lb” tree out of the road.

When they finally reached their abandoned vehicles after a 2.5 mile hike, it appeared as though they hadn’t been touched, save for some large muddy smears on the windows of Gonzalez’ truck.

“Whatever it was it was oily, greasy, dirty. You can see the facial features.. like the Shroud of Turin, that’s how it actually looked.”

After enduring an unnecessarily long back story, the audience was finally treated to the reason they were there: a collection of dirty smudges on Gonzalez’ F150. As they displayed the photos, Gonzalez began to dispute the the skeptics who claimed that these impressions merely belonged to a bear.

“I had all kinds of food back in my pickup. Several people are saying that if it was a bear, all this would have been everywhere. None of this was touched… We don’t think whatever looked in my window was a bear.”

In fact, Gonzalez felt so strongly that this was not a bear, that he called upon Mickey Burrow, 14 year forensics veteran for the police department, to take a DNA sample.

Do you want to know how I'm 100% sure that this smudge is not a bear related incident? These red lines say so.

Burrow was handed the microphone, prompting a well thought-out visual presentation comparing the window smears to the facial structure of a bear, a mountain lion, and a gorilla.

While his presentation was fair and had the potential to convince viewers that the smudges were a primate match, he basically followed up his display by discrediting himself, stating, “I am not a biologist, I am not a zoologist, I am not a person that studies animals regularly.” Burrows added, “do I think this is bigfoot? I don’t know.” He finished his statement by admitting that the smudges could have belonged to a bear.

After fumbling awkwardly over his words, accidentally switching off the microphone, and losing his train of thought, Gonzalez commandeered the mic from Burrows, touting his experiences and swearing that this was not a hoax. “We’re all willing to take lie detector tests,” he said.

This was about when the whole conference started to come unravelled and the true motives of these men became readily apparent.

“You know, there’s a lot of other investigators out there who are doing exactly what we’re doing,” Gonzalez began, “and, uhm, you know, it’s just that, you know, we need assistance. Better equipment. But most of all, somebody to come forward and take the DNA, to get it mapped, find out what it is not.”

They looked almost guilty when one member of the crowd finally stepped up and asked, “do you have a dollar amount in mind?” The answer they gave was, “ballpark? Five grand”, but insisted that they weren’t in this for the money. They just wanted to prove the existence of Bigfoot.

A glimpse at a journalist revealed a sea of empty seats

Now, I hate to nitpick, but not more than 15 minutes later, we hear David Roagoza, a fellow investigator, tell the media that he almost had a heart attack when he realized how much equipment he left in his Jeep that weekend, fearing it would be stolen. The dollar amount that he picked was rather unfortunate, as he quite literally spouted “over five thousand dollars” worth, adding that Gonzalez had “thousands” of dollars in equipment packed into his own vehicle.

They mean to tell us that a group of 7+ men who can afford thousands of dollars worth of expensive equipment can’t parse out five grand between the lot of them? Especially considering it could be “the truth behind bigfoot”?

To make matters worse, it was mentioned to me that they have had offers to get the DNA mapped at no charge from at least two other groups invested in the discovery of Bigfoot evidence, and have so far declined. Something doesn’t add up here, but I digress.

At this point, one of the local reporters actually walked to the front of the room, leaned over the middle of the table, and interrupted Burrow mid-sentence in order to grab his microphone and leave. Perhaps he felt the same way I did.

The group began to field questions from the audience about why they were so interested in Bigfoot (childhood passion), told the crowd exactly what was in the coolers (if it was a homeless man, he’d have made a sandwich, and if it really was a bear it would have “ripped his whole bumper off”), and they even had an answer as to why there were no footprints near the smudges (it was grassy).

When Burrow was asked if he was positive that there was a DNA sample in the smear and whether or not he believed that it was actually Bigfoot related, he replied with “it’s either here or its not” but he wouldn’t “testify in court” for it.

What happened next was probably the most angering part of the conference to watch, which says a lot considering the amount of incessant flip flopping, the grandiose claims paired with mediocre evidence, and the blatant request for a handout.

After the investigators, again, unintentionally added a layer of disbelief to their claims by stating that their evidence location was loaded with black bears, a woman who was quite obviously at the conference for no other reason than fascination regarding the subject matter, spoke up and offered her own insight as to why the bears might not have touched the food in the coolers. Let me stress that she was sincerely trying to help by offering a genuine solution.

“Maybe the bears were scared of bigfoot?”

Roagoza begins to tell the woman that this is a good observation, but I’m more focused on Joe Walsh, a man who, for the past hour, has sat silently on stage, staring into space, his chair spun around backwards so he could prop his arms on the back rest. You know, like the “tough guy” does in 80’s high school comedies.

Walsh smugly glances at Gonzalez with a shit eating grin, as if to say,”get a load of this crazy bitch!”

Right, right. She’s the crazy one. If he didn’t look twice as bored with his own evidence as I was, I’d have yelled at my computer screen.

What was that? Sorry, I couldn't hear you talking about those other Bigfoot hunters over this AWESOME FOOTPRINT

The conference didn’t last much longer. From here on out, there were a lot of Sasquatch hunting veterans sharing war stories with the visibly annoyed paranormal team, but the best part was when one man asked them if they had contacted “that cable show about the Bigfoot hunters” with their evidence. Gonzalez actually ignored the question completely and instead held up a footprint cast that they had collected a few years ago, only to be interrupted by Roagoza announcing the end of the event. The online feed was cut soon after.

After two weeks of claiming that they had the best evidence of bigfoot recorded since the 60’s, what we were treated to, in reality, were a few chunks of mediocre evidence (anyone can find footprints, hell, even we have) in what turned out to be a publicity stunt aimed at garnering some fast cash and attention for their team. Why? It could have less to do with an endless search for the truth in an effort to better mankind and more to do with the television show they’re trying to pitch.

Almost mockingly,  there exists a series of “secret” web pages hidden on Sanger Paranormal’s website that are accessed by clicking on a tiny image of what looks to be Bigfoot. Within these pages the viewer is treated to Jeffrey Gonzalez’ concept for a reality television series that he describes, in all seriousness, as “the paranormal smackdown of the century.” You can even view the ready made casting reel at Erthbound Entertainment’s production website.

During the press conference, I was chatting along with other paranormal enthusiasts as we watched the event unfold. After making a joke about how I intended to hold a conference to garner financial support for my research into fairies, I was promptly called a “hater” by someone who I can only assume was a member of Sanger Paranormal, and told that if I didn’t have anything positive to say about the conference, I should just leave instead of sharing my opinion.

"Where's the buffet? The sign said there would be free food. Honey, this is the worst cruise we've ever been on."

Now, I’m sure that Gonzalez is a nice guy. In fact, his reputation for being a decent individual preceeds him. But this press conference wasn’t about Gonzalez, or Walsh, or Roagoza. At least, it shouldn’t have been. It was about their claims and their evidence to back it up. Unfortunately, the evidence didn’t live up to their profound claims, and the leak of said evidence may have had the opposite effect that the group was hoping for. The crowd was sparse, the media left early, and the researchers were neither well spoken nor well equipped enough to adequately handle the event. While it wasn’t quite the Georgia Bigfoot Hoax (certainly not as entertaining), the result is another blow to public opinion regarding cryptozoologists, a hit that comes after the evidence on Finding Bigfoot was revealed to be heavily manipulated. Talk about bad timing.

The conference left us with more questions than answers, problems that seemingly should have been solved before holding this press conference. Why wasn’t the supposed DNA given to one of the groups that offered to have it tested for free? Why were there no animal biologists brought into the investigation? Where is this magical location rife with Sasquatch activity? Is it accessed by logging roads? Could the “barricades” have been due to a logging truck? Did you really believe that this rudimentary evidence was worth holding a press conference over? Couldn’t the money spent renting the banquet hall been better served as an investment toward funding the DNA mapping yourselves?

Unfortunately, when and if these lingering questions are answered, it will have already been too late. They blew their shot in a bid for attention, whether it be for the end game of money or fame, and in doing so, have further damaged the reputation of cryptozoology as a whole.

The boys cried wolf Sasquatch and I don’t think many people, much less the media, will be willing to listen to them a second time around.


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29 Comments

  1. Tony Morrill

    06/24/2011 at 5:15 AM

    As you are aware I was watching this at the same time you were and really I think you hit it spot on. The entire fiasco seem to have been mismanaged from the beginning. Giving the group the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they truly believed that they were on to something. It doesn’t seem that way however. I would also like to point out that the only one of the group that seemed to be truly grounded, at least in my opinion, was Mickey Burrow the forensic specialist. He handled this exactly like I wish all investigators would. While it’s true that he didn’t help prove the Sanger Group’s “We have the best evidence since the Patterson-Gimilin Film” mantra, he was a very level-headed investigator. For the most part at least. He was willing to be wrong about his conclusions and although it’s true he admitted to not having the proper credentials in order to ascertain what had made the marks (at least he was being honest)he had said towards the end of his spiel that he simply wanted the truth. Either way I got out of this whole Conference thing basically what I thought that I would, which is to say some slight amusement, a little bit of bewilderment, and good material for a post at my blog.

    • Greg Newkirk

      06/24/2011 at 9:21 AM

      I’ve got to agree with you, Burrow handled the whole ordeal the best, but even then, I had to ask myself, “why is he here?”

      He wasn’t part of the group that found it, and he wasn’t an animal biologist, just a police department forensics guy. Yet the group tasked him with the most important job- convincing everyone that the face prints matched a primate, not a bear.

      It doesn’t make sense.

      • Tony Morrill

        06/24/2011 at 9:25 AM

        Very true, unless they intended for him to add some ‘scientific’ credibility to their cause. But as you pointed out in your article, and he pointed out during the press event, he isn’t actually qualified as far as identifying animals. True he can handle collecting of DNA samples, and in the case of humans I suppose working with it, but it definitely felt tacked on. As I said I wasn’t really expecting too much out of this. But who knows maybe they will get that DNA sample tested. (If only to prove it was a black bear after all)

        • Greg Newkirk

          06/24/2011 at 2:17 PM

          I really, sincerely hope that no one is gullible enough to give these fools money.

  2. Robyn

    06/24/2011 at 6:23 AM

    Ahh very good article, I had a feeling it was all going to be a huge build up for nothing

  3. Mike

    06/24/2011 at 9:44 AM

    A lie detector test doesn’t mean shit if you believe what you are saying and had no hand in it’s creation. Even if they didn’t know it was truly a bear and believe it was Bigfoot what would a lie detector prove?

  4. squatchdestroyer

    06/24/2011 at 9:53 AM

    my favorite part was when Bill Murray was there

    • butch

      03/19/2013 at 11:22 AM

      holy shit bill murray was there!

  5. thecakeisalie

    06/24/2011 at 10:58 AM

    Wow. Tom Biscardi would have been proud. They neglected to involve any real scientists, presented lots of flimsy and anecdotal evidence, and most importantly, they asked for money.

    What’s next? A pay per view live stream of a bigfoot hunt?

    • Greg Newkirk

      06/24/2011 at 2:19 PM

      Those are three of the biggest things that irked me as well. It smelled like a set up, and while I want to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, this whole event really just came off as a publicity stunt. The so called evidence definitely didn’t warrant setting up a press conference.

  6. Ben Dover

    06/24/2011 at 11:04 AM

    I’ve hunted all my life, and this is very clearly a bear. I’ve seen almost identical imprints before with bear tracks leading up to them. The only reason paw imprints were left is because they were wet from walking on the ground. A bipedal creature would not have left them so clearly unless it had been playing in the mud. The face imprint is the wet muzzle of a bear pressed against the glass looking for food. It is sad that press conferences are called over things like this. It makes the rest of the bigfoot community lose credibility. People should wait until they have some really good concrete evidence, not smears on a truck window. What a waste…

  7. lou

    06/24/2011 at 12:44 PM

    WOW. Great article.

    And once again, quack jobs from the BIGFOOT community have come out to damage/destroy/crap/vomit/(fill your own words here) their field. I dont even think the ghost shows can do as much damage combined as the people looking into BIGFOOT do with these silly claims.

    Too bad they cant shoot the damn thing, current law on the books in California actually provide protection to them if found. Either a $25000 penalty plus time in jail.

  8. John Dockum

    06/24/2011 at 3:08 PM

    Oh man…and I was hoping it was just a guy in a suit.

  9. Paramarama

    06/25/2011 at 10:46 AM

    stumbled across this late last night, i’d say that people’s opinion of the print being from a bear looks pretty spot on.

    Bigfoot face print debunk

  10. James Smith

    06/25/2011 at 4:29 PM

    i agree it wasnt the most compelling evidence but could you have had an agenda yourself for giving such a scathing review? wouldnt sanger paranormal be a competitor to ghost hunters inc. the group you founded? maybe folks who live in glass houses shouldnt throw such large stones. just an opinion.

    • Greg Newkirk

      06/25/2011 at 4:41 PM

      Ah, no agenda here (other than to point out the gaping flaws in this press conference), but you do make a fair argument.

      GHI hasn’t been active for several years now. A quick glance at the website would have provided you with that information. So no, there’s no competition or agenda to, no pun intended, smear another ghost hunting group. Not that I can imagine that there would be anything to gain from doing so in the first place. I mean, I hate to say it again, but if you’d have visited GHI’s website, you’d see that we were less than serious “researchers” and more like adventurous teenagers.

      The fact of the matter was that the conference was atrocious. As I’ve stated before, I’d love to see some evidence that bigfoot exists. Not much would make me (or just about anyone) happier. But to call a press conference and beg for money based on a muddy smear that is obviously a bear? That’s a load of crap on many levels, and I don’t have a problem calling it such. No agenda, just an observation.

      Anyone who says “it wasn’t the most compelling” evidence is just being gracious.

      • James Smith

        06/26/2011 at 2:08 AM

        jeffrey said that asking for money wasnt what he meant and a lot was taken from context. i told him on facebook that extraordinary claims calls for extraordinary evidence and what good would a DNA test do but come up unknown primate as it has many times before, you would think that in itself would at least launch a mainstream scientific investigation but no. since theres no sasquatch DNA database to compare it to i guess it makes the point moot, oh, my apologies for jumping to conclusions. take care

  11. Larry Lesh

    06/26/2011 at 9:06 AM

    Greg,

    I concur with many of the thoughts of the posters. However, I suspect that the group did find Sasquatch evidence and perhaps both bear and Sasquatch were at the site. I still don’t believe the evidence found warranted the press conference but it’s their money and reputation.

    We’ve found the same evidence and more up and down the Sierras. Professor Jeff Meldrum makes a solid scientific case for the existence of the species with his 2006 book, Sasquatch, Legend Meets Science. Many more researchers are getting into the field and more evidence will be found with improving technology.

    A specimen body will most likely be found after being hit by a vehicle. This has happened in the past and will in the future as we continue to expand our areas. The species is quite good at hiding and remaining out of sight. The last 44 years since the Patterson film is proof.

    Hopefully, this will happen before the species gets threatened with extinction. I urge all your readers to go looking for themselves just learn what to look for and where. My best,

    • Joseph G. Mitzen

      06/27/2011 at 5:17 PM

      “The species is quite good at hiding and remaining out of sight. The last 44 years since the Patterson film is proof.”

      Absence of Bigfoot evidence is proof of Bigfoot. Gotcha. That’s not even taking into account that one of the Patterson hoaxers came forward and admitted to the hoax and explained all they knew about how it was done, which makes your claim that no evidence turning up 44 years after an admitted hoax constitutes evidence.

      When you can explain how a giant primate has avoided leaving any evidence in the fossil record and how all of its precedents also leave no evidence in the fossil record and how this creature is never (clearly?) seen and has never been killed by a hunter or a car in all of recorded human history and also take into account that versions of these creatures are supposedly seen in North America, Europe, South America, Asia, and even Australia making them the most far-flung primate and given man’s arrival date in Australia even more successful than homo sapiens in colonizing the globe yet somehow leave no trace of their existence (other than stories) yet maintain viable breeding populations, then you might really be onto something. Reflect on these challenges and perhaps you’ll realize that what the search for Bigfoot needs isn’t more technology.

    • Greg Newkirk

      06/28/2011 at 12:13 PM

      I’m fond of Professor Meldrum, even if I don’t always agree with him. Regardless, unlike a whole lot of other Sasquatch researchers, I think he’s genuinely interested in the idea of Bigfoot, not in in the idea of making a buck or two off other people interested. But hey, he’s a professor and I’m a barista, who’s intellectual pontifications are you going to trust?

  12. Pingback: Ep 95 – Mud, Sheep and the end of the world! | Righteous Indignation – Skeptical About the Supernatural

  13. Pingback: Jerking us around with Bigfoot “evidence” | Skeptoid

  14. Randy W.

    07/01/2011 at 2:25 PM

    Sorry to say my ex=wife has left similar smears on my windows…..

    • Boarhound

      07/11/2011 at 8:08 AM

      I’d recommend a restraining order and a shotgun.

  15. Dave

    07/02/2011 at 3:08 PM

    The guys over at Spooky Southcoast on Am1420 WBSM in Fairhaven, MA had Jeff Gonzalez on a week or so before his press conference, and we were all dropping jokes on him as we listened. Tim and the crew were basically calling him out in the politest way possible, and Jeff was tripping over his tongue that night, too. He was in the second hour, and you can listen here: http://tinyurl.com/3tjvsq9

  16. spookyparadigm

    07/03/2011 at 1:14 PM

    The description of the press conference (which jives with other comments I’ve read about it), was a little sad and depressing, but it least it seemed sort of forthright. I don’t even have a problem with asking for money. Scientific and scholarly researchers ask for money in the form of grants (though they go through a rigorous planning, design, and review process to compete for them).

    But then we got to the “secret” pages for their tv show, and it instantly went to pathetic, annoying, and quite depressing. Ready made “first name” reality show cast members, the “teams” approach, and so on.

    Getting on television should, for a researcher, be an absolute last-resort necessary evil, and even then it probably isn’t worth it. See my discussion of this in regards to the Roswell archaeological project funded by the SyFy channel.

    http://spookyparadigm.blogspot.com/2007/08/ufology-unfalsifiable-review-of-roswell.html

    But if the whole point to what you’re doing, the goal of your activities, is to get a basic cable reality tv show, whatever. You deserve the same level of respect as Jersey Shore.

  17. WAYNE B. ANGEL

    01/01/2012 at 6:59 AM

    IVE WATCHED MY LAST PROGRAM,BLOG ETC. ABOUT BIGFOOT IM 72 YRS. OLD
    I EVEN THINK THE PATTERSON FILM IS SOMEHOW A HOAX

  18. Elmira.Bigfoot.Watch.14901

    04/20/2012 at 8:56 AM

    Re: you must be retarded or just idiot’s.-Bigfoot.
    Thursday, April 19, 2012 8:44 PM
    From:
    [email protected]
    Add sender to Contacts
    To:
    [email protected]
    I’m glad you are enjoying this……The show Finding Bigfoot was just here and did a episode on my windows….Cliff Barackman and the gang talked about the windows>>>>> they were blown away…… After showing the windows to a major University and after telling them a Forensic police officer took DNA samples, they have agreed to test the DNA at no charge to me, which means I don’ t have to come up with $10,000 out of my own pocket…. I just put together a film crew and we are going to document this whole event…. Once the DNA comes out to be a unknown species, then that we have the smoking gun….. I will sure to pass your email around….
    Jeffrey Gonzalez
    Founder http://www.SangerParanormalSociety.com
    [email protected]
    559-287-UFOS(8367)

  19. pamela allen

    01/29/2017 at 8:55 PM

    honestly no reason to leave this story up for over5 years! Consider that you might have judged their character entirely wrong. Mickey still works with them and would not risk his reputation if they were hoaxers. I have watched their internet program for 3 years and they have done incredible things, not just Bigfoot. Plus they don’t ask for money although people in chat room started asking to donate so now we can, I live in small kansas town and 2 families from here who I dont know contacted Jeff because they had haunted houses and Jeff helped them to cleanse their homes. They never ask for money from these families and its so awesome when they call into the show to thank them. So please reconsider and delete these old stories since I am concerned you are attacking some of the few researchers who geniunely help people out.

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