Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What is it? Update Part 2

You may remember back in February that a body of some sort was found floating in the Big Black River in Mississippi. A quick recap: The carcass was spotted by a father and son looking through rifle scopes. They felt it looked enough like a human to alert the authorities. Twenty law enforcement officials quickly responded to the call. Apparently, they, too, assumed the corpse was human. The body was fished out of the river, bagged, and sent off to the Warren County Coroner's Office for autopsy. The determination that the body was not human was not made until the early stages of the autopsy conducted at the crime lab in Jackson. Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace then came out with the following statement: "It is not human. I repeat, it is not human." This statement ignited speculation over just what was actually found in the Big Black River. You can review the initial article in The Vicksburg Post here.

David Paulides of the North America Bigfoot Search (NABS) organization has posted an interesting follow up to this story. Apparently, he and some NABS members conducted a fairly extensive follow-up investigation on this incident. What he relates in his write-up on this investigation is pretty interesting. Paulides writes that his team was repeatedly stone walled and given the run around before finally getting some information. In the beginning it reads like something out of a bigfoot conspiracy theorists textbook. It was only after one of the NABS team members identified himself as a former law enforcement officer that some interesting information was allegedly revealed. You can access the report on the NABS site here. Scroll down to Blog #52 for the report.

So, as the dust settles on this one, we still don't know what it was that was bobbing around in the Big Black River of Mississippi. I have friends in law enforcement and a family member who works in a county forensics lab who tell me that bodies that spend much time in water can quickly become very nasty and not easily recognized. I can buy this up to a point. I can totally see how the father and son who spotted the torso might not be able to determine whether it was human or animal. This is especially true if they viewed the body only from a distance using their scopes. It is unclear in the report if they ever actually approached the body. I can even buy the fact that the carcass was so degraded that twenty law enforcement officers had a hard time recognizing it. What I find hard to swallow is how the coroner's personnel could not tell the body was not human. Animals like cows or deer, the most likely suspects according to Paulides source, have laterally compressed chests and rib cages that are narrow and deep. Humans, and apes, have wide dorso-ventrally compressed chests. These differences are not insignificant and should have made it readily apparent that the body was not a human. This identification should have been made in the field.

The entire episode is very strange. The failure to identify the carcass as non-human in the field, the evasiveness of the officials when questioned by NABS members, and the quick disposal of the body to an unknown location will continue to fuel speculation for a good while among those who follow such things. Ultimately, however, this story will quietly fade away and be forgotten. Maybe it should do just that....or maybe not.

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