The season finale of 'Monsters and Mysteries in America' included the UFO Bigfoot (Presque Isle, PA), featuring commentary from my friends and colleagues Stan Gordon, Rev. Robin Swope and Chad Lewis. The segment description stated that in the summer of 1966 there were reports of a mysterious creature on Presque Isle. During an outing to the shore, witnesses claim to have encountered a hostile bigfoot with extraterrestrial origins. In a time when the space race captivated the public’s attention, this close encounter prompted an intense federal investigation of the hulking hairy beast from space.
Presque Isle State Park is over seven miles of beaches on Lake Erie, near Erie, PA. It was on the hot and humid night of Sunday, July 31st 1966 that six people had traveled from nearby Jamestown, New York to enjoy a refreshing visit to Beach 6 along the northern edge of the park. The group included teenagers Betty Jean Klem & Douglas J. Tibbets, along with Gerald LaBelle and Mrs. Anita Haifley who brought along her young children Sandra (2 years) and Sara (6 months). Somehow during the evening their car became stuck in the sand in the east end of the beach parking lot and it became impossible to budge. Others who were leaving the park offered a ride to Mr. LaBelle so he could get a tow truck to free the stuck vehicle. Within a few minutes, Park Policemen Ralph E. Clark and Robert Loeb Jr. drove by the beach and noticed the trapped car. Stopping at the car they promised that they would return to render assistance if Mr. LaBelle could not find anyone to help.
At around 9:30 PM something unusual occurred. Betty Klem recounts the events as recorded in the August 1, 1966 Erie Times News:
“We were sitting in the car waiting for help. We saw a star move. It got brighter. It would move fast, then dim. It came straight down. The car vibrated. I know we saw it, we had taken a walk in that area earlier. There was nothing between those trees then. All of a sudden it was just there.”
The object was mushroom-shaped with a narrow base rising to an oval structure. There were also lights on the back of the object. The UFO approached from the north and briefly hovered over the area before landing. Ms. Klem said a beam of light came from the craft and moved along the sand in a straight line as the craft disappeared behind the tree line:
“It lit up the whole woods in the path. It wasn’t like a search light. There was light along the ground, along the whole path.”
Not long after this incident officers Clark and Loeb returned as promised to offer assistance. The officers approached the car and were told of the craft that landed in the woods. Mr. Tibbets offered to show them the general area where he thought it touched down. Tibbets and the officers moved towards the location, leaving the two young women and the children alone in the car.
Betty Klem noticed something emerge from the woods that the three had just entered. She thought at first that it was an animal, but then she saw the shape and size of it. What she saw was a dark featureless ape-shaped humanoid about six feet tall walking toward them. Although not in the initial report in an interview with Mr. LaBelle on June 12th of 2008 he recounted that the girls told him that it circled the car from a distance and then came close and clawed at the car. Screaming in utter terror Ms. Klem immediately sounded the cars horn frantically. The creature then sluggishly moved back into the brush and the UFO rose and took off with incredible speed to the north just minutes before Mr. Tibbets and officers Clark and Loeb came running to their aid.
The officers observed scratches on the car where the being had made contact, and all four insisted that they were not there before the visit to Presque Isle. The four adults and two children were taken by patrol car to the Park Ranger station where they detailed the story. According to Mr. LaBelle more heavily armed patrolmen came in to assist with the situation and they refused to let the witnesses go back to their car to retrieve their belongings until morning.
Early the following morning the Pennsylvania State Police and United States Air Force were involved, where unusual impressions in the sand were discovered.
Soon after the incident Betty Klem was interviewed by a psychiatrist who affirmed that the testimony she gave about the incident seemed to be true and not due to illness or delusion.
NOTE: My thoughts on this phenomena can be found at: Interdimensional / Bio-Engineered Sasquatch and Cryptids and Reader Submission: Is Bigfoot An Extraterrestrial?. If you get the chance, watch the segment on 'Monsters and Mysteries in America'...Lon
Eerie Erie: Tales of the Unexplained from Northwest Pennsylvania
Examiner.com - Rev. Robin Swope
Erie Times News
Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook
Bigfoot!: The True Story of Apes in America
Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside