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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Screams in the Night

"There was definitely some creature in the woods."

So said Deputy Sheriff Bill Huntley on the strange events in Tuolumne County, California, in January 1963.

It all began with a phone call to the Sheriff's Department. At around 8:30 p.m. on the evening of January 27, an anonymous caller reported seeing a man at least 9 or 10 feet tall in the road by an old gravel pit just north of the Peter Pam subdivision.

The caller: "It was moving around. It appeared to be human but was the most awful thing I have ever seen." He added: "I'm scared. I'm an adult and I'm not crazy. I'm not drunk. I don't even drink."  The caller refused to identify himself. "You'll think I'm crazy. You'll put me in a straight jacket."

A second man came to the phone and confirmed the strange story. He told the police he had not actually seen the creature but he had seen some tracks in the area. He said they were more than 14 inches long.

Deputy Huntley got the call. He picked up Reserve Deputy and local tracker Elbert Miller and drove up to the location.  They both were thinking that the caller had probably seen a bear.

The first radio dispatch to the Sonora Sheriffs Department reported that they were hearing sounds like "a human in distress." Huntley, thinking that someone was being attacked by a bear, shouted out. He was answered by another scream -- from another direction.

Huntley and Miller soon determined that there were at least 2 creatures, maybe more, and that they were circling around them. They retreated to the car. He got on the radio. "It's heading right towards the car. Here it comes." There was a delay and then he continued. "Now it seems to be circling the car. It sounds more and more like an animal of some kind." They also stated they could see nothing through the thick brush.

"It's definitely not a bear. Elbert thinks it's more possible a mountain lion, but it's not a mountain lion noise," Huntley radioed further.  Later on, Miller would tell the news media: "I've never heard a sound like that in all my years in the woods."

They could see branches of trees shaking violently along with the shrieks. The two shouted at the creature but their shouts did not seem to frighten it away. However, they did notice that when they moved closer, the sounds retreated.

At one point they had to leave the area and return to Cold Springs when the patrol car ran low on gas. When they returned a short time later, the creature[s] was still shrieking.  The two remained in the area until 1:30 a.m. but were unable to discover who or what was making the sounds.

But Hunley was not finished investigating. He returned soon after daylight to look around. "There were no tracks, nothing to indicate anything at all."  He also noted that the area was brushy and rocky and that the ground was frozen.

By January 30, Sheriff Miller Sardella had reduced the call to a bear or mountain lion sighting.

But let's go back one day -- to the day after.  Huntley returned to the original call location. This was where he could find no trace of any kind of creature or animal or person has been there.

Reserve Deputy Miller explored a little further afield and discovered some tracks. He reported them as being 15 to 17 inches long. However, he lost the trail among the cabins in the Jenness Park area.

Sardella, Huntley, and Deputy Pete DeMott then started following the reported track line. They picked up the trail just below the gravel pit that was north of the Peter Pam subdivision. The tracks led downhill to a Baptist Camp area and then doubled back on the road.  Cabins in the area were checked and were found not to have been broken into.

Newspaper reports said the tracks led through Jenness Park and then through the Sierra Boy Scout camp.

Sardella explained that the tracks were followed to try to confirm or disprove the reports from the night before of a 10ft tall "monster" in the area. And then he did so.

Now the tracks were being described as "shoe tracks" and were made before the night's light snowfall. He also seemed to contradict himself, talking in circles. First statement: "I have never seen tracks as big as that. They measured a good 16 inches.". Then he issued the shoe statement. "They were definite shoe tracks and they must have been made by a big man. Of course, it could be a little man with big feet, too." He went on to clarify that the prints were made by shoes but not rubber over boots that would have enlarged a regular track.

Sardella also claimed that he found fresh mountain lion tracks in the area. He stated he was confident the 10-foot-tall figure seen was a bear. The shrieking sounds must have been made by a mountain lion.

"Somebody went up there in the woods. They saw a man or a bear or something and got scared. Our men went up and hollered and a mountain lion hollered back." -- Sardella.

Sardella and Huntley did join in a plea for additional information from the unidentified man who called law enforcement.

"If we could get these people to come in or call and tell us just what they did see, we could make a lot more sensible approach to this thing. We would listen with reason and wouldn't put them in a straight jacket. If they did see a thing of the description, it's important to the community, the sheriff's office, and everyone concerned."

The Sheriff seemed pretty determined that it was a bear. "This is the first year I can remember we haven't had snow in the mountains by this time. Those animals are nervous and hungry. They're usually hibernating by November." He added that the sounds could have been made by an owl or a mountain lion.

Miller stated: "We're pretty well satisfied they [anonymous caller] saw a bear or something. We've come to the conclusion the noise we heard was a mountain lion."  Regarding the tracks, "It would have to be an awfully good-sized man."

But was Huntley as satisfied by this explanation? He seemed to feel that it was either an unseasonal foray by a native Brown bear or it was a hair-covered creature that may have come from Mendocino County.

Huntley had spent at least 3 and a half hours listening to whatever it was shrieking and screaming into the night. So he contacted a Mendocino County resident who knew about similar reports in that area two and three years ago.

"Responsible people [in Mendocino and adjoining counties] did see an individual or thing. They described it as 'mostly hair' -- just a big hairy individual."

One incident of note is that in December 1963, a Deputy Sheriff from Pinecrest reported finding hundreds of 15-inch tracks with a 5-foot stride in Leland Meadow. Unfortunately, no casts were made of any of the prints.

There have been many sightings and experiences reported from this area since the '60s that have continued to this day. Many tracks and many instances of strange cries and actual sightings of sasquatch and bigfoot have been reported.

[You can watch the video version of this post by clicking here.]

[Please Note: Sadly Nancy passed away at the first of January, 2022. We will continue to honor her and her research by sharing her work. RIP Nancy. -Thomas]


"I'll spark the thought; what you do with it is up to you."
 "Those that know, need no further proof. Those that don't, should not demand it from others, but seek it for themselves."

This Post By TCC Team Member Nancy Marietta. Nancy has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and cryptids. Nancy is also a published author and her book, The Price of war, has been met with great reviews.

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