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Bigfoot and the FBI: Conspiracies, Body-Bags, Smuggling, and the Vietnam War!

You may have seen the breaking story of Bigfoot and the FBI. Yep, you did read that right!  As Yahoo notes: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday released a correspondence file containing the results of tests it performed on a tissue sample alleged to be from Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch — a purported human-like creature that was sporadically reported to be roaming the wilderness in the Pacific Northwest. The 22-page file, made public following a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that the FBI agreed to test a hair sample ‘attached to a tiny piece of skin’ obtained and submitted by the Oregon-based Bigfoot Information Center.” It should be noted that the hair was conclusively confirmed as having come from nothing stranger than a deer. Well, shit. In that sense, the big news is not so big news, after all. There is, however, a far more intriguing case that also attracted the attention of the FBI and which is swamped in controversy and conspiracy. Read on…

Over the years, various people within the field of Cryptozoology have made controversial claims that they have – or have had – in their possession nothing less than the remains of a dead Bigfoot. Thus far, absolutely none of the claims has proved to be genuine. There is, however, one case in particular that many researchers of the Bigfoot phenomenon suspect may be utterly genuine. It’s the strange saga of the Minnesota Iceman. Frank Hansen was a man who gained deep notoriety when, in the 1960s, he maintained that he had acquired the deceased remains of an unusual creature, one that appeared to be part-human, and part-ape. There were problems from the start. Not the least of which was from whom, precisely, Hansen had acquired the body of the beast. The initial story was that the well-preserved corpse was found – floating in a block of ice, no less – in the ocean waters off of Siberia. Reportedly, it was seen, bobbing up and down in the freezing water, by the crew of a boat in the area, who wasted no time hauling it aboard.

That’s all well and good, and maybe it’s exactly what happened. On the other hand, maybe it’s not what happened – in the slightest. A second story links the body of the Iceman to Hong Kong, rather than the waters of Siberia. It’s a story that maintains the corpse was found in a Hong Kong deep-freeze and secretly dispatched to the United States. A further theory, that the creature was shot by U.S. troops at the height of the Vietnam War, continues to circulate. In that scenario, the body of the Iceman was secretly shipped/smuggled back to the United States in a body-bag by U.S. troops. Other theories circulated: Suspicions that the beast was actually slain in Bemidji, Minnesota by a hunter, Helen Westring, or was the special-effects-based work of one Howard Ball, who was employed by the Walt Disney Corporation, also did the rounds for a while. Regardless of the origin of the Minnesota Iceman, the word was that the body finally made its winding way to a still-unknown figure in California, one with a sizable amount of money to allow them to purchase the potentially priceless remains.

Rumors suggested that the anonymous buyer was none other than the actor James Stewart – of It’s a Wonderful Life fame – who certainly was deeply fascinated by the controversy of the Yeti. True or not, the unknown individual did a deal with Hansen to have the latter exhibit it at a number of state fairs, all across the United States and Canada, too. When Hansen received the body, however, he realized this was no monster. Although covered in hair and savage looking, it had distinct human qualities, too. Not surprisingly, the cryptozoological community eventually heard of the story and wasted no time in trying to figure out what was going on – and what, exactly, Hansen was displaying for his amazed audiences. Among those that had the opportunity to check out the Minnesota Iceman were two highly regarded cryptozoolgists, Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson. Fortunately, the pair had the opportunity to do so not in the hectic and crowded atmosphere of a state fair, but at Hansen’s very own residence. Both men were sure that what they were looking at had once lived. Even through the ice, the smell of stomach-churning, rotting meat permeated. The body did not appear to be a dummy or some form of special-effect. Heuvelmans and Sanderson were, to say the least, excited.

James Stewart

Excitement changed to puzzlement and frustration when the body soon, thereafter, disappeared – back to the unidentified individual that had placed it in the hands of Frank Hansen in the first place. That wasn’t the end of the story, however. According to Hansen, after the body was returned to its owner, he – Hansen – was provided with a life-like mannequin of the real Iceman. It was a mannequin that Hansen happily toured with for years. There’s a good reason as to why Hansen got rid of the real corpse. To his concern, Hansen learned that the FBI was checking him out. Why? Because of concerns that what Hansen had on display was not an ape, or an unknown animal, but a human. The FBI’s reasoning was simple. There were numerous laws governing the transportation, as well as the importation and exportation, of human corpses. So, the FBI wanted answers. Sanderson (far more proactive in this area than Heuvelmans) felt that by having people in authority examine the body would confirm it as a human being (of some sort), as an unknown creature, or as a money-making hoax. An examination was the very last thing Hansen wanted. The image of the Feds knocking on his door had Hansen coming out in a cold sweat. Hence why the switch took place.

We know that the FBI definitely took an interest in the saga of the Minnesota Iceman. What we don’t know, though, is to what extent. I’d say it’s now time for someone to file a Freedom of Information Act with the FBI and see if the complete file on the Minnesota Iceman can be found and declassified, and the mystery resolved once and for all.

A strange and savage body, the FBI in hot pursuit, the Vietnam War, body-bags and smuggling: someone needs to turn this into a movie!

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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