February 26, 2010


One day in September, 2003, after dropping his daughter off at Southern Vermont College in
Bennington, Ray Dufresne headed north on Route 7, beginning the 125-mile drive back to his home in Winooski.

It was about
7:00 p.m..

When he had reached the highest elevation between Bennington and Manchester, Mr. Dufresne noticed something moving in a narrow, deserted field on his right.

“What the f--- was that?” he said in the empty car.

During a recent interview at his home, he told me, “It was a big black hairy thing, walking strangely. Long hairy arms; the body was huge. It was a lot bigger than me. I’m 220, so this must have been over 270. A lot over. Over 6 feet. Wider. Beefier. I just couldn’t believe it. Must be a man in a gorilla suit, I thought.”

He lost sight of it as it moved east into the woods of Glastenbury Mountain, an area where, over the years, many strange sights and sounds have been reported.

“I kept driving,” Mr. Dufresne said. “There was nothing around. No cars, no houses. It was a desolate place. Now I kick myself because I didn’t go back and investigate.”

“I’m not saying it’s Bigfoot,” he said. “I was never a Bigfoot believer. But I saw what I saw and I can’t change what I saw.”

The truth of Mr. Dufresne’s tale was buttressed when other people reported similar sightings in the same area.

When Ray’s story appeared in the Bennington Banner, San Francisco writer Doug Dorst came forth to report that he had seen a similar creature a week earlier as he was driving toward Bennington College to give a reading. He saw what Ray did not: the creature’s face, which he described as light brown.

Two women -- Sadelle Wiltshire and Ann Mrowicki – said they had also seen the “beast” the same night as Mr. Dufresne. They estimated they’d been as close as 10 feet away.

While everyone admits a misidentification or hoax might be possible, Ray Dufresne says it definitely was not a bear. As a lifelong hunter, he can easily identify a bear. Besides, bears will not walk on their hind legs for any great distance.

". . .it definitely was not a bear. . ."

A hoax is another matter, but “the man in a gorilla suit” solution is pretty far-fetched. And dangerous. Armed men in pickups routinely patrol that isolated area. Any trickster dressed in a gorilla suit would be about as safe as some lunkhead wearing antlers in the woods during deer season.

To be continued . . .