ATLANTA — Two researchers on a quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot say that the carcass encased in a block of ice - handed over to them for an undisclosed sum by two men who claimed to have found it - was slowly thawed out, and discovered to be a rubber gorilla outfit.
The revelation comes just days after a much ballyhooed news conference was held in California to proclaim that the remains of the creature found in the North Georgia mountains was the legendary man-ape.
Steve Kulls, executive director of squatchdetective.com and host of Squatchdetective Radio, says in a posting on a Web site run by Bigfoot researcher Tom Biscardi that as the "evidence" was thawed, the claim began to unravel as a giant hoax.
First, the hair sample was burned and "melted into a ball uncharacteristic of hair," Kulls said in the posting.
The thawing process was sped up and the exposed head was found to be "unusually hollow in one small section." An hour of thawing later and the feet were exposed - and they were found to be made of rubber.
Matt Whitton, an officer who has been on medical leave from the Clayton County Police Department, and Rick Dyer, a former Georgia corrections officer, announced the find in early July on YouTube videos and a Web site.
"Everyone who has talked down to us is going to eat their words," Whitton said at the time.
Phone calls to Whitton and Dyer went unreturned on Tuesday. But the voicemail recording for their Bigfoot Tip Line - which proclaims they search for leprechauns and the Loch Ness monster - has been updated and announcing they're also in search of "big cats and dinosaurs. If you see any of those, give us a call."
On Tuesday, Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said he has not spoken to Whitton but processed paperwork to fire him.
"Once he perpetrated a fraud, that goes into his credibility and integrity," Turner said. "He has violated the duty of a police officer."