Down the rabbit hole: An interview with Rich Germeau, part 1


Without Rich Germeau there probably would be no Ketchum DNA study. He collected a big portion of the purported Bigfoot DNA samples. The forty-year-old Germeau is the co-founder of the Olympic project whose goal was to capture images of Bigfoot on the Olympic peninsula in Washington State. The former cop does not support the hypothesis that Bigfoot is an ape. He prefers different explanations. In this first of a two-part interview Germeau talks about the DNA samples he collected, the infamous Ketchum/Erickson project, and his weird experiences with the phenomenon that eventually made him stop researching altogether.

This interview was conducted in 2015 via Skype.

Richard, can you tell me about your first sighting in 2000 when you saw a Bigfoot while on patrol?

Richard Germeau: It was between 50 and 70 yards away, took four steps across the road. I just became aware of something that wasn’t supposed to be real and all of a sudden, it was there. It did not look at me, but you know, it had a very nonhuman-like way it walked, the head didn’t bob, I mean it was humanoid looking, obviously. Very large, about 8 feet I figured. The fur was thick from the back to the chest, all of one colour, this kind of bushy hair. But I was not close enough to see any detail or something.

But it was hard for me to identify it as anything but a Bigfoot because I was too close to it to misidentify it and that changed the way I behaved.

What do you mean?

I avoided doing things I did before these months and I just also had a realization that there was something out there which wasn’t supposed to be there. And it was outside of human control. Meaning if it wanted to do something to you, you could do nothing to stop it, I mean it was big and probably also highly intelligent.

It also made me start asking questions about… you know, I was a black-and-white thinker, I was a police officer right at the time. And it maybe made me a little bit angry because obviously I was not the first person to see it. And this thing was actually real. And how come it was a secret, how come I wasn’t been told?

This is America, we have all this technology, satellites, we can pinpoint a mosquito landing on someone’s arm from space, so why wouldn’t we be able to find this?

Did you get involved in Bigfoot research immediately after your experience?

I wasn’t really involved but if someone would bring the topic up I would talk about it, tell people what I’ve seen. I was never someone who has been afraid of what people think about me. I got ridiculed, people laughed at me, chuckled but I didn’t let it bother me.

In 2009, I got a call from a guy named Derek Randles through a mutual friend and he talked to me about the sighting that I had and he tried to get me involved in the research in general. I was kind of reluctant but eventually I had this idea to do this camera trap project on the Olympic mountains, which was the Olympic Project.

And we put camera traps out and in short order, I think in July 2009 I ended up getting some game camera pictures of a Bigfoot. They are on the project website under possible pictures.

This was the camera with the saliva sample, right, that was included in the Ketchum study?

Yes, I got a saliva sample off of it. It was a viable sample and it matched the other presumed samples. So yeah, that’s one of the samples in the Ketchum DNA study. It’s actually the only sample I got official credit for.

If you look on the page, on the submitter’s information, there are documents. I’m not the only one who submitted anything but I wrote up these documents, like police reports, collection of evidence, history of the locations, everything like that. I ended up submitting a big portion of the samples for that study, even though I only got official credit for one.

Are you’re still part of the Olympic research project?

I still am in the group, I just stepped back a bit. Here’s the deal with the whole thing, I did this for about five years. If I do something, I go all-in, and I work as hard as I can, I think outside the box, try to get to the end results that I want. I’m not saying that I wanted any specific end results, I’m open-minded, I just do all the work necessary to get to the end, which is satisfaction of my own mind.

So basically I did everything that I could, I collected all these samples, we did the camera traps, I hiked thousands of miles on the Olympics, and in 2010, I had a second encounter.

Let’s talk about the Olympic peninsula first. Is it really such a Bigfoot hotspot?

No, not at all.

It’s one area that has a concentration of them, throughout the whole range of the Olympics. But they’re everywhere around here, it’s not like they’re just there, it’s everywhere.

They live really close to people, in most cases they live right beyond their fences. They live in rural areas and right outside cities.

I know that is hard to accept, but you got to realize, during the DNA study, we were able to procure about a 111 samples, we could basically identify one hundred different Sasquatch individuals. Except for one specific group, none of them were related to each other.

Most of these samples were from North America, a few more were from other continents. Say, 90 of them were from North America. If you’re able to go to North America and take 90 samples of Sasquatch from all over America, east coast, west coast, central, Canada, everywhere. And none of those samples were closely related to each other. Doesn’t that tell you something about population base? Something that is so rare that people think only few of them exist. But we identified 90 of them of which none of them were related to each other.

We did identify a family group of individuals out of those hairs. Those ones were related to each other, amongst each other. There was a mother, father, I think a child and a cousin out of their group of four.

I got saliva from the one from the photograph which is only 8 miles away from another one. There was no blood relation between the two. They were both on the Olympic peninsula, both within close proximity to each other. There was no close relation.

But if you deal with an extremely rare animal that’s on the brink of extinction, you’d think you would identify a family group in one spot. Single individuals, 8 miles away, there’d be some genetic relation between the two, if they were extremely rare. There would be repeated inbreeding. We didn’t find that.

I used to have access to a database where people make their reports to.

All the sightings you see online are the sightings that made it through. 90 percent of them don’t even get there. It’s not because those ones aren’t valid, it’s because a lot of times witnesses don’t want to cooperate any further, they just want to report it and then forget about it.

So there is way more sightings that you could know about and I utilized all of those, in all my research areas.

And what I did was I took places with a long history, like repeated sightings over decades. Even if a place has been called for 15, 20 years, and nobody reported anything, and you go back to these places, you eventually start finding traces, evidence that they were there.

Just because people don’t report stuff, it does not mean it doesn’t happen. You need the right person at the right time that notices something. Because most people walk around and they hear things and might even see things. But they are really blind and don’t pay attention to anything. Anything could have been going on and they wouldn’t even know it happened.

You said that you’ve stepped back from the Olympic Project group. Why?

Because they’re wasting time. They keep doing the same stuff that doesn’t deal with the results. I spent five years into this thing and I don’t like wasting my time. Immediately when I got in, they started interviewing witnesses.

You have two different areas of evidences and information you get regarding this topic. You have one that fits into the box of normalcy and science and you have one that doesn’t fit. And in fact, more of it doesn’t fit within. Because as you start and try to utilize normal tactics of science and everything, you do your research and you find these things don’t work. And in fact, you find this thing is specifically circumventing whatever you’re doing, your techniques, be it game cameras, electronics, whatever it might be. They know how to circumvent it.

They can detect it, find it, even without seeing it. You can hide these cameras as best as you can ever hide them, knowing good well there’s a Sasquatch in this area, that prowls in this area and watch the path every day. He will know where that camera is, he will find it, he will be able to navigate around it, well before the camera ever sees him. I don’t know how it is, how it happens, but it does, and they play with you, they move the camera. They know what cameras are. I don’t know how they know it, they just know.

So you do think that it’s not just a “damned dirty ape” like veteran researcher René Dahinden liked to call them?

You tell me if there’s some ape out there that has an intelligence that we can accept as human beings. Which means it’s sub our level, because obviously we are unable to accept there is something out there, another type of human being that can detect all this stuff, avoid us, and continue a lifespan even when there’s 9 billion human beings on that planet.

The truth is, they can do these things and they do it all the time, that’s how they exist. But you have to start realizing, all this stuff that doesn’t make sense, you just can’t discount it and just not use it as part of your formula to get to an end result. You have to take it into consideration. And I spent three or four years not considering that, I just looked at it as some misidentification, these witnesses are misconstruing it.

Maybe because I’m having this experience, I’m misconstruing or misidentifying something. And not tying it all together. Because I was having the same type of experience, I felt the same thing as the witnesses I talked to and I was just discounting their things, what they were sensing and feeling and experiencing.

It got to the point where I was researching in this one specific site, close to the place where I got these game camera pictures and saliva sample, and another thing that kept coming back routinely was the fact you investigate these witness reports of these ongoing type things, like houses and stuff, where these people claim to have repeated activity or even interactions in some cases to one degree or another. It was always strange people…

Can you elaborate?

The people that it happened to were always afraid. A lot of times they were clairvoyant, partly psychic, open-minded people, a little bit off, a little bit different than everybody else. It’s always these types of people. Very kind to animals people. A lot of people who love the strange, crazy you might say. It’s always those people that repeat this stuff in their stories and their interactions were all the same. Same behaviour, everything. And the things that they would see, the things that they would tell you about, other things, what they would feel, it was all the same. People would claim that they get these impressions that they just feel certain things, that they would be watched in the woods.

You’ve been in the woods probably in your life, right? You’ve been on hikes and camping and whatnot. Sometimes you get into an area and you just feel something at the back of your head, somebody is around you, you feel a presence, being watched, you know. And I think that a lot of that is genuine in some sense that it really is a sixth sense that we have but it’s also something that we have inside us that we don’t clearly understand. It’s a safety mechanism, to be aware of danger and stuff that maybe we forgot about but really still is out there. Just a lot of weird things.

Let’s talk about the camera traps and how these creatures are avoiding them.

I ended up having a bait site at the location where I tried to get pictures of these things and they’d move my cameras around. That’s the first thing, they’d just turn my cameras around to the trees. And I would leave one way where they could get in and out without having a picture taken. I’d always leave an access and an exit point so they don’t feel trapped and actually come in. Then you try to set it up so once they’re in, they can’t avoid their photograph taken. Maybe you use four or five cameras.

But guess what, they’d always find out ways to get in and out without getting a picture taken but at the same time they found ways to manipulate the bait. And I started using food first but I got away from that right away because other animals take the food and disappear.

I started using toys and things like that and other strange items like wind chimes, whatever I could think of. They would never take anything in front of the camera. They would take stuff outside of the camera. And sometimes the things in front of the cameras would be knocked over and stuff and I look at pictures but there is no one in the pictures moving them. But then I started noticing rocks in the frames lying on the ground that weren’t there before. Like the size of baseballs and stuff, to knock them over.

That was one thing. And then you ask yourself: How can this thing be so intelligent? To stay out of the range of this thing. It’s not gonna hurt them, all it’s gonna do is photograph them and identify their existence. Obviously they have a consciousness about that. They don’t want that to happen.

Interesting. If you think about it, there’s got to be thousands of game cameras out there in the woods. And no single convincing picture of a Bigfoot exists.

There’s a million game cameras in the woods right now, few of them set by Bigfoot researchers but most of them set by everyday shmoes. You’d think by the number of these things, they would stumble across one of these cameras and got their picture taken? I don’t know.

There’s a million traps, there’s lots of DNA to identify these things are real but for some reason they can avoid all technology. What’s funny is that, the more advanced the technology has got, it hasn’t help at all. You haven’t seen any more evidence coming in with the advance of technology than there was before.

The best piece of video footage is the Patterson-Gimlin film and it hasn’t been surpassed since then. We got a lot more technology since then, we got a lot more people in the woods, everybody’s got a camera, yet nobody can do any better.

But what do you think of the footage that Adrian Erickson claims to have? They are supposed to be better than the Patterson film?

I tell you what – I’ve seen the Matilda footage and whatnot. I know those people. I was involved in that, I met them personally. If you watch the press release for the DNA study where I was on TV…

Yeah, I saw that.

I tell you that I have to believe what they say based on what I’ve been told and I know that the DNA is valid that came out of those. So I have to say that the footage is genuine. But to say they are better than the Patterson-Gimlin footage? I don’t think so. Although it’s closer up and it shows a face like a Wookie, kinda, like Chewbacca? I think that’s a coincidence. I think it’s real, let me put it that way. Based more on the contacts, testimony and the character of people that I know, not based on the details of the footage itself.

You see in the Gimlin footage, you get really good detail, you see the thing walk. You get locomotion, all kinds of other things that help to show validity versus just a stagnant breathing creature that is sitting in close proximity of you. You don’t really get a good idea of the anatomy or anything else other than that. There’s this thing really heinous looking and scary, but you know. I’d say that nobody is surprised by that footage.

It’s interesting because I have seen the press conference, the video of it. I found it a bit strange that they only showed like short snippets of the footage. And they claimed they have…

I’ve seen all that stuff two or three times prior to when they’ve shown. There is none that I’ve seen that hasn’t been shown. They have nothing better than what they’ve shown. He has allegedly longer shots but he won’t release it. Because he invested a bunch of money in it and he doesn’t believe that we’d take all that seriously because of the culture of the topic and how people feel about it.

Whenever any footage comes out, everybody is trying to find a mistake, no matter how good it is.

Ok, let’s talk about your sighting in 2010.

That was really kinda what made me stop doing research the way all these other people do it. I kinda pulled back and I just withdrew myself because there is no point. There is an element of danger to it and it wasn’t really worth it.

Essentially what happened was, we had one site in particular, on Harstine Island in Mason county, and I live pretty close to this area. I initially got involved there because of a witness report we came across.

These people moved into the house and they started having these interactions. Had a couple of sightings. We did some research and found out there have been multiple sightings by different people really close to this house. In ten years there were about twelve sightings.

One of them was a medical doctor who saw two of them cross the street there. So we actually started doing research there and it was just at the beginning, before we were doing the Olympic Project. Long story short, we ended up with quite a couple of hairs, found some tracks that were pretty good. The people living there had a couple more sightings. They moved out and we ended up leasing the house for six months. No results. It just made them withdraw, that was it. So we quit. And they pulled out.

I waited a couple of months and then I went back in there by myself, and I started putting cameras back.

We kinda figured out they were in this area between October and April, for whatever reason. And this area was between two roads where other people live so they were kinda stuck in this corridor that went out to a beach, where they could get shellfish and eat during winter time. I think that is why they were there.

I had cameras there in this spot for a couple of months, actually through the whole summer, and nothing did happen. I was routinely going to this place three times a week and just walked around in the woods, checking cameras, looking at stuff. Just making my presence known and what I was doing, kinda.

I was just trying to do a different type of research than the other guys were doing. I wasn’t banging on trees or howling in the woods, I wasn’t doing any of that stuff. I would just walk around and checking cameras. Occasionally I might put some rocks out, to arrange them in a certain way. See if it entices anything. Nothing happened.

I actually ran for Sheriff and long story short, I ended up losing it. It was after the election and it was November eleventh and I just happened to be at coast side areas and I had my keys to my cameras. So I thought I’d go and check that spot. I didn’t bring a gun with me this day, and I always have a gun with me, but this day specifically I didn’t. It was overcast, slightly drizzly, some raindrops here and there. And the funny thing is that I had a strange feeling.

As soon as I parked the car where I usually get out, I just had the overwhelming feeling that I shouldn’t be there and I should probably just go home. Like someone’s telling me “just get back in your car and go, you don’t need to be here. There’s something here you don’t know about”. I can’t explain it, it was a feeling of dread. I didn’t know what it was, it was just strange. And I ignored it and I just got out of my car. And I had the feeling the whole time, the whole air was heavy, it was completely still, no wind or anything.


So I checked one camera and I noticed a faint compression around the camera somewhere, but I wasn’t sure. It was just a big flat spot on the ground in the shape of a foot. And that’s what you see a lot of times. You just look for a spot where the ground is flat like it’s smoothed off, like one step there. You’re looking for stuff like that and you just take note of it.

Obviously I had an unsettling feeling the whole time and as I was there wandering, it kept getting stronger and stronger. I checked one camera and then I went to another one. I don’t know why, for any reason I didn’t feel safe there that day, there was no reason for me not to. It has been a year since we’ve seen any tracks or anything like that and I’ve been in the woods there like fifty times, walking around, nothing. Never felt strange, nothing, just normal. Didn’t see anything but this day I felt real weird, real uncomfortable.

So I get to that camera, you can see the road from this spot and that gives you some comfort, because you feel like you’re in the sight of the road, you can get to through the brush. The road people can’t see but you can see the road. Cars driving by can’t see you. And there’s some kind of border briars along the road under the trees.

So I get to this camera and I got a whole ring of keys. While checking this camera, I go through the keys to unlock it. I got about 25 keys, it takes a long time. There are little keys, so you have to wiggle them a little bit. And I’m going through these keys and uhm… away from me I kept hearing something, like twigs breaking, snap snap snap, and it sounded really close to me. But I could see about 80, 90 yards of that direction and that was all clear, there’s a creek that runs and there’s some senior trees that are draped over. You can’t see beyond them because their limbs create a canopy and anything inside of it is kind of dim. It’s a dark area and I’ve been in there and kept hearing twigs breaking. But I wasn’t sure if it was twigs breaking or was it just the raindrops that occasionally come down.

Every time I hear I looked over to see. But the strange thing is that the sound sounded closer than of the distance. There was nothing in proximity within 100 yards which was wide open between me and that area. It sounded like the sound was ten yards away, then a hundred, well, I’m hearing it. That’s the direction where the sound is coming from so my attention keeps going that way.

What happened next?

I kept getting more and more uncomfortable, feeling like a dread, like my role and my life was going to end for some reason and there’s nothing I can do about it. Really strange feeling, never had that feeling since then. It was overwhelming, like something was emitting some sort of energy on me that was making me feel really bad. Like everything was gonna end. Like I was gonna slip into a black hole and never be heard from again. And every reality I knew was gone. That’s one of the best ways I can explain it because I never felt it again, never felt it before that, it’s very strange.

Then all of a sudden I heard this sound, from the same direction. And I know that sound, it sounds like a buck deer snorting and during that time in November it’s their kinda mating time of the year, the bucks are aggressive and whatnot, but it was enough to give me comfort that that’s what I was hearing making those twigs break and it calmed me down for a second.

But it was slightly different enough from a real deer snort to make me question in the back of my mind but I was more than willing to accept it as that since I wanted it to be that. Because whatever was not a deer in this area was causing me major distress. But I was all alone you know. So I hear that sound and I’m going through my keys, I keep thinking to myself… I’m down with the last couple at this point, and I keep thinking to myself, I gotta go, I’m not gonna stay here any longer, I’m not gonna go through these keys again if this is the wrong one, because something was really making me uncomfortable.

So I get to the second last key and I turn it and it opens and it’s like a big relief. So I open the camera, push the button on it to get it ready to pull the card out, I pull the card, I turn it off, I put a new card in, I turn it on, and then you have to wait a few seconds for it to get itself ready to arm. During that time, right in front of me, really close, I hear groaning sounds and I’m like… no, right then I just froze. And I know in my mind already it was not a bear because I had cameras in this area for a couple of years, during that time we’ve never seen any evidence of any bears. No tracks, never got a game camera picture of one. The area was void of them for some reason, it was full of berries but we did find deer skeletons all over the place in strange amounts, just piles of them, it was very odd. Probably attributed to Bigfoots eating them.

So anyway, I hear that groan and I know what it is immediately and nothing else, it is not a bear, the sound was like something that wanted me to know it was there and was very disappointed. That was the sense that I got from the sound and the feeling I had.

As I startled I lifted my head up and I could see something standing in front of me, next to a big maple tree. And like it knew I was gonna see it. As my head was going up I could see it out of the peripheral of my view, it wasn’t locked on straight in line of my view but I could see it on the top of my eyes under my hat. When I lifted my head up, it ducked behind a bush. It was like one motion. By the time it was behind the bush I was looking straight there and it shut up from that bush and it was kinda squatted down, but still upright on two feet. It was facing me; it wouldn’t take its eyes off me.

And then it shot across this opening of about fifteen meters in silence and gone. And I thought to myself that I’m dead and I need to get out of here right now. And I thought the thing was flanking me because it was headed in the same direction as my car so I was about to crap my pants and I was scared to death. I can’t even explain now what I was feeling.

I held myself long enough together to turn the camera back on and put the cover on and to get out of there. As I was running away, the camera was taking pictures of me. I didn’t stop, I forgot to lock the camera, but I thought to myself there is no way, I need to get out of here. How fast that thing moves there’s no way I could beat it. If it wants me it’s gonna be so quick I never make it out of here. So I just ran to the road. When I got to the road, I was almost hyperventilating; my heart was all beating funny. I was freaking out. When I got to my car, I just broke down in tears and I drove home.

My wife asked me what was wrong, I was white as a ghost when I came home and I told her. I called a bunch of people talking of what happened, to be honest freaking out and I really felt like I was gonna stop doing it all together.

But it got weirder after that.

What do you mean?

For about two months after that I would wake up about the same time every night, out of my sleep, and I was having like a strong impression on my mind like… it wasn’t voices in my head, it was just someone telling me you need to stop working for that, you need to stop doing camera stuff, you need to stop what you’re doing right now. There was no consequence explained to me, nothing, that was it. It was there when I woke up, just this message right in my face. And I even got to the point where I thought, should I try talking into my head back and see if anything comes back and I did it. Nothing, nothing. And I get this every night, I wake up at the same time. Wake up like wide awake. And this would be in my face: “You need to stop, you need to stop, you need to stop”. And this happened every day for a long time, for a couple of months. I really withdrew back. I listened to it. I didn’t want to stop it but I did anyway. Not fully but for about 90 percent I really withdrew.

And that’s not the only thing that happened too. They came to my house after that.


I don’t know how they found out where I live but I heard one scream outside my door when I pulled in my driveway. I just kinda ignored it, walked into the house but I knew what it was. It was piercing loud, and it was like ten yards away from me. It wanted to let me know “I know where you live”.

One day, my wife calls me on the phone while I’m at work. It was sunny outside, I think it was still winter, spring time and she called me on the cellphone, saying “the strangest thing happened to me… these two small round stones just fell out of nowhere, in the grass next to us.” I was like, “were there any kids around?” and she said “No” and “was there a plane flying or anything?”, “No!”. I think they threw the rocks out there because they knew she would tell me. I don’t know why but I just know it was them who did that, there’s no other explanation for that. And also the scream at my house…

I think they wanted to let me know that they could find me. Whatever they wanted to do, they could do it, there was nothing I could do about it. If they wanted to find where I live they could, they didn’t have to follow me there to find it. They could just find me by who I was. And it doesn’t make sense. And that’s when you start getting into. I couldn’t just ignore these things. There’s more than that too.

Did you stop researching?

I really have mostly. I do a little bit of stuff but I never got to work by myself anymore. I’m very alert when I go into the woods. I had them here at my house, I called them here. You can bring them around, it’s not hard to do. They make an area uncomfortable, they make the animals uncomfortable. If you really look into it realistically, I don’t understand how people go out there and just think that these things are some kind of… want to be friends with them. Maybe they do, I don’t know.

But I can tell you, these people don’t know what they’re dealing with. I don’t even know what I’m dealing with for sure, but I can tell you that the DNA supports the weird stuff. There’s weird structures in the DNA and I don’t know if Melba really says much about it because she’s gotten beat up so badly.

Part 2


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Chris Kummer is a journalist and historian based in Switzerland. He focuses mainly on scientific controversies and inquiries into so-called paranormal phenomena.

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