Forty-nine years ago in Tazewell County, 100 armed men walked the woods around East Peoria’s Cole Hollow Road in search of a monster.
The search was called off about 7:45 p.m. when one of the men accidentally shot himself in the foot. The creature was never found.
It’s hard to pin down exactly when and where all the excitement over the Cohomo monster started. Old articles found in the Daily Times archives
blame a monster called Momo who was first spotted in rural northeastern Missouri a year before the Tazewell County sightings. James Donahue, Tazewell
County Sheriff in 1972, still remembers the infectious hysteria of that summer.
In May 1972, there were reports coming in from all around the Pekin and Peoria, Illinois areas. In late May, a young man named Randy Emmert, and some
friends, reported a large, hairy creature near Cole Hollow Road. This monster was 8-10 feet tall and was whitish in color. They stated that it made a
loud, screeching sound and they suspected that it was living in a hole beneath an abandoned house. It also left very unusual tracks, having only three
toes on each foot. Soon, others were reporting the same monster and it became known as “Cohomo,” short for the “Cole Hollow Road Monster.”
On May 25th, local police logged more than 200 calls about the monster. The calls ranged from seeing the monster walking through the woods, through
yards, or along river banks, and even a report of the monster destroying a caller’s fence. The police were naturally skeptical of all the calls, but
kept track of them nonetheless. By July 1972, there had been so many reported sightings that 100 volunteers were organized to search for the monster.
After a search that lasted about two weeks, Tazewell County sheriff’s officers sent the volunteers home when one of them, Carl R. Harris,
accidentally shot himself in the leg with a .22 caliber pistol.
The sightings continued and they couldn’t be written off to local “panic” either. On Tuesday, July 25th, 1972, Creve Coeur authorities reported
that a witness saw something big swimming in the Illinois River. The following evening, the Tazewell County Sheriffs Department received a call from a
Eureka man who knew nothing about the creature, but said he and his family were having a birthday party in Fondulac Park in East Peoria and sighted
the creature. That same night, more than 200 phone calls about monster sightings jammed the switchboard at the East Peoria Police Department.
On July 28th, a rural Pekin woman reported that she saw Cohomo while picking berries by an old coal mine. The woman told the Sheriff’s office she
was so scared she ran off, leaving her purse behind.
Later that same night, East Peoria Police got another detailed descriptions of the creature. It was reported that two people had jointly seen Cohomo.
They described it as 10 feet tall. The creature’s face had long, gray U-shaped ears and a red mouth with sharp teeth. They also said the creature
possessed thumbs with long second joints and looked like a cross between an ape and a cave man.
Newspaper articles of the time suggest that Cohomo had a horrible smell, sometimes compared to that of a wet dog, rotten eggs, or as sulphur-like. The
Cohomo craze swept over Tazewell County.
Cohomo was seen again on July 27th, 1972, as East Peoria Police reported that he was spotted by “two reliable citizens” swimming in the Illinois
River. They got close enough to him to know that he smelled awful and looked like a “cross between an ape and a caveman.”
After that, Cohomo was gone.
Although he has no idea what it may have been, Donahue says he thinks people had really seen something.
From an article in the Pekin Daily Times, dated November 7th, 2006, and other sources.
edit on 23-10-2021 by TrulyColorBlind because: Corrected