As a child a fond pastime was to accompany my mother to the grocery store and pick up the latest copy of one of several National Inquirer Newspapers, if you could call them news, and spend hours at home reading the strange stories. Nowadays you can just go online with the click of a button and read all kinds of weird stories, but back then you had to go out of your way to find them. It should be well known that such publications were not the most trustworthy, but they made for good laughs and fun reads none the less. My favorites where always stories and headlines about weird monsters and, usually, some kind of incident involving them. Headlines like, “Ecuadorian Bat-Boy strikes fear in local community!” or “Woman claims Extraterrestrial Lizard-Women lives in Bathtub!” However, my favorite were all the stories about Bigfoot. Reading about Bigfoot’s adventures through space with aliens, Bigfoot being employed by the US Border Patrol to keep immigrants out, and I especially loved the two part story of how Bigfoot joined the Taliban only to find out he was a double agent for the US Government to help bring it down from the inside out! Yet the most numerous stories where of people, usually women, recounting their horrifying experience(s) of abduction by the hairy guy. Accounts of being stolen from camp sites and living as Bigfoot’s love slaves where all the rage, on occasion a hairy little hybrid baby would be born as a result, yet these where all in good fun made up stories.
Today’s story however, is far from made up, and is not humorous in the slightest. I started off with this preface to demonstrate how the idea and concept of a scenario involving someone allegedly claiming to be abducted by one of these beasts if often overlooked or immediately ignored as fiction, mostly due to the over publicized accounts like these, and the fact that most credible Bigfoot stories are of quick encounters with shy, yet curious, animals. Yet this year marks the 30 year anniversary of a real life tragedy in which a young girl disappeared and was never seen again. To this day her disappearance is unsolved and is still being treated a case involving foul play. This is the story of the last known whereabouts of Theresa Bier, a 16 year old girl who went into the mountains in search of Bigfoot and never came out.
Theresa Ann Bier at the time of her disappearance was 16 years old and was living with her family in Fresno, California. According to some reports I’ve seen, Theresa expressed in interest in paranormal things such as Bigfoot. On June, 1, 1987, around was the last time she was confirmed to have been seen. The story goes that she was hiking in Shuteye Peak, about 25 miles northeast of Bass Lake, in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It should be noted that the only other person on the trip with her was not any member of her family, but a 43 year old named Russell ‘Skip’ Welch. According to several official Missing Person’s sites, Mr. Welch claims to have been an expert in the subject of Bigfoot and wanted to show her around where they might be some evidence. That was the sole purpose of their trip, find evidence of Bigfoot. None of the official Missing Person’s websites tell of how the two came to know each other prior to the trip nor if the parents had any idea about or had given consent to their daughter’s activities. More on that later on, but for now let us stick to the story and what we do know, and what we do know is that when Russell Welch returned several days later he was alone, Theresa was nowhere to be found.
Once it became clear Theresa was missing police went to interview Welch. His initial claim was while in the woods he and Theresa had gotten into an argument and she ran off, after that he didn’t see her again. He would soon change his story completely. Mr. Welch now claimed that while on a hike to try and make contact with Bigfoot, they somehow became separated. It was then he believes she was forcibly take by a Bigfoot. None of the released police reports indicate why Welch, who was not with her at the time of alleged abduction, believes she was taken by a Bigfoot. He doesn’t make references to hearing any screams, or finding any physical evidence, such a footprint or other signs.
Of course, as most people would be, the police very skeptical of Mr. Welch’s story and treated the case with the assumption of foul play. Something immediately struck me as odd about Mr. Welch in this case. Why did he lie to them the first time around, was he afraid they wouldn’t believe him? What makes him so sure they would now, especially after lying to them in the first place?! That’s not a good way of establishing credibility with the police, especially when you are the last person seen with a missing minor and you admit to being alone with her in the woods! From that point on, Mr. Welch seems to stick with this version of the incident. An intensive search of the area was conducted by police, and on evidence of any kind of what happened to Theresa was ever found.
To this day the case remains unsolved with all investigators still strongly believing foul play, not of the Sasquatch kind, was involved. From what I have been able to gather Mr. Welch is, at the time of this writing, still alive in Fresno, California and has been living there ever since 1987. This case is so strange and upsetting for a number of reasons. First, why don’t we have more detailed interviews with Theresa’s family on record, and did they happen at all (I’d hope so!). Second, even taking into account the bizarre and downright unreliable nature of this case, why hasn’t there been more detailed investigations made by third party investigators? And by investigators I mean, us! After all if we are so willing to re-share and reproduce this story why haven’t we made any more special effort to help try and bring about some kind of closure to this case?!