Was Theresa Ann Bier Taken by Bigfoot?

Despite being a lesser known missing person mystery, the 1987 vanishing of 16 year-old Fresno, California native Theresa Ann Bier is a story filled with twists and turns, all of which point to the guilt of one man.

This man, 43 year-old Russel “Skip” Welch, maintained his innocence until his passing in 1998.

According to Welch, who was the last person to see Theresa alive, she was taken by none other than famed cryptid Bigfoot.

Despite the sheer ridiculousness of his explanation, he was unfortunately never convicted of a crime related to her disappearance.

But how did Theresa end up alone with Welch in the first place?

Some Background on Theresa Ann Bier

At no point in her life did Theresa live in a stable environment. After suffering harsh mistreatment at the hands of her parents David and Shirley Bier, she was placed in foster care, bouncing from house to house until she ended up in the custody of her uncle John Richmond, better known as “Blind Johnny.” 

Unfortunately, her uncle did not treat her any better than her parents did. Most likely as a result of her upbringing, she was described in school as a “slow learner.”

This made her susceptible to the lies of her uncle’s neighbor Russel “Skip” Welch.

Russel “Skip” Welch Tells Theresa Ann Bier of His Past Bigfoot Sightings

Source: Jon Sailer via Unsplash

43-year old Skip was a house painter by trade, though the majority of his income came from disability checks.

A frequent user of amphetamines, he was obsessed with the sasquatch, a cryptid otherwise known as Bigfoot. He would regale Theresa with stories of his past Bigfoot encounters.

In late May of 1987, Theresa told her friends Peggy and Janice that she would be going to the mountains with Skip. The purpose of the pair’s trip—according to Skip—was to encounter a Bigfoot.

June 1, 1987: Theresa Ann Bier Leaves With Skip

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Source: G. Thomas, Wikipedia

On the morning of June 1, 1987, Skip stopped by his neighbor Blind Johnny’s house. He noticed Theresa “getting ready for school” and offered to drive her.

This was, of course, a ruse that he and Theresa had previously planned. Instead of taking her to school, he drove her to the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Meanwhile, Blind Johnny received a call from Theresa’s school, informing him of her absence. After trying and failing to track her down on his own, he reported her missing to the police, telling them that she had left that morning with Skip. 

June 10, 1987: Police Finally Track Down Russel “Skip” Welch

Source: Kenny Eliason via Unsplash

Skip proved to be difficult for police to find. As they searched for him, they interviewed his family and acquaintances, one of whom was a 17 year-old girl by the name of Michelle Ryan.

It is not known how Skip met Michelle. What is known is that—like he did with Theresa—Skip had lured Michelle to the Sierra Nevada mountains under the guise of a Bigfoot hunt. 

While Michelle had described the trip as “traumatic,” her decision to bring along two male companions proved to be a life-saving one, as they were able to defend her against Skip.

Interestingly, Michelle mentioned that Skip’s own daughter Chandra had warned her beforehand of the dangers of going on a trip with her father.

On June 10, police were finally able to locate Skip, who had been staying at his mother’s house in Fresno.

After arresting him on a previous drunk-driving violation, they promptly questioned him about Theresa.

Skip Claims That Theresa Ann Bier Was Captured by a Sasquatch

During police’s interrogation of Skip, it was immediately apparent that he was under the influence, as he spouted contradictory, half-baked explanations for Theresa’s disappearance.

The sole consistency in his ramblings, however, was his insistence that Theresa was taken by a Bigfoot.

According to Skip, there existed a large community of sasquatches living in the Sierra Nevada mountains; they were rarely seen because they lived in underground caves.

He asserted that he had seen Theresa chase after one, that he had run after her but eventually lost her.

In his opinion, she was now living underground amongst the sasquatch community, where she was happier than she had been at home.

A Legal Loophole Prevents Skip’s Conviction

Police justifiably assumed Skip’s guilt. However, without Theresa’s remains, the most he could be charged with was child endangerment and kidnapping.

And three days prior to his trial, the child stealing charge was dropped, authorities offering to recommend a one-year sentence if Skip were to sign a waiver allowing them to go forward with murder charges in the event that Theresa’s remains were ever found.

Skip refused, and the prosecution decided to drop the case in order to avoid double jeopardy if they wanted to charge him with murder later.

Unfortunately, Theresa has never been found. Skip died in 1998 due to coronary artery disease, taking to his grave the secret of what happened to Theresa Ann Bier on June 1, 1987.

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