Details of Disappearance Theresa resided with her family in Fresno, California in 1987. She was last seen at 7:20 p.m. on June 1, 1987, while on a camping trip with Russell Welch in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Theresa and Welch, whose nickname is Skip, camped in the area of Shuteye Peak, approximately 25 miles northeast of Bass Lake. He was 43 years old at the time. They were reportedly searching for the legendary creature known as Sasquatch or Bigfoot. Welch considered himself a "student" of the legend. Theresa disappeared during the trip and has never been heard from again.
Authorities questioned Welch when he returned to Fresno several days later. He initially claimed that Theresa ran away from him on June 1, then he changed his story. Welch eventually stated that Theresa had been forcibly taken by Bigfoot.
Welch was charged with child stealing. In September 1987, only three days before he was supposed to go to trial, authorities dropped the charge. They had offered to recommend a one-year sentence if Welch signed a waiver allowing them to go forward with murder charges if Theresa's body were located, but Welch refused. The prosecution decided to drop the case to avoid double jeopardy if they wanted to charge him with murder later.
Searches of the Shuteye Peak area produced no clues as to Theresa's whereabouts, but foul play is suspected in her case. It remains unsolved.
- Fresno Police Department
Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 9, 2013; clothing/jewelry description and details of disappearance updated.