“People around these parts think Bigfoot got her.” That from the stately blond at the Star newspaper in Mena, Arkansas.
On January 26, 2001, news reporter Gloria McDonald, 68, went for a short hike from the Queen Wilhelmina lodge along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border with her husband, her husband’s son, and the son’s fiancée. About 200 yards down the trail toward “Lover’s Leap,” Mrs. McDonald turned back alone because of the wintery weather. She vanished without a trace.
Aircraft, tracking dogs and search parties scoured the area looking for her; police investigated every tip. Still, nearly 13 years later, the FBI as well as state and local law enforcement concede they have no clue as to what happened to the woman.
Editor/publisher/friend Dan Case and I spent a summer tracking the elusive creature known as Bigfoot throughout the United States, backpacking into wildernesses in Oklahoma, Idaho, and California where he had supposedly been spotted. We interviewed dozens of people who claim to have had one-on-one experiences with the big shaggy guy—including Smokey Crabtree of The Legend of Boggy Creek fame and Dr. Jeff Meldrum, professor of anthropology at Idaho State University.
“I’m not out to proselytize that Bigfoot exists,” Meldrum states. “I place legend under scrutiny and my conclusion is: Absolutely, Bigfoot exists.”
The Gloria McDonald case is one of the most baffling I’ve come across.
On three separate occasions within two weeks of Mrs. McDonald’s disappearance, five different people witnessed a huge, fearful creature prowling the vicinity.
An elderly farm couple living at the base of Queen Wilhelmina Mountain spotted a tall, dark, and hairy apparition running on two legs across their farm. Don Thomas and a friend saw it the same week while they were checking out potential hunting territory. Finally, an over-the-road truck driver traveling Arkansas 6 between Acorn and Mena spotted a hairy form of shocking proportions dart across the road in front of him.
“It wasn’t a bear. It wasn’t a man either. I don’t know what it was—but I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I was a police homicide detective for ten years. This is no homicide case, at least not an ordinary one. Neither is it merely a missing person. While law enforcement officers aren’t about to name “Bigfoot” as a suspect, they have uncovered not a footprint, a thread of clothing, a spot of blood, no disturbed humus or scuffled leaves. . . Nothing.
“Bigfoot walked off with her,” insists Don Thomas, bluntly, without hesitation.
A Bigfoot? Such monsters don’t exist, do they?”