Even sasquatch needs an occasional salt fix, so it makes sense Lancaster County and its saline wetlands leads the state in reported bigfoot sightings.
“They go where the salt is,” said Harriett McFeely, a bigfoot investigator from Hastings. “And that’s where the salt is.”
In the past 60 years, researchers have logged nearly 30 sightings or signs of bigfoot in the Lincoln area, beginning in the 1950s with mass murderer Charles Starkweather’s depiction of a bearlike woman peering into his bedroom window, and the mournful howls she made.
The creatures were especially active in the early ’80s: a motorcyclist dumped his bike at 27th and Fairfield streets after a bigfoot crossed in front of him; a couple spotted a creature near Folsom and South; and a city employee reportedly barricaded himself inside the water treatment plant along Salt Creek after a bigfoot looked in through a window, 8 or 9 feet off the ground.
Just a few years ago, Wilderness Park was ground zero, with reports of glowing eyes, bigfoot’s signature stick structures and the discovery of a fawn’s leg, broken clean off.
Now the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau is trying to capitalize on all of this activity by trying to land McFeely’s state bigfoot convention in 2019, said Kelsey Meyer, the bureau’s sales development manager.
The Nebraska Bigfoot Crossroads of America Conference could draw researchers, speakers, vendors and more than 1,000 bigfoot fans to Lincoln.
McFeely started the conference last year. When she was filling out a grant application, it asked her how many people she expected.
“And I had no idea in the whole wide world. I thought I was the only person in Nebraska who was interested,” she said.
She put down 100. More than 750 attended.
“She wasn’t prepared for that many people,” Meyer said. “It kind of blew up.”
McFeely expects the 2018 conference, also in Hastings, to be even bigger. She wouldn’t yet commit to moving it to Lincoln the year after that, but knows it could outgrow its hometown. And Lincoln would have the hotel rooms and restaurants to accommodate bigfoot believers.
“If we double in size, which I sort of think we might, we may have to look for another place.”
A police investigator staking out a central Lincoln bank thwarted a robber's getaway Tuesday afternoon, Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said.
The investigator working on a citywide surveillance project saw tellers rushing around the counter inside the Lincoln Federal Savings Bank branch just south of 48th Street and Normal Boulevard at 12:30 p.m., the chief said.
He went to investigate, learned the bank was being robbed and tried to speak with a man who was leaving the bank with a white plastic bag, Bliemeister said.
But that man ignored several commands by the investigator to stop, and ran off, hurdling a fence.
The investigator chased him and caught him at 46th Street and Antelope Creek Road a short time later.
The man, identified as Israel Holmes, 21, of Lincoln had an undisclosed amount of cash inside the bag and was wearing a disguise, Bliemeister said.
Officers took Holmes to jail on suspicion of robbery, but charges had not been filed in his case as of Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators later learned Holmes shot pepper spray at bank employees but did not have a firearm, Bliemeister said. None of the employees needed medical attention, he said.
Holmes dropped a cellphone that was running a police scanner app, which Bliemeister called concerning.
The bank robbery was Lincoln's 10th of the year. The city's record number of bank robberies in a single year is 13 in 2001, based on records dating to 1941.
Police believe they have solved five of those robberies, including Tuesday's, and are investigating whether Holmes is tied to any other robberies in Lincoln.
The resolution to this case stemmed from research by the police department's crime analysis unit. The unit designed a citywide bank surveillance project meant to prevent heists and catch robbers, Bliemeister said.
"We were taking a very proactive approach and attempting to do what we could" to thwart and solve robberies, the chief said.