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Neighbors are raising funds to help a local family that was shocked to find a decapitated Sasquatch in Benson on Sunday evening.

While some have speculated that America’s most famous cryptid might include Cache Valley in its haunts, this Bigfoot was the family’s own. Discouraged with the stress, negativity and conflict of the past year, Heidi and Jay Rees dressed up a mannequin in a Sasquatch costume, decorated it with different outfits and moved to various spots around Benson.

“We were just sick of politics and sick of COVID and of everybody just being so negative. And (we were) trying to get their minds on something else, bring a little bit more joy instead of all of this stuff,” Heidi Rees said about the Sasquatch’s creation. “Because this is a downer. And I’m a pretty upbeat, positive kind of gal, and I was starting to feel like ‘Man, this sucks.’”

The Sasquatch was most recently bedecked in beachgoing attire and propped up by a sign pointing the way to Benson Marina. Rees said driving out to a family gathering on Sunday, she noticed that his sunglasses were crooked and resolved to stop by on her way back home to fix it. When she returned, the sunglasses — as well as the mannequin head and Sasquatch mask — were gone.

“At first I thought somebody had blown its head off with a shotgun,” Rees said.

After further investigation, it looked like the decapitator had used a power tool, maybe a reciprocating saw, “which was really weird,” Rees said.

“They didn’t need to” saw the head off, Rees added, “because the head was just duct-taped on. The head could have just been pulled off … I think they were just in a hurry to not get caught.”

Social media posts about the decapitation drew expressions of sympathy but also memories of the joy Bigfoot brought.

“He always put a smile on our faces going to the lake!” Anselmo Caballero wrote. “Kids n I loved it.”

“I seen him the other day and cracked me up!” Katie Maughan wrote. “How did I know Heidi had something to do with his games?”

Heidi, who describes herself as a prankster, had long thought it’d be funny to dress up as a Sasquatch and lurk around the Bear River bottoms in Benson. She ultimately decided, “No, I’ll get shot if I do that.”

“So we bought a mannequin and a costume and we stuck it down there, just kind of hid it in a tree and waited to see what would happen,” Rees said.

After someone spotted the Sasquatch in the river bottoms, the Rees decided they’d better move it. The Bigfoot was au naturel by the river, but it was around July 4 when they first moved him, and Heidi, being a fan of the film “Napoleon Dynamite,” put the Sasquatch in some “Rex Kwon Do” stars-and-stripes pants and put him by the “Welcome to Benson” sign.

After that, they put a necktie on him and stuck him in the bushes outside the local church. Next was the surfer paraphernalia.

“We had a few more ideas, so when we’d come back yesterday and found his head gone, I was so bummed,” Rees said.

The family posted about the decapitation on Facebook, hoping fellow Bensonites had seen the culprits or that the post might lead to the head’s return.

“We just want the head back,” Rees said. “I think I could kind of repair it that way.”

After they posted about the decapitation, fellow Benson resident Amy Watterson Flygare created an online fundraiser titled “Someone murdered Squatch! Help bring him back!”

“Yesterday became a dreadful day in Benson history,” the fundraiser’s description states. “Our friend, our confidant, our hide and seek champion, was brutally murdered as he stood patiently waiting for a big wave so he could hang ten in the slough. Although we are all grieving, we can still feel his spirit lingering with us...or maybe that’s just his stank.”

As of Monday afternoon, the account had raised more than its $200 goal for repair funds for the mannequin and costume, “and maybe some extra to buy a trail cam to keep him safe, or at least catch the dirt bags who desecrated our buddy.”

Rees said while she and Jay were a little embarrassed at the attention over their prank that’s “kind of gotten out of hand,” she really appreciated the gesture from Flygare and the fund’s donors.

“It was awesome to see that the community enjoyed it as much as we did hiding it in different places, and they got a good laugh out of it and that they were as disappointed as we were,” Rees said. “It’s great to feel that closeness to the community. We’ve got some great people out here.”

Amy Watterson Flygare and her husband, Eric, had a turn in the spotlight themselves last winter due to their own anonymous public art, massive geometric patterns they’d created by walking in the snow. While the piece of snow art they’d made off U.S. Highway 89 through Logan Canyon caught the most attention, they’d also done some in fields near their home in Benson.

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