Richard Brown, Sherry Shriner, and How to Identify Bigfoot Chewies

Cryptozoology in a Doomsday Cult

Tony Russo


Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

Researching my book, Dragged Into the Light: Truthers, Reptilians, Super Soldiers, and Death Inside an Online Cult, about internet conspiracy cult leader Sherry Shriner inured me to stories that most people think of as crazy. I mean, how else can you describe the belief that reptilian overlords have replaced many if not most of the political, religious, and Hollywood elite?

Reptilian overlords were the centerpiece (but not the weirdest part) of an interpretation of the Bible that supported most every conspiracy theory from Pizza-gate to the Illuminati. Sherry Shriner added all this as well as Old Testament monsters into her take on Christianity.

She preached that vampires, zombies, and even giants are real. I was used to stories of the banal-fantastical as Sherry spun tales about supernatural attacks on her and her friends with the enthusiasm any of us would use to recount a grocery trip.

It was all in a day’s work for a person proclaiming to be God’s Mouthpiece on Earth.

One of the only pieces of information that truly fascinated me was the existence of “Bigfoot Chewies.”

From the moment I heard the phrase, I was determined to work it into the story, as clunky and pointless as a detour as it was. No matter how I tried, it really was too much to unpack in a story that was already a little rabbit-hole heavy.

Richard Brown and the Bigfoot Chewies

The story survived the first revision, and “Bigfoot Chewies” survived the better part of the second revision until a friend point-blank told me to explain why it was there or take it out.

“Killing your darlings,” often refers to paring unnecessary (often too-florid) words from your story. This was like that. The story didn’t do anything for the narrative except allow me to put the words “Bigfoot Chewies” into print. I cut it out in…



Tony Russo

Pencil-sharpening enthusiast, journalist, author of “Dragged Into the Light”