Family, friends of Lisa Theris respond to criticism

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

The brother of a woman who reportedly survived in Alabama woods for nearly a month says critics questioning her remarkable story are “soulless.”

“Being in disbelief is one thing as this story is crazy, and all the details haven’t emerged yet,” said Will Theris, Lisa’s brother. “But to not only throw out ignorant opinions as fact, but even crack jokes about someone in Lisa’s condition? Pure evil.”

Lisa Theris, 25, of Louisville was found naked on the side of Highway 82 between Midway and Eufaula Saturday afternoon, covered in dirt and scratches. Her father and two friends had reported her missing to the Troy Police Department nearly a month earlier.

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Officials have said that Theris was with two Troy men when she discovered they planned to steal equipment from a hunting camp in Midway. She reportedly fled into the woods and survived on mushrooms, berries and water from brooks for the past month.

As stories about the case began popping up on national and even international news sites, critics on social media began to call the story into question.

“It just amazes me that these people are so soulless,” Will said. “Many of these same people were claiming to send prayers for a miracle and for her to return safely, and now these same people are throwing out baseless accusations and insults…”

Will Theris said he has tried to engage some detractors about their comments, but has decided it isn’t worth his time. The family released photos of Theris Tuesday in an attempt to debunk the critics. And Will disputed a rumor that his sister is diabetic and needed insulin to stay alive.

“I still don’t know where this idea came that she’s diabetic,” Will said. “She is not diabetic in any way shape or form.”

Some of those questioning the story have also criticized reports that Lisa Theris lost approximately 50 pounds during the month, which they say would have brought her from 110 pounds to 60. Initial missing person reports identified Theris as 145 pounds, but a news story published after she was found identified her weight at 110 pounds.

Myisha Brown, one of Lisa’s friends who helped file the police report said she found the criticisms disturbing.

“It’s really disturbing that people would say the things that they are saying,” Brown said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for them to post things like that on social media when you don’t know what this lady went through; she has family and friends that’s on Facebook, and it’s not right.”

In addition to critics, the family is also dealing with an influx of media coverage.

“It’s very hectic,” Will said. “It went from speaking to one or two local reporters to national outlets calling and messaging, even showing up at my parents house. The way it happened so fast is very overwhelming, and has attracted a lot of negative attention.”

Will is one of Lisa’s three youngest siblings – she has nine in total– and Will said the two have always shared a special bond.

“Me, Lisa, Lizzy and Rob were the young clan of the family,” Will said. “When the older ones moved out on their own, we remained and grew up together for years; we were the Four Musketeers, basically.”

Will said receiving the phone call that Lisa had been found alive was a surreal moment.

“(It was a) shock, definitely. It was very surreal,” Will said. “The reality of it didn’t really register until seeing and holding her in my arms in person. Obviously, whenever someone goes missing that long with such little evidence, one can only assume the worst. The fact that she is back in our lives is nothing short of a miracle.”

He said the hospital reunion was an emotional moment. “I consider myself a very strong person, but seeing her again definitely broke me,” Will said.

Will said he always knew his sister was strong, but her survival just shows how strong she truly is.

“She’s always been a rough and tough little firecracker,” Will said. “I’ve never feared her being able to handle herself in the past, but this goes far beyond that.”

During the course of the missing person investigation, officials discovered that Theris had been with two Troy men – Randall Wade Oswald, 36, and Manley Green Davis, 31 – who are suspected of stealing more than $40,000 worth of property, including ATVs and trailers, from a hunting camp in Midway.

Davis and Oswald were both arrested within the last month on charges of first degree theft of property and third degree burglary in connection with the incident. Davis was arrested July 31 after fleeing from police in a vehicle and hiding out in another car in the Country Club area.

A week later, Oswald also led police on a chase before being arrested.

Both men were booked into the Bullock County Jail on $250,000 bond and remain in custody. They have both been questioned in relation to the missing person case, but have not been charged with any additional crimes.

Troy Police Chief Randall Barr said finding Theris alive was the outcome officials had hoped would happen.

“As each day passed, it seemed less likely,” Barr said. “She’s obviously a strong young woman to have survived out in the woods that long. We’re so happy for her and her family that she is OK.”