Ryan Riese of Fulton, MD died yesterday after deciding to don a bear costume and attempt to live among actual bears. He was 36 at the time of his passing.
Nobody knows exactly what prompted cyber security manager Ryan Riese to abruptly walk out of work and into the forest. An ongoing police investigation reveals that for nearly a year, Riese had been spending his savings on commissioning a Hollywood prop designer to create an elaborate bear costume using a secret email account.
“I had no idea. I thought he was spending the money on testicular cancer treatments,” his wife, Victoria Riese told BNN. Autopsy reports show Riese did not suffer from testicular cancer but had forged medical records to convince his family he needed the money for treatment. “I even created a GoFundMe account for him,” his wife said.
The money—approximately $42,000—had all gone into ONE elaborate bear costume.
“He wanted it as lifelike as possible,” said Hollywood costume designer Alfredo Fronz. Fronz is known best for his work in films such as The Revenant (2016), Grizzly (1978), The Edge (1997) and Grizzly Man (2005),
“He kept asking if it would trick a real bear. I’d tell him, I don’t know man, maybe. I don’t do those kinds of tests. But he just kept pressuring me to promise him this would work. Finally, I was just like, ‘Yeah, sure, it will fool bears, man, stop emailing me.’”
Riese’s family is bringing charges against Fronz, claiming the man misled Riese into believing the costume would be safe to wear in the forest.
Fronz says he is not concerned with the lawsuit. “I cover all that in the client agreement. You wear my costumes in the forest, that’s your ass, not mine.”
It was on June 29, 2017, the day after Riese received the completed bear costume in the mail that he left work around 10:45 a.m. and drove to Shenandoah National Park.
During the two hour drive, Riese phoned various members of his family to tell them that his testicular cancer had miraculously cured itself so he was going on a little vacation to celebrate.
“He loved the outdoors and solitude, none of us thought he was up to anything out of the ordinary,” said his wife.
“Of course, none of us knew he spent $42,000 on a bear costume either. We were just excited about his testicles being OK.”
Riese’s car was found off Skyline Drive near Browntown, MD.
His trunk was open and packing peanuts were scattered around his car.
“Best we can tell, he tore open the bear outfit package, put it on, and headed south,” Officer Dan McWolff reported.
The costume was found strewn about the forest after a helicopter spotted part of it on a hillside during a search and rescue mission. Responders say the bears pretty much tore Ryan to pieces the moment they saw him.
“There is evidence the costume had an opposite effect. Like, it pissed them off so much, they just ripped him up out of spite,” said EMT Brad Lucas.
An investigation into why Riese left everything is ongoing, but some think it had to do with his kitchen sink.
“It had been giving him trouble for days,” his friend Brien Dulaney said.
“I remember visiting him and he was sitting there with pipes and plumber’s putty all over the place, tears in his eyes and he said something like, ‘I just don’t feel like a man anymore. Who am I?’ ‘You’re Ryan!’ I told him with tears in my eyes. ‘That’s all you need to be! Just be you!”
Dulaney now wonders if his words prompted his friend to embrace his alternative lifestyle.
“If so, I am OK with that. He needed to break out of his self-made prison. He needed to be a bear. I love him.”
But for many, the most disturbing part of this story is not Riese’s lifestyle choice. It is the blatant intolerance of wild bears to accept Ryan’s new identity.
“This sets us back a lot of years,” said tolerance professor Lisette Cornell, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland. Cornell is petitioning to have bears categorized as a hate group until they show themselves to be more progressive in their view of people’s lifestyle choices.
“There’s just no excuse for what those bears did. It’s barbaric.”
There will be a service on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 from 12:00-12:45 pm. It will be an open casket. Family members have agreed to pay Alfredo Fronz to reconstruct the shredded bear costume so that Ryan Riese may be buried in it.
“Unlike those bears, I accept him for who he really is,” said Victoria Riese.
The funeral is open to the public and will be held at Hungry Bear BBQ, 2263 E Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. In lieu of flowers, if so inclined, please make a donation to the Bear Tolerance Education and Awareness Foundation.
Published on Bearmageddon News Network on June 30, 2017.
Sign up to get alerts from Joe!