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mid florida bigfoot

Meet Our Research Team

Marie Dumont

Core Team Member & Founder


Marie Dumont is a native Floridian from Central Florida and is the founder of the ‘Mid Florida Bigfoot Research Group’ on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, which focuses primarily on Florida Bigfoot and Skunk Ape research. She has over 7,700 group members and active researchers who live primarily in the state of Florida and are interested in learning and sharing their knowledge with other researchers which is encouraging.


Marie is a dedicated, analytical, detail-oriented, experienced investigator who has been seriously researching Bigfoots and Skunk Apes in Florida for years. She became very interested in this subject after hearing an incredible loud and lengthy Bigfoot vocalization in the Ocala National Forest over 5 years ago during an overnight campout with friends. She has also been a lead paranormal investigator for over 30 years.


Marie’s field work specialty is finding structures and unusual things out in the woods and swamps. She has found prints, glyphs, numerous ‘X’ type structures, asterick structures, lean-to and teepee like structures of all shapes and sizes, shelter/nest like structures, unusual stacks or placement of sticks and branches shoved in the ground.  Marie also found a 1/4 mile trackway of 16" footprint impressions with a 54" stride which became the featured cover story in the March 2024 issue of the 'Bigfoot Times' newsletter. She is an artistic and creative person by nature, which allows her to successfully find things out in the woods and swamps that are unusual, unnatural or look out of place.


Marie is also a photographer, manages social media and handles all public relations, broadcasts, filming, events and outings for her research team.

florida bigfoot
Mike Aguilar

Core Team Member


Mike Aguilar is a 4th generation native Floridian and was raised in the Wesley Chapel, Land O’ Lakes and Lutz areas of west Central Florida.  He has become a dedicated and experienced researcher with over 4 years of field research but has a lifetime of experience spent in the Florida woods and swamps.


Mike is a loving family man and the father of two children. Mike's young son Kaylen suffers from a rare condition called ‘Selective Mutism’.  Kaylen is also an Honorary member of the research team and has become a serious bigfoot researcher helping dad and the team out in the field, on occasion, and learning about the Florida wildlife. Together, Mike and his son bring an unorthodox high energy and somewhat comical side to the research team.


Mike's field work specialty is a unique gift for discovering new and very active research areas, locating footprints and interesting structures.  He is also very good with sounds and vocalizations.

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Ruby Jo Brew

Core Team Member


Ruby Jo Brew is a 5th generation native Floridian born in Tampa.  Throughout her life, she has spent much of her free time exploring the Florida woods and swamps.  She has been researching and searching for evidence of these forest beings for over 5 years.  During her research and reviewing eyewitness reports, she realized that she has also had encounters of her own throughout much of her life. 


Ruby Jo's field work specialty is finding structures, breaks, and oddities - obvious and not so obvious.  She also has a vast knowledge of Florida plant life and wildlife.  She is very interested in helping to educate people about these yet unacknowledged beings that we share the forest and swamps with. 


Ruby Jo has a daughter and two sons and is a grandmother to six grandsons and two granddaughters plus a variety of four-legged grands.  She also serves on the Board of Directors at the Crowley Museum and Nature Center in Myakka Florida. 

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Dr Bill Hewitt

Associate Team Member


Dr. Bill Hewitt comes from the great north but spent a great deal of his life in Florida as a hiker, camper, boater, and underwater photographer. In his earlier days, holding a 100-ton captains license, he used to deliver yachts from the Great Lakes area to Florida and the Caribbean.   He has had a lifetime of interest in Bigfoot and started researching Bigfoot and other cryptids as a teenager.   He was also interested in the paranormal and other unexplained phenomena.   


Bill moved to Florida 15 years ago full time with Bettina Laier and started researching cryptid animals and other wildlife. He became a serious researcher 12 years ago and began designing general research equipment to help them the field. Wanting to improve his research skills and knowledge, he decided to pursue an education in Cryptozoology and earned his doctoral degree.  


Bill loves building and creating new field research equipment.  He converted a cargo van to become living quarters and basecamp when researching out in the field.  He has also designed parabolic sound dishes and mounting devices to travel at night with IR and thermal imaging cameras.   


When he is not out researching, he lives in Miami with Bettina and their two cats that often go camping with them.  He is a proud father of a son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters.   Having had two significant encounters in his past, his greatest ambition is to interact with these creatures on a more personal level.    

Bill's primary Bigfoot research team is the ISRT, but he is also a proud member of the Mid Florida Bigfoot Research Team.

florida bigfoot
Bettina Laier

Associate Team Member

Bettina Laier is a nurse by trade but spends her free time outdoors gardening, hiking and camping with Dr Bill Hewitt and their two cats. She is a certified emergency nurse and has a Master's Degree in Nursing education. She works as an educator for a large healthcare organization and loves teaching others.  

Bettina also likes to spend time photographing wildlife and has won awards for her underwater photography.  Before moving to Florida, she travelled to places like Fiji, Christmas Island in the South Pacific, and all over the Caribbean. 

Bettina Laier has been researching Bigfoot and other phenomena for about 12 years.  With spending 100's of hours in the field, she has had two audio encounters. These Class B encounters motivated her to get more involved, putting in countless miles on the trails and investigating sites during the night.  Her interests include thermal imaging and night vision and with keen senses, has pointed out interesting finds to others out with her on the trails. 

Bettina not only goes out on the trails, she also is involved with running the Base Camp. She is a general ham radio operator and acts as the Base Camp radio coms person.  She also keeps all the equipment organized and findings catalogued. 

Bettina's primary Bigfoot research team is the ISRT, but she is also a proud member of the Mid Florida Bigfoot Research Team.

florida bigfoot
David Shealy

Honorary Team Member


'Skunk Ape Expert' David Shealy is the founder of the ‘Skunk Ape Research Headquarters’ in Ochopee, Florida and had his first encounter with the Skunk Ape back in 1974, when he was just 10 years old. He bases his research operation out of his headquarters in Ochopee, Florida. It is here in the depths of the Everglades, where David Shealy has dedicated his life to studying the smelly, elusive Skunk Ape.

Dave Shealy’s family has lived in the Everglades for generations. They first settled there in 1891, built the first local schoolhouse and spent the next handful of decades giving swamp tours and renting out camping spots. The Shealy’s time in the Everglades, though, is just a fraction of time compared to how long the notorious Skunk Ape has purportedly stalked the swamplands.

David has had 4 Skunk Ape sightings throughout his life in the Big Cypress Preserve and captured one of them on film on July 8, 2000 quickly moving through the deep water in a sawgrass marsh.

​David is an independent researcher but also works with the Mid Florida Bigfoot Research Team and conducts Bigfoot and Skunk Ape research with them, when possible.  

florida bigfoot
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