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Holmen was last seen in Missoula, Montana on July 22, 1984. He called his girlfriend and said he would meet her at a movie theater in town the next day, but he never showed up for the meeting and has never been heard from again. Twelve days later, a berry-picker found his 1976 Toyota pickup truck was found abandoned on an old logging road. There was a forest map spread out on the front seat and Holmen's eyeglasses and wallet were also there, but his keys were missing. There were no indications of a struggle.
When authorities searched the area, they found shoe prints matching Holmen's shoe size; the prints were overlaid with grizzly bear tracks. They discovered a man resembling Holmen had been seen at a Girl Scout camp twenty miles away. The man appeared disoriented and was rambling about the Vietnam War. The scout leader at the camp asked him to leave. It hasn't been confirmed that he was Holmen, and he had never served in the military. He left behind all his belongings, including $25,000 in his bank account.
Holmen grew up in North Dakota and graduated with honors from Jamestown College with a degree in elementary education. He taught fifth- and sixth-graders in North Dakota and Idaho, and also worked for the National Park Service with his wife. At one point he stockpiled food and survival gear and went on a one-year hike, traveling as far as Canada and the southwestern United States. He kept in touch with his family on a weekly basis during his trip. After his divorce he moved to Montana. The last time Holmen's brother saw him was in the spring of 1984 when Holmen visited him in North Dakota. He seemed distant and aloof during this time.
Based on the evidence, police believe Holmen could have either committed suicide or been attacked by a grizzly bear. Holmen's brother, however, believes his disappearance could be connected to the case of a local priest, Father John Kerrigan. The two men went missing within days of each other and from the same local area, and their vehicles were found abandoned approximately 40 miles apart. The theory has not been proven and Kerrigan's disappearance has never been solved.
Holmen was declared legally dead years after his disappearance. His case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd.