Voice for Cheryl: Family continues to search for answers of missing loved one
BENTON, Mo. — For holidays — and birthday candle wishes — Diane Scherer-Morris said the hope every year since her older sister, Cheryl Anne Scherer, went missing was for Cheryl to come home safe and sound if it was God’s will.
“Every special intention or every special request was and still is regarding Cheryl’s return,” Scherer-Morris said. “Every holiday we think: ‘Is this going to be the day she walks in?’”
As the years went on, holidays would come and go — and still no Cheryl.
“Cheryl liked Christmas, and I remember the year she sewed (our brother) Anthony and I Christmas stockings with our names on them, which I still have,” Scherer-Morris said. “Or the year we got puppies at Christmas. … Good memories.”
Scherer-Morris said it’s important to realize those things that may appear to be insignificant at the time are the biggest memories later, and she’d like families to remember that this Christmas, which will mark the 41st one the Scherer family will spend without their beloved daughter and sister.
Just like so many other families suffering from losses, the holidays seem the hardest, Scherer-Morris said.
“In a split second things change, and for us it was 41 years ago in a matter of minutes our life was forever changed,” she said. “It changes you and puts all in perspective.”
On April 17, 1979, Cheryl Anne Scherer, 19-year-old daughter of Olevia “Libby” Scherer and Ray Scherer, went to work at Rhodes Pump-Ur-Own Station in Scott City, Missouri, like she had done over the last year. On that day around 11:20 a.m., she spoke with her mother by phone. Cheryl and her mother spoke about what was for supper, and Cheryl was going to do some sewing when she got home. Sometime shortly between 11:40 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., Cheryl was apparently abducted during a possible robbery with $480 taken. Cheryl’s purse, keys and car were left behind.
Scott County Sheriff’s Office along with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and FBI assisted on the case. That particular day very little traffic was coming and going into the Scott City Plaza where the major store was the IGA food store. On this Tuesday morning, IGA was closed due to the funeral of the store owner’s mother, Katie Uhrhan.
Scherer-Morris said her family waited by the phone, hoping and praying for a call from Cheryl herself or law enforcement saying she was found, but that call never came.
In 2003 submission of DNA samples from Cheryl’s parents to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) was completed. CODIS blends forensic science and computer technology into an effective tool for solving crimes. Two different age progression pictures of Cheryl were created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited children during this time (2000 and 2017).
Throughout the years Cheryl’s family has never given up hope as their faith carries them through each passing year of not knowing what happened. Prayer services, balloon releases and remembrance ceremonies have been held in her honor to keep the public aware of her story.
Around May 2012 the family started a Facebook page in Cheryl’s name as a platform to reach people and attempt to find answers.
“This, in turn, gets people talking and has brought in a few calls to law enforcement and a few have reached out to us with information,” Scherer-Morris said. “Nothing yet has led us to her, but people are talking, and we remain hopeful and praying that the person or persons who know the truth will come forward and share what they know.”
Cheryl’s father passed away in 2005, but her mother and two younger siblings, Scherer-Morris and Anthony Scherer, continue to keep her name out there, pleading with anyone who has any information to come forward.
While her family doesn’t know what happened that day, they know someone does know, Scherer-Morris said.
“Cheryl went to work that day thinking she would be coming home for supper that night with Mom, Dad, Anthony and I, but that never happened,” Scherer-Morris said. “Cheryl had a life ahead of her that she didn’t get to live it because on that day someone changed that forever. We need that someone(s) to give us the closure and, more importantly, to come forward with the truth.”
Even after 41 years, Cheryl’s family thinks of her everyday, Scherer-Morris said, adding they talk about her, and they miss her.
“Cheryl isn’t just that girl missing from Scott County, but she is a daughter, sister, cousin, friend and classmate. Her family, friends and the community deserve to know what happened as she deserves this, too,” Scherer-Morris said.
To this day, her family still calls each other to say they’ve have made it safe when going somewhere, Scherer-Morris said.
“Mom and Dad always said they just needed to know we were safe — and after you have watched your parents sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, hoping it would be Cheryl, when you see them shed tears and more tears, when they couldn’t look at her picture for years as it was too painful, when you see their hearts broken not knowing what happened to their first born, making a simple phone call is nothing to give them peace that they never got with Cheryl,” Scherer-Morris said.
Several people have told her family their own theories of what happened to Cheryl, but no one has brought forth any proof.
“Some say someone off the interstate took her and others say someone local, but either way, someone knows. So we do hope if anyone did see anything or if they hear someone talking that could lead us to find Cheryl, that they come forward,” Scherer-Morris said.
Cheryl’s family has made the choice every day to not let all the thoughts of what she could or did go through consume them, according to Scherer-Morris.
“You can’t go there and stay in that mindset or it will drive you crazy,” she said. “We choose to not fall into the darkness and stay there. As Anthony says: ‘We will not let the evil win and destroy us, too.’”
Scherer-Morris said her family just wants to give Cheryl what she deserves, which is to be buried between her parents.
“We have the burial spot ready and tombstone with her name already on it. It’s ironic that just recently I am able to say the words ‘remains,’” Scherer-Morris said. “I couldn’t or just wouldn’t say it or think it in the past, but we have to face that reality.”
In the midst of the pandemic, the Scherer family continues searching for answers and seeking assistance from anyone who may know something. Scherer-Morris said her family is doing good and trying to stay safe and healthy, but the situation also serves as a reminder to appreciate time with loved ones.
“With COVID and each of us getting older, it seems the desire to find Cheryl is a little more urgent,” Scherer-Morris said. “The not knowing, the questions, the thoughts, the constant wondering and worrying is the difficult part.
She continued: “A big part of grieving and moving on is acceptance, but when you don’t know where, how or why the person you love just disappeared, you have nothing concrete to accept, and moving on is a little more difficult.”
Scherer-Morris said she and her brother were so fortunate their parents made choices to keep them close, to stay strong and always pray.
“Our faith has sustained us and kept us close as a family and to still see happiness and joy in life,” Scherer-Morris said. “In the last 41 years, so many prayers have been said for Cheryl. Mom has prayed to God to: ‘Please take care of Cheryl and bring her home — and if not in our home in yours in heaven.’
“I have prayed every morning: ‘Angel of God, Cheryl’s guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits her here, ever this day and night be at her side, to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen.’ And every evening the prayer is: ‘Guide Cheryl safely through the night and wake her with the Morning Light.’ Those are just a few of the many prayers recited for her sister, Scherer-Morris said.
Scherer-Morris said she, her mother and brother want to thank all — their family, friends and the community — who have continued to pray for Cheryl.
“It is those prayers and our faith in God that has carried us through all these years,” Scherer-Morris said. “We want to thank all law enforcement that continues to work on her case and keep us updated. They are limited on what they can share in order to keep the integrity of the case, and we understand.”
Scott County Sheriff Wes Drury said Cheryl’s case remains open, and his department will follow up on any leads they receive.
“Somebody knows something,” Drury said. “There are some deep dark secrets people have held for a long time.”
Anyone with information about this case should contact Drury or the Scott County Sheriff’s Office at (573) 545-3525.
Good leads are needed, and if anyone knows or hears people talking with good information that could help in finding Cheryl, please contact law enforcement, Scherer-Morris said.
In the meantime, Cheryl’s family will continue to seek answers.
“We want to find her before we are all gone, so for now, we will be her voice,” Scherer-Morris said of her sister. “Each year that passes we still hope that someone(s) who may be holding a deep dark secret, will realize the importance of coming forward. That person(s) will be meeting their maker soon and for the sake of their soul, we hope they share information that we need to find her.”
For more information, see the Facebook page: “Cheryl Anne Scherer” or visit http://www.scottcountymo.com/missing-persons.php.