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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Scherer still remembered

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell sifts through the files on the case of Cheryl Scherer.
BENTON -- It seems like only yesterday Ray and Libby Scherer learned the news that parents fear the most-- their child had been abducted.

Cheryl Ann Scherer, then 19, went to work on Tuesday, April 17, 1979, at Rhodes 101 on Main Street in Scott City. Some time between 11:40 and 11:50 a.m., she was abducted. Scherer's car, keys and purse were left at the scene. Approximately $480 in cash, was missing from the register.

"She just disappeared," said a bewildered Scott County Sheriff Bill Ferrell.

Twenty-five years later law enforcement officials have yet to locate Scherer or her abductor, and Ferrell along with Scherer's family insist they will continue searching for the missing pieces to Scherer's disappearance.

"We didn't give up. The Scherers haven't given up, and we won't," said Ferrell, who keeps Scherer's file next to his desk all the time.

And despite the number of years that have passed since Scherer was taken, family and friends will never forget.

"It's always on your mind -- when you go to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning," admitted Cheryl's mother, Libby Scherer. "But there's been a lot of prayers, I'll grant you."

Hours and days following Scherer's disappearance, the Scott County Sheriff's Department interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, but no eye witnesses, Ferrell noted.

"We've always wondered why somebody didn't see this" pondered Scherer's father, Ray Scherer.

The only other business next to the Rhodes in Scott City then was an IGA grocery store, which was closed due to the funeral of the store owner's mother.

The closest lead over the years came in 1984 when Ferrell interviewed convicted serial murderers Henry Lee Lucas and partner Otis Toole.

Lucas and Toole, along with Toole's niece and nephew, had traveled on Interstate 55 between Memphis and St. Louis the day Scherer was abducted and had killed a girl and dumped her body around Crystal City, they told Ferrell. Authorities never found a body, but to Ferrell's knowledge, no other girl was reported missing between Memphis and St. Louis at that time either.

However, when Ferrell showed Lucas a picture of Scherer, Lucas said she was not the girl he killed, Ferrell recalled. The fact that Scherer had bright red hair puzzled Ferrell because surely someone would remember that, he said.

"The sheriff's department has done everything they can to try and find her," said Libby Scherer.

Since then the department has only received small and insignificant clues, but nothing that has ever led to anything, Ferrell said. However, the department receives clues every year and they do follow up on them, he said.

"I always felt that if it was a local person, we would have heard something from someone through rumors or something," Ferrell said.

Ferrell said his biggest fear is another law enforcement agency found Scherer over the years, but wasn't able to identify her.

"There are so many bodies across the United States that go unidentified, especially 25 years ago," Ferrell said. "My biggest fear is it's been some case worked on that no one knew about, and it got put in a filing cabinet. And now whoever was working at that time isn't working now."

The Scherers said their religious faith, close family and friends have helped them through the hard times.

"We're just thankful that the good Lord gave us 19 years with her," Libby Scherer said.

It doesn't get any easier and you never forget it, Ray Scherer said. "You just have to do it. Cheryl would have wanted us to go on," he said.

The Scherers admit the hardest part over the years is just not knowing -- not knowing where their daughter is, what happened, who took her or if she's OK.

"At least if they found her, it might lead to how it happened," Ray Scherer pointed out.

And the Scherers are still doing whatever they can to find their daughter.

Late last year, Ray and Libby Scherer provided DNA samples and now the sheriff's department has a DNA profile of Scherer. The profile could help identify Scherer in the future.

Also, it's television and newspaper interviews that the Scherer's feel may trigger a memory in someone who may have witnessed something that may help locate their daughter.

"There may be someone who knows something but was scared years ago to come forward. Or there may be someone who hurt her and has a guilty conscious and wants to come clean," Libby Scherer pointed out.

Ferrell's 29-year-run as sheriff will end Dec. 31, but the search for Cheryl will continue, he insists. The case will not be closed, he said, adding that Jerry Bledsoe has been working the case with him, too.

"I don't think this department will quit," Ferrell said. "This is an emotional case for me, but it's also for five other people who were working here when it happened."

As for the Scherers, they said they will continue to remain hopeful.

"When you give up, all hope is gone," Libby Scherer said. "Miracles do happen. She might be out there somewhere."

For more information, visit the Scott County Sheriff's Department Web site at www.sheriffferrell.com/missing_persons.h... or to report information about Scherer's disappearance contact the sheriff's department at (573) 545-3525 or (573) 471-3530.