Unsolved cases: Cheryl Scherer

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Cheryl Scherer

Scherer, a 19-year-old whose family lived on a farm in old Illmo, Mo., was abducted 30 years ago during an apparent robbery of the Rhodes Pump-Ur-Own-Service station where she worked on Main Street in Scott City.

It was late morning on April 17, 1979, when Scherer was working, and had just called her mother, Olevia Scherer, to chat, inquiring about what was for dinner.

The red-haired teen was looking forward to getting off work at 2 p.m. and told her mother she planned to go home to sew.

That phone conversation was the last one Olevia Scherer had with her daughter.

An off-duty attendant described seeing Cheryl Scherer around 11:30 a.m. at the station. The attendant left for a few minutes and returned to find Cheryl Scherer had vanished, her car still parked outside.

Her purse had been left behind the counter at the service station, and about $480 was missing from a bank bag near the register.

Lt. Jerry Bledsoe of the Scott County Sheriff's Department, who has been an investigator on the case since the beginning, said he's still hopeful that the case is solvable.

As recently as last Spring, Bledsoe said, he received information about a possible lead n the case. He said he tends to wait and see how tips pan out before informing the family.In the past 30 years, Bledsoe said, the strongest lead he's gotten on the case was the 2007 arrest of Timothy W. Krajcir for five unsolved homicides in Cape Girardeau, all of women killed in 1977 and 1982.

After Cape Girardeau detective Jim Smith interviewed Krajcir about Scherer, though, there turned out to be no indication he'd been involved with Scherer's disappearance.

Former Scott County sheriff Bill Ferrell was able to question serial killer Henry Lee Lucas in the 1980s about Scherer's disappearance.

Lucas confessed to killing 179 people throughout the country, including one he'd admitted abducting near Interstate 55 in Missouri, saying he'd dumped her body near Crystal City, Mo.

When he saw Scherer's picture, however, he'd denied that she was the girl he'd abducted and killed, and no body was ever found at the location he described.

Bledsoe said he still talks to the Scherer family frequently.

"You don't want to give up," he said.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said the department continues to investigate the case and commended Bledsoe's dedication to solving the mystery.

"He's been carrying the torch a long time," Walter said.