The 1979 kidnapping of Cheryl Anne Scherer

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SCOTT CITY, Mo. — Cheryl Anne Scherer was born on Aug. 19, 1959, to Raymond and Olevia “Libby” Scherer.

The beautiful red-haired, blue-eyed teenager graduated from Thomas W. Kelly R-4 High School in 1977.

Scherer worked at Rhodes Pump-Ur-Own Station, a self-service gas station adjacent to Interstate-55, to fund her college tuition. She had been there for about 15 months and was a “model employee,” said Paul Dirnberger of Rhodes.

On Tuesday, April 17, 1979, Scherer, 19, was working a day shift when she called her mother at 11:20 a.m. to inquire about dinner and said she wanted to sew clothes when she returned home. Libby Scherer said her daughter was in an “excellent mood.”

About 20 minutes later, Scherer’s cousin, Thomas Smith, drove his school bus past the station and saw someone on duty, but he was unsure who was working.

When he passed back by a few minutes later, he saw gas station employee Debbie Hamilton in the office and stopped.

Hamilton arrived at the station to find the office open, and Scherer was gone; Scherer’s purse and checkbook were left behind, her car with the keys inside was still in the parking lot, and $480 was missing from the cash register. 

Rhodes Pump-Ur-Own gas station in 1979/Facebook

Investigators believe someone abducted Scherer between 11:40 a.m. and 11:50 a.m.

Two witnesses recalled seeing a white car at the gas pumps around the time of Scherer’s abduction. Officials hypnotized both witnesses to remember more details, but they failed to come up with anything substantial. 

Despite air and ground searchers, authorities never found any trace of Scherer.

Ferrell pulled four deputies off other cases to work on the disappearance. Police conducted countless interviews and followed dozens of leads, but nothing came from the investigation.

The biggest obstacle for authorities was the lack of witnesses; No one had seen the abduction. The gas station sat next to an IGA grocery store, which was usually busy, but the store was closed on this day. 

Scherer had recently made a payment on her car insurance. Police do not believe she staged a robbery and voluntarily disappeared.

In 1984, authorities suspected Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole, who had killed several people across the country between 1961 and 1983. Lucas was in jail in Georgetown, Texas, at the time. He told Ferrell the pair had abducted someone off the interstate about two hours from St. Louis. Scott City is approximately two hours south of St. Louis. However, he did not recognize a picture of Scherer as a woman he had abducted. The duo had falsely confessed to numerous killings.

The Charley Project states, “There was never enough evidence to charge Lucas and Toole in connection with Scherer’s case, though it was established that they were indeed in Scott City when she disappeared, along with Toole’s niece and nephew.”

In 2019, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol dug in a field near a county road as part of the investigation., but law enforcement officials provided no further information.

Cheryl Ann Scherer has never been found. Her father passed away in 2005, but her mother, Libby, and Scherer-Morris continue seeking answers in Scherer’s disappearance. Investigators say the case is still open. 

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

I’m torn on this one. I can see it going either way — someone she knew or a random stranger abducted her. However, it does sound like a robbery because money was missing from the cash register.

The IGA store was closed; otherwise, there would have been more people around. Pretty convenient that her abduction occurred when the store was closed on a Tuesday. 

Rhodes 101 is located right off I-55. I’m having a hard time understanding how no one witnessed this abduction. Areas near interstate exits are usually pretty busy during the day and workweek., especially as lunchtime approaches. Now, there are two Rhodes in Scott City — Rhodes 101 Stop and Rhodes Convenience Store. A Facebook page for Scherer says it was 101, and if you compare the old picture to a recent Google Maps Streetview, it does appear to be the exact location.

Whoever abducted her had committed the crime within a 10-minute time frame. What are the chances Scherer’s kidnapper abducted her in broad daylight during a busy time of day without any witnesses?

Someone had to have seen something. I don’t believe there are zero witnesses. Maybe they were too afraid to come forward. I realize if the man had a gun, she probably went willingly. Again, I’d expect someone to have seen her walking out with a man, at the very least.

Scherer called her mother at 11:20 a.m., and sometime between 11:40 and 11:50 a.m., she vanished. Libby said her daughter sounded fine on the phone and in a good mood. 20 minutes later, Smith drove by in his bus and saw someone on duty but couldn’t make out who. But it sounded like he saw only one person. So I think that was probably Scherer, and she was abducted right after. When Smith drove by the second time, Hamilton was there, and Scherer was already gone. 

So was this a moment-of-opportunity crime, or did Scherer know her kidnapper? I’m leaning toward the former. 

We have to consider the missing $480 from the cash register, suggesting a robbery gone wrong. But the perpetrator could have taken it to throw the police off, or he couldn’t resist taking it. 

I thought it might be possible that Scherer fell victim to the person(s) responsible for some or all of the “Redhead Murders,” red-haired women who were killed and dumped along interstates in the South between 1978 and 1992. 

While authorities believe those victims were hitchhikers or sex workers, and their bodies were found, Scherer had red hair and worked near a major interstate. Like the RM victims, Scherer was around the same age and petite, standing 5 feet tall and weighing around 100 pounds. If the killer was a trucker, as police think, then it’s possible he exited I-55 and stopped at Rhodes. However, Smith, her cousin, never said anything about seeing a semi being there when he drove by, and neither did the hypnotized witnesses. But, Smith also said he couldn’t see who was on duty even though Scherer’s car was there. Did he not know what vehicle she drove? 

This one is another strange mystery! 

What are your thoughts?

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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