When people would hear my name growing up, I would always get a sad look and the question "Oh, are you related to Sherry Eyerly?" Sherry Eyerly was my cousin and she disappeared on July 4, 1982 while delivering pizzas for Dominos. It was a disappearance before they were common place, and it shook my community to the core.
Sherry was just 18 when she disappeared. She wasn't supposed to work that day, but was called in. Around 9:30 pm, she left to deliver a pizza and was never seen again. Later that evening, the van she used to deliver pizza was found empty and still running. Her hat was found near the van, along with three boxes of pizza and signs of a struggle. It was later determined that the address she was sent to deliver pizza to didn't exist. The person who ordered the pizza had given a fake name, and the call had come from a hotel. Police were left with very little clues. The next day, someone did call in with a ransom demand for her safe return. The caller never attempted to further communicate with the police, or collect any money.
The police issued and alert for a truck that had been seen in the area. A few days later, a woman called in with a tip about her brother-in-law, Darrell Wilson, who drove a truck that fit the description. The day after Sherry's disappearance, Darrell had repainted his truck in a different color. Further research discovered that he had known Sherry, and had been interested in dating her. He had a known drug problem and quickly became the main suspect. When interviewed by the police, he was nervous and jittery. He was evasive to questions and thoroughly denied ever knowing her. His alibi was full of holes and contained a 9 hour gap.
Police were also working with psychic John Catchings. One month after Sherry disappeared, John claimed he woke up and saw a woman standing at the foot of his bed. Four days later, he received a package about her disappearance and determined this was the very woman he saw. He felt that Sherry had been abducted by someone she had met, but didn't know every well. When a detective began naming suspects, John felt that Darrell Wilson was the person involved. When taken to Darrell's house, John saw images that corresponded with a vision he had.
Hours after the psychic determined his guilt, Darrell Wilson committed suicide. Despite any evidence, this action further implied his guilt to the police and community. This is where the show Unsolved Mysteries came in. They featured Sherry's case in a 1991 episode that focused heavily on the testimony of the psychic.
Police worked to find evidence to implicate Darrell Wilson in the case, but they found none. They created a profile of Sherry's kidnapper, and Darrell didn't fit the description. He had no behaviors in his past that were consistent of this sort of attack, so investigators began looking for a new suspect that might have similar crimes in their past. Eventually, they found a case that seemed strangely similar and had occurred a year and a half after Sherry's disappearance. Katie Redmond left a college party around 2 am, and her car was found with the motor running and the door open and signs of a struggle. Her body was later found by the river. The cases seemed similar, but Katie's killer had been caught while Sherry's remained at large.
The man arrested for Katie's killing was a notorious killer named William Scott Smith. Two years after Sherry's kidnapping, he was questioned in her disappearance and denied involvement. His alibi placed him hundreds of miles from the scene of the crime, and there was no physical evidence connecting him to the case.
More than twenty years had passed since Sherry's disappearance. Her family had given up hope, and her case was cold. Investigators had tried to find proof that Smith was in the Salem area during the time of Sherry's disappearance, but failed. They checked with local police departments to see if any had contact with Smith. They learned that Smith had been stopped and questioned by police near the crime scene within hours of Sherry's disappearance. Next, they tried to connect Smith to Sherry. They asked his cell mates to see if she had been mentioned in the years he had been behind bars. Two prisoners stepped forward and claimed he had admitted to being involved in an incident with the "pizza girl". They were able to record his confession on cassette tape, and offer it to police.
The police had the evidence they needed, but Smith still wasn't talking. They offered him a chance to switch prisons if he confessed, which motivated him to start talking. Smith claimed that he was in on it with one of his good friends, Roger. Roger ordered the pizzas, and they waited for her to arrive. When Sherry arrived, Smith flagged her down. When she got out to grab the pizzas, he and Roger grabbed her and dragged her into his truck. The description Smith gave matched the physical evidence at the scene of the crime. Smith said he strangled her to death and placed her in the water. After 25 years, there was no physical evidence of her remains. Sherry's family never had any concrete way to say goodbye.
Smith admitted that Sherry wasn't the woman they had planned on kidnapping. They had seen one of her coworkers and wanted her, but Sherry ended up taking her shift that night. Smith's accomplice, Roger had died a few months before.
On December 18th, 2007, William Scott Smith pleaded guilty to the murder of Sherry Eyerly. After 25 years, her mystery was no longer unsolved. Smith was already serving three life sentences, and showed no remorse for his actions. Sherry only got to live on this planet for 18 years, but she was a kind and loving soul. She touched everyone she met, and was beautiful both inside and out. Her death was a tragedy. I grieve for her parents that never got to say goodbye or watch her grow up.
Thank you to Steemit for providing a platform where I can write about my family history. I learned so many more details about this case. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!