New lead on long-missing Pa. girl, Cherrie Mahan/Cherrie May be Alive

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Post by lisette on Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:07 pm

Police report new lead on long-missing Pa. girl
Published - Jan 14 2011 10:20AM EST
By JOE MANDAK - Associated Press
PITTSBURGH -- A new tip about an 8-year-old girl who was the first child featured on the "Have You Seen Me?" direct-mail advertisements leaves little hope that she is still alive after nearly 26 years but provides the best chance yet of determining what happened to her, state police said.

Cherrie Mahan was last seen stepping off a school bus in 1985. Later that year, she was featured on the first "Have You Seen Me?" mailings by Advo Inc., a company since acquired by Valassis Inc. of Livonia, Mich. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, more than half of 2,100 children pictured on the fliers have been found -- including 150 directly by tips generated by the fliers.

But not Cherrie.

Trooper Robert McGraw said he's optimistic that's about to change.

McGraw said new information has come from someone "who would have known Cherrie" and that it "has the potential to lead us to a known specific actor or actors."

McGraw won't say who walked into the state police barracks in Butler or even when it occurred.

"Their information has the potential to be crucial," McGraw told The Associated Press. "This is more specific information than has been brought to our attention in a long, long time." He said the new information makes it "highly unlikely that she is alive."

What little is known about Cherrie's disappearance has been oft-repeated by newspapers, TV and radio stations.

A motorist saw her get off the bus on Feb. 22, 1985, near a bluish-green van with a skier painted on the side. As the bus stopped to allow traffic to pass, the van disappeared -- and so did Cherrie. Her stepfather found only tire prints at the stop 50 yards from their home in Winfield Township, about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Through the years, most leads have involving alleged sightings of the "skier van" or of Cherrie herself -- some fueled by age-enhanced drawings that police have issued periodically. McGraw said the latest information "is not like another sighting of Cherrie or another tip about the van."

Cherrie's mother, Janice McKinney, keeps Cherrie's 2010 age-enhanced likeness on her desk at a Pittsburgh-area retirement community where she heads the housekeeping department.

McKinney was a 16-year-old single mother when Cherrie was born, and 25 years old when she disappeared. Now 50, McKinney believes what psychics told her a couple of years ago: that Cherrie was kidnapped by someone she knew.
McKinney told the AP that the psychics told her the kidnapper was "not like somebody that was her best friend or anything, but like somebody Cherrie had talked to once or had seen once. My daughter wasn't shy. She was friendly. ... She would talk to you if you talked to her."

McGraw has told McKinney that her daughter is unlikely to be alive. McKinney has come to terms with that idea, intellectually at least.

"In my heart, when anybody ever talks about her, I have always believed that she was (alive)," McKinney said, "But in my head I knew and just prayed every night that she didn't suffer, that it was quick, it was painless, that they didn't torture her."

McGraw won't say what police believe for fear of derailing the investigation. He wouldn't even say if the person that came forward recently would have been an adult or a child -- perhaps another one on the bus? -- when Cherrie disappeared. But, he insists, "This information has the Pennsylvania State Police highly optimistic" that they'll solve the mystery.

Police won't tell McKinney who the tipster is, but McKinney is disturbed that the person knew Cherrie. That means the person also likely knew McKinney and likely is acquainted with her grief through countless media stories about Cherrie's disappearance.

McKinney's pain is largely driven by uncertainty.

"When people die there's that grieving process," McKinney said. "But mine's been going on for 26 years."

"My husband is a Vietnam veteran and all those men that were missing, you know that they're dead but you never get over it because you've never held them or looked in that coffin and saw that body and so you can never say goodbye," she said.

Even if it's only through a police report or a criminal complaint, McKinney said, "I just wish to know exactly what happened and have something to hold in my hand and say goodbye."

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Post by raine1953 on Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:34 pm

Thank you for posting that Lisette.
I hope this lead will bring Cherrie home so that her Mother can have some peace. I just can't imagine....
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Normal New leads in 25 yr old case of Cherrie Mahan.

Post by CritterFan1 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:13 am


Mahan investigator says break possible
Butler County girl vanished in 1985
Thursday, January 13, 2011
By Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A computer art depiction of an age progression image of how Cherrie Mahan may look at 33 years of age.

Even some 25 years after she disappeared from a bus stop in Butler County as an 8-year-old, people still think they see Cherrie Mahan.

One tipster called to say she was on a social networking site. Another said she was working at a Toys R Us in Buffalo, N.Y.

Police follow up on the leads, which are written up, and when they don't pan out, they're stuck in cardboard boxes. Cherrie's case fills more than seven boxes, which hold thousands of pages documenting hundreds of tips -- of hopes raised then dashed.

Now, new information from a person of interest could solve the mystery, said state police Trooper Robert McGraw, who inherited the case -- and the boxes -- last summer.

Mr. McGraw characterized the break in the case cautiously.

"Basically, there's been an individual who's come forward and they have the potential to be crucial to this investigation in the future," he said.

He did not say how state police plan to proceed with the new information and declined to offer any specifics about it.

He would not say who the person was, if the person indicated whether Cherrie was alive or dead or even when the person came forward. The case is sensitive, he said, and he's kept her family in the dark as well.

Cherrie's mother, Janice McKinney, said she knows to be careful in her optimism.

"I don't want to get my hopes up, but this could be an answer to all of our prayers," she said haltingly.

Mr. McGraw also is hoping a CNN special on Cherrie's disappearance, due to air sometime soon, will revive interest in the case.

"One person ... may hold the key to the entire investigation," he said. "Some information from the general public may bring resolution to her entire family."

Cherrie vanished Feb. 22, 1985, after getting off of a school bus in Cabot, a small town in Butler County. She never made it the 150 yards home from the stop.

Troopers tracked a lead about a van with a painting of a mountain scene on its side panels that had been seen around the neighborhood, but the van was never found. They gave her parents polygraph examinations and interviewed friends. When no obvious leads developed, a national direct mailing company, ADVO, plastered her visage on postcards with the question "Have you seen me?" The cards were mailed to thousands of households around the country. She was the first missing child to be featured in the program.

Leads streamed into police by the thousands, but none panned out.

One of the last solid leads that was developed was in 1994, when police questioned a Massachusetts man who was accused of abducting and killing a child and of attempting to abduct another child. He was ruled out as a suspect when police confirmed he was in New York the day of Cherrie's disappearance.

ADVO featured her again in another mailing in 2000 with a computer-generated photo showing what she might look like as a 23-year-old, but again no solid leads came in.

Ms. McKinney said police apprise her when they're making headway on a lead and think it could be promising. But she said she can't even remember the last time it happened. Mr. McGraw is the third or fourth investigator she's dealt with, she said.

"He's very optimistic [of this lead]," she said.

Ms. McKinney admits that her hope that her daughter is alive has worn thin over the years. In November 1998, Cherrie was declared legally dead by a judge.

"It would beyond my wildest dreams if she was still alive and I could hold her and tell her everything that I've missed, but that's my heart talking," she said. "My mind's saying 'Janice, wake up, smell the coffee. If she was alive she would have come home.' "

And as the years dragged on, her sense of loss has only been compounded. As she watched a niece grow up and graduate from high school, then go onto college and get married, she thought of Cherrie. Today, her daughter would be 34.

"Those are things that I will never have with my daughter," she said. "It breaks my heart."

It's the mystery that tortures her most.

"I can't even explain to people what a killer that is," she said, "After 26 years I just truly just want some closure. ... I pray every night that God lets me know what happens so I don't have to torment myself anymore."

In the end, she is comforted by her faith.

"I've always felt that Cherrie's OK," she said. "I just don't know if she's dead or alive. I put it in the Lord's hands."
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Post by CritterFan1 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:35 am

Police May Have Break In Case Of Butler Girl Missing Since 1985

Posted: 10:53 pm EST January 12, 2011Updated: 12:13 pm EST January 13, 2011
WINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- State police said someone has provided "potentially crucial" information that could help them solve the case of an 8-year-old Butler County girl missing almost 26 years.

Cherrie Mahan was last seen stepping off a school bus in Winfield Township on Feb. 22, 1985. She hasn't been seen since, and was the first child ever featured on the now-famous "Have You Seen Me?" advertising circulars produced by a company called Advo Inc.

Trooper Robert McGraw said police received new information from a person who randomly walked into the barracks.

He won’t say what the information is, only that the person is apparently trying to help the girl's family find out what happened to her.

"It’s like they just appear out of the blue,” McGraw said. “The timing was just strange, like they were sent here for a reason."

Cherrie's mother, Jane McKinney, said she’s hoping to finally get some closure.

"From the day she didn't come up that hill, I have always prayed that ... please, God, just let me know ... give me an answer, " said McKinney.

Police have worked many leads in this case. Some witnesses reported a blue van behind the bus and others a blue car.

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Post by raine1953 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:56 pm

I pray that this Mother will find out what happened to her daughter, hopefully alive but probably not. I cannot imagine how awful it must be to go thru' all these years and not know what happened to your child.
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Post by CritterFan1 on Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:15 pm


Crime
Mom of First 'Have You Seen Me?' Missing Girl Hopeful About New Tip‎
Jan 18, 2011 – 6:55 PM

David Lohr

David Lohr Contributor
More than 2 1/2 decades have passed since Janice McKinney last saw her missing daughter, Cherrie Mahan. The 8-year-old was one of the first to be featured on the "Have You Seen Me?" direct-mail advertisements.

Despite the passage of time, McKinney is not ready to give up, especially with word that police have received a new tip in the case.

"I'm hopeful," the western Pennsylvania woman told AOL News. "And the police are awfully optimistic about this lead. When I think with my heart, I think this could be it, but when I think with my head, I feel I need to be cautious."

Janice McKinney sits in her living room in Saxonburg, Pa., and looks at a portrait of her daughter, Cherrie Mahan on January 13, 2011.
Keith Srakocic, AP
Janice McKinney, left, still holds out hope that she will learn what happened to her daughter, Cherrie Mahan, right. Cherrie was 8 years old when she vanished after stepping off a school bus on Feb. 22, 1985.
The new lead was recently given to police by an individual who walked into the state police barracks in Butler, about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh. Officials there did not immediately return calls for comment from AOL News.

Speaking with The Associated Press, Trooper Robert McGraw said the new information came from someone "who would have known Cherrie" and that it "has the potential" to lead them to a specific individual or individuals.

"This is more specific information than has been brought to our attention in a long, long time," McGraw told the AP, adding that it makes it "highly unlikely that she is alive." He declined to elaborate further.

McKinney, 50, was just 25 years old when her daughter disappeared without a trace on Feb. 22, 1985.

"She was coming home from school," McKinney said. "She got off the bus and was walking toward our driveway and she just vanished."

The disappearance occurred around 4:05 p.m. Cherrie only had to walk about 100 yards from the bus stop to her family's hilltop mobile home on Cornplanter Road in Cabot. Whatever happened to her occurred during that walk, police said. When she failed to arrive home, her family went looking for her and, when they were unable to find her, they contacted police.

Within an hour, hundreds of community volunteers and police officers were scouring every inch of the surrounding wooded areas and roadsides. Not one sign of the missing girl was uncovered.

When police questioned witnesses -- children who rode the bus, as well as a mother who had picked her children up at the bus stop -- they learned that a blue or green van with a mural of a mountain and a skier had been seen in the area at the time Cherrie disappeared.

"The van was seen behind the bus and a small blue car was seen sitting in the driveway," McKinney said.

This undated file image provided by The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shows a copy scan of the original mailer flier of then eight-year-old Cherrie Mahan when she vanished on Feb. 22, 1985 from a bus stop near her western Pennsylvania home.
NCMEC / AP
Cherrie Mahan was the first missing child to be featured on the "Have You Seen Me?" cards distributed by direct-mail advertiser Advo.
The case received national media attention, and Cherrie was the first missing child to appear on the "Have You Seen Me?" cards that were distributed by direct-mail advertiser Advo. The girl's photo was also printed on the side of cardboard milk cartons around the U.S., her mom said.

Two sketches of the van were also released to the media and several alleged sightings came in, but to this day authorities have been unable to locate it or determine whether it is actually connected to Cherrie's disappearance.

The case quickly went cold.

In 1992, Cherrie's family had her declared legally dead. They donated her life insurance policy, about $58,000, to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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"I think about her every single day," McKinney said. "This August she would be 35 years old. There are lots of things I haven't been able to do. I haven't been able to watch her graduate high school, go off to college, get married or become a mother. It's these things that people don't realize are taken away from you."

Despite the passage of nearly 26 years, McKinney says she hopes she will eventually be able to find out what happened to her little girl.

"There is not one day that I don't say, 'Please God, just give me strength.' There is not one day I don't pray," she said. "Whether she is dead or alive I don't know. It's been a long time, but I realize it's in the good Lord.s hands and I'll find out in his time, not mine."
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Critter, do you possibly have a link? Thanks so much! ❤
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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:07 pm

Third-grader stepped off school bus, disappeared

With the weekend arriving and a long day finally over, 8-year-old Cherrie Mahan stepped off her yellow school bus on a chilly Friday around 4 p.m.

The bus stop was about 100 yards from her home in rural Winfield Township in western Pennsylvania. But Cherrie did not make it to the hilltop trailer she lived in with her parents. She was never seen again.

Investigators say her disappearance after the four mile ride home from elementary school on February 22, 1985, remains a mystery.

"It's like a black hole opened up and she fell in,'' said Cherrie's mother, Janice McKinney. She recalled that she and Cherrie's stepfather, Leroy, could hear the bus pulling up that day. Soon after Cherrie did not arrive, he went to the stop to look for her.

''He came flying back up because she wasn't there,'' McKinney said.

Cherrie, an only child, would soon be celebrating her 33rd birthday, but in the minds of many, she will always remain a missing girl. "People still talk about it,'' said Trooper Frank Jendesky, the lead detective working on the case for the Pennsylvania State Police for the past 15 years.

The driver and children riding the bus remember Cherrie getting off the bus with a few other students who lived nearby.

One lingering detail has baffled investigators for years -- reports that a 1976 model van was following the school bus. The van, according to students, had a distinctive painted mural of a snow-capped mountain and skier wearing red and yellow clothes coming down the mountain.

Despite many efforts, the van was never found and it remains unclear whether it holds a link to the puzzle.

''By now it's probably in a junkyard or somewhere,'' said Jendesky, who considers the case a kidnapping or abduction -- rather than a homicide -- because a body was not found.

"It's the not knowing that kills you,'' McKinney said. ''Every day you wonder and you look at some girl who's 33 and you wonder, 'Is that her?' I look at little kids and wonder, 'Is that my grandchild?' ''

Over the years, police conducted hundreds of interviews and cleared several persons of interest, while the case file grew to more than 4,000 pages.

Among his biggest frustrations, Jendesky said: "The time lapse and a lot of the calls I've gotten over the years really had no relevance to the case.''

In the days before Amber Alerts and greater public awareness of crimes against children, McKinney said it took time before word of her daughter's disappearance became widespread.

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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:14 pm

"AC360°" is investigating some of the nation's most notorious cold cases. Watch nightly at 10 ET.

(CNN) -- Cherrie Mahan was 8 years old when she disappeared from her bus stop one day after school in 1985. Now, nearly 26 years after she vanished, the lead investigator says there could be a break in the case.

"Recently, a person contacted Pennsylvania State Police, and they have the potential to be crucial to the investigation in the future," Trooper Robert McGraw said. "We're highly optimistic that this lead has the potential to bring closure to Cherrie's family."

Cherrie was the first child to appear on a "Have You Seen Me?" mailer, soon after she disappeared February 22, 1985.

She was last seen getting off a school bus and was supposed to walk 200 feet to her home in rural Winfield Township in western Pennsylvania. On any other day, her mother would have been there to meet her.

"I should have been there when Cherrie got off the school bus, and I wasn't," Janice McKinney told CNN's Randi Kaye. "Four o'clock, the bus came, and we heard it. And she just never came up the driveway."
If she is alive, Cherrie Mahan might now look like this age-progressed photo.
If she is alive, Cherrie Mahan might now look like this age-progressed photo.

Since that moment, Cherrie's mother has been living every parent's nightmare. "I think my guilt started at that point, because up until that day, I was there. And if I would have been there, I wouldn't be going through this," she said.

Children on Cherrie's school bus described a light blue van with a mural of a snowcapped mountain and a skier painted on the side that was parked right behind the bus stop. Investigators believe the van could've been involved in the girl's disappearance.

There was snow on the ground the day Cherrie vanished but no footprints leading to her house, suggesting to investigators that she didn't get far and was picked up quickly.

"I believe Cherrie was abducted by someone she knows very well," McGraw said. "And I believe this person had the ability to basically lure Cherrie to their vehicle without her giving it a second thought prior to her disappearance."

After Cherrie's disappearance, her mother didn't want to go through life without a child. Five years later, she had a son named Robert. He's now in his 20s. His mother kept him extremely close during his entire childhood for fear that he too could be taken away from her.

"He's never, ever gone anywhere without somebody," she said in 2005. "I mean, from the time he was able to walk, until this day ... I go to every soccer game. I stand by the door, you know, worried that somebody could come in and take him."

Cherrie's mother just wants to know what happened to her little girl. At the family's cemetery plot, there is a statue of an angel for Cherrie, not a gravestone, because her mother can't bring herself to place one there until she knows the truth.

"I have resigned myself to the fact that Cherrie is OK, whether she is dead or alive. If she's dead, my family is taking care of her. If she's alive, someone else is taking care of her," she said. "All I pray for now is to know one way or the other."

The mystery also weighs heavily on McGraw. Three investigators worked the case before him, all with the goal of solving it before they retired and all leaving the force coming up short. It's never far from his mind.

"I can't imagine if that was my child. I can't imagine the pain her mother must wake up with every day," McGraw said. "It's hard not to be attached" to the case, he said, pausing to fight tears.

With the new lead, McGraw is hopeful that with perseverance and some luck, he can finally solve one of the most notorious cold cases in recent U.S. history.

"I have a picture of her on my desk," he said. "So any second of my workday, when I think that there is nothing on my plate or I have anything to do, that picture reminds me there is always something to do, because we don't know what happened to Cherrie."

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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:14 pm


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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:19 pm

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Cherrie Mahan (Family Photo and Age-Progressed Simulation)

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Post by CritterFan1 on Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:25 pm

I did not see this thread, somewhere I have also posted this story. Sorry for the confusion.
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Post by CritterFan1 on Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:06 pm

NG has her story featured on her new show tonight, the one that comes on at 9pm. Would be a miracle of all miracles if she were found alive.
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Post by Wrapitup on Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:14 am

NG has two NG shows nightly (that are different) and that other one now? Is this true?? What't the other one? "Swift Justice" or something? So, she literally has 3 new shows per day?? No!!!

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Post by raine1953 on Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:03 am

Police Seek DNA In Cherrie Mahan Case

PITTSBURGH -- Cherrie Mahan vanished from a Butler County neighborhood 26 years ago. Target 11's Rick Earle has uncovered a new lead in the case that has investigators working on new interviews and a DNA test in Michigan.
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There's a video at the link above, couldn't embed.
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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:45 pm

Michigan Police: Woman Is Not Cherrie Mahan
Posted: 1:55 pm EDT June 15, 2011
Updated: 7:48 am EDT June 16, 2011

PITTSBURGH -- Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle just spoke with authorities in Michigan who said they have looked into claims from a tipster there that Cherrie Mahan was alive, well and living in rural Michigan.
Mahan was last seen stepping off a school bus in Winfield Township in February 1985 when she was 8-years-old.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s department in Michigan told Earle that the woman in questions is not Mahan.
The spokesman said his investigators interviewed the woman and saw a copy of her birth certificate. He said they also went to the local high school where she graduated from and saw pictures of her from as early as Kindergarten. At that time, investigators said she was a student in a school district in Michigan.
State police here in Pennsylvania had been investigating the claims after several people came forward and said they spotted a van similar to the one used in the Mahan abduction, and a girl matching Cherrie’s description at a track meet in Michigan 26 years ago. One source said that the girl was now a woman living in northern Michigan.

Earle traveled to Michigan and interviewed the source of the information. Earle also tracked down the woman in question and she told him she was not Cherrie Mahan. Earle met with State police who said they would look in to the claims.

State Police contacted the Sheriff’s department in Michigan to help them investigate. The Michigan Sheriff’s department spent Wednesday morning tracking down the information and they just determined that the woman is not Mahan.

Pennsylvania state police issued a news release about the investigation.

“Through the cooperation and diligent investigative efforts by the Antrim County Sheriff’s Office, utilizing interviews, photographs, records and the Michigan Department of Vital Statistics, the investigation lead provided to the Pennsylvania State Police regarding the possibility of Cherrie

Mahan residing in Michigan is no longer active,” said Trooper Robert McGraw, the lead investigator in the case.

Although investigators said they wanted DNA from the woman, it’s not clear if they ever got it. Apparently the information they received was enough to close the book on the case.

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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:46 pm

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Post by Wrapitup on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:47 pm

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Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
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Normal Re: New lead on long-missing Pa. girl, Cherrie Mahan/Cherrie May be Alive

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