Friday, February 23, 2007

Cherrie Mahan now missing 22 years from Cabot, Pennsylvania

Last year, there were some news articles on the 21-year anniversary of the disappearance of Cherrie Ann Mahan. I have yet to find any for this year. However, in January her story was on the Anderson Cooper 360 blog and on the CNN TV show Insight. Both times her story had been brought to mind by the miraculous recovery of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby in Missouri.

Don't think, however, that Cherrie has been totally forgotten. Yesterday, on the actual anniversary of her disappearance, there was a post on her on The Butler, Pennsylvania Blog. You can read it at
Insight transcript from Photo, age progression, and sketches from the Charley Project:
MANN: Many parents of abducted children are haunted by the unknowns. Not
only of what their may look like today but why they were taken, who took them
and is it possible that they're living a life without them.
As Randi Kaye tells us, the questions rarely ease with time, even for one
mother whose daughter disappeared more than 20 years earlier.
JANICE MCKINNEY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: The past 20 years probably has
been a real torture.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Words spoken by a mother in
MCKINNEY: Four o'clock, the bus came and we heard it. And she just never
came up the driveway.
KAYE: A mother overwhelmed by grief and guilt.
MCKINNEY: I should have been there when Cherrie got off the school bus, and
I wasn't.
KAYE: February 22, 1985, Cherrie Mahan went to school and never came home.
MCKINNEY: I think that the last words that I probably told her was, you
know, have a good day and I do love you. And that was probably as I took her
down to the bus stop and she got on the bus.
KAYE (on camera): Did she tell you she loved you back?
MCKINNEY: Yes. She always told me that.
KAYE (voice-over): That day, Janice McKinney went from being the mother of
a bubbly 8-year-old who loved rainbows and reading to the mother of a missing
child. It was Cherrie who helped put a face on missing children nationwide, the
first child on ever on a "Have you seen me?" mailer, delivered to homes around
the country.
(on camera): What is that moment of panic like, that first moment when you
realize your child has disappeared?
MCKINNEY: It's the most scariest thing and the -- I think my guilt started
at that point, because, up until that day, I was there. And if I would have been
there, she wouldn't -- I wouldn't be going through this.
KAYE (voice-over): Ever since Cherrie was old enough to go to school,
Janice says she walked her daughter to and from the bus stop.
(on camera): It was a day just like this one, snow on the ground, the sun
shining. Cherrie got off her school bus right here. She had to go about 200
feet, around that bend to get to her driveway, then another 300 feet to her
front door. Investigators never found any footprints, which means Cherrie never
got very far.
(voice-over): Janice called state police and tracked down Cherrie's school
bus. She had to be sure Cherrie wasn't still on it. Children on the bus told
Janice and police Cherrie got off at her regular stop with other children. Those
young witnesses described a blue van right behind the bus with a snowcapped
mountain and a skier painted on its side. Investigators checked out hundreds of
leads, no van, no Cherrie.
(on camera): Is there indication as you walk this way how far she got?
tracks or anything.
KAYE: So, what does that tell you?
HALL: That apparently someone picked her up.
KAYE: Pretty quick?
HALL: Yes.
KAYE (voice-over): For retired trooper Glenn Hall, who worked the case from
day one, there is also guilt.
HALL: I feel that maybe there's something I overlooked at the time, but I
followed every lead that I got that night.
KAYE: With the case now entering its third decade, Trooper Hall remains
convinced a stranger abducted Cherrie, a stranger who knew the little girl's
schedule and who knew the area. Such crimes are rare. Of the thousands of
children each year who are officially described as abducted, the vast majority
are taken by someone they know. But every year, about 100 children are taken by
a stranger.
MCKINNEY: That was her dog and that was her cat.
KAYE: Janice gave birth to Cherrie when she was just 16. They grew up
together, she says. And this is what investigators think she might now look
MCKINNEY: By now Cherrie could be married and have children and have
graduated and I could be a grandmother.
KAYE: Cherrie's mom works two jobs, barely sleeps, anything to keep out the
dark thoughts. Five years after Cherrie was kidnapped, Janice had another child,
Robert. After losing Cherrie, Janice says she didn't want to go through life
without being a mother. Her son Robert is a soccer player with big plans to go
away to college, something that doesn't sit so well with his mom.
MCKINNEY: He's never, ever gone anywhere without somebody. I mean, from the
time he was able to walk until this day, I mean, I go to every soccer game. I
stand by the door, you know, worried that somebody could come in and take him.
KAYE: Janice works hard to keep Cherrie close and her memory alive. There
is an angel at the family's cemetery plot. Two decades and countless tears
later, Janice is still not ready to place a gravestone here.
MCKINNEY: We live in a society where we need to see something. And until I
see something or hold something or know something, I -- it will -- I can't put
it to rest yet.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Cabot, Pennsylvania.

Other people mentioned in the episode were Steven Stayner and Timmy White, who were also found together 25 years ago after they managed to escape their abductor and go to a police station; Natasha Kampusch, who was held captive in Austria for eight years before escaping last August; and Katelyn Rivera-Helton, who disappeared from Pennsylvania in 1999 and is still missing.

If you know anything about Cherrie's disappearance, please call the Pennsylvania State Police at (412) 284-8100 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
You can print a poster of Cherrie here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also have a little girl and my heart goes to Cherrie's parents. Some one out there knows what happened... We need to legalize the death penalty in every state. There are too many child molesters/predators just walking around free. They are not human beings.
I'm constantly trying to help in any way possible but I truly believe that we have to talk to our children. They need to know of the evil that lurks in every corner.
"God Bless You":Mary Burnett