Scott County deputy working real life cold case

Saturday, April 18, 2009 | 5:17 p.m. CDT; updated 11:24 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BENTON — For 30 years, Lt. Jerry Bledsoe of the Scott County Sheriff's Department has followed up on every possible lead to learn what happened when Cheryl Anne Scherer disappeared April 17, 1979.

And he and co-workers will continue working until they find answers.

"It's not something that over the years we've pushed off to the side," he said.

"As long as I'm here, I'm going to keep working on it."

A prayer service was held Friday at St. Denis Church in Benton, for anyone wishing to mark the 30th anniversary of Scherer's disappearance.

Bledsoe recently recalled responding to the scene of the then-19-year-old's abduction at the Rhodes 101 Stop in Scott City, when he was a road officer.

"It was just a chaotic situation," he said.

Bledsoe also noted that law enforcement wasn't the same 30 years ago as it is today. He said systems such as the Amber Alert and DNA profiling make solving crimes much easier.

Some of that technology does come to use in the case of Cheryl Scherer, however. About five years ago, Scherer's parents, Ray and Libby Scherer, submitted DNA and a profile of Cheryl has been created and put into CODIS, a DNA database. That would allow investigators from across the nation to make a match on an unidentified person.

Bledsoe said he puts the Scherer case information anywhere he can on the Internet.

The Scherer family is grateful for all the work put into the case, said Cheryl's sister, Diane Scherer. She said Bledsoe contacts the family "between five and 10 times a year" for information.

Bledsoe said he works on the case more often than that, though, he just doesn't want to get the family's hopes up too soon.

"I know how I feel if a lead goes nowhere, so I can only imagine how the family feels," he said.

Over the years, there have been two close leads. Most recently, investigators looked into Timothy W. Krajcir, who confessed in December 2007 to nine murders, including five in Cape Girardeau and two in southern Illinois, during the 1970s and early 1980s. But following interviews, they again came up empty, Bledsoe said.

There was also a close lead in 1984, when Sheriff Bill Ferrell interviewed convicted serial murderers Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole. The two had traveled on Interstate 55 between Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis the day Scherer was abducted and told Ferrell they killed a girl and dumped her body around Crystal City. No body was found, and to Ferrell's knowledge, no other girl was reported missing between the two cities during that time, either.

Also, when the pair was shown a photo of Scherer, Lucas denied it was the girl he had killed.

Despite the setbacks, Bledsoe said he remains hopeful that, someday, there will be answers.

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