Anonymous letter could shed light on decades-old disappearance

CABOT, Pa. — Thirty-four years ago, on Feb. 22, 1985, 8-year-old Cherrie Mahan got off the school bus in Cabot but never made it home.

Now, in 2019, her mother told Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle she hopes an anonymous tip will help police crack this cold case.

"I just wish someone would come forth and tell me what happened," Janice McKinney said through tears. "That's all I pray for all the time is just to know."

Download the WPXI News App for the latest investigations from Target 11

Last summer, McKinney received a handwritten letter detailing who killed her daughter, why they did it and where her body could be found. The letter, signed by someone calling themselves Pastor Justice, ended: "I pray you find some peace after you find her body."

"I got it around her birthday," McKinney said.

She turned the letter over to police but never heard back. Investigators told Target 11 they are still working on it. They also said another tip led them to search an Armstrong junkyard and an old mine shaft in Butler County within the last year.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A TIP TO CHANNEL 11 NEWS or call our tipline and leave us a message: (412) 237-4963.

Cherrie was the first child to be featured on mailers sent out by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Several years ago, the organization released an age progression photograph to show what she may look like as an adult.

In 2014, Target 11 traveled to Michigan to investigate a tip that Cherrie was alive and living under another name. Police also investigated and determined it wasn't Cherrie.

McKinney believes someone knows what happened to Cherrie all those years ago. While she waits for answers, McKinney said she's made her peace.

"You can never move on until you forgive, and I have forgiven," she said. "I'll never forget, but I have forgiven."