PITTSBURGH,None — It's one of our areas most baffling mysteries. What happened to 8-year old Cherrie Mahan?
It was February 22,1985 when a school bus dropped Mahan off at her stop on Cornplanter Road in Winfield Township, Butler County. That was that last time she was seen. Her mother and stepfather were waiting for her at the family home just on top of the hill. She never made it.
Investigators continue to receive information about Mahan's whereabouts, but nothing has lead them to her.
"It's like she vanished in thin air," said Pennsylvania State Trooper Frank Jendesky.
Jendesky has been searching for Mahan for the past 15 years, but his search will soon come to an end. Jendesky is retiring this month. The case will be assigned to another investigator, the fourth to work the case.
Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle sat down with Trooper Jendesky for his last interview before his retirement. Earle asked Jendesky if he thought he would crack the case when he first took it over.
"That's always your belief as an investigator. It's frustrating. You know, obviously, I want to bring the case to a conclusion. And you know, there wouldn't be anything better than to end my career solving this case. You often wonder if there's more I could have done, or is there something I could have missed. We try our best with the leads we have received over the years," Jendesky said.
Now, 25 years later, police continue to receive information about Mahan's disappearance and the van with a skier mural that may have been involved. Witnesses said Mahan was last seen getting off her school bus and walking in the direction of the van that had been following the bus.
Jendesky said an age-progression photograph showing what Mahan would look like today was released earlier this year. That photo, according to Jendesky, generated even more response.
Jendesky said tips continue to come into his office. While Channel 11 cameras were rolling, he opened two envelopes with brand new information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"This caller said she believes she saw the child on Dr. Phil's show on May 28, 2010," said Jendesky.
Jendesky said gets other tips as well. He recently received a letter from a prison inmate in Ohio. The inmate claims he has information about Mahan.
"He just had information he wanted to pass on to us, he didn't know if it was worthwhile, but we will see when someone talks to him, said Jendesky, who will send an investigator to interview the inmate.
"I just have to go through them and see which ones are credible which ones to follow up," Jendesky said.