Person Comes Forward In 26-Year-Old Missing Child Case

By David Highfield

BUTLER (KDKA) — Twenty-six years after the disappearance of 8-year-old Cherrie Mahan, State police say someone has come forward with information that could be crucial in the case.

Trooper Robert McGraw says someone walked into the barracks in Butler recently “out of the blue” and provided information that “has the potential to be crucial in this investigation.”

He will not reveal what the person said or why they came forward now, but says this information is more specific than past tips.

It was 1985 when Mahan walked off her school bus in Winfield Township, Butler County, but never made it home. A blue van was reported in the area, but police say so was a small blue car.

Mahan’s mother, Janice McKinney, says, “It’s closure we’re all looking for,” and hopes this person coming forward will provide that.

She says, “The not-knowing is what eats you alive every single day of your life.”

Police say this could turn out to be a dead end, but they say they are highly optimistic.


One Comment

  1. Krista says:

    Please let it be the break the family and police hope will end this case that has been cold for so long. I hope that if she is gone that they can find her remains and give her a proper buriel and find peace, also hope whoever took her confesses and pays their dues.

    1. Ron Klink says:

      I covered this story as a young reporter at KDKA TV and the pain of the family and neighbors has stayed with me all these years. As a Congressman, I helped turn over the reward monies to the Missing adn Exploited Children Organization to help other children after hope of finding Cherie was abandoned. I hope that once again there is hope
      Ron Klink

      1. castnbash says:

        off topic Congressman but can you please do something to abort the double taxation of American citizens on tobacco and other products ? we are paying state and federal taxes on them hidden in the cost and then at the cash register we are forced to pay sales tax on the already taxed amount and many of us are fed up with this sort of illegal taxation !!

      2. Brad says:

        Really? Something this sensitive and you are talking about your disgusting habit that you obviously are struggling to afford? Email the man.. Show some class .

      3. Slyfox says:

        Something is WRONG WITH YOU! You are a freak. No one cares if you can’t afford your tobacco products you friggen moron. This story has nothing to do with that. Show some respect and some class!

      4. Liz Russ says:

        Ron, as a person that has followed another missing child case only with the difference being that Amy Mihaljevic was found dead after being gone 104 days in Ohio, it’s very easy for me to see just how awful such things can be, I truly hope Cherries family finds closure one way or the other.In Amy’s case it has now been 21 years of trying to find a killer or the reason why this happened .I never knew Amy and her case has haunted hundreds of people to include myself. I finally posted a blog in which I give many details, still no one will talk about it.I know of another new journalist that picked up Amy’s story and wrote a book about her case , still to this day he is haunted about it. I’m just wondering ,were you also haunted by what happened to Cherrie? I’d love to talk with you and compare notes. I can be reached at or Amy Mihaljevic Continued blog. Thanks and again I prayers are with Cherries family

      5. castnbash says:

        @ Slyfox …something is wrong with me ? funny cause you are the one going ballistic and calling names and throwing insults ….. as for respect and compassion as some have stated well I am sorry if I do not believe that words typed on an internet forum will make any amount of difference in this case or in making the family of this poor unfortunate child feel any better …and if you think for one moment that anything anyone here says will make them feel less of a loss you sir are then the idiot !

        Good day !

  2. Michelle Hildenbrand says:

    I hope to god they can find out what really happened to her to put her family at ease after more than 25 years of grieving and wondering what had happened to to their little girl

  3. debbie says:

    I could not even begin to imagine what those parents have been going through all these years. I pray its good news not bad. I pray the person(s) responsible pay emencely!!!!!!

  4. mark says:

    Unless it is news of finding her alive, why make the family relive the nightmare 25 years later?

    1. Wendy says:

      As a parent myself, I cannot imagine the nightmare EVER ending. I do understand where you are coming from, however, I would imagine it is their hope, that if the person has any valuable information to share, that by broadcasting it, it might trigger other peoples remembrances. No detail could be too small. As far as reliving the nightmare…I can’t speak for the family, but if it were one of my own, I think I might want to know if they had passed. I suppose then I would be able to “lay them to rest”…but it is truly my hope that they find her alive. I have always prayed for this miracle.

    2. scott says:

      well i have read other stories that say they think she ‘may be alive’ so i gess its possible.

      then again, it might be a sick hoax.

      or jaycee dugard redux.

    3. Eric Kunz says:

      I’m pretty sure the nightmare has been ongoing the entire 26 years, Mark. I don’t think this is something a parent ever gets over, so I don’t think the news is making anything any worse for them.

  5. Lek says:

    I just mentioned this to a family member on Tues, we were talking about a missing person case in Ambridge from many years ago and somehow this came to mind and I mentioned her name. That is weird….
    I do hope they find out what happened.

    1. stenik says:

      Lek – I’m originally from Ambridge and I was talking to my husband tonight about a missing girl’s case from years ago when I was little. I said I don’t think they ever found her. I can still see her face but I can’t remember her name anymore. Is that who you were talking about?

      1. CJ Thomas says:

        Rebecca Ann Triska missing from Ambridge, 1958

      2. lek says:

        I believe CJ is correct, my mother was in school with Becky Triska and used to tell me about it all the time . There are many who think they know what happened, but there is no way to find out now. 😦

    2. stenik says:

      It could be. It’ been so long. I don’t think they ever found out what happened. Sad. That has to be the worst nightmare a parent can go through. Not knowing.

  6. Lou B says:

    wow , this case always stuck with me , I was in college when this happened and thought how terrible the parents must feel , now that I am a parent of 3 I could not IMAGINE THE PAIN this poor Mother and Father have been feeling and not to know for 25 years where you innocent baby is and what happened , did she suffer , was she alive I PRAY THAT THEY GET SOME SORT OF CLOSURE .

  7. Janell K says:

    I was the same age as Cherie wnen she went missing. I remember seeing this case on the News and it really scared me. I think about her often and I hope the family gets the closure they deserve

  8. Stella says:

    Perhaps if this case is finally coming to a close there is still hope of finding out who killed the two boys outside of Evans City. All these families need closure, not that it will soften the sadness of losing a child.

    1. expittsburgh says:

      @Stella. That’s the first thing that came to mind for me as well. I still am surprised that that person(s) was never caught. Very strange.

      Hopefully some closure is reached in this story.

  9. BB says:

    I am the same age and grew up less than two miles from where this incident took place and remember it often. I hope there can finally be closure.

  10. LISA says:

    I remember this story quite well, as my own children were so young at the time. Everywhere you looked, you saw Cherie’s picture…on milk cartons, posters and I remember thinking how in the world can her Mother keep on…..keeping on.

    Every Mother was petrified to let their children out of their site, to go to the school bus or even go out to play.

    I hope and pray this is not some kind of a hoax and that she still may be alive, as reported in other local news stories today. We can only pray she is…alive and well. Her family has been through enough….let’s keep our hopes up that they do indeed locate her.

  11. Renee says:

    I remember seeing her face on tv and looking at every van I saw, wondering if she was in it. This is one of those stories that stays with you. She has never been forgotten.

  12. Nikki says:

    I agree with Brad, this is not the time or place to complain about cigarettes. I’ve prayed she would come back alive. I know its a slim chance. I also want closure for the 2 boys from Evans City.

  13. Jenna says:

    Who ever this person is they need punched in the face for waiting 26 years to come forth with this information, they could of saved this family a lot of heartache

    1. Jenna says:

      That’s a very good point but chances are if it is cherri herself do you think she would waste her time going to the police saying she has information.. Don’t you think she would go to her parents to see if it’s true about them not wanting her if she was brainwashed?.. I don’t want to seem hopeless.. I’m just being realistic..don’t want her family to get their hopes up just to get shut down..that could be very painful for them.
      This family will be in my prays.. Let’s all wish for the best.

    2. scott says:

      but 18 months ago it didnt seem ‘realistic’ that jaycee was alive and wouldnt come forward either.

      also, the police maybe conducting dna tests on someone reporting to be cherri, and therefore are just saying ‘someone with information’. unless its a hoax, why would anyonelse come forward after 25 years?

      i do pray for resolution either way

    3. Scott says:

      What if it turns out to be a family member that is “involved” and they FINALLY have enough quilt after carrying this burden all these years and are looking to clear their conscience?

  14. Pamela Martin Mcklveen says:

    i always took this one personally. cherrie and my daughter erin could almost be twins. the resemblance was uncanny and i think they were the same age.

  15. connie says:

    I do not understand why the state police are not releasing any information on this other than the vague facts, surely they know more, I am hoping and praying that the reason they are not saying anything is that they want to investigate i.e. find this person and see if she is the missing girl. I think that is why they are optimistic, I watched this on the news and I could ‘feel’ their excitement…I don’t think they would be excited if it were bad news, anyway, I am praying that it is good news for the family and especially this child and her mother.

  16. Mary says:

    Mary Ann Verdecchio went missing when I was in grade school. I am 59 now. I think she was around my age. It scared me to death & her name stayed with me all these years. I prayed often for her safe return, as I did when Cherrie went missing. The news interviewed the police. They have important information but I believe I heard the officer say that with the information given, it is unlikely Cherrie is still alive. God bless all the families who have lost their loved ones to these evil crimes.

  17. J says:

    I really hope that this “lead” has substance. Otherwise, publicly leaking a possible closure seems cruel.

  18. Nick59 says:

    This is just one of several cases that have gone cold in Butler County
    The individual who murdered the Police chief in Saxonburg has never been caught and is probably dead from old age.
    Some one always knows what has happened lets hope some one finally does the right thing in this case.

  19. LetsHope says:

    Wow, I remember this story and remember always keeping an eye out for the van. For years I’ve tried to find this story to find out if she was ever rescued/found and all I could remember was that it was a blue van with a ski image but couldn’t remember her name. Just googled her name and see that this is the same girl. It would be great if they did indeed finally track down the person responsible.

  20. FedUp says:

    Wow — I remember this little girl. I’ll say a prayer that her disappearance can be solved so that her family can finally have some closure. Can’t even imagine the pain they’ve endured over so many years . . . God bless them and provide them with some measure of comfort.

  21. Jen says:

    I rode the same bus as her every day and was just a few stops away. I remember being so scared by her disappearance, by our parents actions, by the police questions… This incident has profoundly affected many of us in our lives, and the way we act now with our children. I pray for peace and closure for us all.

  22. childhood friend says:

    I pray this leads to an ending of the wonder for the family and friends. As a mother today I would want to know the results either way. The pain will never go away of the years lost or the death of your child, but being able to go through out your day and not needing to stare into every persons eyes hoping to recognize your own child, or to be able to lay them to rest. May God be with you Cherrie no matter where you are.

  23. JIM METZLER says:


  24. Elizabeth Rodgers says:

    I wonder if the comment made by Trooper McGraw about this person coming forward has more specific info than past tips, is one of the people that my niece Kim told Jendeski about years ago. I pray they are lead to the person that is responsible for the disappearance of Cherrie and hopefully they haven’t committed any crimes to more children.

  25. Natashia creel says:

    I found a van that meets that van description. It was in ms,sitting on side of rd .please contacte me 2286693689/2286693090

    1. liz Russ says:

      contact the police in that area and tell them what you saw.

  26. Jamie says:

    Rember Thresa Rhodes? She’s been gone many years. She was fourteen and now she would be around forty nine. She was from South Greensburg. Her Mom just passed away. How sad that it”s always on everyone mind. God Bless All.

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