10-27-2009, 03:52 PM #76
I remember hearing about this case years ago. I can't believe she's still missing. My heart goes out to her family. I can't imagine what it's like to have to declare one of my loved one's dead. Hopefully, someday soon we will have answers.
11-05-2009, 06:40 PM #77Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
I Know That Van
I joined this site to relay the following information. I know the van - I saw it for many, many years. I reported this to the Pennsylvania State Police via phone and I never heard back from them - what a waste of time. I know the neighborhood where the van resided; if it were registered, it would be easy to find out whos it is.
From what little I have gathered, I can't tell from this site if anyone aggressively pursues these kinds of leads but I have contacted some agencies and I have not heard back from a one.
The van I saw was a late 70's early 80's light blue-grey Dodge or Chevy (possibly with a custom bubble window in the rear) painted with a skier in bright red with dark sunglesses (with something or other that obscured the face) in a mountain scene painted on the passenger side; I'm not sure about the driver side. I saw this van pass by my house every work day as I was waiting for the school bus while I atteded middle school (between1984-1987) - When I went to another school, I no longer waited for the bus and never noticed the van thereafter. I thought I saw the van in the area years later, but it had been primered and not painted. The van would travel westbound on Green Ave. Poydras, LA and turn right towards New Orleans as if going to work. Anyone doing a Google search of this area will notice the neighborhood to the east is not big at all.
I have found sketches of the van online and the similarities are almost dead on with the exception that the skier was further to the back and was not painted on the door - and I remember the van having a spare tire cover in the back.
I found out about the Cherie Mahan case by chance on CNN a few months ago.
I am very dissapointed that PSP never called me back so I am trying to relay this information to any interested party.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions,
11-05-2009, 10:01 PM #78
Welcome Flying K to websleuths!
How long ago did you contact PA State Police?
This case has always been close to my heart. She was the same age as me and she went missing from not far from where I live. I would see it on the news all of the time.
I would love to see this case solved.
11-06-2009, 11:24 AM #79
This case has been like a fly in my eye for years.
I have gone so far as to contact the owner of the only website on net devoted to vans, creepy and cool (scaryvan.com) to see if he had ever received a picture of a similar van. He hadn't.
For all I know, he's here somewhere. I invited him.JMO. Unless there's a link, I can't prove it.
11-06-2009, 12:25 PM #80Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
I contacted PSP the same day I saw the CNN article with the number listed therein; Sgt. Dave something or other took the information but I didn't feel he was particularly involved for whatever reason - perhaps the idea of the suspect vehicle being half a country away was a factor. This is too much of a coincidence - wheather the van in question was really involved or not, the desctiption is too eerie to be a coincidence. I wish there were a way to search for vehicle registrations online.
Also, this neighborhood was filled with questionable characters I remember from childhood - not that it weighs much on the facts, but the neighborhood was government houses with working poor for the most part.
11-06-2009, 12:34 PM #81
Hi, Flying K, did you talk to someone from Troop D, the Butler Post of the PSP?
Sometimes it matters to make sure that you get the guy that really remembers the case.
It shouldn't matter who you call, but sometimes it does.
Here is their number:
Pennsylvania State Police
Troop D, Butler Station
Oh yeah, and welcome.JMO. Unless there's a link, I can't prove it.
11-30-2009, 02:19 AM #82The Mayor of McCully Road
- Join Date
- Dec 2006
- Pittsburgh, PA
I'm another Pittsburgher (who hasn't posted on here in a long time but is excited to be back!) and while I'm not from the Cabot area I do have some insights about the area and the city in general that may be of help.
In the other thread one on Cherrie of the posters mentioned Moraine State Park. I'm familiar with Moraine, as I have gone sailing there many times, and I can tell you there aren't all that many people there at any given time even in the summer months. Of the people who are there, most are either on the lake or riding the bike trail, which doesn't parallel the main road all that often (it's a separate path; I've never tried it but I've always wanted to). The place is dead in the winter and is surrounded by farms. The park is near a small town called Portersville, where the lifeblood of the commercial sector is a mom-and-pop restaurant called Brown's Country Kitchen (which I highly recommend if you're in the area) and a miniature grocery store called Cal's. There's also a hardware store, a school, and a few other little shops, but by no means is it a suburban type area.
There is a swamp in Moraine State Park off the side of one of the roads. While there are a lot of trees in that swamp, it wouldn't be out of the picture to imagine someone driving in there during the winter months if nobody was around. To my knowledge there are no restrictions on driving through the park area at any time.
Getting to Moraine from Cabot, which is actually closer to the PA Route 8 corridor, would have been somewhat easier in 1985. PA Route 228 (which parallels PA 8 for some time) could be used to quickly go over to US Route 19. At time time, 228 was undeveloped in Cranberry and the current Seven Fields area. The town of Cranberry, which is a congested suburban area currently filled with big box shops, was a tiny area with only a few stops for the folks traveling on I-79 and I-76 (the PA Turnpike) as well as the Cranberry Mall, which is a strip mall that sits back from the main road and was filled with non-department stores at the time (the exception being a Hills). If the van was foreign to Cranberry, nobody would have likely noticed it in 1985 since it could have been assumed it was from one of the highways (today that would not be the case).
In the mid-1980s, both the US 19 and PA 8 corridors were very rural in the areas nearest Cabot. There was little between Richland to the south and Butler to the north on PA 8 (this is still true today). On US 19, the only relatively major town between Wexford (to the south and not too far from the city) and Mercer (to the north with the entire Butler County having to be crossed to reach it) was Zeilenople, where the business district is congested yet tiny (about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of Wexford).
Cabot is closer to PA 356 and the very small towns of Sarver and Portersville. It's also located near PA 28, which is more like a freeway than its "route" status would suggest. PA 28 is a good way to get to Indiana, PA (to the north) or to the city (to the south). It's very unlikely that they would have gone to a metro area like Pittsburgh.
Within the area described is a ton of farmland. There are small towns dotting the area (such as Grove City, a college town) but nothing all that large. I'd assume they took some of these rural roads where the van would not be spotted by someone on one of the main arteries (I-76, I-79, PA 28). Any of the back roads (including rural US 19, PA 8, and PA 228 among others) can be used to get around the major roads.
For the most part, people in the Pittsburgh area seem to know everyone in their town to some degree (or at least know what to expect). In most of these areas, a painted van would be considered an anomaly, especially in the suburban parts of town. However, some people were probably reluctant to report it and as any of us who have been alive for a while know, messages did not get around like they do today 24 years ago. There were no Amber alerts, the local news wasn't on for three hours every night, and of course websites such as this one were only a dream at the time.
There are some things that I have noticed from the posts about this case. One poster had mentioned that he saw the van during the years 1984-1987. Was this van spotted any time after 2/22/85 or were the years just posted as a reference to schooling? Also, did anyone else in the neighborhood know of this van? If so, someone was bound to know who had it--that's just the way Western PA works.
In the other thread there's something written about a blue car. Logic says the kidnapper would use the van, especially if it's a "kidnapper special" without rear windows, but what if this guy used it as a decoy?
Another thing worth pointing out is that PA license plates don't have county names on them (many other states, including Ohio, do). Even if this van were to have stopped, nobody would have known just from observation if it was from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or anywhere in between.
I'd also be interested to know if any of the major ski resorts or even ski shops had vans like this at the time. There's one in Pittsburgh that was in business in the 1980s called Willi's (it's still there today) but I don't recall them ever having a delivery vehicle. (Of course, I don't ski so I'm not all that familiar with them). If any avid skiers out there could help me out on this one, please do.
Hopefully something can be found...I wasn't familiar with this case until I started browsing these sites and after reading this yesterday on a surprise visit to the forums I found myself thinking about it all day.
02-22-2010, 11:59 AM #83
02-22-2010, 03:20 PM #84Registered User
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
25 Years Later, Search Continues For Missing Girl
Victim Was First Featured On Direct-Mail Fliers
PITTSBURGH -- Cherrie Mahan was 8 when she vanished from a bus stop near her home in Butler County.A picture of the smiling, brown-haired girl would be the first featured on direct-mail fliers like those now sent weekly to tens of millions of U.S. homes with a simple message: "Have you seen me?"Monday marks 25 years since Cherrie disappeared.
more at link
Of note from link:
Telephone calls to Cherrie's mother, Janice McKinney, were not returned.
02-22-2010, 05:32 PM #85Former Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
Quarter-century-old case of Pa. girl who was 1st on national fliers lends hope to others
Cherrie Mahan was 8 when she vanished from a bus stop near her home. A picture of the smiling, brown-haired girl would be the first featured on direct-mail fliers like those now sent weekly to tens of millions of U.S. homes with a simple message Have You Seen Me?
Monday marks 25 years since Cherrie disappeared in western Pennsylvania. And although she's never been found, the fliers are credited with helping to recover 149 other missing children, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
"It emphasizes the point that somebody out there knows," said the center's president, Ernie Allen.
02-22-2010, 06:21 PM #86
When this happened, Butler was the closest big city and everyone was looking.
The mushroom mines were close to her home.
Lots of farm and wooded areas in cabot.
Every hunter I know looked every season they were out in the woods.
www.WTAE.com on TV right now having Cheri's case on.
The 'infamous skier van' was always thought to have been painted over or left the area immediately after her disappearance.
None of the locals ever said they custom painted it.
I never heard a soul that ever said they really saw it.
Years later by accident I met 2 children that had been on her bus that day.
Those 2 remembered her getting off the bus but never saw the van.
Of course they were 8 year old boys, probably not paying any attention.
It always upset me because my children.neices and nephews were all around that age.
It woke us up! In our farm area, who would do such a thing???
Cheri was the first to have fliers, mail cards.Kyron, HALEIGH, ADJI & Gabriel NEEDS PRAYERS NOW TO FIND THEM!. Zahra & Jonathan in heaven
Justice for Hailey!!!!
No Justice for Caylee Marie..........
02-22-2010, 06:26 PM #87Kyron, HALEIGH, ADJI & Gabriel NEEDS PRAYERS NOW TO FIND THEM!. Zahra & Jonathan in heaven
Justice for Hailey!!!!
No Justice for Caylee Marie..........
02-25-2010, 06:53 PM #88Registered User
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
I’ve been thinking about this case this week, as it marks its 25th anniversary. I grew up in the area, and have lived there for most of my life, so I’m familiar with the case. And as a father of two, I think it is important to find out what happened to Cherrie on that day. This is my first post on this site, so I apologize for the length, and I hope you bear with me.
Two things really stood out to me as I look at this case, and that is the location of the road and the description of the stop. First off, for those that know the area, Cornplanter Road is really in the middle of nowhere. It isn’t a shortcut to anywhere, unless you live very close to the road, and even then it isn’t the best choice. The chances of someone from out of town traveling down this road to grab a child would logically be extremely small, especially one in a brightly colored and decorated van. The only people who travel that road are those who live close, and I think that may have been the case that day.
Second, the description of who was where at the stop is confusing. Cherrie came out of the bus with three other kids, so I’m assuming they’d all live very close to each other. She crossed behind the bus according to another mother at the stop, but students are supposed to cross in front of the bus, so that the driver can see the student at all times. If the van was behind the bus, it would be safe to assume the van would need to follow the bus out of the road, unless it would turn around and go back the way it came in. If it did that, then the mother, who would be picking up her kids also, should have noticed a van turning around if she was going up her nearby driveway. I know this is confusing, but somehow it all doesn’t make sense to what needed to happen to have the child disappear. Why would someone in a van that did not know the area grab the child, not knowing who was looking at the road or even where other local houses may be? And where does the blue car that was seen come in? Was it parked there waiting, or was it also following the bus down Cornplanter Road? These would be things that would be needed to be clear up, because these witnesses at the stop were the ones that saw the van. And considering the closest ski area is at least 2 hours away in multiple directions, having a driver in ski gear here would be extremely unlikely at best.
And one other thing about this scene...one of her friends from school in a recent story marking the 25th anniversary said that Cherrie told her she was afraid of a neighbor's dog. Would this be the neighbor that saw the van, or someone else? And where was this dog in relation to where Cherrie was...was she playing in the neighbor's yard or close enough to make the dog bark? Or did the neighbor bring the dog to Cherrie? I would like to find that out. It would suggest that she did have some contact with that particular neighbor and his dog, whether alone or with her family, and any investigator should get more details on this.
Lastly, the area around the road is pretty rural, but has several things that are interesting in this case. The whole area is undermined, meaning there are a series of mines under the whole area. West Winfield for example had an old coal mine that was used to grow mushrooms, and was one of the largest producers of mushrooms in the area in 1985. In addition, many of the local farms were larger than 100 acres, with lakes and woods that would be perfect places to hide things. If you Google the area now, for example, the newer Birdsfoot Golf Club was built from a private farm. There are many other farms that size in the area, and some may even have access points to some of the old mines. Also, there are areas that are fairly close that are desolate. For example, if you take Iron Bridge Road, just south of Cornplanter Road, it will take you to PA 128 and close to Murphy’s Bottom, which is a great place to hide things. The reason I bring this up is simple, because I don’t think the van with the ski mural made it out of the area, if it was involved in the case. I think that the persons involved in this case were local, and still may be local.
If I was the new lead investigator looking back on this case, I would first make sure I got a definite description of who was where at the bus stop, just to have that defined. That would tell you if the witnesses were actually in a position to see what they saw. Then I would look at some of the people that would have been close to the area, and make a list. I would look at those who would have lived on Cornplanter Road at the time, and would have taken the same path turning off of Winfield Road as the bus from the school. That would include all the children also. Then I would look at the roads that come off of Cornplanter (Russel & North Scenic Drives, plus Moorehead, Bauer, Leisureville & Sarver Roads). I would also look at the members of the church that Cherrie and her family went to at the time, because those people would have known where the family lived and when Cherrie got off the bus. Plus I would look at the classes around 1985 (say 84-88) for Freeport High School, which was accessible by driving a few miles down Kepple Road, located south of Cornplanter Road. The time that Cherrie disappeared would have fit in to the time frame where teenagers were driving home from school.
I think this is where modern technology comes into play. We know following these crimes that people that abuse kids usually don’t stop until they are caught, and we have 25 years to see if anyone close to the area was abusive. If someone on those lists came up on Megan’s List, for example, or as committing a crime towards children, I would want to talk to them about Cherrie. In fact, there is a person on Megan’s List that currently lives on Leisureville Road in Cabot that was arrested for a sex crime in 1991, according to the web site. He would have been 15 in 1985 if he grew up in the area, but the real kicker was one of the autos he listed…a blue 1969 Camaro. The other blue car, perhaps?
I think that chasing the van has been a dead end in this case. Looking through Google news at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette articles (the local Valley News Dispatch & Butler Eagle, which covered the case intensely, aren’t available on Google news) shows that the van story came into play only a few days after Cherrie’s disappearance, and time may not have been spent on other possibilities. If the van was involved, I don’t think it made it out of the area that day if at all, even though people may have saw it somewhere else. If it was involved in this case, I would not be surprised to find pieces of it buried somewhere on a local farm, or in a mine shaft accessible to a farm. In looking at the case, I think it was done by someone local, from everything I mentioned above, and I’d like to see the police take another aggressive look at the case for its 25th anniversary to find the person that took this little girl.
Last edited by local pgh guy; 02-25-2010 at 07:05 PM.
03-01-2010, 12:06 AM #89Registered User
- Join Date
- Sep 2004
25 year anniversary attention
Welcome to Websleuths, Local pgh guy.
There have been some very good posts about Cherrie's disappearance with the 25 year anniversary this month. Perhaps there will be a renewed interest in the case and hopefully it can still be solved.
03-06-2010, 11:31 PM #90
I hope there is renewed interest. I grew up in Pgh and remember the fear every parent had at the time, the fear every kid had when a van would seem like it was going slow. I think this case is the reason I grew up to be the kind of person who cared enough to join a group such as websleuths, have never forgotten it, have never stopped wondering what happened to poor Cherrie. God Bless Cherrie, wherever she is, and help her family and friends find more smiles than tears a they remember her.To the anonymous donor who gave the gift of bone marrow for a babygirl they had never met: Thank You will never be enough!
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