United States

Nearly 40 Years Later, Woman Claims To Be Missing Cherrie Mahan Who Vanished From School Bus Stop

Janice McKinney, the mother of missing 8-year-old Cherrie Mahan, has contacted Pennsylvania State Police regarding a woman who claimed on Facebook to be her daughter.

National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
Cherrie Mahan Photo: National Center For Missing and Exploited Children

The mother of Cherrie Mahan, an 8-year-old girl who vanished in 1985, has contacted the police after a woman on Facebook claimed to be her missing daughter. Cherrie was last seen on February 22, 1985, after getting off her school bus near her home in Cabot, a town about 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Nearly 40 years after Cherrie's disappearance, a woman posted in a Facebook group called "Memories of Cherrie Mahan" on May 23, asserting she was Cherrie. This claim quickly gained national attention, but Cherrie’s mother, Janice McKinney, did not believe it.

Janice McKinney informed the Facebook group that she had reported the post to the Pennsylvania State Police, expressing her belief that the claim is false. "I talked to the police, they are investigating," McKinney wrote, asking for understanding and support during this difficult time.

Facebook Group Takes Action

The woman who claimed to be Cherrie was banned from the Facebook group and her posts were removed. Group administrator Brock Organ explained that the woman had been "harassing and bullying" other members, including McKinney. He pointed out that if the woman were truly Cherrie, she could simply contact the police for a DNA test instead of making aggressive claims online.

"Some people say, 'But what if it was really her?'" Organ wrote. "This has an easy answer: if it was really her, she could present herself at any police office and arrange for a DNA test without reaching out to people online and making aggressive claims. That is what a reasonable person would do."

Organ encouraged group members to "please continue to pray for the family."

Family's Pain Endures 39 Years Later

In February, Cherrie’s family marked the 39th anniversary of her disappearance. Janice McKinney continues to visit the spot where Cherrie was last seen, praying for answers. She recounted to KDKA-TV the day her daughter disappeared, remembering how she and her husband discussed whether to pick Cherrie up from the bus stop. Sadly, Cherrie never made it home.

Over the years, there have been few leads, though a bright blue 1976 Dodge van with a mural of a mountain and skier was suspected to be involved, according to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children.

Authorities maintain that Cherrie’s case is still "active" as they continue to receive tips.

Also, this recent claim is not the first time someone has falsely claimed to be Cherrie. McKinney told the Butler Eagle that three other women have made similar claims over the years.

"People are mean, they are cruel, but this affects me really crazy," McKinney said. She immediately dismissed the latest claim, noting that the woman did not resemble her daughter.