Knight Times Unsolved: The Cherrie Mahan Case


art by Caroline Ejzak

This was the best replication of another image of the van I could draw.

Caroline Ejzak, News Editor

You would think that 200 feet from a bus to home is a safe distance for an 8 year old to walk alone, but unfortunately that is not always the case.

“I think that the last words that I probably told her was, you know, ‘Have a good day and I do love you.’  And that was probably as I took her down to the bus stop and she got on the bus,” said Janice Mckinney, Mother of Cherrie Mahan, during an interview with CNN about her last memories of her daughter.

Cherrie Mahan was an 8 year old girl with brown hair and hazel eyes. She lived on Cornplanter Road in Cabot, Pa; a mere 17 minutes away from her elementary school.

The close proximity from where this disappearance happened to where we live is quite unsettling. There are approximately 800,000 children reported missing each year. That’s more than 2,000 a day. Think of how many students take the bus home, with longer than a 200 ft walk from their bus stop to their front door. We have the expectation that all children are safe near our homes and coming home from school.


Details about the Case

4:05 p.m. February 22, 1985

Cherrie was last seen getting off of the bus at approximately this time. She was on her way home from elementary school with three other students. She was approximately 100 to 150 yards along a dirt driveway from her family’s residence. When she failed to arrive home, her father went looking for her and called police when he failed to find her. Cherrie has never been heard from again.

Details about the Van

A bright blue or green 1976 Dodge van was seen in the area at the time of Cherrie’s disappearance, and may be connected to her case. The van was following the school bus Cherrie had been riding in. The van had a snow-capped mountain and skier mural painted on both sides of the vehicle. The skier was wearing red and yellow clothing and was skiing down the mountain.

The van has never been located or identified and investigators are still not sure if it was connected to Cherrie’s case. A small blue car was also seen near the site of Cherrie’s disappearance. It is unknown if the car has anything to do with her case either.




“In three decades, investigators have checked hundreds of thousands of leads,” said Trooper Birckbichler, who handles cold cases in Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

Cherrie’s case is personal to the Butler native. Her case has been in his hands for a year and a half.
They’ve knocked on doors in New Jersey and Michigan after getting tips that a woman who lived there looked like Cherrie might as an adult.
Unsure of her own history, the adopted woman underwent DNA testing, but there was no evidence to support her being Miss Mahan.
Police have an entire closet filled with bankers’ boxes of checked vehicle registrations.
And then there are about 20 3-inch binders filled with case files.
Technology, whether it is Amber Alerts or social media, allows police to communicate with the public in real time, which has “saved countless children,” Robert Lowery Jr., vice president for the center’s Missing Children Division, said.

More and more children have cell phones and connect on social media, so parents can quickly locate their kids without ever having to alert police.


In 1992, Cherrie Mahan’s family legally declared her deceased and donated the entire life insurance policy to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children. Her trust fund was given to her brother.


No matter how many leads and investigations are done, the fact still stands that 30 years later, this case remains open and unsolved.


If you are still interested in this case and want more details, check out these other websites.