Cherrie Mahan’s mom reacts to woman claiming to be girl who vanished from school bus stop nearly 40 years ago


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A woman is claiming to be Cherrie Mahan, who infamously disappeared from a school bus stop as an 8-year-old girl nearly four decades ago.

Cherrie vanished after getting off her school bus about 50 feet from her Pennsylvania home on Feb. 22, 1985.

After 13 years of dead ends, Cherrie was declared legally dead in November 1998. 

But an unnamed woman caused a recent firestorm by claiming to be Cherrie in Facebook groups dedicated to finding her, which was doubted by her mom but has law enforcement sniffing around.

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Age progression of Cherrie Mahan, who was last seen on Feb. 22, 1985, on Cornplanter Road in Winfield Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.

Age progression of Cherrie Mahan, who was last seen on Feb. 22, 1985, on Cornplanter Road in Winfield Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

Unanswered questions about the infamous cold case have hung over the community like a dark storm cloud for 39 years, and unfortunately this isn’t the first time a woman out of the blue has claimed to be Cherrie.

Cherrie’s mom, Janice McKinney, said on Facebook that she doesn’t believe the woman is her daughter and told a local newspaper, The Butler Eagle, “It did not look anything like Cherrie at all.”

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Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania State Police took the claim seriously and opened an investigation. 

State police told Fox News Digital that investigators are working with an “out-of-state agency” and attempted to reach the woman claiming to be Cherrie several times. 

As of Wednesday morning, they had not made contact with her using the information that she provided, state police said. 

A member of a Facebook group dedicated to Cherri Mahan, who went missing in 1985, said he kept this poster since she seemingly vanished.

A member of a Facebook group dedicated to Cherrie Mahan, who went missing in 1985, said he kept this poster since she disappeared. (Gretchen Wiesner/Memories of Cherrie Mahan/Facebook)

In one particular group – Memories of Cherrie Mahan – the moderators deleted the woman’s posts and blocked her for “harassing and bullying” other members. 

“Friends I trust told me privately that the person was claiming to be Cherrie,” the group’s moderator, who goes by the name Brock Organ on Facebook, said in a post. “Few are in a position to evaluate the claim, and unfortunately, some people online are unstable and divisive…

“Some people say, ‘But what if it was really her?’ 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.”

McKinney replied, “I talked to the police (sic) they are investigating (sic) this is very hard on me so please be aware I see everything.”

Moderator of the Memories of Cherrie Mahan Facebook group, Brock Organ, wrote this about why he and the other moderators deleted the woman's posts and blocked her.

Moderator of the Memories of Cherrie Mahan Facebook group, Brock Organ, wrote this about why the moderators deleted the woman’s posts and blocked her. Underneath, in the replies, Cherrie’s mother commented.  (Memories of Cherrie Mahan/Facebook)

Fox News Digital reached out to group moderators and McKinney but hasn’t heard back. 

Another Facebook group moderator, who goes by the name Tiffany Howes on Facebook, came to Mckinney’s defense, as have many members of the group, in an emotional post on June 1. 

“I wish that everybody could see the number of people over the years that have been in Janice’s inbox claiming to be Cherrie,” Howes wrote. “She doesn’t publicize all the claims. 

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“It’s heartbreaking that people have the audacity to keep doing this to this poor woman. It rips her heart wide open again every time it happens because, of course, she wants to follow every lead and gets vested. She does not deserve to keep going through this.”

McKinney responded with an uplifting sentiment: “I’m ok it is hard but my job now is to educate people on this. Please pray for my next steps. Thanks for everyone who stands with me. God bless (sic) knows an (sic) someday we will.”

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Cherrie Mahan's missing poster on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's website.

Cherrie Mahan’s missing poster on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website.  (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

The cold case is as troubling as it is puzzling. 

A young girl within a short distance of her own driveway disappeared while getting off a school bus.

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The only potential lead is a bright blue 1976 Dodge van with a mural of a mountain and a skier, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

“It’s like a black hole opened up, and she fell in,” McKinney told KDKA-News in February, which marked the 39th year since her daughter was last seen.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.



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