Dr. Cherryl Pearson was an avid Memphis Grizzlies fan, so she was quite disappointed when they lost to the Atlanta Hawks on the evening of Friday, January 4, 2002. She had attended the game alone — she was a season ticket holder — so she had no one to commiserate with as she left the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee and drove to her home in Bartlett, Tennessee. She arrived home around 10:30 pm, and shortly after that two of her friends stopped by for a visit. The three women chatted until 1:00 am, when Cherryl said she needed to go to bed as she was going to be watching her sister’s children in the morning. Her friends left; they had no way of knowing they would never see Cherryl again.

Cherryl’s sister, Laurinda Hildreth, arrived at Cherryl’s home around 7:00 am with her children, who were excited about spending the day with their aunt. Laurinda was confused when her sister didn’t respond to her knocks; it would have been completely out of character for Cherryl to forget that she was going to watch her nieces and nephews. As she looked around, Laurinda realized that Cherryl’s car wasn’t parked in its usual spot. This was worrisome, as Cherryl was an insulin-dependent diabetic; Laurinda feared she might have passed out while driving and gotten into an accident. She called the Bartlett Police Department and reported her 37-year-old sister missing.

Police immediately suspected that they were dealing with more than just a simple missing person case. Cherryl was a well-respected pediatrician, and they knew that she wasn’t the type who would voluntarily disappear. The fact that she was a diabetic made the situation even more urgent.

When Leon and Hazel Pearson learned their daughter was missing, they immediately left their Jackson, Tennessee home and headed for Cherryl’s house. They used their own set of keys to gain entry to the home; although they saw nothing to indicate that any kind of struggle had taken place, they did find Cherryl’s mobile phone and her pager sitting on her dining room table. Cherryl was on call that weekend, and it would have been highly unusual for her to go anywhere without taking her phone and pager in case any of her patients needed her.

Even more disturbing was the fact that Cherryl had left her insulin and all her diabetic supplies behind, something she never would have done unless she expected to be gone for only a short amount of time.

Hazel Pearson was especially concerned about her daughter’s health; Cherryl had called her while she was watching the Grizzlies game and complained that she had been feeling weak and light-headed. Although Cherryl had appeared to be fine when her friends saw her later that night, it was possible that she had been experiencing fluctuations in her blood sugar that led her to become disoriented.

When Cherryl’s colleagues from her medical practice learned that she was missing, they quickly rushed to aid in the search effort. They had fliers printed up and spent the weekend distributing them throughout the area; they asked each person they encountered to be on the lookout for Cherryl and her blue Audi. They also started a reward fund, offering $10,000 for information leading to Cherryl’s safe return.

Detectives were able to access Cherryl’s phone records and saw that someone had called her at 1:58 am Saturday morning, about an hour after her friends had left. The call had been made from a Citgo gas station just a few minutes away from her home, and had lasted for only a few seconds after Cherryl answered. Although they had no idea who had placed the phone call, investigators believed it was possible that Cherryl had voluntarily left her home shortly after getting the call, then ran into foul play while she was out.

The weekend passed without any word from Cherryl. The first potential break in the case came around 7:00 am Monday morning, when Cherryl’s car was found. The Audi had been left in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex on Egypt Central Road; detectives were unable to determine how long the car had been sitting there.

Crime scene technicians thoroughly processed the Audi, hoping to find some kind of clue that would point to Cherryl’s whereabouts. It didn’t appear that anything was missing from the car; Cherryl’s medical bag, which contained her car keys and $140 in cash, was found locked in the trunk. Whoever had driven the car last had apparently scrubbed it clean before leaving it in the parking lot, as technicians were unable to find a single fingerprint anywhere in the car.

Investigators found nothing to indicate that a struggle had taken place in Cherryl’s home or in her car, but they were still convinced that she had been a victim of foul play. Cherryl was close with her family and absolutely loved her job; there was no way she would have chosen to voluntarily walk away from her life.

Cherryl was the youngest of Hazel and Leon’s three children, and she had always been an over-achiever. She had been an excellent student; after obtaining a degree in chemical engineering she had decided to go to medical school and was thrilled with her career choice. She was a friendly and compassionate woman with no known enemies, and her friends and family couldn’t imagine that anyone could have wanted to hurt her.

Detectives conducted interviews with everyone who had been a part of Cherryl’s life, hoping that one of them might hold the key to solving the mystery of her disappearance. Friends noted that Cherryl had seemed completely normal in the hours before she went missing; they had not seen anything to indicate Cherryl had been frightened or upset. She had mentioned that she needed to get up early to watch her sister’s children and had seemed excited about getting to spend some time with them.

Colleagues told detectives that Cherryl had not been having any problems in her professional life; she had a reputation for being an excellent doctor who truly cared about her patients.

As detectives continued the process of interviewing Cherryl’s friends and family, they realized that at least one person she was associated with had a less than pristine criminal record. Her brother-in-law, Charles Hildreth, had been arrested for armed robbery and was out on bail at the time of Cherryl’s disappearance.

Although they had no evidence to suggest that Charles was in any way involved in Cherryl’s disappearance, detectives cast a wary eye on him when they learned that his wife, Laurinda, had been named the beneficiary of Cherryl’s $150,000 life insurance policy.

Detectives never gave any indication that they suspected Laurinda of being involved in her sister’s disappearance, but they interrogated Charles on several different occasions. Although Charles had an alibi for the night his sister-in-law disappeared, detectives admitted that they were not entirely comfortable with it as there were some inconsistencies in his story. Despite this, Charles has never been named a suspect in Cherryl’s disappearance and her parents do not believe that he had anything to do with it.

Investigators have conducted several physical searches for Cherryl in the years since her disappearance, but they have never been able to come up with any evidence as to what might have happened to her.

The person who called Cherryl’s house at 1:58 am that morning has never been identified; although detectives believe the phone call was somehow linked to Cherryl’s disappearance, they can’t prove it. They still have no idea if Cherryl left her home voluntarily that morning or if she was taken from her home by someone. It’s possible that the mystery caller somehow lured her out of her house; it’s also possible it was someone calling to see if she was at home.

Although her family tried to hold on to the hope that Cherryl could possibly still be alive, they eventually accepted the fact that something terrible had happened and she wasn’t coming back. Cherryl was declared legally de*ad in 2009.

Detectives believe that there are people in the community who know what happened to Cherryl, and they hope they will come forward with this information so that Cherryl’s body can be found and her family can give her a proper burial.

Dr. Cherryl Pearson was 37 years old when she vanished in 2002. She has brown eyes and black hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 160 pounds. She has a dark-colored birthmark on one side of her face and a small sixth finger on each hand, and she is an insulin-dependent diabetic. If you have any information about Cherryl, please contact the Bartlett Police Department at 901–385–5558.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *