MIAMI, Okla. — A DNA test comparing the remains of a Texas woman to the family of a missing Picher teen came back on Monday, and they are not a match.
Cheryl Denise Taylor, 12, of Picher disappeared on July 20, 1978.
Debbie Stubbs, Taylor’s older sister submitted a DNA swab to a Texas laboratory to compare to “Grimes County Jane Doe” remains that were discovered by a highway worker on October 29, 1981.
“I was hoping – but not hoping,” Stubbs said about a possible DNA match.
“I want closure,” Stubbs said. “Our mother would never declare Cheryl dead and we (siblings) weren’t going to either. We wanted her found.”
“I also didn’t want Cheryl to have suffered as the Texas girl did – that’s what I meant by ‘not hoping,’” Stubbs said.
“Grimes County Jane Doe had several broken ribs in various stages of healing, Texas authorities said.
Published reports state Cheryl was standing on the sidewalk in front of a Picher grocery store between 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. or across the street from the grocery store in front of the gate that secured a fenced-in four square block area.
The hazel-eyed, red-headed pre-teen was small, maybe weighing 60 pounds. She was last seen wearing yellow shorts, a shirt, and was barefoot. She sometimes wore a patch over one eye.
“I want to know why she didn’t make it home – she was only two blocks from the house,” Stubbs said.
Stubbs said she has wondered if she fell or was thrown into a mine pit. There are countless mining shafts, mining ponds, and other mining-related areas in the Picher area.
Cheryl was one of 10 children born to Herman and Hilda Taylor.
“She was the youngest girl,” Stubbs said. “I was the third child.”
Stubbs isn’t certain if her dad was involved in Cheryl’s disappearance but thinks her dad’s behavior around the time Cheryl disappeared was odd.
“He (Herman Taylor) showed up four days later (after Cheryl’s disappearance) and went to the sheriff’s office,” Stubbs said.
Herman and Hilda were estranged at the time of Cheryl’s disappearance, and he was living in Joplin.
“He hit us a lot,” Stubbs said. “He was a mean drunk. He would beat mom all the time. She would intervene when he was hitting us to protect us from him and then she got the worst end of the beatings.”
Stubbs remembered that in the 1950s her father beat her mother so bad she went into labor and delivered a baby girl who died.
“Her took the baby and buried it in the woods when we lived in Illinois,” Stubbs said. “I remember all the blood.”
According to a death notice, Herman L. Taylor, 84, a retired truck driver, died on Sept. 30, 2011. His obituary does not mention his children. Hilda Taylor, 57, died on Feb. 7, 1990.
“This is such a disappointment,” said Mark Wall, who is part of the Ottawa and Delaware Counties cold case unit.
“I was just so sure we had identified Cheryl,” Wall said.
The Texas Jane Doe and Cheryl Taylor both had red auburn hair.
“Only 2% of the American population has red hair,” Wall said.
Wall said solving Cheryl’s disappearance is a priority for him.
“I don’t want another 40 years to pass before we have another lead,” Wall said.
If you have information on Cheryl Taylor’s disappearance, call Mark Wall at (918) 542-5547. All information is confidential.
If you, or someone you know, is in a domestic violence situation please reach out to the Ottawa County Sheriff at (918) 542-2806 or the Community Crisis Center at (918) 540-2275 in Miami.