PICHER, Okla. — A retired law enforcement officer is seeking clues to what happened to 12-year-old Sheryl Denise Taylor who has been missing since 1978.
Taylor was last seen standing on the sidewalk in front of a Picher grocery store on that July day 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, published reports state.
Mark Wall wants to know what happened to her.
Wall, a former police chief, is spending his retirement years working for the district attorney’s office attempting to solve cold cases in Delaware and Ottawa counties.
Sheryl Denise Taylor
A few published reports at that time show the spelling of Taylor’s first name as Cheryl.
While there are missing parts in Taylor’s investigation file, what is known about the hazel-eyed, red-headed pre-teen was she was small, maybe weighing 60 pounds. She was last seen wearing yellow shorts, a sweatshirt, and was barefooted. She sometimes wore a patch over one eye. She had a temper and did not like living in Picher. Her family arrived in Picher from Nowata County.
Days after her disappearance, her mother, Hilda Taylor and the rest of her family moved from Picher.
“Authorities followed up on the family’s haste in leaving the area,” Wall said. “They (authorities) couldn’t connect anything to their leaving the area. Maybe it was too much for the family to stay in the area.”
“In 1978, I was a student at NEO and working as a volunteer for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department,” Wall said.
“I was there the day the phone call came in about Sheryl Taylor,” Wall said. “I spent days with another officer walking the chat piles (in Picher),” Wall said.
Some of the dead-end leads investigators pursued over four decades ago were that Taylor ran away to Kansas City, Kansas and stayed with a family friend. The friend was described as “a junk dealer,” according to published reports.
Another lead was the girl was a victim of a sect of satan worshipers “who had skinned the girl and staked her to a chat pile,” according to published reports.
This theory was quickly denounced.
Because of the thousands of mining shafts, mining ponds, and other mining-related areas in the Picher area – one theory was Taylor fell in a mine shaft.
“One of the top suspects in Taylor’s disappearance was Karl Myers, although there was never enough evidence to support bringing charges,” Wall said.
Myers was convicted in 1979 in Ottawa County District Court of assault with intent to rape and served six years. He died on December 28, 2012, at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.
Wall also wants to know who killed 13-year-old Julia Miller in 1977.
Miller’s remains were found in April 1978 bound by barbed wire to a tree across the Kansas state line in Cherokee County. Published reports from that time suggest she was bound to the tree alive. The teen had left her Picher home on June 1, 1977, to go for ice cream at a local convenience store.
Miller’s disappearance was just two weeks before the killings of the three Locust Grove Girl Scouts.
“That had to be on the mind of parents and the community,” Wall said. “All of the area communities were on high alert.”
Publications sometimes refer to the teen as “Julie” and her age being from 12 to 14 years old.
Ellen Deann Rowden
Myers was also a suspect in the death of 23-year-old Ellen Deann Rowden, who was last seen on Aug. 1, 1977, at a Picher bar with three other people. Her remains were discovered near Miller’s remains in 1978.
Wall said it appears she was also bound to a tree.
Wall said Myers, a convicted sex offender, dated Rowden and had lived with the Miller girl’s mother. He was tried and acquitted in Rowden’s death.
Myers was also linked to the death of Tina Duffell, 36, of Quapaw, and the 1978 shooting death of Charles “Chink” Enders, of Picher.
Duffell, a part-time clerk at the Quapaw post office and a small convenience store in the town, was abducted from the store in the summer of 1974. Her body was later found with multiple stab wounds in an old mining pond northwest of Quapaw, according to published reports.
Enders was shot to death and his body was thrown into a mine shaft. Investigators theorized that he was killed for his Social Security money after having cashed his monthly check, according to published reports.
Wall said he hopes there are people who may have information no matter how small will contact him at the District Attorney’s office in Jay and Miami.