This blog post describes the horrific murder of a child. The content may be disturbing to readers.
As the sun set on the evening of Sunday, October 31, 1971, the children of Rose Avenue eventually fell asleep after a day of Halloween excitement. The next morning would bring a dreaded Monday school day and also the 14th day without Cheryll. As they started a new week, the school kids were still walking in groups, being escorted to the bus stop or driven to school, and thinking of their still-missing friend. That same morning, a milk delivery driver was gearing up for another day of work, dropping off milk to customers in a county south of Highland Heights. (Pendleton County is a county also found in the Northern part of Kentucky that has a lot of farm land, rural towns, and generations of large families who are all connected in one way or another.) As the day of Monday, November 1 progressed, the milk delivery man followed his usual routine, driving his milk truck throughout the northeastern part of Pendleton County to deliver milk to his regular costumers. Another part of his routine included driving down a country road to park his truck, rest for a bit, relieve himself, and stretch his legs before continuing on the usual path of deliveries.
New Hope Road is populated with houses and barns stretched out over the many acres belonging to each homeowner. Toward the bottom of the road, as it snakes through the farm land, creeping toward the Ohio River bank, the road branches off to the right. At the top of the right-hand turn in the road, there are a few homes and after that, the road winds downward through a wooded landscape, which at the time, would have eventually lead to Route 8, a road running parallel to the Ohio River. Besides those few houses at the start of the descending hill, there are just a couple of homes scattered in the woods on this section of the winding, narrow road. About half-way down, a culvert exists with a small one-lane bridge built 12 feet over the creek below. Just past this, is a gravel area big enough for a vehicle to park. If, on the off chance another vehicle would have traversed this portion of New Hope Road, the milk truck would have been parked in such a way so as not to block that vehicle from passing through.
I imagine the milk truck slowly making its way down the lane, the sound of tar and chips crunching under the tires. The vehicle would have had to creep to a slowing stop as it rolled over the narrow bridge, resting in the gravel patch just ahead on the right. As the engine idled, I can visualize the milk man slowly stepping out of his truck, stretching his legs, and walking across the narrow lane to the side of the creek. At the time, locals had been using this otherwise serene area as a sort of dump for garbage. On this day–and also the Monday prior– he noticed that there, in the piles of scattered trash, was an odd stacking of rocks in the creek bed below, next to the culvert opening beneath the small bridge. He recounted to the newspaper reporters that though he had noticed the rocks the week before, he had not bothered to investigate at that time. This Monday, however, seeing that the rocks were still there and thinking about how they could not have naturally gathered so neatly that way, he decided to take a few steps closer to get a better look. As he moved down the side of the creek navigating around the garbage, he stood next to the rock structure and began pulling away the top two rocks on the pile. As each rock dropped from the pile into the creek bed, he saw an unbelievable sight in the muddy water— the flesh of a human body protruding from under the remaining rock pile. He told a reporter that the sight was so “fantastic” that it didn’t even register as to what he was seeing at first. Slowly, the realization came over him that a small-framed human body was laying in the water beneath the pile of rocks. He frantically ran back up the embankment, jumped in his truck, and left the area to find a phone to call the authorities. Amidst the garbage and in the shallow creek, Cheryll Spegal had finally been found.
New Hope Road. I find the name of where Cheryll laid for almost two weeks to be so sickeningly ironic. New Hope Road….a road where, for a ten-year-old girl, all hope was lost. There, on that very road, about twenty miles from her home, no hope remained for Cheryll Spegal. The milk man summoned the police and they came to investigate. A state police investigator and two Pendleton County sheriff officers climbed down into the culvert setting aside what remained of the mound of seven rocks. What laid in front of the investigators was a horrific sight–the badly decomposed body of an unclothed child, laying face-down in about a foot of water in the creek bed. The county coroner arrived and after his work was done, he summoned a local funeral home who then transported Cheryll to the town funeral parlor in Pendleton County. From there, Cheryll was transported to the Hamilton County morgue in Cincinnati for an autopsy and so official identification could be done. Whoever killed Cheryll stabbed her 26 times. One…two…three…four…five…six… seven…eight…nine…ten…eleven…twelve…thirteen…fourteen…fifteen…sixteen…seventeen…eighteen…nineteen…twenty…twenty-one…twenty-two…twenty-three…twenty-four…twenty-five…twenty-six…deadly swings of a knife. The stab wounds were done in a circular motion on her back and were so deep that some wounds cut through to her chest and abdomen. The official cause of death was internal hemorrhaging due to the stabbing. After she was so viciously killed, Cheryll was brutalized even more in what was described as being raped “with instruments.”
If you’re like me and you let that all sink in for a moment, you ask the questions, What kind of person could do that to a child? What did Cheryll ever do to deserve a death like that? With all my research in to this case, these questions continue to haunt me.
It was late in the afternoon that Monday, November 1, when Cheryll was discovered. It took the police some time to get her transported and for them to research missing persons cases. The only one that was outstanding in the Northern Kentucky area was Cheryll’s. The approximate age and gender of the body fit Cheryll’s description but a definite identification would take time. The next day, Tuesday, November 2, the family was informed that the body of a girl had been discovered in Pendleton County.
And for the second time in two weeks, a child’s life was ruined on their birthday.