As Bridget and I continue to untangle the web that surrounds Cheryll, there are certain persons of interest and aspects of her story, that we’ve been working to unravel. This is my attempt to answer those questions and share our understanding of the information we’ve garnered about those topics. But our research is ongoing and as we continue to talk to people, we are learning more as we go. If we receive more feedback about the questions below, we will update the blog.
What about the milkman? He was a resident of Grant County, Kentucky in 1971 which is a county that butts up to Pendleton County, Kentucky. It makes sense that he would deliver milk in a county that was close to his home. However, he worked for Trauth Dairy whose home base was located in Newport, Kentucky in the county of Campbell. I am not clear on the path that the milk truck driver would travel, but it seems that he did traverse the three different counties when setting out to deliver milk– possibly beginning in Grant County then traveling to Trauth Dairy in Newport then on to Pendleton County where he’d make his deliveries. Once he was done with the deliveries, he may have had to travel back to Newport to drop off his truck, and then would return home to Grant County. This seems like a lot of driving in one day, so there is some speculation that he may not have had this same route daily, possibly just a couple times a week did he make his way out to the Pendleton County area. Our research has found that after discovering Cheryll’s body, the milk man was highly investigated. The police spent a lot of time looking into him and accounting for his whereabouts daily and during the time Cheryll was missing. He may have passed through Highland Heights in the mornings either on his way to the dairy company or once he had boarded his delivery truck and was making his way to Pendleton County. And, he was familiar with New Hope Road due to his milk deliveries. These two geographical pieces of evidence definitely raise eyebrows.
Despite their efforts, however, the police could not connect the milk man to Cheryll’s murder. I am not sure if he had an alibi that checked out or if he took a lie detector test. I have spoken to several people who have said that the whole situation destroyed the milk man’s life. Many people suspected him at the time and he was deeply affected by discovering Cheryll and by the scrutiny he underwent. Cheryll’s family, her friends, and residents of Pendleton and Campbell counties now all say that they steadfastly believe he was innocent and that his life was destroyed after he found Cheryll. Throughout my investigation this past year, I have encountered no one familiar with Cheryll’s case who today believes he committed the crime. Everyone I have talked to is adamant that they believe he was innocent. Now, can I say with 100% certainty that he didn’t do it? No, I cannot. There is still that chance that he saw Cheryll in the mornings IF he drove by Rose Avenue, decided to pick her up one day, then took her to New Hope Road where he killed her. But again, we have no evidence to show that this actually occurred. The milk man passed away in 2005 and is buried in his home county of Grant. It is my hope that some day he can be officially ruled out as the person who committed the murder, if he is, in fact, innocent like so many people believe him to be.
What about the molester on Maple? There have been reports from former residents of Maple Avenue in Highland Heights about a man living in a home on their street who was a known child molester. Maple Avenue is a street that runs parallel to Rose Avenue, also containing modest homes on a narrow street, which in 1971, housed a close group of neighbors. One resident felt really strongly then about the molester possibly being involved in Cheryll’s disappearance and murder after recalling that he had his brown sedan (maybe like the one Moira described?) crushed within days of Cheryll’s disappearance. Others who grew up on Maple all name the same person as being the molester living on their street but word was, disturbingly, that he preferred boys. Could a known child molester of boys “befriend” a young girl and turn his attention to her, possibly killing her? I am sure that could have happened. I have heard that this man was interviewed and that he was considered a person of interest, but there was not enough evidence to tie him to the crime or to the crime scene. I am not sure if he was given a polygraph test at the time or not. As I work to learn more about him, I will update the blog with any additional information that comes to light.
What about Cheryl Segal? On October 17, 1970, a 16-year-old girl named Cheryl Segal and a friend accepted a ride home from a male friend of a friend after a night of hanging out at a tavern in Cincinnati. Her friend was dropped off first, but Cheryl never made it home to her house. The man she accepted a ride from was a convict named James Findley who had a lengthy rap sheet. When Cheryl Segal was found shot to death in a creek the next day, the bullet matched a gun found in the car Findley was driving. Having been the last person seen with Cheryl, having the murder weapon in his possession, finding blood in his car, and discovering tire tracks by the creek matching that same vehicle, police arrested Findley rather quickly. He was convicted of the murder in June of 1971 and therefore could not have committed the crime against Cheryll Spegal in October of 1971. The fact that they were killed almost a year to the day apart, their names were very similar and they lived within miles of each other, led to speculation that the murders of Cheryl and Cheryll may have been connected, especially after Findley said that there would be more victims after he was arrested. There are articles on the internet comparing the two cases if you would like to read more about it, but for our purposes of investigating Cheryll’s case, I cannot find evidence that the man who killed Cheryl Segal or the circumstances of that murder were in anyway connected to the death of Cheryll Spegal.
What about 78 Rose Avenue? Bridget and I really were flabbergasted when we discovered that Cheryll’s house on Rose Avenue was no longer standing. The night that we drove down the street and saw only an empty lot is burned in my memory. Of all the houses to be gone, Cheryll’s is the only one on that street no longer standing. It’s truly eerie. Not knowing what to make of it, Bridget and I got to work researching. We pored over property information and traced as best as we could, the history of the house. The answer is not very interesting. It looks like the house transferred various owners through the years, after the Spegals moved out. In the mid-1980s, 78 Rose Avenue caught fire. A firefighter who helped fight the fire said that the house looked okay from the front but when he went around to the back of the house, it was engulfed in flames. They were able to put the fire out and nothing about the fire seemed suspicious. The owner decided to raze the house instead of trying to rebuild it and it has sat as an empty lot ever since. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks, Did someone come to burn down the house to destroy remaining evidence? Did someone with horrible memories of that house burn it down? Or perhaps, someone living nearby was connected to Cheryll’s disappearance and murder and burning her house was just another way to destroy her memory. Regardless of whether there is an innocent or nefarious explanation as to why the house on Rose Avenue burned, the walls and truth behind them burned too.
A reader of the blog recently sent me a photo of 78 Rose Avenue as it appears in old property records. For days I found myself looking at it because it made me feel connected to Cheryll. From the ashes, it’s like the house was brought to life again. Cheryll played in that yard. She passed through that door. She lived in that house. Seeing the last place she lived makes her feel more present around me. She may have disappeared into a fog and her house may have gone up in smoke, but her spirit is very real, as if we knew each other in life. That connection is what keeps me going and more determined than ever to find out who killed her. And with that in mind, the more I dove in to learning about the adults around her, the more I began to focus on a person who seemingly waited for her to leave from that very house each day–watching and plotting the perfect opportunity to strike.