68. October 19th. 51 Years Later.

It’s October 19th again. I feel like it was just October 19th of last year when I was writing on what would have been your 60th birthday about it being the 50th year of not knowing who ended your life. And yet we have spent another year remembering you and praying for the right person to step forward who is willing to share the truth. We’re still working for you though, Cheryll. Bridget was invited to spend a day at the Hamilton County Morgue and in typical Bridget fashion, was able to ask the right people about your file and the findings contained in the morgue. This is what is there:

Card from the morgue

A paper card with your misspelled name on it, indicating that the autopsy had been performed, is what remains. But just as we had been told, there was nothing on file– no forensic evidence– that would help the detectives solve the mystery. Seeing the card was both haunting and invigorating, and even though I didn’t expect there to be some big revelation, I felt a little light dim inside of me knowing that there really are no fingernail clippings, swabs, tissue samples, or anything else that could give us answers. I know you know this, Cheryll, but I was so disappointed. But still, I read about cold case murders being solved after ten years, twenty and thirty years, and even over 50 years later and I pray with all my might that you will be added to that list of resolved cases.

But today on your birthday, I am choosing to focus on the positive and to share with everyone who cares about you how you’re making an impact today. Our girl Bridget is going back to college and she’s going into the Criminal Justice field. She wants to be a death investigator. I wonder how many other empath investigators are out there. If Bridget isn’t the first one to exist, she will be the best. And as a sign of your blessing, Cheryll, Bridget is starting her classes today– October 19– on your birthday. She says you’re one of the driving forces behind this decision and I know she’s going to make us both so proud.

I sometimes feel like I see you in the faces of students that I teach–girls and boys alike. Those times when they are lingering in the music room asking if I have any candy or snacks, I share those treats with them, thinking of how I hope someone did that for you when you were hungry. Those times when students stick around the choir room after school because they are in no hurry to go home, and I say, “You’re always welcome here”– that’s because it’s what I hope your teachers said to you. When students enter the room in the morning, I give my best effort to look them in the face and smile– my way of saying, “I’m glad you’re here.” That is because of you. Just today, I quietly whispered, “I’m so proud of you” to a student who worked extra hard on a task, and I did that because of you, hoping you once were told the same thing by one of your teachers. And the little notes students leave for me on slips of paper, on post-it notes, and on the dry erase board, that say, “I love you, Mrs. Rowland” and “have a nice day” and thanking me for being their teacher, I sometimes wonder if that’s you.

This past year, I have found myself thinking less about your murder and more about your purpose. Yes, I will continue to work to find the answers that we seek, I will never give up on that. But I ask, how do I take the light you brought to the world for the ten years you were here and continue to let it shine? I do it by supporting other kids, by paying attention to the other potential Cherylls out there, and by continuing to beat the drum for justice. And in the year to come, I am committed to finding even more ways to make an impact in your honor. Please continue to guide me and to work through me. I will not ever give up on you and I believe you won’t ever give up on me.

As always, Cheryll, you are loved, you are missed, and you will never be forgotten. Happy Birthday in heaven.

Cheryll, to whom this blog is dedicated

4 thoughts on “68. October 19th. 51 Years Later.

  1. Thank you Beth for such kind words about Cheryll on her birthday. I as well as all the people that read your blog hope that some you are successful in finding who was responsible for Cheryll’s death. I appreciate everything you and Bridget have done with your investigation. If I can help you in any way please do not hesitate to contact me.
    Thank you
    Mike (Mickey) Spegal


  2. Thank you Beth. I often wonder how things are progressing but know you haven’t stopped looking. However, it warms my heart to see you channeling something positive out of this by being there for other students who crave that small interaction from you and you are able to pick up on it without them telling you. You are a blessing to so many.


  3. Thank you, Beth! Even though Cheryll’s murder hasn’t been solved, I believe she’s happy knowing what you’ve done for her and keeping her memory alive! I continue to pray her murder is solved and I also wish her a happy heavenly birthday.


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