Crime And Law

Cheryl Coker’s family devastated by double dose of bad news

RIVERSIDE — Police are now calling the disappearance of Riverside mother Cheryl Coker a homicide, and today named their suspect for the first time.

News Center 7's Cheryl McHenry was the first to report last Thursday that police have a suspect.

Until recently Coker’s family held on to a glimmer of hope that she might be alive. But now a double dose of devastating news: Police are calling it a homicide and named William “Bill” Coker, her husband of 19 years, as their suspect. Bill Coker is not charged.

RELATED: Cheryl Coker case: Riverside police name suspect, call disappearance a homicide

McHenry met with Cheryl Coker’s mother and sister last month. They shared pictures and memories of her, and said all three were close and spoke every day.

Cheryl’s mother, Mary Carroll, said her daughter was a devoted mother to her children.

“She would never, never be gone without calling her 15-year-old daughter,” she said.

Cheryl’s sister Margie Keenan reported her sister missing the night of Oct. 2.

“The pit of my stomach, something hurt, and I knew something wasn't right,” Keenan said.

All knew something was wrong when Cheryl’s SUV was found the next night with her purse and cellphone inside.

Police this morning released never-before-seen surveillance video.

>> Search for Cheryl Coker: Detective confirms suspect in Riverside woman's disappearance

It shows a man dressed in all black wearing a hoodie get out of her SUV and walk north toward Burkhardt Avenue. That same man was seen 20 minutes later behind Spinning Hills Middle School approaching the rear of the Coker home.

Detectives are not saying this is definitely Bill Coker, but today they named him as their suspect in his wife’s disappearance, and now homicide case.

“But the facts and the evidence surrounding this case makes him our prime focus at this time,” Riverside police detective Travis Abney said.

>> What happened to Cheryl Coker? Family desperate for answers

McHenry spoke to Cheryl’s sister-in-law Barb Carroll today by phone.

“I just don't understand how he could do that. How he couldn’t just let her walk away, why he had to do this to her family, to her children.”

Also, McHenry received an email this afternoon from Keenan, who called this new information troublesome and that she hopes the video and naming a suspect will bring additional information and closure so that Cheryl may be put to rest.

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