Cheryl Coker: Autopsy shows cause of death suggests ‘homicidal violence’

GREENE COUNTY — While an exact cause and manner of death were unable to be determined, coroner’s office investigators suggested the death of Cheryl Coker is related to foul play, according to an autopsy report obtained Friday by News Center 7.

“Due to the condition of the remains, near complete skeletonization, the precise cause of death could not be determined,” the report read. “However, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance as developed by law enforcement investigators, and death, as the post mortem changes are consistent with the time period and clothing is reported to be what was worn at the time of the disappearance, suggest the cause of death is related to foul play and as such a common term used to certify the cause of death is homicidal violence of unknown etiology.”

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Cheryl Coker’s remains were found off Waynesville Jamestown Road in April. She had been missing since October 2018.

The autopsy findings do not end the chances of possible prosecution for her death.

“The ruling of undetermined cause and undetermined manner actually keeps the door open for prosecutors and investigators to continue their investigation,” said Greene County Coroner Dr. Kevin Sharrett. “By ruling undetermined it allows us to participate in the investigation ongoing and as further information becomes available, we can certainly reevaluate and take another look at the information we have on hand and certainly can amend that.”

Cheryl Coker’s family is in the process of planning a Christian burial for her, however a date has not been scheduled yet. Her remains were released to the family yesterday.

The autopsy also said there is no reported history to suggest the remains were taken to the wooden area where they were found “for any other purpose but to conceal the death.”

Cheryl Coker’s remains were identified by using dental records and implanted medical hardware in the spine, the report shows.

According to the autopsy report, Cheryl Coker’s remains were clothed. One of her shoes and a “string of unknown significance” were later recovered.

There also was significant animal activity with the bones, but no clear trauma observed. The hyoid bone, which is a u-shaped bone situated at the root of the tongue and in front of the neck, was not found, the report read.

In June, the Riverside Police Department requested the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to become the lead investigating agency in the Cheryl Coker case.

“With Mrs. Coker’s remains being located in another county, it is the combined belief that the best course of action is for Riverside Police Department to fully utilize the vast resources of the (Ohio) Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification in the pursuit of justice,” the department said in a statement in June. “The Riverside Police Department will still be involved in the day-to-day investigation.”

Cheryl Coker’s bones were found by a man who was mushroom hunting. He told dispatchers some clothing also was found in the field near the bones.

“It’s not a common area for someone to go to,” Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said. “This happened to be some woods and some overgrowth in the area.”

The Riverside mother was reported missing on Oct. 2, 2018, by her sister Margie Keenan, who had been searching for her sister after Cheryl’s 15-year-old daughter couldn’t reach her mother.

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Search warrants were executed in February 2020 in the Cheryl Coker homicide investigation, Riverside police said a year after Cheryl Coker’s husband Bill Coker was named a suspect in her case. Bill Coker has not been charged

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

Investigation after her disappearance painted a picture of a troubled relationship with her husband leading to a recent filing for divorce.

>>Cheryl Coker case: ‘I’ve never in my entire life hurt anyone,’ says husband

Professional searches from the Midwest chapter of Texas Equusearch made multiple sweeps of targeted areas but didn’t find her.

Mary Carroll, Cheryl Coker’s mother, spoke to WHIO-TV on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance in October.

“I want to lash out and I just can’t,” she said at the time. “Your mind’s never off her. Get up, first thing in the morning, take a shower. It’s right there, all the time.”

Bill Coker has maintained his innocence, but in October Cheryl Coker’s family said they don’t believe it.

“It’s basically just finding her, and I can’t imagine what he could have done with her,” Carroll said.

“Someone knows,” Keenan said. “Somebody knows and shame on them.”