RIVERSIDE — It’s been exactly one year since family reported Riverside mother Cheryl Coker missing.
The searches and investigation continue, but there has been no arrest after police named her husband a suspect in the case
News Center 7’s Mike Campbell with the I-Team went searching for answers a “Miami Valley Murder Mystery.”
Extended interviews available on our WHIO streaming app for Roku, Amazon Fire, and Apple TV.
He spoke with Clinton County Prosecutor Rick Moyer, who explained how he was able to once win a murder case without the victim’s body ever being found.
“I worked a long time before I figured it out,” Moyer told News Center 7.
And, just like in that case, exactly one year after Cheryl Coker’s family reported her missing, her case is now a Miami Valley Murder Mystery even though her body has never been found.
That’s despite investigators finding her car the next day, a number of searches and police naming her husband a homicide suspect.
News Center 7’s Mike Campbell went searching for how the case can move forward without first finding Cheryl Coker’s body.
Her disappearance a year ago prompted people in her neighborhood to put up signs, even as they launched major searches for her.
Even though her death has now been classified as a homicide, the signs remain and are something her family remains grateful for.
Mary Carroll, Cheryl Coker’s mother, shared the frustration she feel after not having answers 365 days are her daughter disappeared.
“If we could find Cheryl, that could help us,” she said.” You grieve, but you’re always looking for her.”
The family told News Center 7’s Mike Campbell that the last year feels like a walk through a tunnel of torture.
It all began when Cheryl Coker’s teenage daughter called her grandma to tell her that her mother was not home.
That eventually led them to report her missing to police.
The family and investigators turned up lots of clues at first and discovered her car in a Kroger parking lot.
Police tracked down video of the car being driven into the lot the morning Cheryl Coker was last seen.
Officers learned she’d recently filed for divorce from her husband, Bill Coker.
Searches of the couple’s Christy Lane home, their phones and workplaces turned up more information, painting a picture of a troubled relationship.
Professional searches from the Midwest chapter of Texas Equusearch conducted large-scale sweeps in targeted areas, but no one could find Cheryl Coker.
In February, Riverside police said they now believed Cheryl Coker was a homicide victim and named Bill Coker as their main suspect.
But they have not arrested him.
News Center 7’s Mike Campbell tried to contact Bill Coker, but he did not respond.
He did speak with Mike Campbell back in February during the only recorded interview he’s ever done.
Mike Campbell asked him then if he had anything to do with Cheryl Coker’s death.
“No I didn’t,” he said. “I did not. I’ve never in my life hurt anyone.”
Cheryl Coker’s family doesn’t buy that claim.
“It’s basically just finding her, and I can’t imagine what he could have done with her,” said Carroll.
Cheryl Coker’s sister was more direct.
“Someone knows,” said Keenan. “Somebody knows and shame on them.”
The family wants to see Bill Coker arrested and charged.
But without Cheryl Coker’s body, that seems unlikely to happen.
News Center 7’s Mike Campbell spoke with one of the only lawyers in Ohio — and across the country — to convince a jury to convict a man of murder without the victim being found.
Rick Moyer is the Clinton County prosecutor.
More than 20 years ago, he was the lead prosecutor in the office and he put Vince Doan on trial in a Wilmington courthouse for killing his ex-girlfriend, Carrie Culberson.
The case drew national headlines and was one of the first cases broadcast live by CourtTV.
“I had the right victim,” said Moyer. “She was very regimented. She still lived at home. She came home every night.”
He said Doan stalked Culberson in their hometown of Blanchester, following her to work, to her gym workouts and even back home.
When she disappeared, Moyer made a simple argument to the jury.
“It was based on she stopped being the person who she was,” he said. “And the only way she could stop being who she was is because she’s dead.”
Moyer also had one other thing any potential prosecutor in the Cheryl Coker case would not have.
"Any eyewitness that saw Vince Doan chasing her across the yard, saying I'm going to kill you basically the next time this happens and she was never seen again," he said.
Moyer said the case would be tougher 20 years later.
He also does not know if Montgomery County prosecutors have as many things working for him as he did.
“I think about that,” said Carroll. “They got to do what they got to do and if they do something and he’s found not guilty?”
“It will be terrible to see someone walk around free that should not be,” Keenan said.
Cheryl Coker’s family said until they can find her, they’re left with a mountain of regrets.
“Oh I have a thousand what-ifs,” her sister said. “I could say what-if all day long … It’s the worst feeling, it’s the not knowing feeling. It’s just the pain you can’t take away.”
“I talk to her every day, and sometimes I think she’s going to come in that front door,” said Carroll.
Cheryl Coker’s mother, sister and other family members said now they’re simply praying another year won’t go by without them getting any answers about what happened to her.
The family is having a quiet prayer vigil tonight to mark the one-year anniversary of Cheryl Coker’s disappearance.
It will be at St. Helen’s Church on Burkhardt Road at 7 p.m.