It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You hear the brakes of a school bus squeak as it pulls up to your child’s bus stop. A moment later, it pulls away. Your kiddo should be appearing in the driveway any second…but minutes pass and there’s no sign of your child. The bus stop is only 100 yards away, after all.
There is no reason to panic, not just yet. She’s probably talking with her friends. So you put on your coat and shoes and walk to the bus stop, but no one is there — not your child, not anyone else’s, either.
Instantly, you know something is wrong. How does a child vanish from 100 yards away in less than five minutes? As quickly as that school bus pulled away, an average day has turned into a nightmare.
That’s what happened to the family of 8-year-old Cherrie Mahan in 1985. For more than 36 years, her grieving family has wondered what happened to her.
Gone in a Flash
It was late in the day on February 22, 1985.  Just after four p.m., the sun was already beginning to sink into the night sky, and Cherrie Mahan, along with three other students, happily hopped down the steps of their school bus, looking forward to dinner and playtime.
Cherrie left her house that morning prepared for a frigid day. Clad in a white leotard, a grey coat, a blue denim skirt, blue leg warmers, beige soft ankle boots, and brown Cabbage Patch earmuffs, Cherrie went to school believing it to be a normal day like any other.
All was well until she stepped off that bus, approximately 100 to 150 feet from her family’s residence. It was a Friday afternoon and Cherrie’s mom, Janice McKinney, had promised to take Cherrie to a friend’s house. 
Cherrie made it as far as the end of the dirt driveway to the home she shared with her mother, Janice McKinney, and her stepfather, Leroy McKinney. Then, she disappeared.
The family had moved to the area believing it to be the perfect place for a child to grow up. There were many other children in the neighborhood, plenty of room to play outdoors, and it seemed like such a safe place that people left their doors unlocked.
But on that day, all of that would change, not just for the McKinney’s, but for…