An investigation into an Ohio woman’s disappearance has been reclassified as a homicide investigation, police said Tuesday, with her husband being identified as the “one and only suspect.”
Cheryl Coker, 46, was last seen dropping her youngest daughter off at school in their hometown of Riverside, Ohio on October 2, 2018 around 7:30 a.m.
“Phone records say she got back home at 7:35 a.m.,” Detective Travis Abney of the Riverside Police Department said in a Tuesday press conference.
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Det. Abney said that more than three hours later, at 10:52 a.m., Cheryl’s phone pinged at a nearby shopping center as her car drove into the parking lot. However, newly-released surveillance footage shows a person dressed in all black exiting her car. Investigators say this person then walked from the parking lot to the back of the Coker’s home.
While police declined to specify who they believe that person was, Det. Abney said “whoever that person was seemed to be familiar with the Coker residence.” Two witnesses have since come forward reporting a “suspicious white male” walking around in black clothing that day.
Detective Abney said newly-discovered evidence – which he was unable to detail – has led them to identify Cheryl’s husband, William Coker, as “the one and only suspect at this time.”
“Mr. Coker has been cooperative at times, but his cooperation level has dropped,” Det. Abney said. “By his own admission, he was home during [the three-hour] time frame. A lot of things that he says does not make logical sense.”
According to authorities, Cheryl and William had filed for divorce prior to Cheryl’s disappearance. Authorities said Tuesday that while they have interviewed William, he has been reluctant to take a polygraph test and only called them once in four months to ask for an update on his wife’s case.
William Coker has not been charged in relation to Cheryl’s case.
“Unfortunately, Mrs. Coker has not been found. That is our primary goal,” Det. Abney said. “There are no leads as to where she’s at right now. We’re not sure where she’s at. We’re not sure where to start looking. If we did, we would have done that by now.”
Authorities declined to comment on next steps in the investigation, but told reporters they are confident in their ability to solve the case.
If you have any information surrounding Cheryl’s disappearance, please call Detective Travis Abney at the Riverside Police Department at (937) 681 2301.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.