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Those who searched for Cheryl Coker now drawn to site where remains found

A friend of Cheryl Coker’s is shown next to a sign that was placed near where her remains were found over the weekend in Greene County. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF
A friend of Cheryl Coker’s is shown next to a sign that was placed near where her remains were found over the weekend in Greene County. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF

People who have spent the last year and a half searching for Cheryl Coker were drawn to the wooded patch of land Monday and Tuesday where authorities say her remains were found over the weekend.

The reasons they journeyed out to the rural area off Waynesville Jamestown Road in Greene County are similar: in some way knowing where Coker’s been for the past 18 months helps bring them a bit of closure. But not entirely.

Memorials placed where bones of Cheryl Coker found

“It’s terrible, it makes you angry. The fact that somebody would do that to somebody else, it’s inhuman,” said Doug Finkle, a local club owner who knew Coker for about a year.

Finkle said the fact that Coker’s remains have been found is heartbreaking. But it’s also important.

“She’s not with us anymore, at least now the family can move on and find some peace, and maybe the police can move forward with their investigation,” he said. “I hope for the best possible things to come, especially for the family.”

Coker went missing in October of 2018 after she dropped her teenage daughter off at school. The case is being treated as a homicide investigation by Riverside Police.

Riverside Police had reported that Cheryl Coker’s cell phone records show she made it back home after dropping off her daughter at school, before never being seen again.

Her car was later seen in surveillance footage in the parking lot of the Kroger on Spinning Road. A person wearing all black got out of her car and walked away. The next night, Cheryl Coker’s daughter used an app to find her mother’s car, phone and purse in that same shopping center parking lot near her house.

Riverside police previously named Coker’s husband, William “Bill” Coker, as a suspect in the case. Bill Coker has denied involvement and has not been charged.

RELATED: Bones found in Greene County identified as Cheryl Coker

The area where Cheryl’s remains were found is about a 15-minute drive from her house, authorities said. There is no evidence that her body had been buried, investigators said.

Authorities will need to do more investigating before any charges are filed, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said.

“Among other things, the coroner needs to determine if it’s possible to state the manner and cause of death. So, this is still an active and ongoing investigation,” a spokesman said.

But until then, friends and people who searched for Coker for more than a year have begun memorializing the spot where her remains were found.

RELATED: Cheryl Coker Timeline: How police got to naming husband as suspect

A sign reading “Cheryl Strong” was planted, crosses were laid out and hung, and her picture, surrounded by flowers and pebbles, also stands at the spot where a mushroom hunter stumbled across her remains in a wooded area.

The memorials were placed by friends of Coker and by Robin Chinn, a woman who has spent hours searching for the missing Riverside woman since the beginning of her disappearance.

“I just felt like I wanted to do that. It shows compassion, and it shows that she is not going to be forgotten,” Robin Chinn said.