Mushroom hunter finds Coker’s remains: ‘Cheryl’s never been forgotten by the community’

Remains found in Greene County over the weekend by a mushroom hunter were identified as those of Cheryl Coker, a Riverside woman missing for more than a year. Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson spoke about the case during a press conference Monday, April 27, 2020. JIM NOELKER / STAFF
Remains found in Greene County over the weekend by a mushroom hunter were identified as those of Cheryl Coker, a Riverside woman missing for more than a year. Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson spoke about the case during a press conference Monday, April 27, 2020. JIM NOELKER / STAFF

Bones found over the weekend in a wooded Greene County area were identified as the remains of Cheryl Coker — the Riverside woman who disappeared in 2018 after dropping off her teenage daughter at school.

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Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer made the announcement Monday afternoon.

Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson also attended the press conference and said the discovery of Coker’s remains is bittersweet.

“We have never given up on this case,” he said. “We have never wavered from continuing to follow all the evidence that we have collected or evidence that has been collected for us.

“Cheryl’s never been forgotten by the community.”

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

Her birthday was this past Friday. She would’ve been 48.

Coker’s bones were found by a mushroom hunter around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The case officially has been treated as a homicide investigation for more than a year. Numerous searches by friends, family, neighbors, community volunteers and professional search organizations had not uncovered her remains.

Her remains were found in a wooded area on private property, which Fischer said was “not a common area for a person to go to.”

There is no evidence that her body had been buried, investigators said. Neither Fischer nor Robinson could come up with a reason Monday why Coker would be in the area that wouldn’t involve a crime.

Both Fischer and Robinson said the investigation into the woman’s death is ongoing. Fischer said authorities were back at the scene Monday looking for additional evidence.

In February 2019, Riverside police named Coker’s husband, William “Bill” Coker, as a suspect in the case. He has denied involvement in the case and has not been charged with any crime.

>> Cheryl Coker case: Search warrants executed this week

Robinson said Monday that “anybody” is a suspect in the case and said her husband continues to be one. He declined further comment because the investigation is ongoing.

A cause of death has not been determined, Greene County Coroner Dr. Kevin Sharrett said.

“The forensic autopsy is still ongoing and the investigation is still ongoing,” Sharrett said.

Cheryl Coker went missing on Oct. 2, 2018. Riverside police initially began the investigation into her disappearance as a missing person’s case.

In November 2018, Bill Coker was asked about what happened to his wife. “I wish I knew,” he said, noting he and their daughter “love her and miss her very much and just hope she comes home.”

But in February 2019, officers said they were treating the case as a homicide investigation.

Riverside police had reported that Cheryl Coker’s cellphone 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.

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Riverside police said in February 2019 that they believe Bill Coker was the last person in the house with Cheryl.

The Cokers were married for 19 years. She had recently filed for divorce when she went missing, but court records say they still lived together.

The area where Cheryl Coker’s remains were found Saturday is about 15 minutes from her home.

A 911 caller said that he found remains near Waynesville Jamestown Road in Caesarcreek Twp.

“I found some bones along the side of the road, and it was actually wearing clothes, I think,” the man said.

The man said that the remains appeared to be wearing pants and a sweatshirt.

>> Cheryl Coker: Riverside police continue investigating woman’s disappearance

“The bones are just bones, but there is clothing with them,” he said. “I just touched the bottom part with a stick to see if they were actually wearing, and it appears they’ve either stuck to or whatever the bones are was wearing the pants.”

Robinson said telling the family about the finding was difficult for his department, as the family is now forced to grieve the woman’s death again.

“It’s been a long time coming. They have been waiting, and it’s been a very difficult time for them,” Robinson said. “This will hopefully give them some closure.”