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Sheryl Sheppard’s Unsolved Mysterious Disappearance

Sheryl Sheppard, 29, was last watched publicly accepting a marriage proposal from her boyfriend while being broadcast on a 1997 New Year’s Eve radio simulcast occurring on a regional public access television channel out of Hamilton Ontario. Her then-boyfriend, Michael Lavoie, 26, said, on-air: “In 1998, I’d love to ask you to marry me, Sheryl” Sheryl, answered simply “Yes” and hugged and kissed him.

Sheryl Shocking Relation

Hamilton cold case: friend reveals Sheryl Sheppard had a change of heart  over Lavoie's proposal | CBC News
Pic Credit: CBC

Friends and family conveyed amazement at her acceptance of the proposal as her relationship with boyfriend Michael Lavoie was not very healthy- the family didn’t authorize him to have three children from a previous volatile relationship nor did they approve of his uncertain financial situation and frequent unemployment. Months before Michael had moved in with Sheryl and her mum and had been living with them off and on for the past few months. Several friends report that the two-year relationship was pierced with fighting and strife.

Although she was last noticed on New Year, her mum Odette Fisher says she spoke with her over the phone on New Years Day and made schemes for Sheryl to pick her up from Toronto Pearson International Airport on January 4th. Strangely enough, Sheryl didn’t mention the proposal to her mum, even though they were very close. Her mum had to find out about the engagement from Michael after she disappeared. This led some to think that Sheryl was not serious about the potential marriage and said yes to the on-air proposal out of public pressure and drunkenness.

Sheryl Wanted An End

The Unsolved Disappearance of Sheryl Sheppard - YouTube
Credit: Youtube

Friends close to the couple notified police that the day after the engagement, Sheryl told them that she would call off the engagement and tell Michael in a public place because she worried he would turn violent.

Her “fiancée” Michael alleges that he last saw Sheryl on January 2nd when he dropped her off at a strip club called the Concord Hotel on Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls, ON. Seemingly, according to Michael, Sheryl was working there as an exotic dancer, nonetheless, the manager of that establishment, who had worked there for 20 years rejected this claim and told that not only said Sheryl not work for them but that he had never even heard of her until police showed up asking questions. Friends say that while she had worked as a dancer in the past, those days were behind her and they were not familiar with her still working in the industry, and if she had gone back to the industry she would have told them.

Job

Sheryl worked full-time as a doughnut decorator at the coffee and doughnut establishment, Tim Hortons, and co-workers of Sheryl’s tell Michael would frequently show up at the fast-food restaurant for lengthy periods- hanging around and making customers and workers alike uncomfortable. He was so jealous and possessive that when he felt Sheryl was talking with a patron for too long he would clear his throat and signaled for her to wrap it up.

Gerald Davidson, a neighbor of the couple, and part of a bigger friend group that included both of Sheryl’s previous husbands remember a dreadful moment in their apartment underground parking lot, when Michael lost his temper and clasped Sheryl by the throat, a common occurrence according to people close to the couple, and shouted:” If you keep f*king around with me… something’s going to happen to you.” This statement was in line with family members’ memory of Sheryl telling them that if something ever were to occur to her, they knew who to question- Michael. Another family member recalls Sheryl saying that there was a possibility she could go missing in the future.

Michael And His Behave

The hostility and jealousy displayed by Michael were not unusual and were a characteristic of his previous relationships as well. His former long-term girlfriend, whom he dated from his teens into his twenties and with whom he had two children recalls his fierce temper and predilection for violence. Once he broke both her cheekbones from whipping her and frequently he would tell her that he had fantasies of killing her.

After an extremely nasty fight, which signified the end of Gwen’s and Michael’s relationship, Michael left their shared house and went to a gas station, where he claimed to have just killed his wife and two children. The gas station attendant, understandable alarmed, phoned police who instantly went to check on Gwen and the children, who were thankfully found alive. Michael was accused of public misconduct but those charges were later dropped and he faced no consequences.

Train

When Sheryl never reached the Toronto Train Station to pick up her mum, Odette, she was reported disappearing to the police. Michael never reported her missing even though seemingly he had not noticed her since January 2nd. In the past two days when friends had called asking for her, he would alternately assert she was either napping or at work. Later, upon police questioning he would alter his story about who was to have picked up Sheryl from the strip club he had supposedly dropped her off at on January 2nd, telling that a friend was going to pick her up and then later claiming Sheryl’s ex-husband, Brian Sweeney was the one who was tasked with picking her up. Friends of the couple remarked on how odd that situation would be here was a man who was so jealous and possessive he would hang around a doughnut shop for hours keeping an eye on Sheryl, but at the same time was alleging her dropped her in an alleyway of a strip club to dance for other men and then authorized her ex-husband to pick her up? That was not the controlling Michael they realized at all. Brian Sweeney soon came forward to the police and not only denied picking her up that night but also offered a polygraph test to clear him of any relation to her being missing.

To add to the list of skeptical behavior, Michael, upon finding out Sheryl’s mum had reported her missing, discarded a big majority of his clothes and possessions from their shared home.

Proof

Adding to the mounting proof against Michael, the maintenance supervisor for the building they resided in remembers noticing Micheal lugging out two huge trash bags from the apartment complex. Gerald Davidson, the neighbor who had noticed Michael grab Sheryl by the neck, also remembered those skeptically huge garbage bags being carried out by Michael. Police searched the garbage transfer station but discovered nothing of value.

The physical information was limited but damning. After a ten-day investigation of the couples, apartment police came away with a couple of indications that indicated the apartment was a crime spectacle: the first clue was that Sheryl’s purse and ID were on the premises- two things she would not have left without, two: both her contacts and glasses were also in the apartment- Sheryl had poor eyesight and would not have gone anywhere without one of those objects on her person, three: there were stains on the wall that police thought was suspicious, although crime spectacle techs were incapable to assume if it was blood or some other substance, four: the curtains, which Sheryl’s mum specifically remembers as being connected to the wall with metal curtain rods were instead nailed to the wall- implying that the curtain rods might have been utilized as an improvised weapon.

Call

When police called in Michael to come In for a query, he promised he would come by the station the next day, nonetheless, when he didn’t show up they went looking for him. Earlier that day a police officer, Officer Matthews remarked a suspicious-looking vehicle parked by the storage unit. He ran the plates and it came back to a Michael Lavoie. Later that day, when Officer Matthews learned that Michael was being sought for querying the name rang a bell and he oversaw police to that storage unit he had been near earlier.

In the early morning of January 5th at 1:30 am Michael was discovered in a rented storage garage, closed. with his car running- he was overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and was strangling to death. Police report that he had attempted to commit suicide but was found before perishing to the carbon monoxide and taken to the hospital. He confessed nothing during querying and directed police to speak with his lawyer. Later, police would understand that Michael had mailed a suicide note to his mum, Pat Lavoie before entering the storage unit. This indicates he was serious about the trial and intended to perish that day had police not interfered. What was he so guilty about? What made him that annoyed. If his tale was to be believed, which numerous do not, he wasn’t even familiar she was disappearing for more than 24 hours so why the histrionics? What does he realize that police and Sheryl’s family does not?.

Information

Michael refused to take part in any of the several on-air interviews or public pleas for Sheryl’s safe return. He also rejected to help in any of the outdoor searches for remains or indications. There is a lasting rumor circulating in Hamilton that Sheryl’s remains will never be discovered because Michael put her through a wood chipper.

There is a $50,000 reward for evidence on Sheryl’s whereabouts, that of her remains, or data leading to the arrest of her assailant. Anyone with any information should contact Detective Peter Thom at 905-546-3843.

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