The News-Democrat of Feb 25, 1980 reported that Sharrey Lynn Case (March 26, 1960 – last seen Oct 28, 1977) was last seen alive on Oct 28, 1977. That was when her mother dropped her off at Gary Allen Williams’ trailer in Centreville, Illinois. He was her boyfriend. Note that according to police, Williams is NOT a suspect.
When Williams came back from work around midnight, he saw that Sharrey’s purse and work smock were in his trailer, however, no signs of Sharrey. The Venture Store in Fairview Heights where she worked, confirmed that she had not shown up for work. She also had not picked up her paycheck. Her mother reported her missing.
A few days later, she knew in her heart that her daughter (17) had not run away and that she was dead. One of her daughter’s friends had a birthday. It went by without Sharrey calling. “If she had run away, she would have called. She didn’t call her.” Her daughter was found murdered on December 19, 1977.
Sharrey Lynn Case graduated from Cahokia High School in just three years. She was enrolled at Belleville Area College for data processing and photography. On January 1, 2000, that college changed their name to Southwestern Illinois College to better reflect the area they serve.
Sharrey had taken a job to have money to buy Christmas presents for her siblings and other family members. She had two sisters and a brother.
On December 19, 1977, a jogger took a closer look at a shallow creek along the Illinois Central-Gulf Railroad after he smelled a strange odor.
Sticking out from underneath a pile of construction debris, mostly wood and stones, was a pair of blue jeans. It was Sharrey Lynn Case. The location was near Town Hall Road, south of Belleville, Illinois.
As Sharrey’s body was decomposed, she was identified by dental records. She had been strangled with a thin wire that was still around her neck. She was fully dressed except for one sock that was stuffed in her mouth. I did not see anything in the papers about her shoes.
The county pathologist estimated that Sharrey had died during the month of November which had been a warm month. He said she had not died in December due to the state of her remains. However, a more precise time window could not be determined.
Possible sexual assault could not be determined. Robbery was ruled out as a motive. Sharrey still had cash in her jeans pockets that was earmarked for her siblings’ presents.
After this murder, two other women were found dead. Gregory Bowman became the person of interest in those murders but there never was a firm link to Sharrey Lynn Case. The Missouri Department of Corrections revealed that Gregory Bowman (64) died in March 2016 at Potosi Correctional Center. He appeared to have died of natural causes. It was reported that he was terminally ill.
The Belleville News-Democrat Oct 26, 2005 described much of the evidence was missing “except for yellowed police reports found in the [St. Clair County] sheriff’s department basement including one report that mentions two hairs found under one of Case’s fingernails.”
Finding evidence after exhumation is not easy. If a body was embalmed, it was washed which removes evidence. If not embalmed, time works against you. Decomposition makes recovering evidence sometimes impossible.
The exhumation happened in November 2005. The results can be found in the Belleville News-Democrat from July 8, 2006. The hope was that two strands of hair found under one of Case’s fingernails would lead to a suspect profile however, that DNA turned out to be Case’s own. There was no foreign DNA present on those strands.
In the same article I found a clarification. The wire used to strangle Sharrey was bailing wire. I assume the sock was pushed in her mouth first to keep her quiet before she was strangled to death with the wire.
In the Paducah Sun (Kentucky) of July 9, 2006 I found that according to the victim’s sister, the evidence in the case was destroyed. She does not use the word ‘missing.’ Exactly what and how many pieces of evidence there were, is not clear.
If you have any information, please call the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department at (618) 277-3505 and press 4 to reach the Investigations Division.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old unsolved cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, more information can be found online and in newspaper archives.
We need to get these cases back in the mainstream media, to get people talking again, and if anything, to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are unsolved does not mean that we can forget about them.
With the advances in modern forensic sciences, we have a chance to find clues that previously remained hidden. So, let us review all these old cases once more.
I encourage you to share this post on your own social media platforms. By sharing these posts online, the cases reach new networks, new connections, and the latest news feeds. One day these updates may pop up in the right person’s news feed. That may be someone who can help advance the case and that is my goal.
Rest in peace, Sharrey Lynn Case.