The Abduction & Murder of Cherilyn Hawkley

By Naptime Nancy

It was Friday, October 29th, 1993, and Eureka Elementary School in Granite Bay, CA, was abuzz with Halloween festivities and the excitement of Trick or Treat weekend plans. Thirty nine year old Cherilyn Hawkley, was a beloved fifth grade teacher at Eureka Elementary. She had taught for over two decades in Chico, CA, but wanted a fresh start after her divorce two years prior. So she bought a home in Roseville and had been involved with a steady boyfriend. Unfortunately, that Friday before Halloween at school is the last place the mother of three would be seen alive.

On Sunday evening at approximately 9PM on Halloween night, a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy discovered Cherilyn’s Van about 40 yards from the road in a wooded area near Oakhill School, less than a couple of miles from Eureka Elementary School. Cherilyn was found laying in between the second and third row of seats in her minivan. She had been strangled, was fully clothed, and her personal belongings including her purse were still in the van. Placer County Sheriff’s Office believe there’s a chance that Cherilyn knew her attacker, or the person at least knew her every move. A composite sketch was made of a person of interest that was seen at the school around the time that Cherilyn was last seen. He is described as a muscular build, 6 feet tall, in his 30’s, with brown wavy hair over his ears, very hairy legs and arms, wearing blue shorts and a sweaty pink tank top. The POI was seen driving a beat up VW Bug that was faded white with black primer spots, a dented left fender and a broken right headlight. It should be noted that Cherilyn’s ex husband was proven to have been out of state in Oregon during the time of her abduction and murder. Cherilyn’s boyfriend (or fiancée in one article?) has been reportedly ruled out as well.

Placer County Sheriff’s Office were interviewed in 2016 for Crime Watch Daily, to which they stated that they have submitted the rope ligature used to strangle Cherilyn for DNA testing. Just after the Golden State Killer was caught, Ali Wolf covered Cherilyn Hawkley’s murder and confirmed that Placer County was looking into all potential case connections. I was able to reach out to Ali Wolf this week and she did give an update that Placer Sheriff’s Office ruled out (by fingerprints at the very least) the connection to Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., AKA the GSK suspect confirmed by familial DNA. In addition, had Cherilyn Hawkley’s murder been connected to Cindy Wanner’s case, we would have heard quite a while ago, considering fingerprints were present at both crime scenes. This means that there are potentially at least two other killers lurking among these suburban neighborhoods, depending on how many persons were involved in each murder. These families have been waiting decades for answers. They deserve the peace of mind of knowing that their loved ones killer no longer walks among them.

If you have any information whatsoever regarding the abduction and murder of Cherilyn Hawkley, please contact Placer County Sheriff’s office at 530-889-7800 or

Sources: “The Press Tribune” 11/05/93, 12/26/93.

Fox40 – Ali Wolf’s Coverage

Defrosting Cold Cases

Crime Watch Daily

5 thoughts on “The Abduction & Murder of Cherilyn Hawkley

  • Are you aware that the date of this abduction of Cherilyn Hawkley, 10/29/1993, was the same date that Joseph Deangelo’s wife and children moved into a new house, which was completely in her name, and away from him?

    Do you think Deangelo could be the kind of killer who would send warning messages via murders?

    The 12-26-75 podcast discusses this in Ep. 22, “Coincidence?”, at the 43 minute mark:

  • I am aware as i found it in public records and first brought to attention of Placer County Sheriffs in December 2018..

  • The general appearance of:

    Janet Kay Gregoire Kovacich
    Cynthia “Cindy” Kay Stroh Wanner
    Cherilyn Ann Gartin Hawkley

    Are similar. If you did an age progression on Janet, it would look like the older, in their 30s ten years later, two women.

    A smart killer, of someone familiar with investigative techniques, like a policeman, could Three-Card-Monte the evidence.

    • Also DeAngelo was convicted of shoplifting October 30, 1979. Ms.Hawkley went missing October 29, 1993. The composite of a man seen at the school that day and description fits DeAngelo. So that time period fits two days of rage for him. Anyone who knows the case knows DeAngelo wore gloves always. What a joke to say he was ruled out by fingerprints of Hawkley and Wanner. Janet lived by the Auburn Police chief who fired DeAngelo. She also was a grade ahead of Sharon Huddle at San Juan HS in Citrus Heights. Wanner and Hawkley both strangled with a necklace. I suspect the one missing from a Jennifer Amour the 14 year old Visalia girl who went missing as she walked to a football game on November 15, 1975, when the VR ie DeAngelo was operating.

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