Real Name: Cheryl Lee Holland
Aliases: Amy Elizabeth Foerster
Wanted For: Murder, Arson, Robbery
Missing Since: March 7, 1991
Details: Fifty-seven-year-old Joe Harvey and his fifty-four-year-old wife, Mattie, were a couple who lived in the small town of Lewis Chapel Mountain, Tennessee, north of Chattanooga. For years, they ran a combination gas station and convenience store. It was the only place to buy gas and groceries for miles around. According to Joe's brother, Ed, it was common knowledge that they kept cash receipts in the store. He suggested that they keep the money elsewhere, to prevent robberies. However, they trusted the community members and did not feel they needed to protect it.
On March 4, 1991, a local sheriff was called to the Joe and Mattie's house because their store was not opened as scheduled. He found that the entire place had been damaged by fire. There was no trace of them inside. Blood spots were found outside. Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were brought in to investigate the case. A 2 gallon gasoline can was found on the kitchen counter. More blood spots were found throughout the house.
Investigators believed that Joe and Mattie had been attacked and kidnapped from their house, with robbery being the motive. They believe the fire was deliberately set to cover up the crime. Their twenty-seven-year-old niece, Cheryl Holland, vanished just a few days later. They did not have children of their own, but they were close to their extended family. They were especially close to Cheryl and her five-year-old daughter.
One week after Joe and Mattie vanished, Cheryl's pickup truck was found abandoned at a truck stop two hours from home. Investigators found that the keys were still inside. Next to it, they found a necklace belonging to her. Her pocketbook was found in it as well. This led investigators to believe that she may have also been abducted.
Investigators next questioned Cheryl's thirty-year-old common-law husband, Edward Allen "Eddie" Wooten. He said that before she vanished, she took him to Newport News, Virginia. He claimed that they stopped somewhere along the way to sleep, but he could not remember where. Other inconsistencies in his story made investigators suspicious. They suspected that he and Cheryl may have been involved in the Joe and Mattie's disappearance. However, her family could not believe this.
On March 10, Eddie was questioned again. He claimed that in late February, he had taken Cheryl to a hospital in Knoxville, for a week-long treatment for stomach cancer. He claimed that he could not remember its name. Relatives had told investigators that she had borrowed money from them to use for "cancer treatments". Investigators determined that she used it for other things.
On the day Eddie claimed that he took her to Knoxville, investigators confirmed that she was actually working in Chattanooga. Confronted with the many inconsistencies, he decided to confess to the truth. He gave the same confession three different times. In it, he stated that on March 2, Cheryl came home from work, stating that she needed more money. They planned on going to her mother's home to pick up a paycheck. Along the way, they went to a gas station and purchased a gas can, which they filled up.
After visiting her parents, Eddie and Cheryl went to Joe and Mattie's house to rob them. He claimed that when they went inside, they left their daughter and six-week-old son in the truck. As they were about to go inside, she told him that they had to kill them. He was unwilling to do so, but she persuaded him. After entering, she talked to Joe briefly and then went to get Mattie. A few seconds later, Eddie came in and shot Joe while he was watching TV. Mattie ran to the living room and was also shot.
Eddie and Cheryl then took Joe and Mattie's bodies and placed them in the trunk of their own car. He followed her as she drove it over the Alabama state line and into the Tennessee River, near the Bridgeport Ferry. Later, she returned to Joe and Mattie's house, stole $150,000 in cash, and set the house on fire.
Investigators found a bloody fingerprint on the bottom the gas can found in Joe and Mattie's house. It was matched to Cheryl's known thumbprint. Searchers began dragging the Tennessee River near the Bridgeport Ferry. On April 17, 1991, Joe and Mattie's car was found in the river, with their bodies in the trunk. Both had been shot in the head, just as Eddie described. He was charged with the murders. A warrant was issued for Cheryl's arrest.
Investigators began tracking Cheryl's movements following the murders. They learned that she left their children with her mother. They also learned that an unidentified man appeared to be following her. At around 9:30pm on March 7, five days after the murders, she arrived at a service station in Greenville. Just seconds after entering it, she told the clerk that she had to leave. As she went back to her truck, a bearded man wearing a leather jacket tried to talk to her. She left and he, driving a red truck, followed her.
About an hour later, Cheryl was spotted using a pay phone at a truck stop twelve miles from the previous station. She told her family that she was two hours from home. Later, another witness spotted two people talking in her truck. The unidentified man was apparently seen at her workplace on the day before the murders. She was seen writing him a check.
Investigators are uncertain how this man is connected to the case. She was last seen at the truck stop at around 11:30 pm on the night of March 7. Her family believes that the unidentified man was responsible for her disappearance. However, investigators are certain that she is alive and still on the run.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 26, 1992 episode.
Results: Captured. Thanks to a viewer's tip, just forty-five minutes after the broadcast, Cheryl was arrested in Rollingwood, Texas, at the convenience store where she had worked for six months. She was living under the assumed name Amy Elizabeth Foerster. Her colleagues were shocked about her double life.
Four days later, Cheryl was returned to Tennessee to face the murder charges. She pleaded guilty and was spared the death sentence. She and Eddie are now serving life sentences for the murders. She will not be eligible for parole until November 2021. He will not be eligible until April 2020.
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- Co-workers Turn in Woman Identified as Murder Suspect
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- Man pleads guilty, makes deal to implicate wife
- Niece gets life in double murder
- Tennessee vs. Wooten
- Joe and Mattie Harvey on Find-A-Grave
- Cheryl and Eddie have pages on the Tennessee Felony Offender Information site.