Real Name: Linda Sue Lutz Sherman
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Vinita Park, Missouri
Date: April 22, 1985
Details: Linda Sue Lutz Sherman was a twenty-seven-year-old employee of the U.S. Government Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the youngest of four, with her siblings being several years older. As she grew up, she was sheltered, quiet, and reserved. She married her high school sweetheart, Don Sherman, while they were both still teenagers. When their daughter, Patty, was born, Linda was determined to finish school. Her mother watched Patty as she completed her senior year. Don found work as a gas station attendant. Working opposite shifts and money troubles put a strain on their relationship; they separated and reconciled many times. According to her family, Don always wanted to know where she was; he was also protective and physically abusive against her. In spring 1985, she filed for divorce, was planning to take Patty, and move out of their Vinita Park home.
At around 2:16am on April 22, 1985, Linda left her night job. When she arrived home at 3am, she and Don got into an argument. She later fell asleep on their living room couch. The next morning, Don took Patty to school, even though Linda normally did so. Patty was surprised that Linda didn't even say goodbye to her. She also noticed that she wasn't moving. Don claimed that when he returned from work at around 6pm, Linda was on edge. She then left for work, although no witnesses saw her leave. She never arrived and was never seen again.
When Linda's family learned that she was missing, they urged Don to contact the police. He did not report her missing until two days later. They searched for her and eventually found her Volkswagen Beetle abandoned at Lambert Airport. No evidence was found in it. Her family suspected that she may have been having an affair, but did not believe that she would abandon Patty and suspected foul play. Don, however, believed that she ran off with another man. A few days after she vanished, he claimed to have seen her in a van with another man. When they passed by, he yelled at her and she ducked out of sight.
However, five years later on June 28, 1990, flight attendants at Casa Gallardo, Don's favorite Bridgeton Mexican restaurant, discovered a human skull in the bushes outside a window. Investigators determined that it belonged to an adult female who had died within the past few years. With no crime to connect it to, it was placed on a shelf in the county morgue. It was largely forgotten, especially after some suggested that it may have been taken from a cemetery and placed there as a prank.
Then, fourteen months later, on September 16, 1991, an unsealed envelope was sent to the Vinita Park Police Department. Inside was a flier for Casa Gallardo that had "THE BRIDGETON POLICE HAVE L. SHERMAN'S SKULL" stamped on it. No fingerprints were found on it and since it wasn't sealed, no DNA could be extracted from it. Linda's dental records were compared to the skull, and it was a perfect match.
This case had become a homicide investigation, but many questions remain, such as: who could have killed Linda, where the rest of her body is, and who sent the mysterious letter to police. Don has been questioned by the police several times in the case, but no charges have ever been filed. Police hope that new technology and soil samples can lead them to her body and her killer.
Suspects: Don has been named the prime suspect by the St. Louis Police in Linda's disappearance and death. He was known to be physically and emotionally abusive towards her. Before she vanished, she filed an order of protection against him. She claimed that he had tampered with her car. He had also threatened to kill her, Patty, and himself. Investigators believe that it is more than a coincidence that her skull ended up in the bushes next to Casa Gallardo and that she vanished just before she was planning to leave him. They suspect that he may have wanted to remarry. The only way he could do so would be if he could prove that she was dead.
However, no evidence has been found to link Don to Linda's disappearance and death. He believes that she ran off with the man that he allegedly saw her with shortly after she vanished. He believes that this man killed her. It was confirmed that she had been having an affair with a coworker shortly before her disappearance. However, he had an alibi and was ruled out as a suspect.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the July 2, 2001 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Police later sent cadaver-sniffing dogs and a search team to Perryville, seventy-five miles south of St. Louis, where they believed the rest of Linda's body was buried. However, no traces of it were found. One of Don's ex-girlfriends claimed that he confessed to killing Linda. However, there was never enough evidence to charge him.
Don died on May 7, 2015 at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He was fifty-eight. For unknown reasons, Patty was not listed in his obituary. Police chief Michael Webb passed away in 2009. Linda's brother, Dennis, passed away in January 2016.
- Linda Sherman on Unsolved.com
- Police Appeal for Clues in 1985 Murder
- (1999 Riverfront Times Article) Body of Evidence
- Spooky Story: The Linda Sherman Mystery
- Vinita Park police chief pursued murder case for years
- Linda Sherman on Find a Grave
- Don Sherman's Obituary