Real Name: Sherry Elaine Lyall Hart
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Ashe County, North Carolina
Date: January 15, 1984
Details: Twenty-four-year-old Sherry Hart was the divorced mother of six-year-old April. On the evening of January 15, 1984, she disappeared after she planned to meet a date at a Ashe County, North Carolina restaurant who never showed up. Authorities found no evidence of foul play in the case even though friends had seen her that night. Rumors surfaced that she had run off to Florida with a lover. Then, eleven months later, authorities were at the bottom of a 2,000 foot cliff named the "jumping off place", when they discovered her body.
Investigators reopened the case and found a witness who reported that Sherry was with two schoolmates: Richard Bare and Jeffrey Burgess. Bare's brother had once dated her. They were brought in for questioning, but were not arrested until later when police received more information from witnesses. Confronted with this information, Burgess confessed that he told police that Sherry went joyriding with him and Bare, and that at some point they pulled off the edge of the highway about a quarter of a mile from the cliff when she asked to make a rest stop.
Bare then followed Sherry into the woods and made unwanted sexual advances on her. As she ran back to the car, she asked Burgess to protect her from him. Then he charged out of the woods and struck her in the head with a handgun. They then drove to the cliff. Bare then allegedly pulled her out of the car and pushed her off the cliff to her death. Burgess claimed that Bare threatened to kill him and his family if he went to the police. He led investigators to the area where Sherry was initially assaulted; her checkbook and other personal items were located there. He and Bare were charged with her murder on March 29, 1985.
However four months later, on July 19, 1985, Bare escaped from the prison where he was being held, becoming a fugitive from justice. Burgess' trial will not begin until Bare is arrested. In 1993, Bare was almost arrested in Delaware, but just hours before FBI agents were able to get to his relative's house where he had been hiding, he escaped and has not been seen since. A $10,000 reward is being offered in this case by Sherry's family and the police.
Suspects: Bare and Burgess have both been charged with Sherry's murder. Bare is 5'6", weighs 145 pounds, has brown hair, green eyes, a tattoo of a panther on his right forearm, may have a moustache or beard, and would now be fifty-three years old. He was born on July 6, 1964. He may disguise himself as a woman.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the March 8, 1996. episode.
Results: Unresolved. In June 2002, a judge ordered that fingerprints be taken of a man named "Richard Presnell" who was believed to be Bare living under an assumed name. However, before authorities were able to locate him, he had moved without leaving a forwarding address. He was later located and determined to not be Bare. It is believed that Bare may have stolen his identity, however. Sadly, Sherry's mother passed away in 2011 without seeing justice in her murder. Burgess, who never went to trial for it, passed away in 2012.
Recently, there has been unconfirmed witness reports that Bare has returned to North Carolina several times under a disguise while visiting the funerals of relatives. Other reports have stated that he is still living in Ashe County "in plain sight". However, he has still not been located. Sherry's daughter, April, now married with three children of her own, continues to search for her killer.
- Sherry Hart on Unsolved.com
- Sherry Hart Facebook Page
- WRAL video on Richard Bare and Sherry Hart
- Bare escaped from Wilkes jail 30 years ago this month
- Rumors that her mother's killer remains free 30 years after escaping from jail haunt woman
- NC woman haunted by rumors that her mother's killer remains free
- NC Wanted: Man remains on the run 30 years after death of single mother
- Unsolved: Murder at Jumping Off Place
- Murder at the Jumping Off Place - Manhunt
- Sherry Hart on Find a Grave