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Cherilyn Hawkley

A beloved teacher's remains are found in her van on Halloween Day

  • Last updated: October 30, 2023
  • Granite Bay, CA
  • October 29, 1993

Overview of Cherilyn Hawkley

Even though Cherilyn Hawkley's life was rapidly changing, she was known as a happy, caring, and genuinely content person.

Cherilyn Hawkley, 39, was recently divorced and a loving mother of three children. She had just begun her employment with the Eureka School District and had purchased a new home in Roseville.

She was a beloved elementary school teacher who adored her job and the 25 children in her classroom.

The Halloween festivities were bright at school on Friday, October 29, 1993.

Cherilyn was seen taking her students trick-o-treating from classroom to classroom. By the evening, Cherilyn was still at school.

A janitor at the school was the last person to see her. They say they saw her cleaning up popcorn and then later noticed her car still in the parking lot at 5:30pm. When the janitor made another round at 6:00pm, the car was gone.

It’s believed that someone waited inside her van in the school parking lot, and when she hopped into the driver’s seat, her killer threatened her and took control of the vehicle.

When she didn't arrive home later that night, her worried boyfriend filed a missing persons report.

October 31, 1993

Two days later, less than a mile away from where she taught fifth grade, police found her Dodge Caravan on the side of the road on Halloween night.

Cherilyn’s strangled and partially clothed body was found in the back seat. The rope ligature used to kill her was also discovered in the woods.

A sheriff’s patrol car parked behind Hawkley’s van (Courtesy: Placer County Sheriff’s Office)
A sheriff’s patrol car parked behind Hawkley’s van (Courtesy: Placer County Sheriff’s Office)

Original investigators said a stranger could have killed her, but current investigators think something different.

The detective working the case in 2015 told reporters that it’s possible the suspect’s name has already come up in the case file. Can you figure out who that could be?

Old forensic evidence found in the van, including a ligature, are being retested with new forensic technology. As detectives wait for forensic evidence results to get back from the lab, they said they are interviewing family, friends and old witnesses in the case.

“Somebody has got to know something,” Sarah Mason, one of Hawkley’s friends since high school, told FOX40. “And I hope that they feel guilty enough to call it in. You would hope right? That’s my goal.”

Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the Placer County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 889-7854. Anyone with information but wishing to remain anonymous should contact Placer County Crime Stoppers at (800) 923-8191 or online at tips.placercrimestoppers.com. Any tips that lead to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.


  1. Date Missing:October 29, 1993
  2. Date Found:October 31, 1993
  3. Birthday:March 19, 1954
  4. Age at Incident:39
  5. Race:Caucasian / White
  6. Gender:Female


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