For a lot of teenagers, delivering pizza is a great way to make some extra cash. For others, it can be a source of income to help support them and their families. But the job also involves driving to unfamiliar areas to visit the houses of people you’ve never met. This can be scary at best, dangerous at worst. This is the solved disappearance of Sherry Eyerly, who found herself in this situation almost four decades ago.
Sherry Melissa Eyerly was born on December 6, 1963 to mom Linda and dad Steve. She grew up in Salem, the capital city of Oregon and graduated from high school in June of 1982. After graduation, the 18-year-old wanted to be on her own right away, so she rented an apartment with her cousin and got a job as a delivery driver at Domino’s to support herself.
Sherry didn’t normally work Sunday nights, but was called into work on the night of Sunday, July 4. That night, a call came in from someone ordering three large pizzas. They gave a phone number, as well as an address on Riverhaven Drive S. Around 9:30 pm, Sherry left the restaurant to deliver the pizzas.
About an hour later, a man lighting fireworks near Faragate Street South found an abandoned Domino’s car. The engine was running and the lights were on. The car door was open and three pizza boxes were on the floor (another source said they were on the road). The man called the police.
It didn’t take long for investigators to notice a major red flag. The person who ordered the pizzas Sherry was delivering had given a fake address. There was a house at that address, but it had been destroyed long ago. The phone number they’d given was the number of a local hotel. There was also a footprint across the pizza boxes and a hat presumed to be Sherry’s was found a few hundred feet away.
Sherry’s family and friends joined investigators in the search for her. Dogs and helicopters were brought in, and there was a $6,000 reward set up for information that would solve her case. Investigators also publicized information about two vehicles that had been seen in the area around the time Sherry was last seen. One was a dark colored Monte Carlo and the other a lime green pickup truck. But despite the extensive searches, Sherry wasn’t found.
In August of that year, police began looking into a man named Darrell Jay Wilson. Wilson initially denied knowing Sherry, then later admitted he’d met her once at a party. His sister-in-law, Dawn Wilson, also worked with Sherry’s mom. Darrell Wilson also had connections to another missing girl — Dawn Wilson’s younger sister, Danielle Good. 9-year-old Danielle had last been seen at her home in the early morning hours of July 31.
On the night Sherry went missing, Darrell Jay Wilson had been camping at Elkhorn Lake, about 46 miles east of Salem. However, he was gone from the campground between 6:30 pm and 3:30 am. He also had a truck that closely matched the description of the truck police gave out — and he’d painted it shortly after that description went public. He also refused to talk a polygraph at some point; I know many people don’t put much stock in polygraphs, so make of that what you will.
Police questioned Wilson at least three times, the last time being on the morning of August 21, 1982. Later that afternoon, his body was found at his landlord’s house; he’d taken his own life. After his death, the Marion County district attorney said Wilson was the prime suspect in the case. However, a search of his truck would uncover no evidence linking him to Sherry.
In February of 1983, Danielle Good’s remains were found off a rural road in Scio, about 27 miles south of Salem. After this, more search parties were sent out in the area to look for Sherry at a nearby swimming hole Darrell Wilson used to frequent. But the search didn’t find much other than a few animal bones. I found very little else about Danielle Good’s murder, which appears to remain unsolved.
early theories and speculation
In the early days of the investigation, there was plenty of speculation in Sherry’s case. The owner of a different Domino’s store thought she may have left voluntary since her body was never found. As nice as this thought is, since it would mean she could still be alive and unharmed, most people suspected foul play.
But what exactly happened? Robbery was quickly ruled out as a motive because Domino’s drivers didn’t carry much cash at the time. In 1983, hen-Marion County Sheriff’s Detective Jay Boutwell thought Sherry may have known her abductor and been killed because she knew too much about something — possibly something related to drugs. There’s speculation on the Doe Network that also says Sherry may have been kidnapped by someone she knew. This is because she felt comfortable enough to set the parking brake and open the car door — though she could have just been attempting to deliver the pizzas as normal and not suspected anything.
Sherry’s parents separated in 1985, and Sherry’s mom later cited their daughter’s disappearance as the cause. As the years went by, Sherry’s family slowly began to accept the fact that she was likely no longer alive. Today, there’s a memorial for her in the place where she was last thought to have been.
Sherry’s case went cold for years before being reopened by the Marion County Sheriff Cold Case Squad in 2005. They conducted hundreds more interviews and followed at least 100 leads. And it was during this time that they came across the name William Scott Smith.
William Scott Smith was born on April 26, 1959 in Portland, Oregon. In 1977, the 18-year-old was convicted of theft and a misdemeanor driving offense. He got in trouble with the law again in April of 1984 when he was jailed for harassment after making obscene phone calls to a woman. At the time, Smith was a suspect in the murder of a college student named Katherine Redmond, who had been killed on April 7 of that year.
Then, on July 9, 1984, Smith was found guilty by a judge of the murders of both Katherine Redmond and 21-year-old convenience store clerk Rebecca Darling. He was given two consecutive life sentences. Smith, whose victims were both sexually assaulted and strangled, had previously been described by a psychiatrist as a “sexually sadistic serial killer.”
Smith had been investigated in Sherry’s case early on but appeared to have an alibi — he’d been on the road at the time, working as a long haul trucker. Cold case investigators thought they’d be able to rule him out completely, but soon realized that they couldn’t. Despite being on the road at the time, they soon learned Smith had actually been stopped by police in nearby Silverton on the night Sherry went missing, putting him just 15 miles away from Salem. When investigators visited Smith in prison in late 2006, he confessed to Sherry’s murder.
According to Smith, he and an accomplice named Roger Noseff wanted to kidnap a Domino’s employee for ransom. They had a specific one in mind, but Sherry was the one who delivered their pizzas. Smith ended up strangling her along the Little Pudding River and leaving her body there. The river has flooded several times since then — so if his story is true, it’s likely that there’s not much evidence left there, if any.
The day after Sherry was last seen, Roger Noseff reportedly made a ransom call to Domino’s, a detail that wasn’t made public until after Smith’s confession. Nothing was done about this at the time, but it’s not clear why. Smith also claimed Noseff was the one who ordered the pizzas. Noseff died in 2003 and, consequently, was never charged in connection with Sherry’s disappearance.
On December 18, 2007, Smith pled guilty to murdering Sherry. Under the conditions of his plea deal, he got a third life sentence. 25 years after Sherry was last seen, her murder had finally been solved.
In 2012, Smith also pled guilty in the 1981 murder of Terri Monroe. 22-year-old Terri was last seen at the Museum Tavern in Salem in February of that year. Her body was found a month later in the Willamette River. Just like Smith’s other victims, she had been strangled. He was given yet another life sentence for her murder.
Sherry Eyerly was 18 years old when she was last seen in Salem, Oregon on the night of July 4, 1982. Sherry was a white female who was 5 feet 2 inches tall and 100 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a red, white and blue Domino’s shirt and blue jeans and driving a red and white car owned by Domino’s. Sherry is no longer believed to be alive, but would be 58 years old if she was.