Cheryl Coker’s cause of death undetermined, but coroner suspects ‘homicidal violence'

ajc.com

Investigators don’t know how Riverside mother Cheryl Coker died, but because of the circumstances surrounding the discovery of her remains, the coroner believes “homicidal violence” was involved.

Dr. Kevin Sharrett, Greene County coroner, said his office was unable to determine Coker’s cause or manner of death.

The final autopsy results and death certificate were filed on Thursday, the same day Coker’s remains were released to her family. The report was publicly released Friday.

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“The manner and cause of death are based on the information we could put together with the skeletal remains,” Sharrett said.

Along with Coker’s remains, investigators recovered a polo shirt, pants and tennis shoes. The report states that this clothing is consistent with what Coker was wearing when she disappeared.

Because of that, and the circumstances that led to the discovery of her body, the report suggests that “the cause of death is homicidal violence” of an unknown cause.

“There is no reported history to suggest the remains were taken to the wooded area for any other purpose but to conceal the death,” the report says.

The examiner couldn’t detect trauma on her remains. There was “significant” animal activity on her remains, and several bones were missing. The forensic anthropology report done by the Forensic Anthropology Case Team at the Ohio State University said the remains had been exposed for at least one winter.

“The filing of the death certificate is certainly not the end,” Sharrett said. “This is a sad case, and hopefully more information will come to light. We certainly feel for the family and feel for their loss. We would like to see a final resolution that might give them some peace.”

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Coker’s remains were found in April off Waynesville Jamestown Road. She had been missing since October 2018.

The last time Coker was seen was when she was dropping her daughter off at school. She was reported missing by her sister. Her car was found in the parking lot of the Kroger on Spinning Road.

Surveillance video that was later released showed her car in the parking lot around 10:52 a.m. on the day of her disappearance. A person dressed in all black, who appears to have a hood pulled up, exits the vehicle and walks north in the parking lot toward Burkhardt Road.

Search warrants were executed in February 2020 in the investigation. A year before those warrants were executed, Riverside police named her husband, Bill Coker, a suspect in her case. Bill Coker has not been charged and maintains his innocence.

Investigation after her disappearance painted a picture of a troubled relationship with her husband. Shortly before she disappeared, they had filed for divorce.

Because of the circumstances surrounding Coker’s death, Sharrett’s office has asked the law enforcement agencies that continue to investigate Coker’s death to let them know if they find information that might make the manner or cause of death more clear.

“He’s (the coroner) not closing any doors,” said Bill Harden, administrator of the Greene County Coroner’s Office. “He’s not saying something violent didn’t occur, he’s not saying that. He’s saying that because what he has been given, the investigation reveals right now that it’s undetermined.”

The Riverside Police Department turned the case over to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) in June.

BCI spokesman Steven Irwin said the agency has no comment on the autopsy, but the investigation remains “open and active.” BCI encourages members of the public, if they have information about this case, to contact BCI at (855) 224-6446 or through the website.

Anyone with information pertaining to Coker’s death is urged to also contact the Riverside Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office or the Greene County Coroner’s Office.

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