Disappearance of Oklahoma mother remains a mystery more than two decades later

Andrea Cavallier

Sherryl Jacquot always wore red lipstick. She wore her long, dark hair teased and hair sprayed as high as possible. Her designer cowgirl, bootcut jeans were always starched so stiff they could stand up on their own.

It was the early 1990s, and Sherryl’s young daughter, Lindsey, sat by her side, looking on with admiration as her mother carefully applied her makeup like an artist. She was fascinated by her mother's beauty.

Sherryl Jacquot

“I loved watching her as she was getting ready to go out,” Lindsey told Dateline. “She always wore red lipstick. And wore her hair real big. She had an affinity for the finer things in life. Even when things got bad. Even when she didn’t have money.”

Lindsey Long was only seven years old when she moved from Sallisaw, Oklahoma to live with her father in Pennsylvania. A couple of years later, Lindsey moved back with her mother. But it didn't last long.

Lindsey told Dateline her mother's boyfriend at the time was abusive and that her home life was not safe anymore. Sherryl also had an older son and daughter, who was younger than Lindsey. Both went to live with other family members.

Lindsey moved back to Pennsylvania to live with her half-sister, Wenda Butler, who raised her.

The years passed and as Lindsey entered her teenage years, she and her mother drifted. But on July 3, 1999, at age 14, Lindsey decided she wanted to call her.

“We didn’t have her number so I called my gram to find out how to reach her,” Lindsey said. “She gave me a number and I called. But I never got the chance to speak to my mom that day.”

Lindsey’s grandmother, Martha Purves, who is Sherryl’s mother, had given her the number to a local grocery store in the town of Stilwell, Oklahoma, near where Sherryl was living at the time.

Sherryl didn’t have a phone, so she made and received calls from the store.

Later that same day, Sherryl called her mother from an unknown number in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She told Martha she would be heading back to Oklahoma City to repay money she had borrowed just a week earlier.

But Sherryl never made it to her mother’s house and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Wenda, who stayed in contact with Martha throughout the years as she was raising Lindsey, told Dateline that Sherryl was last seen by Martha and her sister Judie at Martha’s house on June 23, 1999, just a week before she disappeared.

“She went to her mom’s house to borrow money,” Wenda said, about that day in June. “And from what we were told, she showed up in pretty bad shape. Sherryl believed in always looking your best, so it was unusual for her to show up unkempt like she did on June 23. And she was injured.”

Wenda told Dateline that Sherryl told her mother and her sister that she had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and had stumbled into a glass-top coffee table.

“She had a big cut on her back, like a flap of skin. It needed stitches,” Wenda said. “And she had a really bad cut on her foot. Her mom told her to go to the hospital. But she refused.”

Martha, who is now 91 years old, has expressed to her family that she wished she had made Sherryl seek medical attention that day.

“It’s killing her every day,” Lindsey said. “And we've been fighting hard for years for answers. But there’s no closure for her. For any of us. Not yet.”

Months passed without any word from Sherryl. Her family told Dateline it wasn’t unusual for them not to hear from Sherryl for long periods of time, but eventually they would.

"Sherryl had a grand laugh and laughed often," Wenda said of how she remembers Sherryl. "She had an infectious personality. She had a lighthearted approach to life, that it would eventually all work out."

Wenda said Sherryl loved the racetrack and was known around the racetrack scene.

"Sherryl believed in a hard days work and was not afraid to work laborious hours in caring for her animals or the farm she once lived on," Wenda added.

Her family said Sherryl had hit a rough spot in life, and started hanging around the “wrong crowd” in an area Wenda said was known for drug trafficking.

“Something just changed in the years prior and she was with some not-so-great people. But she was a spitfire and independent and just lived life her own way,” Wenda told Dateline. “She knew how to handle herself. So we just figured she was OK.”

But in January of 2000, her mother received a call from a family friend who owned a ranch nearby. He offered his condolences because he heard Sherryl was dead.

The rumor prompted her family to search for Sherryl, but when she couldn’t be reached, they reported her missing to the Adair County Sheriff’s Department.

Sherryl's sister, Cande, and her then-husband, Charles “Bill” Graham, who lived in the area, showed up to the last known address for Sherryl, a trailer on Highway 100 in Stilwell, Oklahoma.

Wenda said they were told by Cande that when they arrived, a couple of dogs, who the sister believed to belong to Sherryl, came running up to them and acted like they hadn’t eaten in a long time.

"I was told her trailer was dilapidated and it was obvious someone hadn’t been there in a long time," Wenda said, adding that the condition of the trailer was unusual. "It’s not a place she would live.”

The vehicle Sherryl’s was known to drive, a rusty red or light brown Datsun-style pickup truck, was also missing. But her personal belongings were all left behind.

"Discovering she was missing was a surprise to the family because of her strong-willed spirit," Wenda said. "Everybody believed she could take care of herself and unfortunately we believe she met with the wrong kind of evil. Her life did a complete spin when she became involved with some shady actors."

Deputies with the Adair County Sheriff’s Department launched a weeks-long search around the area of Stilwell, but there was no trace of Sherryl. The case has since been turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Unit.

Vicky Lyons, a former investigator with the unit worked on the case for years. She now works part-time as an investigator with the Adair County District Attorney’s Office, dedicating her time to cold cases like Sherryl’s.

“We have a lot of missing people in this area,” Lyons told Dateline. “And many fall by the wayside because of current ones. It becomes more difficult after so many years have passed. But we haven’t given up on finding Sherryl.”

Lyons told Dateline that she believes Sherryl is missing under suspicious circumstances.

“It was unusual for her to go weeks without communicating with her family, but after months it became apparent that something was wrong. Her disappearance is most definitely suspicious,” Lyons said. She added that Sherryl was involved in a crowd known for its drug activity and there were reports of domestic abuse in her relationship.

Lyons said she continues to work on Sherryl’s case and follows up on every tip that comes in, with the hope one will lead to the answers and closure they have been looking for.

“Any bit of information could help,” she said.

Sherryl’s family is also convinced foul play was involved in her disappearance because of the crowd with which she was involved.

“At this point, we’re looking for a body,” Wenda said. “We don’t think she’s alive. But we still want closure.”

Sherryl’s daughter, Lindsey, Lindsey’s older half-sisters, Wenda Butler and Barbara Shade, and other members of the family, have dedicated the past two decades to finding answers.

“It’s been 21 years and this is what we’re dealing with,” Wenda said. “I know we have come across someone who knows what happened to her. But now we just need that person to come forward.”

A Facebook Page “Missing: Sherryl Lynn Jacquot - Stilwell, OK” was created to bring awareness to Sherryl’s case and as a place for tips to be shared.

Sherryl Jacquot and John

Sherryl’s daughter, Lindsey, is now married and has a son, who is 7 years old, the same age she was the last time she lived with her mother.

“He’s so young. I can’t imagine something like that happening to him,” Lindsey said. “He even asks about her. He asks, ‘How did she just disappear?’ And that’s the same question we ask every day. But we’re resilient. We’re tough. My dad used to always tell me that I’m just like her when I get mad. The same spitfire.”

Lindsey said she treasures the memories she has of her mom, like her artistic ability when she drew Snow White on her bedroom wall, and her patience and determination in teaching her how to ride horses.

But her memories end there.

“Someone took away my mom. She wasn’t there for my proms, my wedding or the birth of my child,” Lindsey said. “I’ve felt the loss for so many years. I just try to live in the now. We’d just like to find her so we can put her to rest.”

At the time of her disappearance, Sherryl was described as being 5'8” tall, 125 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. She is of Native American descent. Sherryl has a Harley tattoo on her left forearm and a Harley wings tattoo on her right hip. She would be 63 years old today.

Anyone with information that could help solve Sherryl’s case is asked to call the Adair County District Attorney’s tip line at (918) 772-7568 or the OSBI Cold Case Unit at (405) 330-6724, or by email at cold.case@osbi.ok.gov.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.