top of page
  • Writer's pictureMountain State Mysteries

WHAT HAPPENED TO ANGELA CHERICE GWINN STEPHENS?


THE CASE WE HAVE FOR YOU TODAY HAS BEEN OUR MOST REQUESTED CASE SINCE THE BEGINNING OF MOUNTAIN STATE MYSTERIES. IT’S THE CASE OF ANGELA CHERICE GWINN STEPHENS. A CASE THAT COURTNEY AND I HAVE GROWN UP HEARING ABOUT. A CASE THAT TOOK PLACE JUST MILES AWAY FROM US. A CASE THAT WE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE WISHED WE HAD THE HAD THE ANSWERS TO.


ANGELA CHERICE GWINN WAS BORN ON JUNE 27, 1970

TO THOMAS AND SHERRY GWINN. TO HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS, SHE WENT BY CHERICE SO FROM HERE WE ARE GOING TO CALL HER CHERICE.

HER FAMILY DESCRIBED HER AS A BEAUTIFUL BABY WHO GREW UP TO BE A PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN. WITH BLONDE HAIR AND BLUE EYES, AT 5-FOOT-3 INCHES TALL AND 110 POUNDS, SHE WAS SMALL FOR HER SIZE BUT SOLIDLY BUILT.


CHERICE ATTENDED MOUNT HOPE HIGH SCHOOL, SHE ENJOYED PLAYING THE PIANO AND PARTICIPATING IN SCHOOL SPORTS WHERE SHE WAS HEAD MAJORETTE.

THOMAS GWINN SR. SAID THAT HIS DAUGHTER HAD NO HISTORY OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS, EMOTIONAL OR PHYSICAL.

CHERIE’S FRIENDS BELIEVED THE GWINNS WERE VERY GOOD TO THEIR DAUGHTER AND SAID THEY GAVE HER EVERYTHING SHE WANTED. FAMILY MEMBERS SAID THEY SPOILED HER. AS SHE GREW OLDER, SHE BECAME MORE SELF-CENTERED AND DEVELOPED A TASTE FOR NICE CLOTHES, NEW CARS, GOLD JEWELRY AND TRIPS TO MYRTLE BEACH SOUTH CAROLINA.


CHERICE WAS POPULAR IN SCHOOL AND VOTED BEST DRESSED BY CLASSMATES HER SENIOR YEAR AT MOUNT HOPE HIGH. HER FRIENDS DESCRIBED HER AS AN INDEPENDENT, OUTGOING AND PERSISTENT PERSON. THEY SAID SHE WAS GOOD HEARTED BUT HAD A BAD TEMPER.


IN JUNE OF 1988, SHE GRADUATED FROM MOUNT HOPE HIGH SCHOOL, WENT TO DURHAM, N.C. AND GOT A JOB AT A CHIROPRACTOR'S OFFICE.

SHERRY GWINN SAID SHE RETURNED HOME FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS LATER AND STARTED WORKING FOR AN OAK HILL CHIROPRACTOR.


IN 1989 CHERICE ENLISTED IN THE U.S. NAVY, BUT AGGRAVATED AN OLD INJURY AND WAS DISCHARGED. NOT TOO LONG AFTER HER RETURN HOME SHE STARTED TO WORK AT SPARTAN SPORTSWEAR AT CROSSROADS MALL AS AN ASSISTANT FOR CO-OWNER JIM TANNER.

CHERICE WORKED IN THE BUSINESS OFFICE, SHE WAS SMART AND QUICK TO LEARN WHEN THE STORE ADAPTED TO A NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM TANNER SAID THAT SHE HELPED SET UP THE AUTOMATED INVENTORY.


WHILE WORKING AT SPARTAN’S CHERICE MET HER FUTURE HUSBAND NORMAN STEPHENS DURING HALLOWEEN IN 1991.

HE CAME IN THE STORE TO MAKE A DELIVERY, SAW HER DRESSED AS DOLLY PARTON, AND ASKED HER OUT AND CONTINUED TO SEE HER AFTER THAT.

FRIENDS OF CHERICE SAID THAT ONCE CHERICE AND NORMAN WERE MARRIED ON MAY 2ND, 1992, THEY RARELY HEARD FROM HER.


THE COUPLE STUDIED KARATE AND ENJOYED RIDING JET SKIS AT SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE IN VIRGINIA. WHERE NORMAN’S FAMILY OWNED A CABIN. THEY ALSO ENJOYED TRAVELING TO CHARLOTTE NORTH CAROLINA ON THE WEEKENDS AND WOULD TRAVEL TO DAYTONA BEACH IN FLORIDA FOR VACATION.

THEY WOULD END UP MOVING INTO A HOUSE ON NORMAN’S FAMILIES 98 ACRE FARM. THEY WOULD ALSO ATTEND BRECKENRIDGE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN BOLT.


AT WORK TANNER OBSERVED SOME TENSION BETWEEN CHARICE AND ANOTHER EMPLOYEE. HE SAID HE TRIED TO GET THEM TO WORK IT OUT BUT FAILED.

CHERICE ENDED UP LEAVING IN DECEMBER OF 1992 TO ATTEND THE COLLEGE OF WEST VIRGINIA.


BY AUGUST 30TH, CHERICE STARTED TO DROP CLASSES. THE LAST ONE WAS DROPPED ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1993.. JUST TWO DAYS BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED. HER REASONING FOR DROPPING CLASSES WAS THAT THEY JUST DIDN’T FIT INTO HER SCHEDULE.

LATER THAT DAY A FAMILY MEMBER SAW HER FOR THE LAST TIME, THEY SAID SHE ACTED LIKE NOTHING WAS WRONG.

ON OCTOBER 1ST CHERICE DROVE NORMAN TO WORK IN THE COUPLES 93 DODGE DAYTONA.

SHE DROPPED NORMAN OFF AT UPS ON INDUSTRIAL DRIVE IN BECKLEY.

SOMETIME AFTER SHE DROPPED NORMAN OFF, SHE PICKED HER FRIEND PAULA HAGER FOR LUNCH.

DURING LUNCH CHERICE ASKED PAULA IF SHE COULD MOVE IN WITH HER AND SHE SAID YES.


AFTER LUNCH WE AREN’T SURE WHAT CHERICE DID. MAYBE SHE RAN SOME ERRANDS, MAYBE SHE WENT HOME TO PACK UP SOME OF HER THINGS.

IN EARLY OCTOBER NORMAN INFORMED HER FAMILY THAT CHERICE LEFT HIM.

HE SAID THAT SHE HAD TAKEN HIM TO WORK AND SHE DIDN’T COME BACK AND GET HIM.

SHERRY GWINN SAID

(QUOTE)

“HE HAD TO GET ANOTHER RIDE HOME. HE TOLD ME THAT SHE WAS GONE AND HE DIDN’T KNOW WHERE SHE WAS AT.”

(END QUOTE)


THE FAMILY ENDED UP DOING SOME INVESTIGATING OF THEIR OWN BUT TURNED UP NOTHING. AS TIME WENT ON HER FAMILY STARTED TO GROW CONCERNED AND NEEDED ANSWERS.

FINALLY, SHERRY GWINN FILED A MISSING PERSON REPORT WITH THE RALEIGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.


WHEN OFFICERS CAME TO QUESTION HIM, NORMAN TOLD THEM CHERICE FAILED TO PICK HIM UP AFTER WORK, HE SAID THAT A CO-WORKER DROVE HIM HOME, BUT NEVER PROVIDED THE NAME OF WHO IT WAS.

HE SAID THAT CHERICE CALLED HIM LATER AND SAID SHE WAS IN An UNDISCLOSED OUT-OF-STATE LOCATION AND THAT SHE WAS NEVER COMING BACK.

DURING THIS TIME TWO LEADS TURNED OUT TO BE DEAD ENDS. ONE WAS A POSSIBLE SIGHTING AT OPRYLAND USA IN NASHVILLE, TN. AND THE OTHER INVOLVED A WOMAN WITH A SIMILAR NAME IN VIRGINIA.


CHERICE’S NAME AND DESCRIPTION WERE ENTERED INTO A DATABASE AT THE NATIONAL CRIME INFORMATION CENTER IN WASHINGTON TO ASSIST THE SEARCH.


FRUSTRATED WITH THE WAY THE CASE WAS BEING HANDLED THE GWINN FAMILY ASKED FOR THE STATE POLICE TO TAKE OVER.


NORMAN WAS QUESTIONED AGAIN AND FOR THE SECOND TIME HE DECLINED A POLYGRAPH TEST.

BOTH INVESTIGATIONS INCLUDED A SEARCH OF SEVERAL COMPUTER DATABASES INCLUDING THE INTERNET (WHICH IN THE 90’S WAS STILL NEW) INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE AND SOCIAL SECURITY WHICH BOTH SHOWED NOTHING.


OFFICER BROOKS SAID

(QUOTE)

“SHE’S NOT PAYING TAXES ON ANYTHING.

SHE’S NOT BEEN IN A HOSPITAL ANYWHERE THAT WE KNOW ABOUT. SOCIAL SECURITY, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE… WE’VE CHECKED ALL OF THOSE PLACES, AND SINCE 1993 SHE DOESN’T EXIST ON PAPER ANYWHERE”

(END QUOTE)


SUSPECTING FOUL PLAY, BROOKS COORDINATED A SEARCH OF THE FORMER COUPLES RURAL RESIDENCE AND ADJOINING 98-ACRE FARM WITH DOGS TRAINED TO DETECT CADAVERS. NOT A TRACE WAS FOUND OTHER THAN THE SAME FALSE LEADS.



DURING THIS INTERVIEW NORMAN ALSO TOLD OFFICERS HOW THEIR 93 DODGE DAYTONA JUST REAPPEARED IN THE PARKING LOT OF UPS ON NOV 1ST, 1993.

HE SOLD IT LATER THAT MONTH.


(QUOTE)

“THE KEYS WERE OVER THE SUNVISOR AND NOBODY AROUND”

(END QUOTE)


NORMAN TOLD OFFICERS HE WAS ABSOLUTELY SURE THAT THIS WAS THE LAST TIME HE EVER HAD CONTACT WITH HER.

THIS WOULD BE THE LAST TIME THEY EVER GOT TO TALK TO NORMAN. HE REFUSED A POLYGRAPH (WHICH TO ME ISN’T ANYTHING BAD. THEY ARE ADMISSIBLE IN COURT AND REALLY CAN’T BE USED. SO, NORMAN BASICALLY LAWYERED UP AND SHUT UP.



YOU MIGHT BE ASKING YOURSELF HOW DOES A CAR JUST REAPPEAR AND NO ONE WOULD SEE HER? THAT WE AREN’T SURE ABOUT.

BUT WE DO KNOW THAT AFTER NORMAN SOLD THE CAR TO A MAN IN CHARLESTON THAT OFFICERS ACTUALLY TRACKED IT DOWN AND PUT IT IN THEIR IMPOUND LOT. WE CAN ALSO CONFIRM THAT IT’S IN THEIR IMPOUND LOT AND THAT IT WAS BEEN SEARCHED. THE INSIDE IS COMPLETELY TORN APART AND THE PASSENGER MIRROR IS BROKE.



YOU MIGHT BE ASKING YOURSELF HOW DO THEY KNOW IT’S HER CAR? WELL FROM A PICTURE THAT YOU CAN SEE ON OUR INSTAGRAM AND WEBSITE MOUNTAINS STATE MYSTERIES. COM

YOU CAN SEE THAT ON THE PASSENGER SIDE OF THE TRUNK THERE IS A FRIENDS OF COAL STICKER ON IT. THE CAR HAD THAT SICKER AND THE SAME RIMS.

THE ONLY QUESTION WE HAVE ABOUT THAT CAR IS WHY WOULD IT HAVE A 2010 STICKER ON IT?

IT COULD BE DUE TO THE FACT THAT 2010 IS THE YEAR THE OFFICERS WERE ABLE TO FIND THE CAR OR THAT IT COULD JUST HAVE IT FOR A DIFFERENT REASON.

EVEN THOUGH NORMAN DIDN’T REPORT CHERICE MISSING TO AUTORTIES, HE DID FILE FOR DIVORCE ON OCT 27, 1993, JUST 26 DAYS AFTER HER DISAPPEARANCE. ACCORDING TO COURT DOCUMENTS, THE UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WAS FINALIZED FEBUARY 14, 1994.


JUST DOWN THE ROAD FROM WHERE NORMAN AND CHERICE LIVED THE BRECKENRIDGE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH WAS UNDER CONSTRUCTION TO BUILD A NEW ADDITION ONTO THE CHURCH. DURING THIS TIME THE CONSTRUCTION SITE WAS OPEN. NOT TOO LONG AFTER THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CHERICE THAT PART OF THE PARKING LOT WAS PAVED OVER.

A YEAR LATER THE GWINN FAMILY AND POLICE ASKED TO SEARCH THE CHURCH AND THE OLD SEPTIC TANK.



“DEAR MEMBERS OF BRECKENRIDGE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH,

WE THE GWINN FAMILY AND FRIENDS ARE LOOKING FOR ANGELA “CHERICE” GWINN STEPHENS. AT THE TIME OF HER DISAPPEARANCE, SHE WAS LIVING IN THIS AREA AND HAD GONE TO THIS CHURCH. SHE HAS BEEN MISSING FOR ALMOST 12 YEARS. WE NEED YOUR HELP IN GETTING CLOSURE ON THIS MATTER.


THE REASON FOR THIS LETTER IS THE GWINN FAMILY AND FRIENDS WOULD LIKE TO PROVIDE A FREE SERVICE TO YOUR CHURCH. WE HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE THERE ARE SOME CLUES TO HER WHEREABOUTS IN THE SEPTIC TANK LOCATED IN YOUR PARKING LOT. WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE THIS TANK CLOSED OUT SO WE CAN LOOK FOR THESE CLUES. WE WOULD USED LICENSED AND TRAINED PROFESSIONALS ALONG WITH THE PROPER AUTHORITIES TO DO THIS.

PLEASE HELP US GET THE CLOSURE IN THIS MATTER WE MEAN NO HARM TO YOUR CHURCH. IF WE FIND NOTHING THEN NO HARM DONE AND WE APPRECIATE YOUR HELP.

JUST ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE WOULD BE TAKEN CARE OF.

IF THIS WAS YOUR DAUGHTER, SISTER, OR FRIEND WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW?

WE ARE ASKING THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH TO PLEASE HELP.”


NOW WE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. THE CHURCH LET THEM SEARCH THE OLD SEPTIC TANK. WELL SADLY THEY DIDN’T. MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH ENDED UP HAVING A CLOSED-DOOR MEETING WHICH INCLUDED PASTOR DEWEY LOWE AND TOM HARMON…. TOM IS THE UNCLE OF NORMAN AND WAS THE NEIGHBOR OF CHERICE AND NORMAN.


SADLY, THERE WOULD BE NO SEARCH OF THE CHURCH FOR YEARS.


AS THE YEARS WENT ON THOMAS GWINN NEVER GAVE UP LOOKING FOR HIS DAUGHTER. SADLY IN 2008 HE PASSED AWAY HE SAID

(QUOTE)

WHEN I ENTER HEAVEN… I'LL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.”


IN MARCH OF 2010 OFFICERS WOULD OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT FOR A OLD COAL MINING STORE ON GLENVIEW ROAD IN CRAB ORCHARD, THAT WAS OWNED BY NORMANS BROTHER, MICHAEL.

CADAVER DOGS WOULD END UP FINDING A BONE AND OFFICERS WOULD SEND IT TO THE SMITHSONIAN IN WASHINGTON D.C…

HOWEVER, IT WAS JUST AN ANIMAL BONE.


THE SEARCH WAS DONE ON A MONDAY AND BY WEDNESDAY POLICE HAD DEMOLISHED THE BUILDING DEEMING IT UNSAFE.

WHICH I REMEMBER SEEING THE BUILDING WHEN I WAS A KID AND IT WAS A SKETCHY LOOKING BUILDING.

IN MAY OF 2014 Raleigh County Commissioners addressed a variety of issues Tuesday morning, including the end of a sad chapter of the area’s history.

FROM THE MEETING NOTES ONLINE A PETITION FOR PRESUMPTION OF DEATH OF ANGELA CHERRICE GWINN STEPHENS WAS PRESENTED.

A MOTION WAS MADE BY COMMISSIONER EPLING TO APPROVE THE PETITION FOR THE PRESUMPTION OF DEATH ANGELA CHERICE GWINN STEPHENS. SECOND BY COMMISSIONER REED AND MOTION CARRIED.


Dave Tolliver, commission president, said Tuesday that State Police have exhausted all leads in their search for Stephens.


FINALLY IN 2017 A SEARCH OF PROPERTY OF BRECKENRIDGE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH WAS FINALLY CONDUCTED.


IN AN ARTICLE BY JESSICA FERRISH FOR THE REGISTER HERALD

THOMAS GWINN JR SAID

(QUOTE)

“We would thank the BMBC for letting this go forward — just another potential place illuminated,” “This was not our first search and will not be our last.

“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another.”

(END QUOTE)


Under the agreement, Gwinn said, church members allowed the family to access an old septic tank, located underneath the church parking lot.

GWINN SAID

(QUOTE)

“I don’t believe she ran off,”

“I believe somebody killed her.”

(END QUOTE)


Gwinn said that, during a 1997 search of the Stephens’ farm by cadaver dogs, the dogs “hit” on a spot, but no remains were discovered.

“It just kind of brought up the suspicions that (Cherice’s killer) could’ve maybe put her in that septic tank at the church, because at the time, it was under construction,” he had said, prior to the Monday search. “They may have moved her there.”

He said that he is dedicated to finding his sister, despite the fruitless church property search.

AS OF 2014 CHERICE’S CASE HAS BEEN A HOMICIDE CASE.

THERE’S FEW THINGS POPPING UP HERE AND THERE WITH HER CASE. AS OF RIGHT NOW IT’S STILL AND OPEN CASE AND WE DO BELIEVE THAT ANSWERS EVERYONE HAS WILL BE ANSWERED.


THE GWINN FAMILY IS OFFERING A 1k CASH REWARD UP TO 5K FOR ANY INFORMATION HELPING SOLVE THE MURDER OF CHERICE. THE GWINN FAMILY ALSO HAS A PO BOX SET UP FOR INFORMATION TO BE SENT TO THEM.

PO BOX 131 GLEN JEAN WV 25846


OR YOU CAN CONTACT CRIME STOPPERS OF WV AT

(304)255-7867


YOU CAN ALSO EMAIL US AT

MOUNTAINSTATEMYSTERIES304@GMAIL.COM










39 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

WHO KILLED LEAH HICKMAN?

LEAH HICKMAN WAS BORN ON NOVEMBER 22ND 1986, IN POINT PLEASANT, WEST VIRGINIA, TO RONALD L. HICKMAN AND SHERRY J (COLE) RUSSELL. LEAH GREW UP IN LEON WEST VIRGINIA. WHEN LEAH WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL SHE PL

bottom of page