|Nancy Eagleson Part 5|
‘All I knew is my sister is gone’
By Paulding County Progress Staff
Part 5 of a series
Originally published Aug. 30, 2000
Sheryl Eagleson Schooley, the younger sister of slain teen Nancy Eagleson, is a wonderful grown-up who still has memories of her older sister. Sheryl was only 5 years old at the time of her sister’s murder, but her memories will be etched in her mind forever.
The night of Nov. 13, 1960, is a night she will never forget. “We had went to the movies. Nancy always held my hand when we walked places. This night was no different. We left Johnson’s Restaurant [on the square], and walked past Pelok’s building [at the corner of East Jackson Street and Flat Rock Drive].
“Yes, we went up to Pelok’s window and peeked in. I don’t know why we did, but now I think Nancy may have been stalling and thought then that we were possibly being followed.
“As we proceeded on towards home, on what is now Flat Rock Drive, we lived in the seventh house on the left hand side of the road. Now that I think about it, every thing we said was almost said in double sentences. A car was approaching us from behind. He was following us kind of slow, and I clung tighter to Nancy’s hand and said, ‘Nancy, someone is following us.’ Nancy replied, ‘Shhhh!’ I said again, ‘Nancy, someone is following us.’ Again Nancy said, ‘Shhhhhhh.’
“About that time, the man rolled down the window, pulled over to the side, and said, ‘You girls need a ride home?’ Nancy said, ‘No, we are almost home.’ The man still insisted, ‘Do you girls need a ride home?’ Nancy said again, ‘No, we are almost there.’
“He jumped out of the car and grabbed Nancy. She struggled, and then I smelled something like a chemical. I jumped up at the man, but he flung me aside, and I went to the ground. The last I saw my sister alive, she was in the back seat of a big car, with her head back against the seat like she was knocked out.
“I was frightened. After all, it was night, someone had taken my sister, and I was crying and trembling. I ran up to John and Betty Larson’s house. I just went running in and said, ‘Someone took my sister.’ We then proceeded to get into the car, and that is when we found Nancy’s purse in the road.
“I did see the man, and could only describe him as a big man with glasses. He was wearing a white shirt, and looked as if he just got out of church. When did the man start following us? I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that it was when we left Johnson’s.
“All I knew at that time, is my sister was gone. My sister to me was like a second mom. We were very close, and she was very protective of me. The rest of my life has been one of not knowing.
“I feel like this,” Sheryl relates, “I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t know what happened. Everyone seems to know but us.”
This interview is the first and only ever granted by Sheryl. She has supported the idea of this series on the unsolved crime. “I wanted the story to come out,” she says. “There are so many different stories, so much wrong information.”
However, no one seems to know the whole truth.
Following the death and burial of her sister, Sheryl was placed under hypnosis. She was placed under three different times, and all she can remember of the sessions was listening about a sleepy little rabbit and a carrot.
Another method used to try and spark a 5-year-old’s recollections was that George Kerwin, who was a private investigator on the case, took Sheryl and her mother for a ride in his car all around the countryside looking for the kind of car that the kidnapper was driving. They went every Wednesday for many weeks, but that car was never found.
The trauma of the incident left Sheryl with nightmares when she was younger. “I had the same nightmares every night,” she says. The family would go into the laundromat, then they would start running down the street. Sheryl would stop Nancy, push her against a brick wall and ask, “Nancy, who killed you?” Nancy would just smile and fade into the wall.
Sheryl attributes the dreams to fear, and the pressure of wanting to know the identity of her sister’s killer. She was asking Nancy because “she was the only one who knew.”
Sheryl grew up and became the mother of three daughters. She admits that she was very overprotective of her oldest child. “When she went somewhere, I’d make her call when she got there. I knew what in five minutes could happen.” She still lives with fear for the safety of her own family, which prevents her from undergoing hypnosis again. Sheryl says, “Someone out there knows the answer.” She also believes the killer could still be alive.
Sheryl wants to share these memories of Nancy:
“I remember she was like a second mom, and baby-sat for me.
“I remember she always held my hand when we walked places.
“I remember her taking me for bike rides and going for ice cream cones.
“I remember her pulling me uptown in a red wagon. We would go buy licorice. Nancy liked the black, and I liked the red.
“I remember she always smelled like Jergens lotion.
“I loved to watch her roll up her hair in these pink curlers.
“She used to cut grapes in half, take out the seeds, and I would sneak them.
“I remember the father’s day we bought Dad a pair of matching ashtrays, and we each held them behind our backs, and walked out and gave them to him.
“These are some of the fondest memories of my sister that I saw abducted before my very eyes.”
She says she has been asked countless times, but doesn’t know if she could recognize the man responsible. “I wish we could find out who. I had hoped he would confess, so we could have closure.”
If Sheryl could meet her sister’s killer today, what would she say, and what would she do?
Sheryl replies, “If he was remorseful, I’d forgive, but I’d want to know ‘Why?’”
But she goes on, “God knows who he is, and God will eventually punish him in His way.” But his life would not bring back Nancy.
Next: In the sixth and final part of this series, some of the family’s troubling and odd experiences since the murder will be recounted.
Case not closed
A former policeman tells his story
By Paulding County Progress Staff
George Clemens, a Paulding High school graduate, was a member of the Paulding Police Department from 1989-1995. It was at a summer job at Stokelys where he met Bettie Eagleson, and became interested in the Nancy Eagleson case. His goal was to try and help put some closure to the murder, and to also help the family in some way. When Clemens was on the police force, he explored every avenue to try and get answers to some puzzling questions.
Clemens says, “I honestly believe that to this day, that Paulding County law enforcers did do all they could do, for that time period, to solve the crime.” He adds, “They did not have the technology that we have today. DNA testing was not available then, which would have greatly enabled them to solve the murder.”
Clemens’ own 11-year investigation has led him to narrow the suspects down to two people.
He has carefully followed the trail of a known sex offender who was in Defiance the night of the killing. The man had been spotted earlier that day in a Defiance bar, acting strangely. Following the murder, this suspect was questioned twice by the sheriff’s department, and let go for lack of evidence. At the present time, the man is back in prison, and he does have a long history of criminal activity. George has a list of all the crimes, and dates, this man has been charged with. This suspect would also fit the description of the killer. Clemens has mug shots from the 1960s and a current picture of the man.
The other suspect Clemens feels may have an answer, is a local man who is still in the area.
George also said that on the night of the abduction, two women were driving their car to the old hospital, and claimed to see the automobile in question. These women are now deceased. Clemens, too, believes that someone out there knows something or possibly observed something the night of Nov. 13, 1960.
One thing Clemens had heard about was a gun found in a tree stump in 1984 or 1985, by a man cutting firewood. It was located in the same woods where Eagleson was killed. It was just another strange coincidence. But how did the gun get there, and why was it in a tree stump?
Clemens says he has been told by some prominent folks to “back off.” A former county sheriff also told him that as far as he was concerned, this case is closed. Clemens notes, “Homicide in the State of Ohio is never officially closed, of course, unless it is solved.”
Why does Clemens think he was told not to try and investigate this case? “I believe that a crime so violent as this, just doesn’t happen in our community. The younger people don’t remember it, and the older folks would rather not recall it,” he says. “However, it did happen, and my intensity to work on this case returns whenever I think of what happened to that little girl.”
Clemens would also like to see some closure put on this 40-year-old case, and still spends free time investigating leads. His sincere hope is that this crime will be solved, so that the Eaglesons and Nancy can find peace.
To read the rest of this article please subscribe or sign in