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Woman claims to be Pennsylvania girl who vanished 39 years ago

Left, Cherrie Mahan at age 8. Right, a rendering of what Mahan may look like in 2024. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The mother of Cherrie Mahan, an 8-year-old girl who disappeared from a Pennsylvania bus stop in 1985, has been left devastated by an online post from a woman who says she is her long-lost daughter.

The claim was made in May on a Facebook group dedicated to memories of Mahan, reported Pennsylvania newspaper the Butler Eagle.

On May 31, Mahan’s mother Janice McKinney replied to the since-deleted post and maintained she did not believe the woman was her daughter. McKinney said she reached out to Pennsylvania State Police about the claims.

“I talked to the police. They are investigating,” McKinney wrote on Facebook. “This is very hard on me so please be aware I see everything.”

The woman has since been banned from the Facebook group. The moderator of the page, Brock Organ, said the woman should contact police and seek DNA testing, rather than “reaching out to people online and making aggressive claims.”

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Organ accused the woman of “harassing and bullying” other members of the Facebook group. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police told the Butler Eagle they have not had contact with the woman claiming to be Mahan.

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McKinney told the newspaper the woman “did not look anything like Cherrie at all.” Still, McKinney said, she truly believes the woman thought she was Mahan.

“People are mean, they are cruel, but this affects me really crazy [sic],” McKinney said of the claim.

CBS affiliate KDKA said the Pennsylvania police are collaborating with an out-of-state agency to identify the woman who claimed to be Mahan. The police and outside agency are still searching for her. The newspaper reported three other women have come forward over the years, claiming to be Mahan.

Mahan was last seen at a bus stop at the end of her long driveway in Winfield Township, Penn., on Feb. 22, 1985. The stop was about 100 yards from her home.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said a bright blue 1976 Dodge van with a mural of a mountain and a skier is believed to be linked to Mahan’s disappearance.

There have been no signs of Mahan since her disappearance.

Mahan’s missing person case is active and not considered cold, despite nearly 40 years having passed since her disappearance. Her family holds onto hope that she will be found.

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Anyone with information about Mahan’s whereabouts is encouraged to call Pennsylvania police at 724-284-8100 or contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at missingkids.org.

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