Hamilton Cold Case: Sheryl Sheppard disappears and there's a clear suspect

The second season of Someone Knows Something is focusing on the 1998 disappearance of Hamiltonian Sheryl Sheppard. Episode 2 looks at the initial police investigation and the emergence of a suspect.

Episode 2 of CBC's true-crime Podcast Someone Knows Something comes Monday

Case files in the 1998 disappearance of 29-year-old Sheryl Sheppard in Hamilton, Ont. (Handout/CBC)

After the first episode of CBC's true-crime podcast Someone Knows Something aired last week, Hamiltonians approached host Dave Ridgen with new information about the case being examined: The 1998 disappearance of Sheryl Sheppard.

The Hamilton resident's disappearance, just days after accepting a marriage proposal, has never been resolved and is considered by police to be a homicide.

While last week's first episode of Someone Knows Something focused on the circumstances of Sheppard's disappearance, the second, being released Monday, will delve into the details of the investigation, some never heard before by the public

We meet one of the first officers on the scene... and we try to piece together what happened the weekend Sheryl disappeared.'- Host Dave Ridgen

Ridgen says after the Season 2 premiere, aired, a number of listeners in the Hamilton area reached out to him with tips and relevant information that may move the investigation forward.

Many questions have arisen in the years after Sheppard's disappearance, and many point at Sheppard's fiancé, Michael Lavoie, who may have been the last to see her. 

Dropped off in Niagara

Lavoie told Sheryl's mother Odette Fisher and the police that he had dropped Sheppard off at the Concord Hotel in Niagara Falls for a dancing gig on January 2, 1998, although the owner of the establishment disputes that statement.

Odette Fisher holds up a T-shirt used in raising awareness about her missing daughter, Sheryl Sheppard. (David Ridgen/CBC)

"In this second episode, we visit the storage locker where police discovered Michael Lavoie parked inside Sheryl's car, alone, overcome by exhaust fumes," says Ridgen, describing the days following Sheppard's disappearance. 

"We meet one of the first officers on the scene... and we try to piece together what happened the weekend Sheryl disappeared. Audiences will learn details from the investigation that have never been reported before."

Ridgen says the episode will also introduce the city of Hamilton as a character in Sheppard's story, before and after she disappeared.

The story resonates with many Hamilton residents who recall the investigation when it happened, and to those who formed their own theories about what may have happened.

Body of evidence

"I think if information is absent, humans like to create information that fills those gaps, to make that story make sense to them," says Ridgen. 

"It's hard, once a human has come up with a story, to change that point of view, unless you have significant evidence to the contrary. That's what we're trying to do, build a body of evidence that will help to solve the case."

One of the questions that the episode will explore, in particular, is one that has plagued the case since it captured the media's attention almost two decades ago: if the case against Lavoie was as strong as it appeared at the time, then why wasn't he charged?

The search for answers continues with Episode 2, available Monday, November 28. Subscribe here.