Hamilton cold case: friend reveals Sheryl Sheppard had a change of heart over Lavoie's proposal

Sheryl Sheppard, a missing Hamilton woman who vanished almost two decades ago, allegedly told a friend, following her boyfriend's proposal which she accepted, that she was going to tell him 'no' after all. These and other revelations come to light in episode 12.

Spoiler alert: This article contain details from this week's Episode 12.

Michael Lavoie, right, was recently engaged to Sheryl Sheppard, left, before she disappeared on Jan. 2, 1998. In the most recent episode of CBC's Someone Knows Something, creator David Ridgen attempts to speak directly with Michael Lavoie, the primary suspect in Sheppard's disappearance.

Sheryl Sheppard, a missing Hamilton woman who vanished almost two decades ago, allegedly told a friend following her boyfriend's proposal, that she was going to change her mind and tell him 'no' after all.

That revelation is one of several that are part of Monday's episode 12 of Someone Knows Something, a CBC true crime podcast whose second season has been devoted to investigating Sheppard's  case. This episode is a balancing point for the series, where there are some big revelations, says host and investigator Dave Ridgen.

Sheryl Sheppard was 29 when she disappeared around Jan. 2, 1998. She'd been at a New Year's Eve party two days before with her boyfriend Michael Lavoie, who'd proposed there, on live TV. She said yes.

Later, Lavoie claimed he dropped her off at a hotel in Niagara Falls, where he said she would be working as an exotic dancer. Sheppard was never seen again.

The "alley" at the former Concord Hotel in Niagara Falls, ON, where Michael Lavoie says he dropped Sheryl Sheppard off on the evening of Friday January 2nd, 1998. (Photo by David Ridgen)

In this week's episode, the 12th in the season, a friend of Sheppard's reveals publicly for the first time that she spoke to Sheryl on the phone just hours after Michael Lavoie's New Year's Eve marriage proposal.

The friend claims Sheppard told her she was planning to tell Michael she couldn't marry him. She also claims She told her she was planning to tell Michael this in a public place so he wouldn't "flip out," because he had a temper.

This friend also says that Michael "had a bad habit" of grabbing Sheppard by the throat when they would get into an argument or a fight and that Sheppard was a little afraid of him. 

The episode also involves a search throughout the locations where police and volunteers have searched for Sheppard.

And finally, the episode features creator David Ridgen's attempt to speak to Michael Lavoie directly.

Catching up

If you're behind on episodes in the series, here's some of what you've missed recently:

In Episode 9: The Appearance of Force, Gerald Davidson, speaking to the media for the first time, reveals that he witnessed violence between Sheryl and Mike. In one instance, just weeks before Sheryl disappeared, Davidson says he saw Mike grab Sheryl by the throat and lift her nearly off her feet in the underground parking garage at 851 Queenston Road. Davidson claims he heard Mike threaten Sheryl, "If you keep f--king around with me... something's going to happen to you." Police have never heard about this verbal threat before.

Episode 10: Mom featured Pat Lavoie, Michael Lavoie's mother, speaking to the media for the first time and revealing that she received a suicide note from Michael that he mailed to her prior to entering the storage locker.

Episode 11: Blackmail featured the following:

  • A number of witnesses (a friend, Sheryl's aunt, her sister) reveal for the first time that Sheryl may have known that her life was in danger. In one case saying "Don't be surprised if I go missing."
  • Sheryl even took the step of giving an audio tape and possibly a letter to her sister, telling her that if anything should ever happen, the tape should be given to police.
  • Police reveal that they acted on the suicide note information from e10 and went to interview Pat Lavoie about the letter.
  • Two separate sources also reveal that Michael Lavoie may have been blackmailing Sheryl with a compromising video tape or tapes

Someone Knows Something, now in its second season, is produced new every week. It invites people who knew Sheppard and the case to submit information.

The new episode is available now. Subscribe here.