Season 2

Episode 9: The Appearance of Force

David takes a closer look at the New Year's Eve proposal video with a forensic psychologist and the TV host who was there that night. We also hear from people who say they witnessed violence between Michael and Sheryl first hand.
Michael Lavoie proposes to Sheryl Sheppard on live television, during a New Year's Eve special on Y95 (CHCH) on December 31, 1997. 1:42
Listen to the full episode50:05

On December 31, 1997, Michael Lavoie proposed to Sheryl Sheppard on live television during a special New Year's Eve broadcast.

The moment was witnessed by many attendees and TV viewers—and constantly replayed once Sheryl's disappearance made the news.

But one of the closest observers of the proposal was the host of the show, a DJ named Mike Richards.

Mike Richards, who hosted the New Year's Eve show where Michael Lavoie proposed to Sheryl Sheppard, is watching the tape of the proposal for the first time in years. (David Ridgen)

Richards didn't know the couple before the broadcast and forgot about them shortly thereafter.

He had no idea that Sheryl, the blonde woman who said "yes" to her boyfriend's marriage proposal on the eve of 1998, disappeared just days after the show.

Will rewatching the video refresh his memories of a surreal night 19 years earlier?

Mike Richards was one of the hosts of the New Year's Eve special in 1997, where Michael Lavoie proposed to Sheryl Sheppard. (David Ridgen)

David also has the proposal video analyzed by Stephen Porter, a forensic psychologist who specializes in behavioral analysis of microexpressions.

Porter had no previous information about the Sheppard case.

Instead, he provides a frame-by-frame analysis of the video, translating the story that he reads into the body language of Sheryl Sheppard and Michael Lavoie.

David also speaks with Kara Branton, the niece of Pam Branton (who we met in Episode 3: Blondie) and daughter of Pam's twin sister Paula, who was one of Sheryl's closest friends.

Kara remembers that Sheryl was like an aunt to her.

She also recalls some disturbing details she noticed shortly before Christmas of 1997.

Gerald Davidson outside his home in southwestern Ontario. (David Ridgen)

And  we hear from Gerald Davidson, who lived at 851 Queenston Rd. just a few floors below the apartment Sheryl, Michael and Odette shared in 1997.

Davidson is the neighbour who may have witnessed Michael Lavoie in the parking garage carrying two large garbage bags.

What was in those garbage bags?

And what else does Gerald know about the relationship between Michael and Sheryl, and the potential for violence between them?