The cold case murders of Elizabeth and Cherie Vasser - St. Louis, Missouri - December 1, 1986

In October 1986, Elizabeth Vasser (20), her daughter Cherie and husband Larry moved from Nashville, Tennessee to St. Louis. Elizabeth and Larry had married less than a year earlier, having first met in the spring of 1985. Larry had been released on parole in March of that year after serving eight years in prison for armed robbery. Shortly after the wedding, Larry forced his new wife to work as a prostitute, and she was arrested by the police shortly afterwards. They hoped for a better life in St. Louis, where Elizabeth again found herself prostituted on Independence Avenue.

Two months after the move, Elizabeth mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Daughter Cherie also disappeared into thin air shortly afterwards. The little girl was last seen with Larry on January 7, 1987.

Elizabeth's family didn't think much of the loss of contact because they thought she needed some time to herself. Only after a longer period of time did Janice, Elizabeth's mother, find it strange that her daughter had still not spoken about herself. Unable to contact her, she decided to report Elizabeth missing in Nashville, but the police there told her they could not take the report because it involved an adult woman who had probably disappeared of her own free will. In Kansas City, the concerned mother also failed to report her daughter missing. What the family didn't know at the time was that Elizabeth's body had been found in the Mississippi River in February 1987, and that she had been the victim of a crime.

Body found
Years passed without it becoming clear where Elizabeth had gone. In March 1994, her aunt, Pat, received a call from Aunt Geneva, who said she had seen a newspaper article about an unidentified woman found by a fisherman in the Mississippi River near the Interstate 270 bridge in St. Lous. That was two months after Elizabeth went missing... At that time the family was not yet looking for the young mother, and for that reason they were not aware of the discovery of the body. Now both aunts wondered whether the body might have been Elizabeth's after all.

Pat contacted police in St. Louis, and Sergeant Joe Burgoon investigated whether there was a link. Together with other investigators, they soon reached an agreement. The body found, lying naked in the river, and presumed to have died by drowning, was that of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth's identification made the police and her family seriously concerned about her daughter Cherie. The investigation soon led to Larry, who had since been sentenced again to 50 years in prison for armed robbery and burglary in Kansas City. Detectives questioned him, during which he denied having anything to do with Elizabeth's death. He said the 20-year-old got into a man's car in Kansas City on December 17, 1986 and never saw her again.

When the subject shifted to Cherie, Larry said the girl was safely cared for by his family near Kansas City and was going by a different name. He did not want to give the police the exact whereabouts of the girl, even though he or his family were not even entitled to custody of the child. Cherie's biological father who lives in Los Angeles had, but it was clear that Larry had no intention of saying much more about his stepchild.

During the investigation into Larry, Burgoon discovered that Larry had already told his probation officer in 1988 that his wife had been strangled in 1986. He also learned that he had kidnapped a woman in Kansas City in 1987. The woman was interviewed by police saying that she had seen a little girl in the house during the kidnapping who bore a resemblance to Cherie. To find the child, detectives contacted several of Larry's relatives in hopes of gaining clarity on her whereabouts. It did not result in Cherie being traced.

Presumptive body identification
In the investigation of Cherie, police came across an unidentified child found on August 20, 1989 in Skaggs Creek, Glasgow, Kentucky. The remains, found in a blue suitcase in the water, were those of a biracial girl, approximately two and a half years old, who had died between 1986 and 1987. The description matched Cherie's description, and the police decided to show photos of the suitcase to the child's aunts. According to them, the suitcase belonged to a set that had once belonged to Elizabeth.

Because no DNA testing could be conducted on the remains, the police had a facial superposition made of the skull and a photo of Cherie. This revealed similarities that led to the assumption that the remains were Cherie's.

Perhaps there is someone who could provide 100% clarity. Because in 1989 the police appeared to have received three telephone calls about the human remains in the suitcase. The caller claimed to be a lawyer, and said his client wanted to get immunity and provide information about the case. However, the caller never called back, and the police were never able to trace him. 

Tips and Information
Elizabeth's death in 1986 has never been clarified, and the identification of her daughter Cherie also remains uncertain. The remains found in the suitcase are believed to be those of the girl, but it has not been confirmed. According to Elizabeth's relatives, Larry had some kind of 'power over her', as if he was brainwashing her. They suspect the young mother was afraid of him, and believe she once asked her grandmother for $6,000 to keep Larry from killing her. Is he the perpetrator? Or does he have nothing to do with it? That remains the big question.

We think there are people who know more about both cases. Is that you? If you know anything, please let us know (anonymously) now. We handle your information discreetly and ensure that it ends up in the right place with the relevant police team. Don't hesitate for a moment and get in touch - anonymously if necessary.

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