Twenty-three-year-old Angela “Cherice” Gwinn Stephens has been missing since October 1, 1993. Today, nearly twenty-one years after she was last seen, Raleigh County Commissioners in West Virginia signed a petition declaring her legally dead. Her husband, Norman E. Stephens II, claims that Cherice dropped him off at work that Friday, and never returned to pick him up at the end of his shift. Instead of reporting her missing, Norman waited twenty-seven days and then filed for divorce. Cherice’s family reported her missing eleven months after she was last seen. Norman reportedly told the police that his wife had called him from out of town, letting him know she was not coming back. He hired a lawyer and refused to take a lie detector test.
Early on in the investigation, Cherice’s father, Tom Gwinn, hired a private investigator to look into his daughter’s disappearance. Several sources have reported that the investigator discovered Norman didn’t show up for work on October 1 and the vehicle Cherice supposedly left town in was actually sold to a buyer in Charleston, West Virginia. However, authorities have not confirmed these details. In addition to this, reports state that police did request to dig up a septic system on land owned by the Breckenridge Missionary Baptist Church after realizing that the area had been asphalted over soon after Cherice’s disappearance. Curiously, the preacher of the church, Tom Harmon, who is related to Norman, firmly denied these requests.
Tragically, Tom Gwinn passed away in 2008, never knowing what happened to his daughter. In 2010, a search warrant was executed on a property owned by Norman Stephens, but police have not confirmed what, if anything, they found. Now that Cherice has been declared legally dead, investigators are treating her case as a homicide and hope to devote the manpower to finally locating her remains and arrest a suspect.
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Isn’t there some sort of seismic imaging equipment that could be used to see if there are bones in the septic tank without excavation? If anything showed up that would constitute probable cause for a warrant. Additionally, as there are judges whose interpretation of the law is broader than others, isn’t there enough circumstantial evidence to issue a warrant. Thirdly….why don’t Gwinn family members constantly implore church members to insist that the church aid in the investigation….contact the church hierarchy if necessary . The fact that Lowe and Harmon refuse to help casts shame on Christians everywhere….and destroys their Christian witness completely. Cherice should have received justice long before this. Everything should be done to find what.happened to her…anything less is a travesty of justice. In my opinion SHAME ON BRECKENRIDGE BAPTIST CHURCH AND ON ANYONE HIDING THE TRUTH ABOUT HER DISAPPEARANCE.