The killer of a young woman escapes from jail

Richard Bare

Richard Bare

In Ashe County, North Carolina, a body was discovered at the bottom of a 200-foot cliff that the locals call “The Jumping Off Place.” Police quickly identified the body as Sherry Lyall Hart, a local woman who had disappeared without a trace eleven months earlier.

Sherry was last seen alive outside a local restaurant in January 1984.   The 24-year-old divorcee was supposed to meet a date. Sherry’s daughter, April, was just six years old at the time:

“I just thought she hated me and didn’t want to come back cause she had me.   And she didn’t feel like she was responsible for me. And I just didn’t think she loved me anymore.”

For months afterwards, April heard rumors that her mother had run off to Florida with a lover. But now that a body had been found, investigators immediately reopened the case.   They located a witness who had seen Sherry on the night she vanished.   She was seen with two high school friends, Richard Bare and Jeffrey Burgess.

Sherry Hart

Sherry Hart

Special Agent Steven C. Cabe laid out a possible scenario that involved Sherry accepting a ride with the men:

“We interviewed many people, and as a result of those interviews we feel that we have developed a scenario as to what occurred that evening. At some point in time, this riding around led them to an area.   And during this riding around, Sherry Hart asked to make a rest stop.”

Authorities allege that Sherry and the two men pulled off the highway about a quarter mile from the “Jumping Off Place.”   Bare, who was apparently carrying a handgun, attempted to sexually assault Sherry.   When she resisted, he forced her at gun point to the edge of the cliff then pushed her off.

Richard Bare and Jeffrey Burgess were charged with the murder of Sherry Hart. Conviction could have led straight to the gas chamber. But four months after his arrest, Bare escaped from the county jail.   Burgess was released on bail pending his friend’s recapture. Years later, the trial has yet to begin.

Terry’s daughter, April, has said she’s had trouble moving on:

“It won’t never get behind me. I can’t take looking at her grave knowing that she’s down there.   I want her to be here with me so I can just give her a hug. And just have her in my life again.”

The FBI still includes Richard Lynn Bare on its list of “Most Wanted” fugitives.