Cherie-Lynn Bishop case unsolved 30 years later
BROCKTONÂ â Even though Sheanna Isabel hasn’t seen her mother since she was 9 years old, she still hasÂ vivid memories of their time together.Â
She remembers howÂ Cherie-Lynn Bishop loved to cook.Â
One of her favorite memories is when they drove around the cityÂ in a nice carÂ while listening to music and sipping from glass bottles of seltzer water.
Even when IsabelÂ lived with her father in Maine as a child, Bishop sent her cards that said, “Love you madly and miss you much.”Â
Isabel, now 39 and a Stoughton police officer,Â holds on to these memories of her mother, who was murdered and whose body was found in Brockton on June 25, 1991.Â
Thirty years later, her case remains unsolved and Bishop’s family is still holding onto the hope of learning who killed Bishop and for that person to be brought to justice.Â
‘If you needed anything she would give it to you’
Cherie-Lynn Bishop was born July 27, 1962 in Stoughton at the former Goddard Hospital.Â
Her family lived on the north side of Brockton. She was the older sister of Lisa Caine and Paul Bishop. Her mother Linda Bishop was a single mother who worked two jobs.
Cherie-Lynn Bishopâs maternal grandparentsÂ were present throughout the siblings’Â lives and their grandfather was a father figureÂ to them.Â
Each weekend, the siblings would visit their grandparents in Easton. They went to church on the weekends and their grandfather would meet them for breakfast before school.Â
Bishop was very kind, her family members said.
“If you needed anything she would give it to you,â said her mother Linda Bishop, who is 77. âShe would give you the shirt off her back. She didn’t have much.”
She had a nice smile and liked to have a good time, enjoying activities such as camping, visiting local ponds and beachesÂ and going to Brockton’s D.W. Field Park to have cookouts.Â
Bishop also loved animals. When she lived in Puerto Rico in the late 1980s, a hurricane prompted her to move back to Brockton. Her family said she was sad that she couldnât bring her dog from the island with her.Â
Isabelâs parents were young when they had her. Her grandmother helped raise her and when Isabel was 9 years old sheÂ went to live in Maine with her father.
She used to have a fear that she wouldn’t make it to age 28, which is how old her mother was at her death.Â
Caine, her aunt,Â said she was sorry to hear that and wants her toÂ know that Bishop would be proud of her.
Her grandmother added that Bishop is watching over her and her children.
Susan Poole was a friend of Bishop’s and considered her like aÂ sister.Â
Poole was a teenager when they met and Bishop was several years older than Poole.Â
Poole’s home life wasn’t great. One day Bishop stopped Pooleâs sister from hitting her, she said.Â From then, Bishop watched out for Poole and they were together a lot.
“I latched onto her and didn’t let go and she didn’t ask me to go,” said Poole, who is 56.
When she was 25, PooleÂ lived nearby Bishop, who had an apartment on Montello Street.Â
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She was a single mother and struggling financially. Bishop would come over every morning to wake her up and bring coffee. Bishopâs mother would also come over to check in on her and make sure that Poole had enough food.
In her 20s, Bishop learned she had rheumatoid arthritis and it left her in pain. She was getting medication shots for treatment, her mother said, and at times she couldn’t climb the stairs.Â
What happened to her?
The last night that Caine saw her sister alive, sheÂ argued with her about wearing Caine’s sneakers. She saw her sister get into a van not far from Bishop’s apartment and heard her on the phone having an argument.Â
Bishop also spoke with her mother on the phone the night before.Â
The next day, aÂ Department of Public Welfare caseworker who walked to work every day discovered Bishop’s body in tall grass, according to Brockton police reports from 1991 that Bishopâs family saved.
She was found lying face down in the playgroundÂ wearing only a pair of red socks and her hair was tied in an elastic.Â
Police believe Bishop was strangled because bruising marks were found on the front and back of her neck, according to police reports.Â
The area around the body wasnât disturbed, police reports say, but a tire track was found a short distance away in the grass.Â
The discovery of a body in the park was on the morning news, but Linda Bishop didn’t see it. She was at work at a bank when she learned that her daughter had died. A police officer she knew showed her a picture of Cherie-LynnÂ and asked Linda Bishop to identify her.Â
Linda Bishop had to get her parents, who were then living in Wareham, to Brockton to go to the police station.Â
Caine was at a friend’s house and police found her to break the news to her and tell her to go to the station. She didn’t believe the officer when they said Bishop was dead.Â
Poole learned that Bishop died when a neighbor from her building said she was sorry to hear what happened to her sister. She initially didnât know if the neighbor meant her actual sister or Bishop.Â
âRight off the bat I was in denial,” Poole said.Â
In a 1991 Enterprise article, residents in the neighborhood near the park where Bishop’s body was found claimed that the area was a place where sex workers and drug users would hangout.Â
In a responding article in the paper, Poole refuted the negative characterization about Cherie as someone who was involved with prostitution and drugs because of where her body was found and because police said she had a previous arrest record for two counts ofÂ drug possession.
“We all make mistakes,” she told The Enterprise in 1991. “No one deserves to die like that and be humiliated.”Â
A 30-year investigation
Investigators haven’t learned what happened to Bishop between the last time she was seen and when her body was found.Â
Caine remembers going out in Brockton to find answers by visiting places Bishop used to go.
Â “I was out there asking questions to everybody,” said Caine, who is 56.Â
Bishop’s family has suspected a couple of people from the neighborhoodÂ may have had something to do with her death.Â
One person was a friend of Bishop and liked her, but she rejected that advance, her mother said. Two of them are dead now.Â
Isabel said she went through investigation reports a few years ago and found that those individuals were interviewed about Bishopâs death, but they weren’t charged.Â
It’s easy to think that her motherâs murder hasn’t been solved because the police weren’t doing their job, but Isabel said she understands there was a lot happening at the time, including the crack epidemic and other crime.Â
As a police officer herself, Isabel doesn’t want to place blame on the police. She said she also doesn’t want to tell investigators how to do their jobs.Â
“If this was my case, I kind of would be trying to look for every aspect that I can,” she said.Â
The Plymouth County District Attorney’s office said Thursday that the investigation into Bishop’s unsolved homicide remains open.Â
District Attorney Timothy Cruz created an unsolved homicide unit to re-examineÂ existing evidence and conduct further investigation using modern technologies and techniques, a spokesperson said.Â
“Our office never forgets a victim, no matter how much time goes by,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Every victim deserves justice and our office is committed to solving these cases, when we are able to, holding perpetrators accountable, and bringing some measure of closure to the family and friends of homicide victims.”Â
Anyone with information about an unsolved homicide can call the office’s tip line at 508-894-2584 or email PlymouthDA.UnsolvedHomicides@State.MA.US.
State Police detectives monitor the email and tip line. Information will remain confidential and contact information isn’t required for a person to report information.
The family has kept in contact with investigators over the years.Â At first they would consistently. For a while, Isabel focused on the case a lot, but since things have fallen by the wayside on her part, she said.Â
“It’s almost like an acceptance by now, but I don’t want to accept it,” she said. “It’s just hard to relive again. I could do better to push things.”Â
Poole said she has also tried over the years to learn more about what happened to Bishop.Â
She said she walked the railroad tracks where her friendâs body was found for two years. Poole said she also would follow up with investigators over the years.Â
“I know she wants me to look for her,â Poole said. âI know she wants me to help.”
Could familial DNAÂ help crack the case?
Now that forensics has progressed, Bishopâs family wants to know if those techniques could be applied to her case.Â
Isabel said she spoke with the former State Police trooper who worked on her motherâs case about whether familial DNA searching and testing could be used.
For law enforcement investigations, familial DNA searching is the use of a DNA database and software to detect and rank potential close biological relatives, like parents, childrenÂ and siblings, of an unknown individual whose DNA evidence investigators may have.Â
Law enforcement also has access to the Combined DNA Index System, which isÂ the FBI’s criminal DNA databasesÂ and the software to run them. It includes theÂ National DNA Index System to which federal, state and local forensic laboratories contribute.Â
Isabel said one of the peopleÂ her family suspects was responsible for Bishop’s death has siblings who could be tested.Â
“Having even that to be able to try could be nice,â she said.Â
The family knows some DNA was recovered from under Bishopâs fingernails, but Isabel doesn’t know how much is left and if it can be used for further testing.Â
Living without answersÂ
Linda Bishop said she would like to have closure before she dies.Â
“The only way you’re going to have closure is that they find out who did it,â she said.Â
Family members said they would be in the courtroom every day if a trial is held.Â
If the person who murdered her sister is found, Caine said she would like for a picture of Bishop to be placed in the personâs jail cell, so they have to look at it and think about what they did for the rest of their life.Â
“She never did anything to anybody to deserve that,â Caine said.Â
She said the last words she and her sister exchanged before her death werenât kind, and Caine said she blamed herself for that for years.Â
Poole, Bishop’s friend,Â said her death greatly affected her, and she canât talk about her death without getting emotional.Â
The fact that her case has gone unsolved has left such a void in her life, Poole said.Â
Since Bishop died, no other friends have taken her place in making such an impact on her life, Poole said.Â
âIâm grateful for the time I knew her,â she said, adding that she was grateful to have had Bishopâs support when she needed it.Â
Poole has remembered Bishop several ways since her passing, including by getting a tattoo of her friendâs name carved in the vine of a bittersweet plant.Â
At each of her homes, Poole has planted tiger lilies in Bishopâs honor. She places flowers in an urn at her burial site in Halifax and visits to clean off her headstone.Â
Bishop’s daughter becomes a police officer
Isabel said what happened to her mother motivated her to become an officer.Â
After high school, she went into the U.S. Army as a medic. She said taking a different path was a way to avoid her feelings about what happened with her mother.Â
After deployments to Kosovo in 2001 and Iraq in 2006, Isabel realized that the military was not where she was meant to be. She said her heart was in criminal justice.Â
After her service, Isabel earned her college degree and studied criminal justice.Â
She joined the Stoughton Police Department in 2011 and most recently served as the school resource officer at Stoughton High School.Â
Isabel could have joined Brockton police in 2006, but she was deployed. She took that as a sign that working in the city wasn’t the best for her.Â
She said it drives members of her department crazy when she writesÂ long and in-depth police reports. But Isabel said she does it because she understands what happens if that kind of care isn’t taken.Â
âWhen you don’t write down the things that seem insignificant at the time or that you don’t understand at the time, I add them to my report,â she said. âI’m putting everything in here because I know what it’s like (when things are left out.)”
Isabel also follows up with families who have experienced a tragic event. It’s about being patient and showing compassion, she said.Â
Even with cases where someone doesn’t make good decisions, whether that includesÂ drug use or mental health issues, the goal is to treat them and their families as humans with respect, Isabel said.
On the anniversary of her motherâs death, Isabel takesÂ the day off from work to have time to reflect.Â Talking about her mother is difficult, but it’s something she pushes herself to do.
Isabel talks to her children about her mother andÂ about what she looked like and has shown them pictures. They’re a little young to understand what happened.Â
Isabel said there are people who may know something who live in the area who lived in Brockton at the time her mother died. She wants to encourage them to come forward. They may have been hesitant to do so before or scared, but they might feel stronger to do that now.
“Without that, we’re still here,â she said.Â
Staff writer Mina Corpuz can be reached by email at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz. Support local journalismÂ by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.