Real Name: Linda Sue Lutz-Sherman
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Vinita Park, Missouri
Date: April 22, 1985
Details: Linda Sue Lutz-Sherman was a twenty-seven-year-old employee of the U.S. Government Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the youngest of four, with her siblings being several years older. As she grew up, she was sheltered, quiet, and reserved. She married her high school sweetheart Don Sherman while they were both still teenagers. When their daughter Patty was born, Linda was determined to finish school. Her mother watched Patty as she completed her senior year. Don found work as a gas station attendant. Working opposite shifts and money troubles put a strain on their relationship; they separated and reconciled many times. According to her family, Don always wanted to know where Linda was; he was also protective and physically abusive against Linda. In the spring of 1985, Linda filed for divorce and was planning to take Patty and move out of their Vinita Park home.
At around 2:16AM on April 22, 1985, Linda left her night job. When she arrive home at 3AM, she and Don got into an argument. She later fell asleep on their living room couch. The next morning, Don took Patty to school, even though Linda normally did it. Patty was surprised that Linda didn't even say goodbye to her. She also noticed that she wasn't moving when she left for school. Don claimed that when he returned from work at around 6PM, Linda was on edge. She then left to go to work, although no witnesses saw her leave. She never arrived at work and was never seen again.
When Linda's family learned that she was missing, they urged Don to contact the police. He did not report her missing until two days later. They searched for her and eventually found her Volkswagen Beetle abandoned at Lambert Airport. No evidence was found in the car. Linda's family suspected that Linda may have been having an affair, but did not believe that she would abandon her daughter and suspected foul play. Don, however, believed that Linda ran off with another man. A few days after she vanished, Don claimed to have seen her in a van with another man. When they passed by, he yelled at her and she ducked out of sight.
However, five years later on June 28, 1990, flight attendants at the Casa Gallardo, Don's favorite Bridgeton Mexican restaurant, discovered a human skull in the bushes outside the restaurant. Investigators determined that it belonged to an adult female who had died within the past few years. With no crime to connect it to, the skull was placed on a shelf in the county morgue. It was largely forgotten, especially after some suggested that it may have been taken from a cemetery and placed there as a prank.
Then, fourteen months later, on September 16, 1991, an unsealed envelope was sent to the Vinita Park Police Department. Inside was a flier for the Casa Gallardo restaurant that had stamped on it "THE BRIDGETON POLICE HAVE L. SHERMAN'S SKULL". No fingerprints were found on it and since the envelope wasn't sealed, no DNA could be extracted from it. Linda Sherman's dental records were compared to the skull, and it was a perfect match.
The missing persons case had become a homicide investigation, but many questions remain, such as: who could have killed Linda, where the rest of her body is, and who sent the mysterious letter to police. Don Sherman has been questioned by the police several times in the case, but no charges have ever been filed. Police hope that new technology and soil samples can lead them to her body and her killer.
Suspects: Don Sherman has been named the prime suspect by the St. Louis Police in Linda's disappearance and death. Don was known to be physically and emotionally abusive towards her. Before she vanished, Linda filed an order of protection against him. She claimed that he had tampered with her car. He had also threatened to kill her, Patty, and himself. Investigators believe that it is more than a coincidence that her skull ended up in the bushes next to Don's favorite restaurant and that she vanished just before she was planning to leave him. They suspect that Don may have wanted to remarry. The only way he could remarry would be if he could prove that Linda was dead.
However, no evidence has been found to link him to her disappearance and death. Don believes that Linda ran off with the man that he allegedly saw her with shortly after she vanished. He believes that this man killed her. It was confirmed that she had been having an affair with a co-worker shortly before her disappearance. However, he had an alibi and was ruled out as a suspect.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the July 2, 2001 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unsolved. Police later sent cadaver-sniffing dogs and a search team to Perryville, seventy-five miles south of St. Louis, where they believed the body was buried. However, no traces of Linda's remains were found. One of Don's ex-girlfriends has claimed that he confessed to killing Linda. However, there has not been enough evidence to charge him. Police chief Michael Webb passed away in 2009. Dennis Lutz, Linda's brother, passed away in January 2016.
- Linda Sherman on Unsolved.com
- Police Appeal for Clues in 1985 Murder
- (1999 Riverfront Times Article) Body of Evidence
- Spooky Story: The Linda Sherman Mystery
- Vinita Park police chief pursued murder case for years
- Linda Sherman on Find a Grave