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Adopted woman learns her biological mom was murdered by notorious serial killers
Featured Image Credit: Cheryl Gyant/AP Archive/YouTube

Adopted woman learns her biological mom was murdered by notorious serial killers

Cheryl Gyant's mom was one of many victims of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake

A woman who was adopted would often wonder what happened to her biological mum. But in 2002, she learned the horrifying truth.

Cheryl Gyant was adopted by a couple in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the 1970s, before finding out at age 10 that she was adopted.

Speaking to People, she said: "I saw foster kids coming in and out of our home all the time. I just didn't know I was one of them.

"From that moment on, I wondered about my biological mom and why she left me behind. I remember lying in the grass, wondering, 'Is my mom on that plane?'"

But it wasn't until the early 2000s that she find out about the heartbreaking death of her birth mom, Sheryl Okoro.

Cheryl Gyant has written a book about her experiences.
LinkedIn/Cheryl Gyant

In 1984, aged just 26 years old, Okoro was kidnapped and killed by prolific serial killers Charles Ng and Leonard Lake.

The pair teamed up for a horrific killing spree, murdering at least 11 people between 1983 and 1985 from Lake's remote woodland cabin in Calaveras County, California.

Ng, now 62, remains on death row, while his accomplice died by suicide in 1985, having taken a cyanide pill in police custody after officers discovered him to be in the possession of one of his victims' cars.

The two came together after Ng was dishonourably discharged from the Marines for desertion and the theft of weapons and explosives.

They built a dungeon by Lake's cabin and, over the next year, used it to embark on a spree of rape, torture and murder that would make even the most hardened criminals sick to their stomachs.

Police attended the cabin after reports of a theft. Following a search of the premises they noticed a foot poking out of the earth and proceeded to dig up 18kg of burnt human bones.

Charles Ng is currently on death row.
Creative Commons

In a conversation with LADbible, Dr Adam Lynes, a serial murder specialist, explained: "Serial killing 'teams' are rather rare, and usually involve a male and female offender.

"Regardless of the gender of each member of a serial killing 'team', there tends to be a more dominant personality."

In this case, it was Ng.

Sadly, police didn't catch up with the killers until 1985, by which point they'd murdered multiple men, women and children.

A California Supreme Court filing about the police investigation into Ng and Lake's premises states: "At least four dental specimens belonged to a child under the age of three years old.

"After reviewing all the found fragments, two forensic anthropologists concluded that they belonged to at least four adults, one child, and one infant.

"'Many hundreds' of the bone fragments showed various degrees of burning. Investigators also found a child’s liver buried on the property."

Although Gyant saw the news coverage of Ng's 1999 trial, which resulted in him being convicted of 11 murders and given the death sentence, she didn't learn about her mother until 2002 when she received a phone call from Okoro's sister.

Leonard Lake died by suicide while in police custody.
Twitter

Gyant's aunt put her in touch with a detective, who informed her about an 11-page letter her mom had written that was recovered from the crime scene.

The letter detailed Okoro's traumatic childhood, having experienced sexual abuse and running away from home before turning to sex work as a young adult.

Though it was heart-wrenching for Gyant, she told the outlet: "Those 11 pages are all I have of my mother."

She has now written a fictional but fact-based book inspired by her experiences, titled A Letter From Sheri.

"I hope readers will take from my book my tenacity, determination and passion for family and do whatever needs to be done to bring closure to their own hurtful situations," she said.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677

Topics: US News, Crime, News