Woman who disappeared on Christmas Eve 26 years ago killed, cut into pieces

Marion County deputies say they finally have answers for the family of a woman who disappeared on Christmas Eve nearly 30 years ago.

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Investigators say Sherry Petersen's daughter first reported her missing on Jan. 3, 1993, after she failed to show up for Christmas dinner.

More than 25 years went by without answers. No Sherry. No body. No arrests.
Fast forward to July 2018, when a sergeant in the Marion County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit said he got a phone call from Petersen's sister, saying she was the new contact for any updates.

The sergeant said that call led him to take another look at the case and run down some leads.
Investigators followed leads to Frank Crow, a Zephyrhills inmate serving a 30-year prison sentence for murdering his former roommate with a sledgehammer.

Deputies said the 68-year-old inmate refused to reveal details of the crime without being granted immunity from prosecution.

Credit: Marion County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Marion County Sheriff's Office

Detectives said they felt granting Crow immunity was better because of his deteriorating health, and the fact that he'd be 84-years old if released from prison.

So in the interest of long-awaited closure, Petersen’s family gave detectives and prosecutors approval to give him immunity.

Crow told detectives he ran into Sherry at a convenience store on Christmas Eve 1992. The two had drinks at a bar at Lake Catherine, Crow told detectives. Crow then confessed to killing her, dismembering her and throwing her body parts in several lakes in the Ocala National Forest.

Crow said he killed her because she was a "snitch," however, detectives believe he made unwanted sexual advances.

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Investigators do not expect to find her remains.

"We would like to say how thankful we are that with God's help and with the caring work of Sgt. Buie that we were finally able to find out what happened to our sister," Petersen's family said in a statement.

"We will have to live with this news for the rest of our lives, but maybe now we can start to heal."

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