A Raleigh County woman missing for 20 years, is legally declared - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

A Raleigh County woman missing for 20 years, is legally declared dead

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Angela Cherice Gwinn Stephens declared legally dead Angela Cherice Gwinn Stephens declared legally dead
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At a Raleigh County Commission meeting Tuesday morning, a petition was granted declaring Angela Cherice Gwinn Stephens legally dead.

Cherise has been missing for over 20 years. For the full story, click here

After Tuesday's meeting, what was a missing person case, is now a homicide investigation, which means, State Police can now focus their resources on finding her remains and arresting the suspect.

Cherice's aunt told 59News being able to bury her remains would put their family at peace.

"Once you lay that body down, you know that they're at rest and at peace. Not having any remains to put down, it's like where is she? Has she struggled? Did she struggle in her life?" said Brenda Pyatt.

Cherice's best friend shared with us the last conversation she had with her, just hours before Cherice went missing.


"She explained to me that she and Norman, her husband, had a big argument. She asked me if she could move in with me while they got things straightened out. I said sure. That night, I got the phone call asking if I knew where she was," said Paula Hager.

State Police Sgt. D. L. Bowles said now that the case will be treated as a homicide investigation, they can apply their manpower to finding the suspected killer.


"We have suspects and leads, today changed the mindset of it, it brings it to a place where now we can build a case and prosecute someone as opposed to just trying to locate someone," said Sgt. Bowles.

Family and friends told 59News they can take a sigh of relief knowing they're now one step closer to having closure.

"Having justice, to whoever did whatever they did to her and took her away from us, and closure, which we will never have 100 percent of, but at least we will know exactly what happened and that's our main goal," said Cherice's brother, Thomas Stanton Gwinn, Jr.

The family has started a website highlighting what they believe happened to Cherice, and how you can help. You can find the website here

The family has offered a cash reward up to $5,000 if any tip, that can remain anonymous, leads to an arrest.

If you have any information, you're urged to call State Police or CrimeStoppers.