Unsolved Series Of Cases

Not much information is available on these cases, but I hope you’ll stick it out just in case you might know a possible Doe or any other information that might provide answers to two missing person cases.

The first case involves the 1994 disappearance of Elizabeth Jean Acton. Elizabeth, known as Betsy, was a nurse in Lexington, Kentucky. Around the time of her disappearance, she had just resigned from her position of Nurse Educator at Central Baptist Hospital, and was looking forward to her vacation in Colonial Beach, Virginia (source 1). Located on the northwestern area of VA’s northern neck, Colonial Beach is smaller and less popular than other regional beaches such as Virginia Beach, Chincoteague, OBX, or Ocean City, but still maintains its charm in historical value and relaxing atmosphere. Betsy was no doubt excited to relax on the seaside with her boyfriend, Willow Bruce Cherry, in August of that year.

However, for as much as Betsy seemed happy on the outside, her close coworkers and friends at the hospital claimed that Betsy’s relationship with Cherry seemed contentious and abusive. She allegedly claimed that Cherry was abusive and that she feared that he might harm her (source 2). Her coworkers said that Betsy told them that if she ever went missing, they should suspect that Cherry had something to do with her disappearance. Despite, her apprehensions, however, Betsy did go on vacation with Cherry to Colonial Beach. A close friend mentioned to authorities that Cherry asked Betsy to do something unusual: bring all her jewelry on vacation. To me, this is a curious point; Colonial Beach was known for its casinos in the 1940s and early 1950s due to quirks of the law allowing Maryland to legalize gambling and the piers at Colonial Beach being close enough in proximity to set up satellite casinos, but most of these casinos had disappeared by the 1960s and the region returned to mostly family-oriented entertainment. However, the one exception was the Little Reno Casino, which in the 90s had a gambling revival with off-track betting and lottery (source 3). Could Cherry have intended to pawn Betsy’s jewels for extra money for gambling exploits? If so, I wonder if police ever traced these jewelry pieces.

Betsy was last seen at the Days Inn on 30 Colonial Ave. on August 24, 1994. The inn has since changed hands a few times and currently is called the Rivers Edge Inn. Police searched the inn and found blood, but I have not been able to verify the amount and whether it has been tested; Cherry claimed that this blood was merely menstrual blood. Her car was found at another location, but I have been unable to verify exactly where it was discovered.

Due to the circumstances, police believe that Betsy’s disappearance is suspicious, but have not named any suspects in her case. However, they still have not found Betsy’s body.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Jean Acton is a Caucasian woman with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. She was 5 feet tall, 125 lbs and was aged 41 at the time of her disappearance. If alive today, she would be 70 years old. She is noted as having a scar on her abdomen (source 4). If you have any information on the circumstances around Betsy’s disappearance/potential death or location of her body, please contact the Colonial Beach Police Department at (804) 493-8066 or use this link where you can find the email address of the interim chief of police on the righthand side of the page, using agency case # RD4000217.

Twenty four years after Betsy’s disappearance, Betsy’s boyfriend Willow Bruce Cherry would be under investigation for a second missing person’s case. On February 16, 2018, Peter Lian was last seen by his wife, Birdie Eaton, being beat up by Eaton’s brother, Willow Cherry, after an argument. Birdie was terrified and removed herself and her 3 year old daughter from her premises, along with Willow’s wife, Misty Cherry. They escaped to the pool house of their Locust Hill apartment complex. She returned to the apartment an hour later and heard her husband groaning inside their closed bedroom, asking for help. Instead of seeking aid, she returned to the pool house, where her sister in law, Misty, begged Birdie not to call the police because Willow Cherry had existing warrants out for his arrest. When Birdie returned to her apartment a second time, the bedroom door was shut, and Willow Cherry explained that Lian was gone and to not return to the bedroom. Frightened, Birdie did not question her brother and decided to sleep in a different room. The next morning, she finally entered the room and noticed blood on the floor; at this point, she left for her father’s house, and when she didn’t hear from her husband by February 19, she contacted the police.

Investigators noted that when they pulled up the carpet near the bloodstain, the underside had significantly more blood than what was on the carpet surface, an indication that a clean up was involved and that there was massive blood loss. Further backing up their theory was the discovery of washcloths and a children’s pajama set saturated with blood, as well as their interview with Whitney Eaton, Willow Cherry’s step-father, who claimed that he saw Willow Cherry with Lian’s Ford Explorer on February 17. Whitney asked Willow Cherry why he was in possession of Lian’s car, and Willow Cherry told him that Peter had given it to him, and requested that Whitney help clear the vehicle of blood, which Whitney refused. This vehicle was later located back at the Locust Hill complex, and the entire back storage part of the vehicle was saturated in large amounts of blood.

Whitney said that later, Willow Cherry said, “Peter wouldn’t stop fighting.” Whitney also told investigators that he had Lian’s cell phone, as he noticed it in Willow Cherry’s possession as well and had taken it away from him and asked Willow Cherry to leave (source 5).

Willow Cherry was arrested on charges of murder and tampering with evidence in June of 2018, though he claimed that he was innocent of murder and that he only turned himself in to get psychological help. He said the fight with Lian started when he was drinking, and that he didn’t remember why the argument started or how the fight ended (source 6). He pleaded not guilty but was evidently found guilty of Lian’s murder even though Lian’s body was never found, as he’s indexed in Lexington, KY’s county prison system as inmate 5905 (source 7).

Peter Lian is an East Asian man with dark brown hair in a buzz cut and dark brown eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he was approximately 5’5″-5’7″ tall and weighed 125-135 lbs and was aged 35. In the unlikely event he is still alive, he would be 41 years old today. If you have any information on Peter Lian’s disappearance or location of his body, please contact the Fayette County police at (859) 258-3600 or use this link which contains the email address on the righthand side of the page, using agency case # 2018030267.

I think it’s pretty clear that there is only one suspect for both situations, but if you have any alternate explanations for Betsy’s disappearance, or more information on the areas where either Betsy or Peter disappeared and could be located, or have alternate ideas on what happened to Betsy, please discuss.

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