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Unsolved: Cheryl Marie Kelly (1989)

Cheryl Kelly was 26-years-old when she was murdered in her home in White City. On that day in 1989 all the evidence pointed to only one suspect, but there's one reason this case still isn't closed.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2017 3:02 AM
Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 9:16 AM

WHITE CITY, Ore. -- Cheryl Kelly was 26-years-old when she was murdered in her home in White City. On that day in 1989 – all the evidence pointed to only one suspect, but there’s one reason this case still isn’t closed.

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Investigators say it started as an argument between Cheryl Kelly and Jesus Avita. The two were in a relationship – but one day, their exchange boiled over. Kelly was killed by blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds.

Other people were in the home during this time – hearing the argument and noticing an even bigger red flag.

"There were people that saw the suspect leave, with blood on him,” Sgt. Eric Fox of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said.

Weapons, fingerprints, and witnesses from the scene all pointed in one direction. But this straightforward case suddenly made a sharp turn.

"The suspect then immediately fled to mexico," said Fox.

Things quickly shifted to a manhunt for Jesus Avita, with investigators working with Mexican authorities and Interpol to track him down. Miles away and over the border – the clock was ticking to find Kelly’s killer.

But that search ultimately struck midnight.

“Eventually what we learned is jesus avita was murdered by someone else while he was in mexico," said Fox.

An exhaustive search, hopefully leading to some closure, but frustratingly remaining open.

There’s really no doubt that Jesus Avita is the one that committed this crime,” Fox said. “This one is merely unsolved because the suspect is dead and there’s no other evidence of any other suspect committing this crime.”

Investigators say they believe they would’ve been able to get Avita back to the United States if he didn't die in Mexico, tried him in court, and more than likely have him convicted of murder.

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