Mystery in the Mountains: The case of Cheryl Peters

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Nearly 30 years after Cheryl Peters was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head her family is still looking for closure.

“It just sits with you every day,” Raemarie Pecor, Peters’ daughter. “It’s an everyday struggle.”

Peters, 42, was starting a new chapter in her life when she was killed. She was in the process of divorcing her third husband, Carroll Peters, and the couple was living separately. Cheryl, who had five children from previous relationships, had moved in with her cousin, Richard Fitzgerald, since they both were in transitional points of their lives.

“That’s kind of how they helped each other out,” said Vermont State Police Det. Sgt. Dan Troitter. “But as I said at the time, I don’t think he was staying there every night and living there. He had his life and relationships.”

Court documents show that on Aug. 8, 1993, Cheryl Peters returned home from a night out to find Carroll Peters waiting, unannounced, at her doorstep.

Raemarie Pecor says Carroll Peters told her a few days later that he had written and sent a letter to Cheryl, admitting that he had sexually assaulted her. “She had no knowledge,” Pecor said, “so he asked me, ‘Should I call her at work before she gets the letter?’ And I had no answer for that because I was so angry. But he did.”

Pecor said after the call from Carroll, Cheryl showed up at her house. “She was devastated, distraught, broken and I told her to call the police,” Pecor said.

According to the court documents, Pecor encouraged Cheryl Peters to call the police, but she responded that she “didn’t dare” to report the incident.

Cheryl with her five children.

Peters, who worked at nearby Copley Hospital, and Fitzgerald lived in a rental home located on Washington Highway in Morrisville, Vermont. Det. Sgt. Trottier said that on the morning of Septmber 2, 1993, she didn’t show up for work.

“Maybe 10 o’clock or so her boss at Copley Hospital started to make some phone calls to the family just to check up on her and just check in on her,” Trottier said.

At about 1 p.m., Richard Fitzgerald came home and found Cheryl Peters’ deceased body on the couch.

“She was on her couch in her own home in a place that we should all be able to feel safe and someone chose to take her life away from her,” said Heather Gibbs, Vermont State Police Cold Case Specialist.

Pecor said something felt off to her that day.

“She was supposed to pick me up at work that day and take me up to the doctor’s appointment and she never showed up. So I left work to walk to the hospital by myself and my friend Julie drove by. She stopped and she said I was supposed to have coffee with your mom today. When she said that to me, I immediately knew that something was wrong,” said Pecor.

Cheryl’s oldest daughter, Tina Teale, says Carroll Peters was seeking to reconcile with her mother. “At that time, when she died, she was actually trying to move down to Barre to increase the distance between them,” Teale said.

In June 1996, Pecor and her siblings filed a civil complaint on behalf of their mother’s estate that accused Carroll Peters of wrongful death, sexual assault and battery. A trial court dismissed the wrongful death claim because the statute of limitations had expired. But in November 1998, after a three-day trial on the sexual assault and battery claims, the jury returned a verdict awarding Cheryl Peters $125,000 in compensatory damages and $480,000 in punitive damages.  

“They use the statute of limitations to get the wrongful death dismissal, because, at that time, the statute of limitations was two years. He confessed to raping my mom just a couple of weeks before she died,” said Teale.

Carroll Peters did not respond to requests for comment via email and phone. More than two decades after that verdict, police declined to comment on whether they had identified any suspects in Peters’ murder.

Pecor said she was more than a mother to her daughters; she was a force.

“We were raised strong and you know, one of the things that our mother told us was, no matter what happens in life, is gonna throw curveballs at you, but you got to carry on, you got to just keep going. because life doesn’t end,” said Pecor.

If you have any information regarding the murder of Cheryl Peters please contact the Vermont State Police Major Crimes Unit.

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