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When a real estate executive disappears, his family thinks he may have amnesia.
Twenty-six year old John Cheek seemed destined for success. Fresh out of business school, he had been hired as the Chief Financial Officer for one of Memphis, Tennessee’s largest real estate companies. By the age of 28, John had bought this house in East Memphis, and was hard at work putting together the deal of a lifetime. For months, John had helped lay the groundwork to take his company public. He was working 18 hour days and flying all over the world to meet with investors.
Finally, by December of 1993, the deal was on the verge of closing. Millions of dollars were on the line. The company was about to be thrust into the national spotlight, literally overnight. Arrena Cheek is John’s mother:
On December 2, 1993, John didn’t show up for work and surprise quickly turned to concern at the company headquarters. Dee Reed was one of John’s co-workers:
Early the next morning, John’s car was found abandoned on Interstate 55 where the highway crosses over the Mississippi River. It was about 12 miles from John’s home. Memphis Police homicide Sergeant Jack Ruby:
Police theorized that John had committed suicide by jumping into the Mississippi River. However, searches of the river and its banks failed to locate his body. And, to those who knew him best, like his father Dr. Richard Cheek, suicide seemed to be out of the question:
Two months passed with no leads, no word from John, and no reason to believe that he was even alive. Then, on February 14, 1994, a trucker named Ron Jackson rolled into town. Over the years, Ron had seen hundreds of missing person flyers at truck stops all across the country. He was stunned when he saw the face of someone he actually recognized. Ron said it was the young man he had met just the day before:
Ron found the young drifter sleeping at a Virginia truck stop, 700 miles from John Cheek’s hometown:
He didn’t tell Ron his name, but the man did say he had spent some time in an Arkansas homeless shelter:
Ron and the drifter were headed in opposite directions, so outside the cafeteria they said goodbye. For the Cheek family, Ron’s sighting was welcome news. Dr. Richard Cheek:
For John’s parents, the most promising detail was Ron’s description of the young man’s shoes: slip on moccasins. John had a pair that was identical and his father believed he might be wearing them:
No one can be sure why John vanished. His father believes he might have suffered a sudden episode of stress-induced amnesia known as the “fugue state:”
Since Ron Jackson’s sighting, there has been no other sign of John Cheek.