Plea deal resolves 25-year-old murder mystery

Plea deal resolves 25-year-old murder mystery »Play Video
Sherry Eyerly is pictured in this file photo. She disappeared while delivering pizza in the Salem area in 1982.

SALEM, Ore. - A 25-year-old Salem mystery over the disappearance of a young pizza-delivery woman ended Tuesday with the plea of a convicted murderer.

William Scott Smith entered a guilty plea in a hearing surrounded by law enforcement officials and attended by the family of victim Sherry Eyerly.

She vanished on July 4, 1982, while delivering three large Domino's pizzas. The 18-year-old's car was found with the engine running near the address of the order - less than an hour after she left. The three pizzas were on the ground near her car.

Volunteers searched for days but she never turned up.

To crack the case so many years later, investigators in a cold case unit re-examined evidence and confronted Smith in prison, where he confessed.

Detectives said Smith and an accomplice planned to kidnap Eyerly and hold her for ransom.

"One of the facts that never came out publicly ... is that the next day after the abduction there was actually a ransom call that went into Domino's," said Don Abar of the Marion County District Attorney's Office.

Investigators suspected Smith because he was a serial killer.

He is already serving two life sentences for the sex slayings of two other young Salem women in separate attacks in 1984. Both were dumped in Salem near the Pudding River. Smith reportedly told police he also hid Eyerly's body in the same area.

Authorities said Tuesday that searches of the area didn't turn up anything - likely because of significant flooding over the past 25 years. Eyerly's body has never been found.

As part of the plea deal, a third life sentence will be tacked on to the two Smith is already serving.