RAINIER, Ore. (KOIN) — Sharri Presswood was 26 and pregnant with her fourth child when she last spoke with her family in August 1992. About 3 weeks later, her body and the bodies of 2 of her children were found in the woods six miles south of Rainier.
Their deaths were quickly ruled homicide but who killed them remains unknown.
Sharri’s sister, Shirley Anthony, has never spoken publicly about this case. Until now.
“My gut was telling me something was really wrong because she wouldn’t just take off and not tell somebody,” Shirley told KOIN 6 News.
The fact was she was terrified something bad had happened to Sharri and her kids.
“I found out later there was food set out on the counter, like something that came out of the freezer that she was going to make for dinner or whatever the night she disappeared. And it was still there.”
Shirley was close with her younger sister, who lived in an apartment on 33rd Street in Longview. Shirley often helped her sister with the kids.
“Oh, she loved her kids,” Heather Wixon, 4, and 2-year-old Jeffrey Wixon. “They were her life. I mean, like most mothers, you know, that’s what her life wrapped around.”
Sharri had a boyfriend and a baby just a few months old named Brian. She was pregnant with her 4th child when she was killed. When she disappeared her boyfriend was with their baby son.
Shirley also spoke about the father of her sister’s other two children
“I think she had a little bit of friction with her ex-boyfriend’s family and him, you know? They were exes for a reason,” Shirley said. “She had problems. I mean, we all do. So, no, it wasn’t perfect but it was the best life she could do at the time.”
Days went by. There was still no sign of Sharri or the kids at their apartment or anywhere else.
“The hardest part for me is it was toward the end of the month,” Shirley said. “When she didn’t pay her rent, the people that had the apartments went in and cleared everything out. So if there was any evidence in there, it was gone.”
Several weeks later, a disturbing discovery was made west of Rainier, Oregon. not far from where they grew up. In the woods off Lost Creek Road, human remains were found.
“She was found on a gentleman’s property,” Shirley said. “He was out there on his property and he found them.”
As authorities worked to positively identify the bodies, the children’s father told “Newsroom 6” — as KOIN 6 News was then known — he was scared it was them.
“Very, very scared. Very, very scared,” Tim Wixon told KOIN 6 News reporter Sandy James in September 1992. “I don’t know what to do, just wait and see what happens here. From what I read in the paper and seen on TV, they way they found them, I just don’t know.”
Dental records confirmed the bodies were Sharri, Heather and Jeffrey.
An Oregon State Police spokesperson told Newsroom 6 at that time, “The cause of death in the adult female is asphyxiation. The cause of death of the 2 children is undetermined at this point. The manner of death in all 3 is homicide.”
The spokesperson said the bodies were so badly decomposed “we many never know how the children died.”
For Shirley, one of the hardest parts is the death of the children.
“It’s hard to think about because they should be here and I should be their Aunt Shirley and we should be out having fun,” she said. “You know, they were so innocent. What did they ever do? Nothing. Nothing. It just kills me. It really does.”
Sharri, Heather and Jeffrey were reported missing August 22, 1992. They were found on September 9, 1992. Now, 27 years later, the case remains an open investigation for the Oregon State Police.
“We take this job to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves, and homicides are the ultimate people that can’t,” OSP Captain Tim Fox told KOIN 6 News recently. “We want to solve these and we’re always putting new eyes on them, trying to figure them out.”
But detectives need more help from the public to solve this case, new tips they can investigate.
“If there’s anybody out there, please, if you have information, come forward. It’s been long enough,” Shirley said. “I’m hoping that this will help some, jog someone’s memory or maybe somebody is feeling guilty that they know something.”
After all this time, Shirley Anthony said she just wants to know what happened. She’s still frustrated and thinks about it all the time, she said.
“How did she end up where she ended up? Why isn’t she here with us anymore?”
She also wants justice for Sharri and the kids.
“Since they can’t be here they deserve at least that.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Oregon State Police at 503.378.3720.