Details of Disappearance
Jami was married to Steven Frank Sherer at the time of her 1990 disappearance and the couple had a young son. They lived in Redmond, Washington at the time. A photo of Steven is posted below this case summary. Their marriage was quite troubled and Jami had decided to seek a divorce from Steven by the autumn of 1990. She left their residence during the evening of September 29 and spent the night at her parents' home with their son.
Jami agreed to meet Steven the following morning after he pleaded with her during a phone call to reconsider her divorce plans. Jami left their child in her parents' care and drove to meet her husband during the morning hours of September 30, 1990. She called her mother at approximately 8:30 a.m. and said that Steven grabbed her purse and ran off; Jami assumed he was headed for their residence and planned to meet him there to retrieve her belongings. She called her parents again at approximately 11:45 a.m. and said Steven was indeed at the couple's home. Jami said she planned to stop at Taco Time, a local fast food restaurant, and purchase lunch before returning to her parents' house. She has never been heard from again. Her mother stated that Jami did not sound distressed during their final phone conversation.
Steven called Jami's parents approximately 30 minutes after his wife's final call. He called again 15 minutes later, inquiring as to Jami's whereabouts. Jami's mother told authorities that she was accustomed to her son-in-law's frequent phone calls; he often checked in many times a day when Jami was visiting her family and was very possessive of her. Jami's mother became concerned for her daughter's well-being when Steven failed to call until 6:00 p.m., which was extremely unusual for him. He said there was no sign of Jami and he was going to pick up their son from her parents' house. Authorities learned later that Steven had already contacted some of his own family members and friends to announce that Jami was missing by this time. Steven told Jami's family that he was too distraught to return to the couple's home, so her parents allowed him to stay at their house with their grandson occasionally throughtout the coming week.
Jami's charcoal 1980 Mazda RX 7 was discovered abandoned several days after her disappearance in a Shoreline, Washington church parking lot. Her purse was missing from the vehicle, but investigators located her suitcase inside. Her clothing was packed in the luggage, but Jami's underwear was missing. There was no trace of her at the scene.
Steven was considered the prime suspect in Jami's disappearance from the onset. His friends reported that he began behaving strangely after she disappeared. Nine days after her disappearance, he attempted suicide with carbon monoxide, but called 911 and was taken to a hospital before any serious damage was done. Steven began dating other women within a few weeks of Jami's disappearance. He frequented bars and wore Jami's panties tied around his arm. He also wore her necklace, telling people it made him feel "closer" to his missing wife. Steven frequently claimed to be a widower on official documents. He informed several friends that Jami was killed in a car accident and told others she had been a victim of the Green River serial killer. Her car showed no sign of being involved in any type of traffic incident and there was no evidence to suggest Jami's disappearance was linked to the Green River cases. Steven aroused more suspicion when he reportedly told another friend he was "glad" Jami was gone.
Steven took over Jami's finances in early October 1990 and cashed all of her assets. His sister contacted authorities and stated that she saw a large red spot on the carpeting of her brother's residence shortly after Jami vanished. Investigators searched the Sherers' home and discovered that a portion of the carpet had recently been repeatedly steam-cleaned; a new piece of carpet had been sloppily placed over the area where Steven's sister stated she saw a stain. Neighbors said that Steven hired a carpet cleaning service during the days following his wife's disappearance. A friend said that he saw a shovel in Steven's truck on October 1, the day after Jami was last seen. The shovel was not normally carried in the vehicle.
Investigators did not have enough formal evidence to charge Steven in connection with Jami's case for several years. Jami and Steven met in 1986. Jami was initially unaware that Steven had a prior criminal record for abusing a former girlfriend; he'd hurt her so badly she had to be hospitalized. Jami's loved ones noticed a dramatic change in her behavior after becoming involved with Steven. He requested that she bleach her brown hair blonde and also asked her to get breast implants. Jami and Steven were married in 1987; their son was born in 1988. By most accounts, Steven was very possessive of his wife. Besides Jami's mother's statements regarding his constant phone calls while Jami visited her family, he also apparently made further restrictions on Jami's time. Jami lost one job due to excessive tardiness and absences in the late 1980s, and her family and friends maintain that Steven's demands caused the job loss.
Investigators learned that Steven placed advertisements in adult magazines looking for group sex while married to Jami. It is believed that Jami consented to such arrangements at her husband's request, as nothing in her past leads authorities to believe she was involved in such relationships before she met Steven. Steven also asked friends to participate in group sexual encounters.
Steven continued to add to his criminal record throughout his marriage to Jami. He was charged with assaulting a police officer, burglary, theft and various traffic violations in the late 1980s. Steven was treated for alcoholism around this time as well. Jami had apparently tired of Steven's behavior and wanted a divorce by September 1990. It has been established that she was having an affair with a friend of Steven's at the time of her disappearance.
Steven's sister reported that he asked her to make an appointment for him to meet with a priest several years after Jami vanished. He claimed that he did "something bad" and needed to confess. He also continued to have problems with the law in the 1990s. Steven was wounded by a gunshot in a 1992 bar brawl. He also violated the terms of his probation for a previous arrest by using cocaine and failing to meet with his probation officer. He was given deferred prosecution in Arizona in 1999 for possession of crack cocaine. Steven has used at least 12 different aliases over the years, many of them equipped with false identification. He has a criminal record under his most commonly used identification, Steven Christopher Michaels.
Jami was declared legally dead in 1997. Steven was arrested on first-degree murder charges for her presumed death in March 2000. He was found guilty and sentenced to 60 years in prison in June 2000. Steven has maintained his innocence throughout the years. While in prison, additional years were added to his sentence after he was charged with attempting to have Jami's parents' house burned down. His son was living there at the time. It is unlikely that Steven will ever be released. Jami has never been located. Foul play is presumed in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Crime writer Ann Rule included the Sherers' case in her 2000 book, Empty Promises: And Other True Cases. It is Volume Seven in Rule's Crime Files series.
Above: Steven Sherer, circa 1998