An adopted woman has learned the shocking truth about her birth mother after she read a book about a serial killer duo who was accused of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering as many as twenty-five women throughout the 1980s. The woman, Cheryl Gyant, was adopted at birth but did not learn that she was adopted until she reached ten years old. In an interview with People, Gyant described how horrified she became after learning that her birth mother, Sheryl Okoro, was likely the victim of deranged serial killers who targeted women in California.
After Okoro suddenly disappeared from San Francisco, California, in 1984, she likely became a victim of serial killers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, according to prosecutors. The serial killer duo claimed that their killing spree was inspired by the 1963 thriller novel The Collector.
Gyant learned about her mother’s fate after a heartbreaking eleven-page letter and nude photos were found near the remote bunker in northern California that the killers used to hold their victims and torture them.
When Gyant came upon the letter, she knew that it was written by her birth mother, and she continues to treasure the letter because it is all she has of the woman who brought her into the world.
“Those 11 pages are all I have of my mother,” said Gyant. The adopted woman wrote a fictionalized biography of her mother entitled A Letter from Sheri.
The killing spree attributed to Lake and Ng came to an abrupt end in 1985. Lake was arrested for shoplifting and later committed suicide using a cyanide pill that he had
concealed on his person. Meanwhile, Ng fled to Canada, where he was later extricated for trial in the United States to face murder charges.
It took years to track down Ng, but he was convicted of killing six men, three women, and two baby boys after a trial in 1999. Ng, now 62, remains on California’s death row. However, prosecutors claimed that the killers probably murdered as many as twenty-five people during their reign of terror across northern California.
Meanwhile, Okoro suffered a tragic childhood. She grew up in Michigan and ran away from home several times, and became pregnant at age sixteen. When she turned twenty-six, she was living in San Francisco’s Pink Palace apartment complex when she was approached by Lake who offered to give her work on a “pot farm.” Okoro was never seen again.
According to prosecutors, Lake was obsessed with pornography as a teen. He later became enthralled with the novel The Collector, which is about a man who kidnaps a woman named Miranda and keeps her as a slave. Lake and Ng nicknamed their crimes “Operation Miranda.”
The pair of men obtained a 2.5-acre compound about 150 miles east of San Francisco in Calaveras County. The property included a bunker with three rooms. Two rooms were hidden. One room was outfitted like a cell with a bed covered with a foam pad, a plastic bucket, and toilet paper.