Editor's note: "AC360°" is investigating some of the nation's most notorious cold cases. Watch nightly at 10 ET.
(CNN) - Cherrie Mahan was 8 years old when she disappeared from her bus stop one day after school in 1985. Now, nearly 26 years after she vanished, the lead investigator says there could be a break in the case.
"Recently, a person contacted Pennsylvania State Police, and they have the potential to be crucial to the investigation in the future," Trooper Robert McGraw said. "We're highly optimistic that this lead has the potential to bring closure to Cherrie's family."
Cherrie was the first child to appear on a "Have You Seen Me?" mailer, soon after she disappeared February 22, 1985.
She was last seen getting off a school bus and was supposed to walk 200 feet to her home in rural Winfield Township in western Pennsylvania. On any other day, her mother would have been there to meet her.
"I should have been there when Cherrie got off the school bus, and I wasn't," Janice McKinney told CNN's Randi Kaye. "Four o'clock, the bus came, and we heard it. And she just never came up the driveway."
Since that moment, Cherrie's mother has been living every parent's nightmare. "I think my guilt started at that point, because up until that day, I was there. And if I would have been there, I wouldn't be going through this," she said.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with