A killer stepdad responsible for the disappearance and murder of his teenage stepdaughter made a chilling claim years after she disappeared, maintaining to his other stepdaughter she was still alive.
Rodney Michael Cherry is serving two life sentences for the murder of his wife Annette – whom he ordered his stepdaughter Deborah Guise to shoot dead – and his other stepdaughter Kira Guise, 18, in the late 1990s.
Cherry has maintained his innocence over Kira’s death, whose remains have never been found.
In a chilling statement to Deborah at a regional Queensland motel, Cherry maintained Kira was still alive and expressed concern for her safety.
“No mate, I haven’t heard jack s**t from her mate,” Cherry tells Deborah.
“I’m, I’m worried that she’s in trouble, or she’s got herself bloody hurt or some ‘f***in thing.
“Because you know, there was calls early in the piece and they were going to me mobile because she probably didn’t know the home number.”
Moments later, Chery’s hotel room was raided by police and he was arrested.
The transcript is contained in a recent Parole Board of Queensland (PBQ) judgment after Cherry applied for parole, some two decades after receiving two life sentences.
His application was rejected – the board finding he had not done enough to help locate Kira’s remains despite maintaining his innocence.
The judgment also contains bizarre claims mounted by Cherry that Kira sent him a letter in the years after her disappearance, where she purports to say she had been “recognised”.
He claims the letter itself “mysteriously vanished from my filing cabinet along with seven birth certificates” and police had destroyed it.
“It is the next best thing so that they can never be sued to establish the truth about my wrongful conviction,” Cherry claimed in his application.
In 1997 in Roma, Cherry ordered his stepdaughter, Deborah Guise, to murder his wife Annette.
The pair were in the middle of a bitter custody dispute and Annette had reported him to police as he was having a sexual relationship with Kira, then 17.
Appeal court documents state Cherry had told another woman, Caroline McGregor, that “no court in the land could prove he had been sleeping with Kira” and she would “not say anything”.
Deborah gave evidence at Cherry’s trial she went to Annette’s house with the loaded gun, where her stepfather told her “we’ve got to get rid of her”.
“Although she could not recall the act, she knew she had pulled out the pistol and fired a shot,” the appeal judgment states.
Two years later he murdered Kira, believing she knew of his part in Annette’s death.
In 2002, Cherry was found guilty of both murders, receiving two life sentences with a mandatory minimum parole period of 20 years.
Deborah was convicted of Annette’s manslaughter and later perjury after giving false testimony during two Supreme Court trials.
She was sentenced to four years‘ jail, which was wholly suspended for perjury, and six years’ jail for manslaughter.
Cherry was arrested in a dramatic sting at a motel in Blackall in 2001, where Deborah was recorded trying to elicit a confession for his role in Annette’s death.
Under Queensland law, Cherry is considered a no body, no parole prisoner.
Because of this, he cannot be granted parole unless the parole board is satisfied he has co-operated satisfactorily in locating the victim’s body.
As part of his submissions, Cherry claimed Kira had been seen twice in central Queensland between 1999 and 2000.
Her letter contained what he said was crucial testimony from his missing stepdaughter where she disclosed she had been “recognised” by two people at a sailing club in Yeppoon.
The letter itself has never been produced and Cherry never raised it during his first trial or appeal in 2004.
The parole board also noted he had never told Deborah about the letter while they were at the Blackall motel.
Police searches of Cherry’s house did not locate the letter either.
“It is evident to the board that the applicant had an opportunity at the time of the search to disclose to police the location of the letter,” the judgment states.
“He did not do that, and now suggests police found the letter at some stage and would have destroyed it.”
In his submissions, Cherry also claimed: “An intensive police investigation conducted over a period of almost six months using the full array of powers ordinarily available to police, has failed to gather sufficient evidence to warrant the arrest of any person for the disappearance of Kira.”
“It cannot reasonably be supposed that this situation would change with the passage of time,” he said.
The board rejected this submission, noting he was given opportunities to cross-examine witnesses during last year’s hearings.
It was noted Cherry said he understood the nature of the parole hearings but instead insisted on bringing up “matters regarding his conviction and innocence”.
“The board formed the view there is no substance in the Applicant’s submission on this point,” the published judgment states.
In rejecting his findings, the board said Cherry had not given any “reliable, truthful, complete and relevant” information in helping find Kira’s remains.
“It is open to the board to accept that the applicant has a real capacity to give co-operation over and above making assertions that he was not involved in the murder,” the judgment states.