Cold case: Sister pleads for information after Portland teen sho - KPTV - FOX 12

Cold case: Sister pleads for information after Portland teen shot in motel parking lot

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Derreck Sherman (KPTV) Derreck Sherman (KPTV)
Crime scene photos (KPTV) Crime scene photos (KPTV)

Who would Derreck Sherman have grown up to be?

It’s a question his siblings have asked since the 17-year-old was gunned down in the parking lot of a north Portland motel.

Sherman’s siblings will never know that answer.

But they still hope to learn the answers to the questions of who killed him and why.

On September 3, 1983, Sherman was staying with friends at what used to be called the Knickerbocker Motel, in the 4700 block of North Interstate Avenue.

Sherman was walking with a friend, while another friend trailed about 30 feet behind them in the parking lot around 3:10 a.m., said Det. Eric McDaniel, an investigator in the Portland Police Bureau’s Cold Case Homicide Unit.

“As they're heading out of the room, they hear what they think is an M-80, a large firecracker,” McDaniel said.

Sherman was shot in the chest.

He was transported to a hospital and died a short time later.

“He turned 17 on August 17. He gets two weeks to be 17, and then he's gone,” said Monica Sherman, one of Sherman’s sisters.

She said the five siblings spent most of their childhoods in foster care, sometimes together, mostly apart.

Most of her memories of her brother come from before they were sent to separate foster homes.

They lost touch, but reconnected in the summer of 1983, she said.

She said her brother was a typical teenager who liked to talk about girls, practice driving her car (“He didn't do so well in that regard,” she said) and listen to Michael Jackson.

Tragedy struck just as they were getting to know each other

“That short time in the summer of 83, I had him. He was mine and then somebody decided against that,” said Monica Sherman. “A bullet decided against it.”

Hours after her brother was killed, Monica Sherman learned another brother was at the Knickerbocker Motel at the time of the shooting. Neither brother knew the other was there.

“If they both would have knew each other were there, maybe Derreck would have changed course and he went over to his room or whatever. We'll never know.”

Monica Sherman believes her brother’s friends could help solve the case.

“You guys are grown men now. At the time this happened, you guys are close-lipped. You didn't have much to give as far as information to tell the police. You were right there by him,” she said.

“I'm asking you as his sister, to just please come forward with anything you know or anything you learned. Just do it for Derreck's sake. For God's sake. It's time,” she said.

”The challenge for investigators in 1983 is the same challenge cold case detectives face now: there’s not a lot of information.

Detectives hope that has changed after three decades.

“Sometimes people are afraid to talk to police due to retaliation,” said McDaniel. “Hopefully with the years gone by, they've realized retaliation isn't an issue. It's doing the right thing.”

They would like to hear from anyone who was in the area that night or who has information about a pair of potential leads.

There was a yellow 1979 Camaro with a unique paint job seen slowing down just prior to the shooting, then speeding away after the shot was fired.

The vehicle had a black L-shaped stripe from the hood down to side of the car, where it made a horizontal line across the doors toward the bumper.

The original investigators also developed a theory Sherman may have been shot in a case of mistaken identity after a white man was conned be was a black man in a game of three-card Monte at the hotel that night.

McDaniel said Sherman and his friends heard the two men playing the card game near their motel room that night and asked them to move.

“The witnesses in the hotel room heard the white man in a kind of an argumentative, forceful way, the white man say he wanted his 30 dollars back or his weed, his marijuana from the black man,” he said.

That white man was about 18-23 years old, 5’9” to 5’11” tall, 180-190 pounds. He had sandy brown hair down his jacket collar was wearing brow boots, blue jeans and a ¾ length camouflage jacket.

If you have any information about this crime, contact Det. Eric McDaniel at or the Cold Case Homicide Unit at 503-823-0400.

You can call leave a tip on the Portland police website

To remain anonymous, you can provide information through Crime Stoppers of Oregon. You can also leave an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip online at, text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip, or call (503) 823-HELP (4357) and leave your tip information.

Visit to download the TipSubmit app for the iPhone or Droid.

Information about unsolved homicides can lead to a reward of up to $2,500 cash from Crime Stoppers.

Information learned from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube should be shared as these tips may lead to the identification of a suspect or suspects. Links can be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

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