On the evening of September 21, 2001, Sherri Lynn Malarik left her home, assuring her children that she would return shortly. Regrettably, she did not come back. The following morning, her lifeless body was discovered in a parking lot at Cantonment Winn Dixie. As a highly regarded member of society and an employee of the US Navy, her murder shocked those who knew her, as it seemed inconceivable that she could fall victim to such a crime. The documentary ‘Dateline: The Sleepover’ delves into the circumstances surrounding her murder, exploring the details of the events leading up to that night and investigating whether her killer was ever apprehended.
How Did Sherri Malarik Die?
Sherri Lynn Malarik, born on February 12, 1967, in San Diego, California, was a woman of dedication and ambition. Building a solid career for herself, she joined the US Navy and was stationed in Bermuda, where she crossed paths with Gregory Paul Malarik. Finding genuine companionship, the two decided to embark on the journey of marriage. At the time of their union, Sherri had a 4-year-old son named Jacob, while Gregory also had a son of the same age named Gregory. Together, they merged their families and soon expanded with the addition of three children they welcomed together: Jay, Jamie, and Tera.
In 2001, after seven years of marriage and while working as an air traffic controller with the US Navy, Sherri found herself amid a bustling life. Her family included her husband Gregory and their five children: 11-year-old Jacob and Gregory and three younger children they had together, all under six years old. On September 21, 2001. Sherri stepped out of the house, leaving her children inside. As the night progressed without her return, growing concern led her husband to contact both the police and their extended family.
On the morning of September 22, 2001, 34-year-old Sherri’s lifeless body was found in the family van. Parked in a Cantonment Winn Dixie parking lot, she was found lying on the passenger floorboard. The scene revealed two gunshot wounds to her head, and the subsequent coroner’s report confirmed that she had succumbed to these injuries. The report further specified that the weapon used in this horrific incident was a -25 caliber handgun.
Who Killed Sherri Malarik?
The investigation into the murder of Sherri Lynn Malarik faced significant challenges, with initial suspicions falling on Gregory Paul Malarik, her husband. However, the alleged mishandling of the evidence linking him to the crime, coupled with the absence of the murder weapon, led to a standstill in the case. Decades passed, and the investigation went cold. It wasn’t until March 2020 that a breakthrough occurred. Greg Malarik was formally charged with Sherri’s murder following new information provided by Jennifer Spohn, a woman identified as Greg’s ex-girlfriend. Spohn claimed to have had an affair with Greg around the time of Sherri’s murder, providing the police with fresh leads in the long-standing case.
Spohn claimed that she and Greg were having an affair when Sherri was stationed in Greece. They had met while Greg was stationed overseas and had continued with the affair after coming back. Spohn was introduced to Sherri and Greg’s children as their babysitter and she started coming to the house frequently. Greg was promptly arrested following Spohn’s statement, and the subsequent trial took place in 2022. During the trial, Sherri’s older son, Jacob, testified that when his mother was absent, Spohn would be called to babysit during Greg’s Masonic Lodge meetings. Jacob alleged that Spohn’s visits became increasingly prolonged, extending to hours before and after Greg’s return. Over time, Jacob and Greg’s son, Gregory, suspected an affair between Spohn and Greg.
During the trial, Jennifer Spohn provided damning testimony against Greg, securing immunity in exchange for her cooperation. She claimed that Greg frequently made jokes about killing his wife and even sent her a link to a news article about a man beating a polygraph test. On the night of the murder, September 21, 2001, Greg allegedly instructed Spohn to be at the Winn-Dixie parking lot by 7 p.m. Spohn recounted seeing Greg walking out of his family van, revealing that he mentioned shooting Sherri twice because she didn’t die with just one shot.
According to Spohn, Greg left a bag in her car, which she subsequently threw from a bridge. Among the items in the bag was the alleged murder weapon. Jacob’s testimony during the trial painted a different picture of Greg Malarik’s behavior, alleging that he was an abusive father. According to Jacob, the physical abuse intensified when his mother was not at home. Recounting the night of the murder, Jacob claimed that Greg called for a family meeting and informed them of their mother’s death but provided no emotional support. Jacob expressed the feeling that Greg was subtly instructing the children to remain silent if questioned about Sherri’s death.
Another witness, Lisa Leake also testified at the trial and alleged that she heard Greg calling Sherri, and after she went outside, there was a sound resembling a “pop” like a firecracker. Subsequently, Greg returned to the house, promptly taking a shower and changing his clothes. This information contradicted Greg’s initial statement to the police during the investigation. He had claimed that he was working on an air compressor when Sherri informed him she was going to the market with the family van but did not return.
Greg Malarik’s trial in 2022 ended in a mistrial due to the jury’s failure to reach a unanimous decision. His subsequent trial in October 2023 saw his defense asserting that Jennifer Spohn’s testimony was manipulated, emphasizing that she provided her statement under duress during prolonged police questioning. They argued that she merely echoed a theory presented by law enforcement during interrogation.
The defense contended that Spohn had her motives and opportunities to commit the murder, and there was insufficient evidence linking Greg to the crime. In the 2023 trial, Greg was acquitted of first-degree premeditated murder, securing his release from the courtroom as a free man. Till now, no one has been found guilty of the murder of Sherri Malarik.
Read More: Where is Greg Malarik Now?