Living Woman Reads About Her Own Murder in the Newspaper

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People were shocked to learn that Cheri Schumann was dead. Especially Cheri Schumann. (via Tri-City Herald)

In a recent story about Kennewick High School’s Class of 1971 reunion, Cheri Schumann—now Cheri Taylor—was listed as one of the classmates who had died since graduation. Taylor, who is very much alive and based north of Seattle, found out about the disturbing journalistic gaffe on Sunday after her sister received a message from a friend offering her condolences.

“It was very unsettling,” Taylor told Tri-City Herald, a daily newspaper based in Kennewick, Wash., and the same publication that made the error. “It’s not like I dropped off the face of the Earth,” she added. “I haven’t been [in Kennewick] for 35 years, but for goodness sake, I didn’t die.”

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The newspaper article, which ran on Saturday, listed seven people from the 1971 class who’d been killed—(a really high number of murder victims for one class, no?)—and Taylor’s “death” was described as: “Cheri Schumann, killed in 1996, details unknown.”

“I was murdered in 1996,” Taylor told KOMO, a local news station. “I don’t feel dead.”

Taylor was even mailed an invitation to the 40-year high school reunion, but didn’t attend because the date coincided with a wedding. Had she gone, she would’ve seen the black balloons and memorial dedicated to the slain alums—a group that included herself. After calling the newspaper about the blunder, Taylor learned that a reunion organizer, Debra Blum, had received word that Taylor had been killed. News spread to a reporter at Tri-City Herald and the story on the high school’s “murdered” alums was printed.

Blum plans to call Taylor to apologize for the mistake and to “catch up.”

Taylor, who is married with four children, plans to attend the next reunion “just to prove I’m around.” The newspaper article also erroneously listed another 1971 Kennewick alum as a 2007 murder victim. Instead, that classmate had passed away in 2004 after a lengthy illness.

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Kai Ma is a TIME contributor. Find her on Twitter at @Kai_Ma or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
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