GREENSBORO, N.C. — Middle school should be a time of innocence – years with few responsibilities.
But behind Rochetta Cheek’s attempt to smile for the camera in her eighth-grade yearbook photo, was a girl doing her best to hide a painful secret.
Years before that picture was taken, her mother began dating Michael Wilson.
Wilson seemed like a father figure.
“He stayed on me about school. I became a great drummer, a great musician. He taught me how to do studio work,” Cheek said.
Cheek says Wilson also taught her how to do home maintenance and construction work.
Wilson also seemed to be someone with certain morals.
“We [were] always in church is the crazy part. For his mother’s church, he was the keyboardist, I was the drummer. He even had me playing drums for various gospel groups,” she said.
But Cheek says Wilson had a dark side.
“A lot of people are going to be mad at me because I’m doing this, but it was really torture,” she said.
She says he mentally, physically and sexually abused her for years.
Cheek says her mother was not aware of the abuse.
Cheek says she lived with Wilson when her mother became involved in drugs and prostitution.
“I would go live with mom, but because of her drug use, we didn’t get along, so it just became where I was forced to stay with him. I had nowhere else to go. I was a kid,” she said.
At 13, Cheek became pregnant with Wilson’s child.
Wilson was in his 30s at the time.
Cheek says she went into labor the night of Nov. 11, 1999, and gave birth at 1:36 a.m. on Nov. 12.
She says Wilson mentioned taking the baby’s life to hide the situation.
“I was like, you can’t do that. Like this is a whole baby, so we rode around for hours and hours. I remember falling asleep – I was so weak and waking up and we’re still in the car,” Cheek said.
Eventually the car would stop an apartment complex on McKnight Mill Road in Greensboro.
Cheek says Wilson took the baby from her arms while she cried in the car.
“I thought he put her in a dumpster. I honestly thought he put her in the dumpster,” she said.
It would be years before Cheek would learn that her baby, who was found under a stairwell in the apartment complex, survived after that day.
This is part of our series on Baby Doe.