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Shannon was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. in her hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky on July 6, 1986. She was walking from 2nd and Poplar Streets to 12th and Haynes Streets to visit a family friend, John Reneer, who lived approximately two miles from her location at that time. Shannon never arrived at her destination and has not been heard from again.
A few days after Shannon's disappearance, a man who identified himself as "Dwayne" called her mother and said he and Shannon had run away to get married. The caller has never been identified and the message is now thought to be a hoax, possibly made to mislead the investigation. Another Owensboro teenager, David "DeWayne" Bell, disappeared a few days after Shannon did. They knew each other, and were together at a mutual friend's home the day before she disappeared. Investigators believe the cases may be linked and DeWayne possibly had knowledge of her disappearance. DeWayne and Shannon's disappearances may be related to the abduction of a 23-year-old woman who disappeared from Owensboro on June 17, 1986. Her body was found near a boat ramp on October 2 of that year. However, no connections have been proven.
Authorities have long suspected that John Reneer was involved in Shannon's case. He is convicted murderer and sex offender and a former friend of the Bell family. He maintains his innocence and has identified DeWayne and his father, David Bell, as being involved in Shannon's case. Reneer claims DeWayne confessed to strangling Shannon in 1986 and implicated his father. Reneer stated he tape-recorded the confession and turned it over to police. The tape was apparently documented in police files but never saved, and records of it were not found until the fall of 2005. Reneer stated he wanted to kill DeWayne and David after hearing the confession, but never got a chance to do so. He has passed a lie detector test about his role in Shannon and DeWayne's disappearances.
David, who moved to Arizona shortly after his son's disappearance, maintains his innocence in Shannon's case and stated that he did not believe DeWayne was involved in it either. He theorized that Reneer caused Shannon's disappearance and DeWayne found out about it and was murdered to ensure his silence. Investigators still believe Reneer was complicit in Shannon's disappearance, whether or not the supposed confession is true. Authorities also stated David gave inconsistent accounts of the events leading up to DeWayne's disappearance, but he has not been charged in that case or Shannon's.
Shannon was a student at Owensboro High School at the time of her disappearance; she made good grades and had a steady boyfriend. She was initially thought to be a runaway, but foul play is now suspected in her case. In 2005, authorities searched for her body in a field across the railroad tracks near Kentucky 279. The search turned up no evidence, but investigators feel that Shannon's body was in the field at some point. Her disappearance remains unsolved.