Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mother of slain girl, 13, says she sneaked out but 'never stayed gone'

RIVERVIEW — Janessa Shannon had sneaked out of her mother's Bradenton home before. So Michelle Mosley wasn't happy when she found out her 13-year-old daughter had done it again, winding up at a boy's house.

As punishment, Janessa was returned to her father's home in Riverview a day early, Mosley said Sunday. It was the last time she would see her daughter.

The father, Nahshon Shannon, grounded her that night. He checked on Janessa the following day, he said, and found no one in her bedroom at his home at 11219 Cocoa Beach Drive. He reported her disappearance to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on July 3, a Monday.

Nine days later, a hiker would come across the teen's decomposing body in the woods of the Triple Creek Nature Preserve. The Sheriff's Office is treating her death as a homicide but released few other details. Agency officials never publicized her disappearance, later saying she was a habitual runaway and the case was treated as such.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Body found in Hillsborough preserve identified as missing 13-year-old girl

Mosley, 34, said she doesn't consider her daughter a habitual runaway, noting that she usually heard from Janessa if she left.

"She had snuck out before," Mosley said. "But she never stayed gone."

The frantic mother took to Facebook, pleading with friends to share Janessa's story. She and her three other daughters traversed the Bradenton and Riverview areas passing out fliers and pulling others into the search. Nahshon Shannon, too, said he distributed fliers, drove around the area and canvassed his neighborhood, desperate to find his daughter.

He reported her absence to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Meanwhile, the local agency the family enlisted for help, the Sheriff's Office, stayed tight-lipped. The first information released to the public on Janessa's disappearance came Saturday, when the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner confirmed the body was Janessa.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cristal Nuñez would not disclose details Sunday of the agency's efforts to locate the girl. Nor would she say if there is a person of interest to investigators.

"Our first priority is to put someone in handcuffs," Nuñez said, "not to get out information that could compromise that."

She said a colonel will answer questions at a news conference Monday.

In an interview Sunday, Nahshon Shannon, 37, gave this account of the circumstances leading up to her disappearance:

After arriving from Bradenton, Janessa ate dinner, then went to her room on the night of July 1. He didn't see her around the house the next day as he went in and out going about his regular routine, he said. He didn't check on her again until about 5 p.m. July 2. When he opened her bedroom door, the room looked normal, but she wasn't there.

He assumed she was upset that she was being punished and had gone for a walk. But she didn't return, he said.

He reported it to the Sheriff's Office about noon on July 3, he said. His first thought was that she had run away, but he told deputies he couldn't be sure.

Both he and Mosley questioned why more wasn't done to find her.

"I wanted them to search for her, be active," he said. "My daughter is a beautiful spirit, a spirited young person ... I hope we find out exactly what happened to her, and the person responsible."

On Saturday, Hillsborough County deputies surrounded Nahshon Shannon's home in the Riverview neighborhood of Rivercrest. Three forensic trucks were at the scene. Neighbors said he has lived there for just over three years.

By evening, crime scene tape blocked off his front and back yard as deputies went in and out of the home with cameras and evidence bags. At one point, they carried out a window screen.

Sabrena Remillard, a neighbor for more than a year, said Shannon appeared to have a good relationship with his daughter.

Remillard, 45, said she helped the girl's father plaster missing person fliers all around the area, taping one to the inside of a window on her blue Dodge Charger.

When she walked outside to see her street flooded with investigators on Saturday, the day Janessa's body was identified, Remillard said she felt sadness but also anger.

"Her face should've been on every news station on God's green Earth," Remillard said, "but instead we're having to bury her."

Remillard, along with other friends and family of Janessa, say the agency should have put out a public notice that the girl was missing. She said it could have improved the chance of her being found earlier, and most importantly, alive.

Janessa has spent much of her life going back and forth between her parents' houses, Mosley said. At her dad's, she attended Rodgers Middle School during the school year and was going to Eisenhower Middle School for summer school to improve her grades, Nahshon Shannon said. She spent some weekends at her mother's house, learning to fish from Mosley's boyfriend and hanging out with her three sisters, Destiny, 19; Casia, 15; and Jalyssa, 12.

About 50 people gathered Sunday night for a vigil at a home in West Palmetto, including children on the sidewalk who held up posters, one proclaiming, "We all love you, Janessa Shannon."

Before the gathering broke up, 13 blue balloons floated to the sky in remembrance of Janessa's short life.

Mosley remembered on Sunday the last conversation they had before Janessa's father picked her up.

It was after a family day at the beach, and Mosley was telling her why she was going back to her dad's early, and why she shouldn't sneak out anymore.

"I just explained to her ... that I cared about her, loved her," Mosley said, "and I don't want anything bad to ever happen to her."

Times staff writers Colleen Wright, Sara DiNatale and senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

Mother of slain girl, 13, says she sneaked out but 'never stayed gone' 07/16/17 [Last modified: Monday, July 17, 2017 11:34am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.

    NHL Hall of Fame hockey player Dave Andreychuk , center, visits with Phil Esposito, right, while joined by family and friends at center ice where Andreychuk was honored for his recent induction into the HL Hall of Fame before Saturday?ˆš???€š‚? ̈?€š„??s (11/18/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Andreychuk, a 6-foot-4 power forward, scored more power-play goals ?ˆš???€š‚? ̈?€š€ 274 ?ˆš???€š‚? ̈?€š€ than anyone in NHL history.
  2. Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — It's been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said he welcomes an inquiry by the Senate Ethics Committee into allegations of misconduct in 2006.
  3. Why few women of color in wave of accusers? 'Stakes higher'

    Nation

    PHILADELPHIA — In the weeks since dozens of women have accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape or sexual harassment, unleashing an avalanche of similar charges against other prominent men across American life, women and men of color have been largely absent from the national furor.

    Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o’s account of an unsettling encounter drew a quick denial from Harvey Weinstein.
  4. AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

    Nation

    NEW YORK — Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the bawdy hard rock band AC/DC who helped create such head-banging anthems as Highway to Hell, Hells Bells and Back in Black, has died. He was 64.

    From left, singer Brian Johnson performs next to brothers Malcolm and Angus Young of legendary Australian hard rock band AC/DC on Sept. 15, 1984, at the Palais Omnisport of Paris Bercy.
  5. Zimbabweans say Mugabe must quit now, but more talks planned

    World

    HARARE, Zimbabwe — Giddy with joy and finally free to speak out, vast throngs of demonstrators turned Zimbabwe's capital into a carnival ground on Saturday in a peaceful outpouring of disdain for President Robert Mugabe and calls for him to quit immediately. Still clinging to his now-powerless post, the longtime …

    Zimbabwean soldiers bump fists with joyful protesters thanking them near Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare, Zimbabwe Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Opponents of Mugabe are demonstrating for the ouster of the 93-year-old leader who is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies. Writing in Shona on poster refers to Mugabe in a respectful way saying “Go and rest now”. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) ABC111