When any child goes missing, communities go into panic mode. Amber alerts are issued and police organizations amp up their search to do their best to find the missing child.
Sometimes, parents receive the most devastating news that their child is gone forever, or even worse, has been killed. However, there are those incredible times that police receive a lead which helps them find the missing child. Yet, in this case, the lead police uncovered was terrifying…
Featured Photo Credit: www.thesun.co.uk
Who is Shannon Matthews?
In 2008, Shannon Matthews was a 9-year-old little girl living in Dewsbury, England. The thing she was most excited about was going on a swimming trip with her school, Westmoor Junior School. On February 19, 2008, Shannon left for her school trip but her mother got nervous when she didn’t return home.
February 19, 2008
After Shannon never returned home from school, her mother, Karen Matthews went to her neighbor’s house. She told her that Shannon had not come home and then she frantically called the police. Within 24 hours of the phone call, more the 200 officers from the West Yorkshire Police Department set out to find Shannon…
A Major Search
Hundreds of local volunteers also helped with the search and by the next day, West Yorkshire Police determined that the situation was so serious that they brought in their Homicide and Major Inquiry Team to run the investigation. The entire community couldn’t believe what was happening and Matthews made a public plea for Shannon.
Matthews, 32, posted photos of her daughter all over the neighborhood, yet she began to wonder if all of this was her fault. Police suggested that Shannon may have run away from home in order to escape from her family and Matthews started to wonder…
A Possible Sighting
Word came into the police station that Shannon was seen on the day she disappeared. While this was only hearsay, the police began to wonder if Shannon was right under their noses. Two days after her disappearance, uniformed police officers plus 60 detectives went out looking for Shannon.
Unhappy At Home
The following day, Shannon’s father, Leon Rose says his daughter asked him if she could live with him before she went missing. Rose and Matthews are divorced and this development confirmed that there was trouble at home. Police probed further and found that Shannon had scribbled a note on her bedroom wall before she vanished saying she wished she could see more of her natural father. At this point, officers were very concerned for her safety…
March 1, 2008
An emotional Matthews decided to issue another plea for Shannon’s return and begged whoever took her to let her go. The Sun Newspaper pitched in to help by offering over $25,000 to anyone with information on Shannon’s disappearance. Then, Matthews’ neighbor, Natalie shared with authorities that she thought Matthews was putting on a show…
“Jekyll And Hyde”
Despite Shannon’s disappearance, Natalie believed that Matthews was upbeat all the time, except when she was in front of police and the media. It seemed that she was playing up her despair for the cameras, but acting the complete opposite when around family or friends. Natalie began to wonder what Matthews was up to and described her personality as “Jekyll and Hyde.”
March 5, 2008
With this new information, everyone, including Matthews became a suspect and Craig Meehan, Matthews partner was also questioned. He denied having any involvement in his stepdaughter’s disappearance, but police weren’t convinced. Shortly after, they released a 911 recording Matthews made the day Shannon went missing…
March 9, 2008
While the recording seemed genuine, Shannon’s grandparents, June and Gordon Matthews gave a detailed interview making numerous allegations about their daughter and Meehan. They believed their daughter had something to do with Shannon’s disappearance and with this additional information, the search further intensified.
March 12, 2008
On March 12, almost half the UK’s specialist search dogs were involved in the hunt for Shannon. It became the West Yorkshire force’s largest operation since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper. The Sun newspaper also realized how serious the situation was and they decided to double their reward money for anyone who had any information on Shannon’s whereabouts…
Alarming reports started to come into the police station that Shannon was spotted out and about with a man who was later determined to be Michael Donovan. Donovan was the uncle of Craig Meehan (Matthews’ partner), and police immediately decided to show up at his home. They brought in special forces and backup, but when they rang the doorbell, no one answered.
March 14, 2008
Officers decided to bust down the door and low and behold, they found Donovan laying in bed with Shannon and he was immediately arrested. Shannon was crying and seemed to be in a lot of pain so she was rushed to the hospital. This incredible crack in the case meant Shannon was now safe, but Donovan’s involvement in her disappearance meant Matthew’s partner, Meehan could also be involved…
Donovan In Custody
While police questioned both Meehan and Matthews, Donovan was taken into custody. The community was elated to have Shannon back, but most importantly, her father, Leon Rose, was over the moon! He demanded answers as to why Donovan would be involved in his daughter’s kidnapping.
Finally Getting Answers
While under the care of social services, officers questioned Shannon for about 10 minutes per day. Shannon was able to provide police with some answers and on April 8, 2008, Matthews was charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice over her daughter’s disappearance. During Donovan and Matthews’ trial, it was determined that they had plotted to claim the reward money put up by the press for Shannon’s return! Then, the court learned a shocking theme in Michael Donovan’s past…
A Kidnapper And A Pervert?
Apparently, Donovan had a pretty bad track record with little girls. He subjected his own two daughters to abuse, making them watch him have sex with prostitutes and social workers learned that teachers discovered love letters from him in one of his girls’ lunch boxes!
September 16, 2008
Due to this evidence, Donovan remained in custody and his nephew, Craig Meehan, was also convicted of possessing child porn. Since it was unrelated to the case, he was later sentenced to 20 weeks in jail but didn’t have to spend any time behind bars since he was already out on remand. Then, more evidence came out about Donovan…
November 14, 2008
Donovan’s niece, Caroline Meehan, suspected that her uncle was up to something since he always acted “a bit creepy.” Then, forensic evidence was tested to show what Donovan was really doing with Shannon while she was held captive in his home.
A forensic toxicologist told the court that tests showed Shannon had been ingesting the drug temazepam and travel sickness medication for a prolonged period of time. This led Matthews, 33, and Donovan, 40, to be found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course the justice. They each wound up being sentenced to 8 years in prison, but somehow Matthews only served half of her sentence…
Since Shannon’s kidnapping, Matthews has been dubbed Britain’s “Most Hated Mom,” and her reputation has made it impossible to find a job now that she is out of prison. As far as Shannon, she is now 18 and does not have any contact with her mother. Shannon’s six other siblings have also been taken away from their mother when she was arrested over the kidnapping. The public is still outraged because Shannon’s search is reported to have cost taxpayers more than $2 million in 2008!