Details of Disappearance
Shannon was last seen at her family's trailer home in the 600 block of Plum Street in Thorntown, Indiana on October 5, 1986. She was playing a game of "Hide and Seek" with about ten other children at approximately 1:30 p.m. Sherrill disappeared from behind the trailer and has never been heard from again.
An extensive search of the area produced little evidence as to her whereabouts. No one saw her leave the yard. Bloodhounds traced Shannon's scent to a nearby cornfield and cemetery, then lost the trail. The day she disappeared had been unusually warm, but that night temperatures dropped into the 40s.
A Topeka, Kansas woman named Donna Lynette Walker claimed to be Shannon in July 2003. She telephoned and emailed her family, sending them photographs of herself and claiming to be the missing girl. Shannon's loved ones initially believed her, but the claim turned out to be a hoax and Walker was charged with a dozen felony counts of identity deception and false informing.
Walker accepted a plea agreement for the criminal charges in April 2004 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty but mentally ill to felony attempted identity deception and misdemeanor false reporting. Ten other charges were dropped. She severed nine months in prison before being released on probation.
The child rapist and serial killer David Elliot Penton is a possible suspect in Shannon's disappearance and in the disappearances and murders of several other young girls, including Amber Crum
, Angelica Gandara
and Ara Johnson
. A photograph of Penton is posted with this case summary.
He is has been incarcerated in an Ohio prison since 1987. He also signed a plea agreement admitting to the murders of three girls in Texas. The Texas victims disappeared over a period of 18 months in the Dallas area, and ranged in age from 4 to 9 years old. Penton was also convicted of manslaughter in the child abuse death of his own infant son in 1984.
Shannon lived with her mother and younger brother when she went missing, and was a kindergarten student at Thorntown Elementary School. Her parents are divorced and her father lives in Tipton, Indiana. Both her mother and her father passed polygraph tests and aren't considered suspects in her case. Her disappearance remains unsolved.