Details of Disappearance
Shirley was reported missing in on July 15, 2006. She has never been heard from again. Her vehicle was found abandoned after her disappearance. Shirley was estranged from her husband, Shannon Roy Atwood, at the time of her disappearance, and had moved out of their home on Route 23 in Canaan, Maine. Shannon was still living in the home with another woman, Cheryl Murdoch.
Photograph of Shannon and Murdoch are posted with this case summary. Murdoch disappeared on July 27, twelve days after Shirley. Her body was found in a wooded area off Scott Road in Canaan on August 11. She had been murdered.
When authorities went to Shannon's home to question him about Murdoch's case and search his property, he barricaded himself inside, threatened the officers with a bow and arrow and threatened to blow the house up. They arrested him for criminal threatening, reckless conduct and terrorizing. He was sentenced to nine months in jail.
In February 2007, shortly before he was scheduled to be released from jail, Shannon was additionally charged with both Murdoch and Shirley's murders. Authorities believe Shirley was murdered sometime between March 15 and July 15, 2006.
Shannon has a criminal history for burglary and theft, and was also convicted of aggravated assault on a previous girlfriend. The girlfriend stated he attacked her and threatened to murder her and bury her body in an isolated field.
Authorities wanted to try Shannon for both women's murders at the same time, but a judge ruled there had to be two separate trials. In November 2007, prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Shannon in Shirley's presumed death. They stated there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. The charge could be refiled at a later date, however.
In July 2008, Shannon was convicted of Murdoch's murder in a bench trial. He was sentenced to 55 years to life in prison.
Shirley was having financial problems at the time of her disappearance. She had inherited a sizable amount of money and property from her grandfather when she was a teenager, including her Route 23 residence, but in 2006 the government placed a lien on the residence for back taxes. Authorities never believed she left voluntarily as a result of the lien, however.
Foul play is suspected in Shirley's case due to the circumstances involved.