Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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

Thirteen-year-old Janessa Shannon was reported missing from her Riverview home two weeks ago, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Between there and Palmetto, where her mother lives, family and friends have been active on social media, pleading for help from authorities and exposure from the news media.

Their fears were confirmed Saturday when the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office announced that a body found earlier this week in a nature preserve was Janessa's. A hiker on Wednesday discovered her decomposing body a mile away from the entrance of the Triple Creek Nature Preserve at 13305 Balm Boyette Road.

The Sheriff's Office is treating her death as a homicide, though they have not disclosed how she died, or any other details about the case. It has also not previously publicized that the teen was missing.

In the days since her disappearance, people identifying themselves as friends and relatives of the girl have complained on social media that law enforcement had not treated Janessa's disappearance with urgency.

"I need Facebook help," wrote Eugene Shannon, identifying himself as the boyfriend of Janessa's mother, Michelle Mosley. "We've called everybody and we can't seem to get the help that we need. So I'm asking for Facebook help."

The mother also set up an online fundraising campaign seeking money to assist a search. It indicated Janessa lived with her father in Riverview.

Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Nuñez said the agency initially treated the case as though the child had run away from home because she had habitually done so.

In response to further questions about why law enforcement didn't draw more attention to the case, she responded in an email with the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert, which notifies the public of a child who has been abducted and may be in peril. They include that the child must be younger than 18 and that there's clear evidence of an abduction and that a child is endangered.

Children can be deemed endangered if they're younger than 12, have mental health concerns, including suicidal thoughts, or are in need of medication.

Triple Creek Preserve, where Janessa was found, consists of prairies, wooded areas and wetlands. It joins the nearly 6,000-acre Balm-Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve to the north.

The land is a popular destination for hikers and bikers and includes more than 20 miles of trails maintained by volunteers. It is intersected by three tributaries to the Alafia River: Bell Creek, Boggy Creek and Fish Hawk Creek, according to the county's website.

Staff writer Sara DiNatale contributed to this report. Contact Colleen Wright at cwright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

Body found in Hillsborough preserve identified as missing 13-year-old girl 07/15/17 [Last modified: Saturday, July 15, 2017 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.