Shannon Siders was a 19-year-old young woman with her whole life ahead of her. She lived in Newaygo, Michigan, and had aspirations for a promising future as a nurse. She was known for her vibrant personality, kind heart, and infectious smile. But her life was cut short in a horrific way that shocked and saddened her family, friends, and community.
The Disappearance of Shannon Siders
On July 17, 1989, Shannon Siders snuck out of her home after her father left for his graveyard shift at the local Pepsi-Cola plant. She joined a group of friends at a get-together and was last seen alive around 1:30 AM. The next morning, her father returned from work and found her missing. He called several of her friends and their guardians, but no one knew where she was. He immediately filed a missing person report with the authorities and distributed missing flyers.
The search for Shannon Siders was intense and extensive. Local law enforcement, state police, volunteers, and even the FBI were involved in the investigation. But as days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, there was no sign of Shannon or any clues to her whereabouts.
The Discovery of Shannon Siders’ Body
On October 15, 1989, nearly three months after Shannon’s disappearance, a deer hunter in the Manistee National Forest stumbled upon her decomposing remains in a remote wooded area known as the “hole in the woods”. The area was a popular spot for local teenagers to party and drink. The hunter reported his grisly discovery to the Newaygo police, who notified Shannon’s father later that night. He went to the police station to confirm the identity of his daughter.
Shannon’s body displayed various injuries, but the primary cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. She had been brutally beaten, and her skull was crushed. According to The Cinemaholic, the medical examiner also revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and that her body was found in a compromising position. Her underwear was around one ankle and her private parts had injuries.
The discovery of Shannon’s body sent shockwaves through the small Michigan community. A somber cloud of grief hung over the town as people mourned the loss of a young and innocent life. Shannon’s father had a closed casket at her funeral, where many of her friends placed letters inside.
The Investigation and Trial of Shannon Siders’ Murder
The investigation into Shannon’s murder quickly turned into a manhunt for the perpetrator or perpetrators. The authorities sought help from the Michigan State Police behavior analysis team to develop a profile of the potential killer or killers. They pursued numerous leads and questioned several suspects, but none of them led to an arrest or conviction. The lack of substantial evidence and credible witnesses hampered the progress of the case.
Over time, the case grew cold and remained unsolved for over two decades. But Shannon’s father never gave up hope and continued to push for justice for his daughter. He also received support from other families who had lost their loved ones to unsolved murders.
In 2011, a cold case team was formed to re-examine Shannon’s murder case. They used new evidence, advanced forensic techniques, and determined law enforcement personnel to reignite the investigation. They focused on two brothers who had been among the original suspects: Paul Jones and Matthew Jones.
According to Daily Crime, Paul and Matthew Jones were teenagers who had partied with Shannon on the night she disappeared. They had allegedly offered her a ride home in their car but instead took her to the “hole in the woods” where they raped and killed her. They then dumped her body in the forest and fled the scene.
The cold case team gathered enough evidence to charge Paul and Matthew Jones with first-degree murder in 2014. They were arrested and brought to trial in 2015. The trial lasted for three weeks and involved testimonies from witnesses, experts, and family members. The prosecution presented DNA evidence that linked Paul Jones to Shannon’s body and clothing. They also presented statements from former friends and acquaintances of the Jones brothers who claimed that they had confessed or bragged about killing Shannon.
The defense argued that the evidence was unreliable and tainted by contamination or manipulation. They also claimed that the Jones brothers were innocent and that they had been scapegoated by a corrupt investigation. They suggested that there were other possible suspects who had not been properly investigated.
The jury deliberated for two days before reaching a verdict. They found Paul Jones guilty of first-degree murder and Matthew Jones guilty of second-degree murder. They were both sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The Aftermath of Shannon Siders’ Murder
The conviction of Paul and Matthew Jones brought some closure and relief to Shannon’s father and the community. They felt that justice had finally been served and that the killers had been held accountable for their heinous crime. They also hoped that Shannon’s memory would live on and that her case would inspire others to never give up on seeking the truth.
However, the Jones brothers maintained their innocence and appealed their convictions. In 2021, they received a new trial after a judge ruled that their original trial had been unfair and that some of the evidence had been improperly admitted. According to The Cinemaholic, the new trial was scheduled for September 2021, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new trial date has not been announced yet.
The murder of Shannon Siders remains a tragic and horrific chapter in criminal history, one that has left an indelible mark on a small town that refuses to forget her. As the case awaits a new resolution, it serves as a testament to the persistence of law enforcement and the resilience of those who loved Shannon.