11-Year-Old Shauna Howe Was Abducted and Killed ‘As a Joke’

11-Year-Old Shauna Howe Was Abducted and Killed ‘As a Joke’

It took more than a decade for the people who did it to get caught.

Shauna Howe lived with her mother Lucy and her stepfather John. Shauna loved Halloween and since it was around that time of the year, she decided to make her own costume. Though she would use it for Halloween, she was also going to use it for a party that she had on October 27, 1992.

Shauna was part of the Girl Scouts, and they were having their annual Halloween party on that day. The party was about half a mile from Shauna’s home and her family was not able to pick her up that night. Though Shauna could have walked, she was afraid of the dark and her parents did not want her walking home alone.

Shauna’s mother told her that she would set up a ride for her and not worry about it. At around 8 PM, Shauna’s mother Lucy called home to check up on everyone, given that she was still at work. Everything was fine except for the fact that Shauna had not made it home yet. Turns out that Lucy had forgotten to set up a ride for Shauna and at this point, she figured that Shauna was walking home.

Her stepfather John waited at the house for Shauna to arrive and at around 8:30 she was still not there. At this point, John decided to get in the car and look for her. He drove to where the party was and all around the area but still, he could not find Shauna.

That Girl Scout party would be the last time that Shauna was seen alive. The story of her murder is gruesome and displays what happens when authorities do not follow leads appropriately.

A Witness Saw Shauna Get Kidnapped

Shauna Howe.

Lucy called Shauna’s friend Joey and she asked her if she knew where Shauna would be. Joey told lucy that Shauna was at the party and when she realized no one was there to pick her up they both started walking home together. Somewhere along the way, they parted ways to their own home.

Shauna told Joey that she was nervous and that she did not want to walk home alone. Shauna asked Joey to walk home with her but instead, Joey offered that they walk to her house and then her father could drive Shauna home. Shauna refused and the girls parted ways.

After hearing this, Lucy and John immediately called the authorities and reported Shauna missing. The police showed up at the home and one of them got a call telling them that earlier that evening there had been a call about a child abduction from someone who saw it happening.

At 8:06 PM that night, a man named Dan Peyton was walking down the street and he saw a young girl walking alone. He also saw a man walking across the street in the opposite direction. Dan said that this man crossed the street and began talking to Shauna.

The man was tall, thin, and had on a jacket. Dan then saw the man pick up the young girl and a few moments later heard a scream. Dan ran towards the scream but by the time he got there all he saw was a small red car driving away.

The Search For Shauna Begins

Authorities set roadblocks and alerted police within a 100-mile radius to see if they could find a small red car. While the search for Shauna continued, authorities canceled Halloween in the small town. They saw it as another opportunity for another child to be abducted and they did not want to take the risk.

Shauna’s uncle created a huge search group and on October 29, 1992, 2 days after the disappearance, they found something. Someone in the search group found the bodysuit that Shauna had been wearing the night she went missing. Police searched extensively throughout this area but nothing else was found.

They sent the bodysuit to the lab and there was evidence left behind on it from a sexual assault. They had a DNA sample of whoever had abducted Shauna. On October 30th, Shauna’s case went from abduction to a homicide investigation.

A man who had been camping in the woods noticed something in the water and it turned out to be Shauna’s body. She was wearing shorts, socks that did not belong to her, and a T-shirt inside out. The police had searched that area just the day before meaning that the killer brought Shauna back and left her there to die.

Shauna’s Homicide and the First Suspect

When a medical examiner conducted Shauna’s autopsy, they found out how severely she had been abused. She had a shoeprint on her face as if someone had stepped on her face. She had also been sexually assaulted and her cause of death was a fall. Shauna had been pushed or thrown off a bridge and she fell 33 feet.

In abduction cases, the person who does it is usually a family member and in Shauna’s case, they took DNA samples from every male family member including her brother because they had the foreign DNA found on Shauna and they wanted to compare. None of the family’s DNA matched.

The FBI then began to assist in the case, and they came up with a psychological profile of the killer. They said it was most likely a Caucasian male in their 20s and they likely had a huge shift in behavior after the murder such as drinking more and quick life changes such as quitting a job.

Police asked residents of the town to think about any male they knew that had suddenly undergone an intense change. The police received a lot of calls and one of the people who called told them to investigate a man named Ted Walker because he fit the description.

Ted knew Shauna because he worked at a pizza shop that Shauna and her friends went to a lot. He also had a small red car. A lot of people who knew Ted said that he would always try to give young girls hugs when they entered the pizza restaurant. He seemed to be the person who did it but when they checked his DNA it did not match the one that was found on Shauna.

There Was More Than One Culprit

In 1995 another investigator was brought into the case, and he immediately told them that it had to be more than one person. This made sense because Shauna had been kept by her abductors for several days and she had no marks on her body that would appear from being restrained.

Immediately after the police took this information into consideration, it didn’t take long for them to find new suspects. There were 2 people who had been wreaking havoc during the entire investigation and they were the O’Brien brothers (Tim and James). They had grown up in town and they both had criminal records involving sexual crimes against adults and children.

Although the brothers were criminals, their descriptions did not match the original suspect, and apparently, they had been in jail near the time of the abduction and murder. Because of this, authorities did not take their DNA samples and they were no longer treated as suspects.

Eight Years Since the Murder

In the early 2000s, Tim O’Brien was arrested once again for another crime and during his interrogation, they asked him about Shauna. Since Shauna’s case was very high profile, any man that was put into custody in town was asked about Shauna. An investigator asked Tim for a DNA sample since they hadn’t the years before and while he agreed, he seemed very nervous. Though Tim’s DNA did not match, they still had to try his brother James’s DNA.

Eight years after the crime, police also found out that the brothers had not been in jail at all during the time of Shauna’s abduction and murder. Though they had been in custody during the time, they were quickly released.

James’s sample came back, and it ended up being a match to the foreign DNA found on Shauna.

Though it was now obvious that the brothers were involved, investigators could not get over the fact that neither of the brothers matched the original description of the man who abducted Shauna. After investigating more, police were led back to Ted Walker, one of the initial suspects.

At the time of the murder, the O’Brien brothers were living with Ted. When police originally went to Ted’s home, he had told them that he did have a red car but that it did not work. Police never bothered to fact-check this. When Ted was brought in for questioning in 2002, he told police that they had initially kidnapped Shauna as a joke.

A Slow Trial and 3 Convictions

Ted and the O’Brien brothers had been talking about how the police in town were a joke and they came up with this plan to abduct someone as a joke in front of witnesses then release them to prove that the police would still not be able to identify them.

Ted’s house was investigated by the police and his face was all over the news. It was then when Dan, the man who had originally called the police on the night of the abduction called again and said that Ted was the man who abducted Shauna. Even though they had a lot of information, police were still struggling to build a solid case. They had proof that James had sexually assaulted Shauna but there was nothing that indicated they had killed her.

They were also struggling to tie Tim and Ted into the murder with evidence. During this time, Tim was convicted of 2 other crimes. It was a sexual assault against a 6-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy. In 2004, James and Tim were finally charged with the abduction, sexual assault, and murder of Shauna.

Soon after, Ted was also arrested but only 2 days later, he took a deal that required him to testify against the brothers and they would only try him for third-degree murder. Though Ted testified, he changed his story which he had done many times before. In 2006, the O’Brien brothers were convicted and sentenced to consecutive life sentences, and Ted was given 20–40 years in prison.
11-Year-Old Shauna Howe Was Abducted and Killed ‘As a Joke’
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