Shannon Marie Sherrill

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3 4 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left and Center: Sherrill, circa 1986;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to age 30 (circa 2010)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: October 15, 1986 from Thorntown, Indiana
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: August 12, 1980
  • Age: 6 years old
  • Height and Weight: 3'0, 30 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Sherrill has a four-inch scar on her abdomen. Her ears are pierced. Sherrill had an extremely shy nature at the time of her 1986 disappearance.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white sundress with blue trim and no socks or shoes.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Sherrill was last seen at her family's trailer home in the 600 block of Plum Street in Thorntown, Indiana on October 15, 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 Sherrill'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 35-year-old Topeka, Kansas woman named Donna Lynette Walker claimed to be Sherrill in July 2003. A photograph of Walker is posted below this case summary. She telephoned and emailed Sherrill's family, sending them photographs of herself and claiming to be the missing girl. Sherrill'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. She has a criminal record for involvement in similar hoaxes, including calling in bomb threats and falsely reporting fires. 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 could have gotten four years if convicted of all charges. Walker severed nine months in prison before being released on probation. The prosecutor admitted that she suffers from a mental disorder that compels her to invent grand hoaxes in order to get attention. Walker told the judge that at the time she claimed she was Sherrill, she had been adjusting to some new medication for her mental illness and really believed she was the missing girl.

    In 2006, Jeffrey L. Sunnycalb sent a letter to the Thorntown police about Sherrill's disappearance, claiming to have information on her case. Sunnycalb was convicted of raping two children and is presently incarcerated in an Ohio prison, serving a fifty-year sentence. His first possible parole date is not until 2014, and he hopes to shorten his sentence by assisting authorities with other cases. He has a reputation for providing credible information on unsolved murders; his tips to investigators lead to the indictment of a suspected serial killer. Authorities stated they plan to interview Sunnycalb and find out what, if anything, he knows about Sherrill's case. The child's parents have criticized the police for allegedly failing to adequately follow up on leads and failing to keep the family informed of the investigation.

    Sherrill 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.

    Walker
    Above: Donna Lynette Walker

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Thorntown Police Department
    317-436-7677

    OR
    Federal Bureau Of Investigation
    (FBI)
    202-324-3000

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Child Protection Education Of America
    The Indianapolis Star
    Wish TV
    MSNBC
    The Child Seek Network
    The Indy Channel
    Indiana State Police
    Operation Lookout
    Still Looking for Shannon
    Unsolved in the News

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    Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated January 1, 2012; age-progression updated.

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