Shannon Dale Verhage

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5 6 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left and Center: Shannon, circa 1997;
Bottom Right: Age-progressions to age 16 (circa 2012)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: June 3, 1997 from Cedar Springs, Michigan
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: June 15, 1996
  • Age: 11 months old
  • Height and Weight: 2'6, 30 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair. blue eyes. Shannon has a strawberry birthmark on the back of her neck at her hairline. Her nickname is Pumpkin. Her last name may be spelled "Shannon."
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A tri-colored dress and a diaper.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Shannon's mother, Rachel Timmerman, was allegedly raped by Marvin Charles Gabrion II six weeks after she gave birth to Shannon in 1996 in Cedar Springs, Michigan. Photos of Timmerman and Gabrion are posted below this case summary. Timmerman reported the attack to law enforcement and Gabrion was arrested. He was released on bond shortly thereafter. Timmerman was scheduled to testify against Gabrion in court during the summer of 1997. One of the alleged crime's witnesses, Wayne Davis, disappeared after Gabrion was released from custody. Davis planned to testify on Timmerman's behalf at the upcoming rape trial.

    Timmerman was having problems with her family during this time and sent Shannon to live with the infant's paternal grandparents. She began repairing her family relationships during May 1997 and planned to move into her father's home with Shannon during the summer. She took Shannon to her father's residence during the weekend of June 3, 1997 in preparation for the change of custody. Timmerman and Shannon were last seen on June 3, when an unidentified man picked them up from Timmerman's father's house. This was just three days before she was scheduled to testify under oath against Gabrion. Timmerman told her stepmother they planned to return in approximately two hours. Timmerman apparently only brought Shannon's diaper bag with her, as she did not plan to be away from home for an extended period of time.

    Timmerman's father received a letter that was supposedly written by his daughter shortly after she and Shannon left the house. It stated that she planned to elope with an unidentified man and would be in contact with her family in about two weeks. Another letter arrived at her father's home two weeks afterwards, which was postmarked from Little Rock, Arkansas. The final note stated that Timmerman and Shannon were doing well and would write again when they located a permanent address in the area. Family members grew very concerned and suspicious, as Timmerman apparently had no plans to marry anyone or travel anywhere.

    Timmerman's body was discovered in Oxford Lake in Manistee National Forest on July 5, 1997, over one month after she and Shannon were last seen. Oxford Lake is approximately 70 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Timmerman's eyes and mouth had been covered with duct tape and she was placed in handcuffs. She was chained to cinder blocks, then thrown into the water alive, where she drowned. Timmerman was 19 years old at the time of her homicide. There was no sign of Shannon at the scene and the child has never been heard from again.

    Timmerman's brother told authorities that Gabrion threatened to murder his sister if she testified against him. Investigators determined that Gabrion was in Newago County and the Cedar Springs area prior to Timmerman and Shannon's disappearances in June 1997. Authorities believed that Timmerman's friend, John Weeks, was the unidentified man who picked Timmerman and Shannon up from her father's residence prior to their disappearances. Weeks also vanished in June 1997 and has never been located.

    An investigation was launched into Gabrion's background. Authorities discovered that he was collecting Social Security checks under the name "Robert Allen" in 1997. Allen was actually a transient from Grand Rapids and had been missing for some time. Gabrion was arrested and convicted of Social Security fraud in July 1998 and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

    Gabrion was charged with Timmerman's murder in March 2001. The state of Michigan banned the death penalty many years ago, but authorities charged Gabrion in federal court due to Timmerman's murder location, which occurred on government property. As a result, prosecutors were able to seek the death penalty as punishment for Gabrion. Authorities stated in the death penalty notice that Gabrion's conduct led to the Shannon's disappearance. Gabrion has not been charged in connection with the disappearances of Shannon, Davis, Weeks or Allen.

    Authorities dredged Oxford Lake in May 2001 in an attempt to recover possible evidence against Gabrion, but nothing was located. Gabiron's trial for Timmerman's homicide began in Grand Rapids, Michigan in Fenruary 2002. Authorities stated that keys found in his residence fit the locks placed on Timmerman's body. Investigators admitted that the locks, chain and handcuffs found with Timmerman had not been checked for fingerprints. Prints were not found on the duct tape which covered her face.

    Gabrion was convicted of Timmerman's murder in early March 2002 and sentenced to death shortly thereafter. His death sentence was overturned on a technicality in 2011, however.

    Shannon's case remains unsolved. She has never been located.

    Timmerman and Verhage Gabrion
    Left: Timmerman and Verhage, circa 1997;
    Right: Gabrion, circa 1998

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Michigan State Police
    Newaygo County Post
    231-652-1661

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Child Protection Education Of America
    The Detroit News
    WWMT News 3
    Shannon Verhage: Missing Child
    Nation's Missing Children Organization
    The Muskegon Chronicle
    WOOD-TV 8
    Missing Children's Network of Michigan
    WZZM 13
    Child Quest International Inc.

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    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated January 1, 2013; age-progression and details of disappearance updated.

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