By Tamas Mondovics
Following the discovery of her body in a nearby nature preserve last month, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has reached out to the community asking the public’s help with any information about the death of 13-year-old Riverview teen Janessa Shannon.
“The Shannon homicide investigation is still very active and ongoing,” said Cristal Nunez HCSO Public Information Officer. “Numerous interviews have been conducted and dozens of evidence items have been sent to both FDLE and private labs.”
As originally reported by Bay News 9, Janessa’s body was found on July 12 by a hiker in a “heavily wooded area” of Triple Creek Nature Preserve near her home, 10 days after she went missing.
On July 3, Janessa was reported missing by her father, Nahshon Shannon, 37, who told officials that his daughter had run away before and was being punished for sneaking out.
When asked about the reason for not alerting the community about the teen’s initial disappearance, HCSO Colonel Donna Lusczynski told reporters that an Amber Alert was not issued because criteria for the alert weren’t met.
Janessa was described by her parents as a habitual runaway and they did not suspect foul play.
Janessa’s mother, Michelle Mosley, 34, of Bradenton, criticized the sheriff’s office for not alerting the media, but Lusczynski defended the agency’s decision for several reasons including not meeting the criteria for an endangered child as she did not have a history of mental health issues, was not on medication and had not made suicidal threats.
Lusczynski told reporters during a press conference that to date the agency has received more than 500 reports of missing juveniles just this year.
“We try to put out the ones where someone is endangered and we feel the public could help,” she said, adding that the agency still treats the cases seriously and follow up on it.
Lusczynski also declined to release information on the circumstances surrounding Janessa’s death, or what a hiker who found the body saw in the preserve.
“Only the killer would know that information and we don’t want to tip our hand at this point,” she said.
Adding to the drama Janessa’ father, who was initially helpful and provided an interview, stopped cooperating with investigators and has since hired an attorney officials said.
“We are not focusing on any one person right now,” Lusczynski said. “Our primary function now at this time is to find Janessa’s killer. We’re making sure we’re talking to anyone involved and not excluding anyone.”
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering up to $3,000 for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call 800-873-8477.