Shannon Dale VerhAge at the time of disappearance:
Shannon, approximately 1997; Age at the time of disappearance: -progressions to Age at the time of disappearance: 16 (approximately 2012); Rachel Timmerman and Shannon VerhAge at the time of disappearance: , approximately 1997; Marvin Gabrion, approximately 1998
Date reported missing : 06/03/1997
Missing location (approx) :
Cedar Springs, Michigan
Missing classification : Non-Family Abduction
Gender : Female
DOB : 06/15/1996 (25)
Age at the time of disappearance: 11 months old
Height / Weight : 2'6, 30 pounds
Description, clothing, jewerly and more : A tri-colored dress and a diaper.
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos
: Caucasian female. Blonde hair. blue eyes. Shannon has a strawberry birthmark on the back of her neck at her hairline. Her nickname is Pumpkin.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : 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 with this case summary.
Timmerman reported the attack to law enforcement the next day, in spite of her fears that Gabrion would kill her and her baby. Two months later, Gabrion was charged with rape, but authorities weren't able to locate and arrest him until January 1998. 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 in February 1997, days after Gabrion was released from custody. Davis, who had been with Gabrion on the night of the rape, 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. She said she was going out to dinner with a young man who had specifically asked that she bring the baby also. She 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. She was 19 years old at the time of her death. 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 Newaygo 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 mentally disabled 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. He was charged with Timmerman's murder in March 2001.
The state of Michigan banned the death penalty in 1846, but authorities charged Gabrion in federal court because Timmerman had been murdered on federal land. As a result, prosecutors were able to seek the death penalty as punishment for Gabrion.
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