CPS fails to report missing child, complicating search for killer

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by Sybil Hoffman

azfamily.com

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 29 at 2:12 PM

PHOENIX -- Her life was turbulent from the beginning. Shannon Aumock was given up for adoption when she was 3 years old. Then by 10, her adoptive parents gave her back to the state. By 16, she was dead -- the victim of murder.

For the next two decades, Shannon didn't have a name, only a number. She was buried as Jane Doe 92-1169. Her remains were discovered in the desert in North Phoenix on May 28, 1992. But the murder investigation stalled almost as quickly as it began.

Phoenix Detective Stuart Somershoe never gave up on the teen and after combing through mountains of records from Child Protective Services, he identified her this past spring.

"She made the perfect victim," Somershoe said. "No one was looking out for her and no one was there to protect her."

Now Somershoe is determined to find Shannon's killer.

According to police reports, Shannon was a chronic runaway. Between 1989 and 1991, there are more than 100 queries regarding Shannon.

"Most kids that run away, they go to a family friend, extended family, she didn't have any of that," Somershoe said. "She was just out there on her own."

Somershoe said, "According to CPS, the file, the foster family notified them that she ran away. I can't find any indication of a police report being filed [the final time she ran away] and we don't have any kind of record of that so far as I can tell, she was never reported missing to police."

Nearly a year after Shannon's murder, CPS seemed to simply wash its hands of the case. The state agency filed a motion to dismiss dependency, which means they no longer wanted custody of Shannon.

"CPS was her guardian and they were responsible for her and they closed her case and she still was a child," Somershoe said.

CPS issued the following statement regarding Shannon's case:

"DES/CPS records indicate that at the time of her death the child had absconded from a Department of Youth Treatment and Rehabilitation (DYTR – now the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC)) community placement. She was not in the physical custody of DES at that time. However the DES/CPS had contact with DYTR, a law enforcement entity and thus a formal runaway report was not made. Current ADJC procedures would result in their filing an absconder warrant. Unfortunately, DYTR's records no longer exist. However, the Department of Juvenile Corrections has been assisting Phoenix PD in the criminal investigation involving the girl."

One of Shannon's close friends can't believe it.

"I thought how is no one being held responsible for her running away and not being reported," said the friend, who did not want her name revealed. "I don't care if my kids ran away 100 times, I'd call the police each and every time."

Shannon's friend is now working with police to help solve the murder. Somershoe is optimistic he will solve the case.

"There are cases older than this one that have been solved," he said. "You can't give up on these cases. She deserves to have that justice."

If you have any information regarding Shannon's killer, you're asked to call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-534-2121.
            

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