16 year old Shannon Aumock had a very difficult life, leading up to when she ran away in May of 1992.
Shannon was born in March 1976 to a young mother as a result of a sexual assault. She lived with her mother in Phoenix, Arizona, until she was three years old, when her mother realised she couldn’t care for Shannon and turned her over to CPS. Shannon was soon adopted by a family in Scottsdale, where she stayed until she was 12 years old; however, this family returned her to CPS, claiming that her behavioural issues were too much for them to bear. Shannon was forced to move from group home to group home, and was occasionally placed with a foster family, never finding a place to call her own.
Shannon would run away from these group homes 40 times because she felt alone and abandoned. Shannon was contacted by police every week between 1989 and 1991, and she was returned to these facilities.
When Shannon was 10 years old, she was interviewed by a psychologist, due to her chronic running away. This psychologist asked Shannon a rather startling question during the interview- what would she want on her tombstone, if she were to die, due to the danger of her running off? She had a heartbreaking answer for him, stating that she would want her tombstone to be blank, because ”no one cared for [her] when [she] was alive, so why would anyone care when [she] was dead?”
Sadly, Shannon would run away for a final time in the spring of 1992.
May 27 1992
On May 27, 1992, a man was riding his ATV near 20th Street and Deer Valley Road, in a remote desert area north of the Central Arizona Project Canal that was frequently used for trash disposal. According to some sources, this man was part of a search party looking for the body of another missing girl, possibly Brandy Myer, who went missing two days before. This man discovered the body of a teenage girl after noticing a hand sticking out from beneath a piece of plywood. The body was removed and examined after police were called; the girl had died from strangulation and had been lying in that location for up to 8 weeks. Unsure who the body belonged to, they made composite sketches and circulated photos of her clothing, but she was never identified and was subsequently buried in a potter’s field at Tempe’s Twin Butte’s Cemetery.
Shannon was never reported missing by the group home from which she had run away, so it’s unclear if she was considered the Jane Doe at any point early on. However, Jane Doe was positively identified as Shannon Aumock 20 years later when her biological mother provided detectives with a DNA sample that matched the unidentified body discovered in 1992. Investigators stated that they were fortunate that the biological mother was still living in the Phoenix valley at the time and were able to establish a positive connection.
There is only one possible suspect in Shannon’s murder, as well as the presumed killer of Brandy Myer- Brian Miller, also known as the Canal Killer. Brian Miller was an eccentric character who drove a truck with the words “ZOMBIE HUNTER” painted in large letters and was frequently spotted around Phoenix. Before being charged with murder, he frequently wore elaborate costumes and took pictures with people in town, including some local police officers.
Brian was apprehended in January 2015 after offering a woman a ride home and then repeatedly stabbing her in his car. This woman was able to flee and call for assistance, and Brian was apprehended and his DNA was entered into a national database. His DNA was found in two unsolved murders in the Phoenix valley dating back to the early 1990s: Angela Brosso and Melanie Bernas. Both women vanished while riding their bikes along the canal, and their bodies were found floating in the canal. Angela’s head was discovered floating in the canal 11 days after her body was discovered, despite the fact that it had been removed post-mortem.
Brian is also suspected of murdering thirteen-year-old Brandy Myer, who left her home in 1992 to collect signatures for her elementary school’s book-a-thon. Brandy was last seen knocking on a door two doors down from Brian’s, and his ex-wife later told authorities that he confessed to her about killing a young girl who knocked on his door in 1992. He claimed she knocked, and when he opened the door, he grabbed her and dragged her inside, stabbing her to death. He then dismembered her body and dumped it at a nearby recycling center. Brian was never charged with Brandy’s murder, and her body was never found. His trial for the murders of Melanie and Angela began last month, in October of 2022.
In Tempe’s potter’s field, Shannon was exhumed and transferred to the Sunset West cemetery in El Mirage, Arizona. There is a gravestone for her that isn’t empty and is frequently decorated with flowers. It has her name, Shannon Michelle Aumock, her birthdate, the day her body was discovered, and the words:
”I was once lost, But now I am found.”