Shannon Nicole Paulk

On a warm summer day in Prattville, Alabama, on August 16, 2001, Marie Stroud left her home to go to work, as she did every day, leaving her two daughters behind, who were still on summer vacation from school. Shannon Paulk, the oldest daughter, was left to care for her younger sister, Shannon Paulk, age 11.

Shannon awoke early in the morning and decided to play outside with her friends without informing her sister, who was still sleeping. Shannon’s sister awoke at 9:00 a.m., not concerned about Shannon because they lived in a quiet mobile home park in a rural farming town. Shannon was used to spending the entire day away from home, only to return when night fell.


Shannon’s mother, Marie, returned home from work expecting her daughter to arrive soon. When it got dark and Marie hadn’t returned home, she began to worry about her daughter’s safety. Shannon had not returned home by 9:00 p.m. and could not be found, so her mother called the police to report her missing.

The police took Marie seriously and believed Shannon had not run away from home, so a search for the young girl was immediately launched. The police spoke with neighbors and searched the mobile home park and surrounding areas, but their efforts were ultimately futile.

Remains Found

On October 6, 2001, almost two months later, rabbit hunters were hunting in a public hunting area near Autauga County Road when they discovered the remains of a child. The hunters immediately called the cops to report the incident.

Shannon Paulk’s remains were discovered by investigators. She was discovered in a remote field ten miles outside of Prattville. She had clearly been murdered, and whoever had done it had bound her body with a rope and wrapped it in a trash bag.


Shannon had most likely walked away with someone willingly, according to the police. She was known to be a trusting young lady, and the police believed it would have been simple to persuade her to leave the area, regardless of whether she knew the person she left with.

Unfortunately, the case quickly went cold because the police lacked evidence. They never gave up on the case, however, and continued to work on it in the hopes of finding new leads.

A $10,000 reward has been offered in Shannon’s case in the hopes that it will encourage more people to come forward with information. NCIS actress Pauley Perrette grew up near Prattville and was moved by Shannon’s story, so she contributed another $10,000 to the reward, bringing the total to $20,000.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigations Cold Case Unit began working exclusively on Shannon’s case in 2016 to see what they could find. It wasn’t long before they had assistance in the case.

A special investigative grand jury was formed in February 2017 to look into Shannon’s case and reexamine the evidence. It was the first grand jury in Autauga County in twenty-five years. The grand jury was made up of eighteen jurors who would work to re-examine all of the available evidence. Shannon’s investigation gathered all of the evidence from all of the government agencies involved in one place for examination.

One piece of information gleaned from the grand jury was information on a composite sketch drawn years before. When Shannon first went missing, a young girl claimed she saw the man Shannon was with before she vanished. The girl assisted the police in creating a sketch of the man for distribution to the media. However, as an adult, she admitted to the grand jury that she made it up in order to assist the police. The grand jury was able to reach the conclusion that the sketch was not credible.

While a grand jury normally meets for a year, District Attorney Randall Houston requested that the grand jury working on Shannon’s case be extended. The reason for this was not disclosed because the grand jury operates in secret and does not reveal its findings until the end of its term, if at all.

Furthermore, as technology advances, the police can retest old evidence as well as test evidence that could not previously be tested. Investigators hope it will assist them in obtaining the information needed to close Shannon’s case.

Present Day

Shannon’s mother, Marie Stroud, and her older sister left their mobile home park home after Shannon’s body was discovered. They couldn’t bear the thought of living in a place where they had so many memories of Shannon, especially since it was the last place she was seen alive.

Shannon’s family, however, continues to fight for her. They believe her assailant can be apprehended. They are still holding vigils in her honor. Years ago, a tree with a marker was planted in Pratt Park to honor Shannon. The tree has thrived and grown in size. It contributes to the preservation of her memory. Marie feels that with no arrest, there’s no closure, but she still has hope.

Shannon Paulk’s case remains active and open. If you have any information on this case please contact the Prattville Police Department at (334) 595–0208. A $20,000 reward may be available for the arrest and conviction of Shannon’s murderer.

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