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Janessa Shannon, 13, may have been strangled, had cocaine and alcohol traces in her body, court record says

TAMPA — Her nose was broken. She had fractures above two teeth. Janessa Shannon, 13, was hit and possibly strangled in the final hours of her life.

She also had traces of cocaine and alcohol in her system when she died.

The findings are part of a motion filed Friday by the office of State Attorney Andrew Warren in an effort to have the girl's father, Nahshon Shannon, held without bail as he faces charges of aggravated child abuse and felony murder in her July death.

The 11-page document offers a glimpse of forensic evidence collected by law enforcement since Janessa's remains were discovered three months ago in a southeast Hillsborough County preserve, leading to Shannon's arrest Thursday.

Dirt recovered from his Jeep Cherokee was a 99 percent match for soil from her grave site, the University of South Florida's Anthropology Department concluded. A shovel in his Riverview garage carried mixed sediments matching both dirt in his yard and dirt from the preserve. His DNA matched DNA on the shovel.

There were four screw holes on the shovel handle. Two were empty. Crime scene technicians found a matching gray Phillips head wood screw 21 feet from Janessa's body. The shovel, modified, was unique, prosecutor Jay Pruner wrote in his motion, and the screws weren't the originals.

Janessa's mother, Michelle Mosley, told the Tampa Bay Times that she knew her daughter's death was violent, but learning the details was very difficult.

"I'm heartbroken I couldn't be with her," Mosley said. "I've always told my children that I would be there to protect them. I'm heartbroken that she died alone like that."

Mosley said she's never known her daughter to consume cocaine or alcohol.

"We were asked if she ever did anything like that and the answer was always no. This is really confusing for me."

The arrest of Nahshon Shannon capped a three-month homicide investigation, which began after Janessa's body was found by a woman walking in the rugged, isolated Triple Creek Nature Preserve.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Father charged in death of 13-year-old Janessa Shannon

Janessa had been buried in a black plastic garbage bag sealed with clear tape.

Irina Florianovich had her 13-year-old son and her yellow lab with her when she found the remains about 10 feet from the main path. She saw vultures and clothing and knew something was wrong.

"I couldn't believe it was the girl who was reported missing," Florianovich told the Times. "She was the same age as my son."

Nahshon Shannon, 37, had reported Janessa missing on July 3, a day after he said she had vanished from his home.

On July 5, Shannon told a Manatee County sheriff's deputy that he had been in contact with his daughter via Facebook, according to the court motion. But Hillsborough detectives obtained a search warrant for his Facebook account. The records revealed no such messages from his daughter after the time when she was reported missing.

Some of those who live on his street expressed shocked Friday at the news of his arrest. Beverly Salmon, who lives a few houses away, said reading about it made her physically sick.

"It's just so terribly sad to know you are so close to this," she said. "I could never ever imagine this in my entire life. If he really is guilty, I just can't understand why. You can't raise a child to 13 years old and then take her out."

Salmon recalled a casual conversation with Shannon in July while he was walking his dog.

"He said, 'My daughter took off. So if you see her, call me immediately,'" Salmon said. "'What do you mean took off?' I asked him. He said, 'Ran away.' I said, 'When?' He said sometime last night. And I said okay and he went on walking the dog."

Shannon made his first appearance in front of a Hillsborough County judge on Friday. He was ordered held without bond until a 10 a.m. hearing Wednesday.

Eric Stupel, a Miami defense attorney, said Shannon and his family were still deciding if Stupel would represent Shannon.

Senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Jonathan Capriel at jcapriel@tampabay.com. Follow @jonathancapriel

Janessa Shannon, 13, may have been strangled, had cocaine and alcohol traces in her body, court record says 10/06/17 [Last modified: Saturday, October 7, 2017 2:04am]
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