Ten years ago, a teenage girl went missing and was later found strangled in the woods near Citizens Park in Belleville.
A high school teacher, Samson Shelton, led police to her body after confessing to murder in a 13-hour interrogation on April 29, 2006. But instead of finding a lifeless body, they found that 17-year-old Ashley Reeves was barely breathing.
Shelton was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted murder while Reeves successfully recovered after rehabilitation.
The decade-old metro-east case has become the latest story sought out by Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen.
Through a social media post, Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said he was recently interviewed by Elizabeth Smart for the story. Johnson at the time was a lieutenant with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office. He worked on the case back then with investigators Mike Hundelt and Dan Stockett.
“It was an honor to be associated with these heroes. Lt. Mike Hundelt and Sgt. Dan Stockett are both true American heroes. After hours and hours of tough interrogation they refused to give up until we could find her. This is a case about always doing it the right way. Every time,” Johnson wrote.
“Ashley Reeves and Elizabeth Smart are also two of the toughest people I have ever met. They both are alive today because of a pure will to not let evil win. Thank goodness for their strength. Whenever you have a bad day, think about how insignificant it is compared to what they survived.”
Smart was abducted in 2002 when she was 14-years-old living in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was found by police nine months after the kidnapping. Smart is now president of a foundation named after her and she’s a contributor for ABC News.