Prosecutor denies new leads in Shannon Sherrill case

Shannon Sherrill, missing since 1986

Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Boone County - Twenty-three years after the disappearance of young Shannon Sherrill of Thorntown, many in Boone County are talking about possible new leads in the case. The prosecutor says there are none, while the little girl's father hopes for answers to his anguish.

Shannon Sherrill's disappearance is a mystery that Boone County prosecutor Todd Meyer grew up watching investigators trying to solve.

"They are as frustrated as I am that we can't solve this," he said.

A local newspaper report identified David Penton, a confessed killer in an Ohio prison, as a person of interest. But Meyer called the report "overcooked" with new developments, admitting, "I wish there were new developments in this case. There really aren't."

The six-year-old vanished from her Thorntown home in 1986. Numerous searches found no trace of her. Then in 2003 Donna Walker appeared, claiming she was Shannon Sherrill. It was a hoax and Walker went to jail.

Penton surfaced in the media two years ago when a Texas reporter from the Tyler Morning Telegraph interviewed him. He's serving four life terms for confession to the kidnapping, rape and murder of young children.

"But I can't convince anybody I'm not running around the country killing young girls," he said in a recorded interview posted on the newspaper's web site.

The Boone County prosecutor says investigators questioned Penton, but never came up with enough evidence to move him from person of interest to suspect.

"There is no hard and fast evidence that links anyone to Shannon's unknown whereabouts, said Meyer.

But a soft spoken Mike Sherrill remains hopeful of finding his little girl. "I'll never give up looking," he said.

Sherrill says he's known about Penton for years. He wants honest answers about his daughter.
"I just want to know where she is. I want to bring her home and have closure to 23 years of anguish."

The prosecutor says Penton remains one of several persons of interest. The long time lead investigator is retired. It's been assigned to a cold case unit.

Shannon Sherill's disappearance, the prosecutor insists, is a case investigators can't turn their backs on and will continue looking for new leads, taking them in new directions.