2006-05-02 17:05:20 UTC
Suspect had Web sites, frequented dance club
BY BETH HUNDSDORFER AND ALIANA RAMOS
BELLEVILLE - Police on Monday continued to decline to say why they
believe Freeburg High School driver's-ed teacher Samson "Sam" Shelton
broke Millstadt teenager Ashley Reeves' neck and left her for dead in
Citizens Park on Thursday.
On Monday, Reeves, 17, remained in serious condition at St. Louis
Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. Family members, including her
parents, declined to talk to the media.
Shelton faces two counts of attempted murder and one count of
aggravated kidnapping. He remains in the St. Clair County Jail on $1
Reeves' family last saw the Columbia High School junior about 3:30
p.m. Thursday when she told them she was going for a job interview at
a shoe store.
Police later found the Jeep she was driving about 11:30 p.m. in
Laderman Park. The vehicle belonged to a longtime boyfriend.
Thirty hours after she was last seen, police found Reeves in dense and
damp woods in Citizens Park with her neck broken and body covered with
In a television interview, Shelton's friend, Chris Vance, said Shelton
didn't get attached to any one girl for long.
"My mouth dropped and my heart stopped" when he heard about the
charges, Vance said, adding that Shelton had been the best man at his
wedding three months ago.
Vance said he had never heard Shelton mention Ashley Reeves. And
Shelton's Internet postings seem to back up Vance's claim.
Shelton maintained a blogsite on "MySpace" and lists a number of
female friends, including teachers from the Alton School District.
On his wrestling Web site, Shelton lists his family as "a girl in
every port, especially if that port happens to be named Wild Country."
Shelton, a professional wrestler who made $50 a match under his ring
name "The Teacher," frequented the Collinsville country-western bar
Wild Country, according to the owner.
Mike Major said he considered Shelton a regular at his bar --
especially on Thursday nights when KMOV-TV would tape its dance show
"St. Louis Country," which airs on Saturday nights.
"I didn't know him or anything," Major said. "He was just a guy who
came and danced."
Meanwhile, Ashley Reeves' best friend said Monday she thinks the
17-year-old Millstadt girl may have been brutally beaten and left for
dead because she tried to break off a relationship with her accused
"I think she told him that she couldn't see him anymore," said Kristie
Baumgartner, the victim's best friend. "I think he might have become
too obsessed with her."
Baumgartner speculated Reeves rejected Shelton on Thursday afternoon
after meeting him at Laderman Park, where the two often played
After questioning family and friends about Reeves' whereabouts,
Baumgartner said she told Reeves' mother that Ashley "hung out" with a
guy named Sam Shelton from Smithton, who was 18.
"Ashley's mom knew (Shelton's) mother and she knew Sam was 26,"
Baumgartner said. Susan Shelton, the defendant's mother, is a
first-grade teacher in Smithton.
Reeves and Shelton met at the Soulard Mardi Gras in St. Louis in
February, but Baumgartner said Reeves denied she was in a romantic
relationship with the 26-year-old teacher and part-time professional
"I don't believe that anymore," Baumgartner said. "I think she was
seeing him and he got obsessed with her."
Reeves was already involved in a three-year relationship with a
21-year-old Freeburg man, Baumgartner said, and may have wanted to
keep the relationship with Shelton private. Shelton had worked for the
Freeburg School District since 2003, after he graduated from McKendree
College in Lebanon.
"This is something that I would have never expected from Mr. Shelton,"
Freeburg Superintendent Andrew Lehman said.
Lehman described Shelton as quiet and reserved. "He seemed like he had
an appropriate and good relationship with students."
Lehman said, so far, he has had no complaints from students or
teachers about Lehman.
The school is conducting an investigation and has yet to take any
action. "The investigation has been limited because Mr. Shelton is in
However, it's unclear what action the school could take if Shelton is
found guilty. Shelton resigned in late March, effective at the end of
the school year, May 23, Lehman said. Lehman said Shelton did not give
a reason for his resignation.
Lehman said few students at Freeburg have taken advantage of the
counseling services offered by the school. He said a note was sent
home to parents on Monday.
Meanwhile, at Columbia High School, where Ashley attended, the
situation was different.
"We've had students and faculty utilize the counseling services,"
Columbia High School Principal Sara Keene. "The student reaction has
been mixed. Initially, it was shock."
She said it has been about a year since Reeves transferred to Columbia
High School from Belleville West High School.
"Even though she's only been here a year, she's been here long enough
to be considered part of the Columbia family," Keene said. "Your heart
breaks. All of these kids are like your own. She is a very friendly
student. She always seemed like she has a smile on her face."
During first period, teachers gave students an update on Reeves'
"The message was clear. You need to be very serious with who you
befriend. Be cautious," Keene said.
While Shelton doesn't have any felony convictions, he did plead guilty
to misdemeanor retail theft charge for trying to take a 20-pack of
Budweiser beer and a bottle of vodka on New Year's Eve, 2001, St.
Clair County court records stated. He agreed to pay a $100 fine and
was placed on supervision.
Such a conviction wouldn't preclude Shelton from getting his teaching
certificate in 2002, Illinois Board of Education spokesman Meta Minton
Missing teen's ordeal began Thursday
The following is a chronology of the events in the case of the attack
on Millstadt teenager Ashley Reeves as compiled from law enforcement
and other sources:
3:30 p.m. -- Reeves, a 17-year-old Columbia High School junior, leaves
her home in Millstadt and tells her aunt she has a job interview in
Belleville. She is driving her boyfriend's Jeep.
10 p.m. -- Reeves' parents report her missing to the St. Clair County
Sheriff's Department. Police start calling friends and relatives.
11:30 p.m. -- Police find the Jeep parked at Laderman Park in
Belleville. Some of her belongings are inside the Jeep. Investigators
continue to work through the night.
That day -- Police get a lead from a friend who said Reeves would play
basketball at Laderman Park with Freeburg High School teacher Samson
"Sam" Shelton, 26.8 a.m. -- Shelton reports for work at Freeburg High
12:30 p.m. -- Police meet with Shelton at Freeburg High School.
2 p.m. -- Media alert is issued for the missing teen. Police say they
have not been able to verify that Reeves had a job interview.
5 p.m. -- Police from St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, Swansea
Police Department's canine unit, an Illinois State Police crime squad
and a St. Louis County Police helicopter scour Radio Range Road at
Illinois 177 near Belleville and collect evidence.
That night -- Family and friends hold vigil at Reeves' home in
10 p.m. -- Police units leave Radio Range Road. Investigators continue
to work through the night.
1 a.m. -- Police start looking at Citizens Park in Belleville. Shelton
is with them.
2 a.m. -- Police find Reeves barely breathing. Unable to speak, she is
transported to a Belleville hospital. Her parents are notified in
That afternoon -- Reeves is transferred to a St. Louis hospital in
critical condition. Later, her condition improved to serious.
11 a.m. -- The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department announces Shelton
was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one
count of kidnapping. He is being held at the St. Clair County Jail
with bail set at $1 million.
10 p.m. -- Reeves remains in serious condition.
7:45 a.m. -- Freeburg High School teachers have a faculty meeting.
Freeburg administrators send students home with notes to parents.
Morning -- The student crisis assistance team is activated to help
teens at Columbia High School cope with the attack. Teachers give
students an update of Reeves' condition and some information about the
5 p.m. -- Reeves remains in serious condition. Hospital spokesman said
Reeves' parents are not ready to talk to the media.
Anne, indigoace at goodsol period com
Anne, indigoace at goodsol period com