A decomposing body discovered by a hiker at a Florida nature preserve last week has been identified as a missing 13-year-old girl.
Janessa Shannon was initially reported missing on July 3, however, authorities said she was a habitual runaway so her disappearance was not made public. They said her disappearance didn’t meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.
Her body was found July 12 by a hiker at Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Riverview, Florida. Her death is now being treated as a homicide.
“We to be deliberate and methodical in our investigation,” Col. Donna Lusczynski of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 13. “What’s important to us is identifying this killer and putting him behind bars.”
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return calls for comment.
Authorities have not revealed the cause of her death.
According to Fox 13, authorities said they have interviewed the teenager’s father, Nahshon Shannon, who they said cooperated at first, but then refused to answer more questions.
The teen’s mother, Michelle Mosley, said her daughter was staying with her biological father when she disappeared and he told her she ran away.
Forensics teams searched the elder Shannon’s home in Riverview, but did not reveal what, if anything, was found.
The teenager’s family members have criticized the sheriff’s office for failing to do more to find her.
“It wasn’t until they found her body that people, cops started knocking on the doors and asking questions,” Sabrina Remillard, the father’s next-door neighbor, told Fox 13.
Mosley said her daughter was “very loving, caring and had a heart of gold.”
“Justice is the only thing we want right now. And, it’s not gonna make anything better, it’s not gonna bring her back, it’s definitely not going to help me sleep at night,” she told Fox 13.
Mosley also disputed the sheriff’s office assertion that her daughter was a habitual runaway.
“She didn’t have a history of running away. She never ran away before and that’s how it was treated,” she said.
The teen’s family members want answers and say they want whomever was responsible for her death to be held accountable.
“Just to know the person that did this to her is behind bars or anything else,” Mosley said, “it might give me a little comfort but it’s still not enough. It won’t ever be enough.”