Cold Case Cedar Springs: The Disappearance Of Baby Shannon
The man likely responsible for Baby Shannon's disappearance has a long list of crimes and a trail of unsolved disappearances.
At less then one-years-old, Shannon Verhage was barely given a chance at life when a sick and twisted man ended her mother's life and possibly hers. Marvin Gabrion will spend the rest of his life in prison and was on death row for a time. He is convicted for the murder of Rachel Timmerman, Shannon's mother, and is suspected to be responsible for the disappearances and presumed murders of Robert Allen, John Weeks, Wayne Davis, as well as baby Shannon.
Rachel and Shannon disappeared from Rachel's father’s home in Cedar Springs on June 3, 1997. She told family members she was going on a date. Marvin Gabrion went to great lengths to disguise their disappearance as Rachel willingly leaving to elope with an unknown man. Sending letters that appeared to be in Rachel's handwriting to her family and in even to the courthouse that was to be the location where a trial would take place after Rachel accused Marvin of raping her. The letter to Rachel's family stated that she had willingly left to elope a man unknown to her family and that she wanted to make a fresh start. In the letter to the court, she allegedly stated that her accusations against Marvin were made up and that she would not testify and she would like the case tossed out of court.
Rachel's body was found in Oxford Lake, in a national park in Newaygo County, weighted down by cinder blocks, on July 5, 1997. Prosecutors believe Gabrion murdered Rachel to keep her from testifying that he raped her. Investigators found lots of evidence showing his involvement with Rachel's murder and Shannon's disappearance.
Gabrion is a suspect in the disappearances of several other people. The house where he was living when Rachel's body was found was owned by a man named Robert Allen. Allen was a mentally disabled transient. Robert was receiving social security benefits when he went missing in 1995. Gabrion was found to have been cashing Allen's checks and living in his home until 1997. Gabrion was convicted of social security fraud in July 1998 for his use of Allen's checks and sentenced to five years in federal prison for that crime.
Wayne Davis, a family friend of Rachel's who was set to testify against Marvin Gabrion for the alleged rape, disappeared in February 1997. Davis' residence was found undisturbed after his disappearance was discovered, aside from a stolen stereo system. The stereo system was later recovered in Gabrion's possession. In July 2002, canoeists found Davis' body in Twinwood lake, another body of water in the same national park where Rachel's body was found.
John Weeks' whereabouts are also unknown. John Weeks was a handyman who worked for Marvin Gabrion. Investigators learned from John's girlfriend that she had caught him on the phone with Rachel. She says that John told her that Gabrion asked him to do it. Investigators believe that John was the man that Rachel had gone on a date with on the day that she vanished. He disappeared soon after as well. Before he vanished, he told his girlfriend that he was leaving with a friend to go to Texas. When the girlfriend contacted Gabrion after not hearing from John, Gabrion stated that he had left John in Arizona. Gabrion was the last known person to see him alive in June 1997.
At the time of her disappearance, Shannon was just 11-months-old. Her family described her as a happy baby that brought them a lot of joy. She had begun taking her first steps not long before vanishing. She has blonde hair, blue eyes, she was 2 feet and 6 inches tall, and weighed about 30 pounds. She has a birthmark on the back of her neck. Shannon was last seen wearing a tricolored dress and a diaper. Today Shannon would be 24-years-old.
Anyone with information on the disappearance or whereabouts of Shannon Verhage is asked to contact the Michigan State Police at 989-732-5141.