In 1988, Shannon Myers survived a brutal attack by Joseph Scott Hatley, the man whose fingerprints were also present at the scene of Susan Woods’s murder. Her statement to police—which included his chilling confession—created an opportunity to put Hatley behind bars for both crimes.
Stephenville is produced and edited by Patrick Michels, and produced and engineered by Brian Standefer, who also wrote the music. Additional production is by Jackie Ibarra. Story editing is by J.K. Nickell. Executive producer is Megan Creydt. Paul Knight is our fact-checker. Artwork is by Emily Kimbro and Victoria Millner.
Bryan Burrough (voice-over): A note before we get started: This episode contains some intense descriptions of sexual assault.
I met up with Don Miller one day this spring, at a barbecue place on the edge of Stephenville. He pulled up in an enormous truck. I climbed in and we headed south out of town.
Don Miller: Shannon and I, together, have never been to the park, just so you know that. But I mean, I’m familiar with it and can walk you through it anyway.
Bryan Burrough: I thought I knew which park it was, and then when I was driving up this morning, I looked at it, I said, “There’s no way. It’s too public.”
Don Miller: Well, so the park has changed over the years. Back when the assault happened…
About a year after Susan Woods was killed, investigators learned of another brutal crime. A 16-year-old girl from Stephenville, beaten and bloody, told them she’d been raped in this park.
Bryan Burrough: Does the park have a name?
Don Miller: No, it’s just a typical roadside park.
The park wasn’t much bigger than a football field. We crept through it and parked at the far end.
Bryan Burrough: All right. Well, it is the one I thought.
Don Miller: Yeah.
Bryan Burrough: This shouldn’t be here, I mean, it’s right by the road.
Don Miller: Right by the road, but if somebody’s going to come in, he’s going to see him. There’s nobody going to come up behind him.
Bryan Burrough: That’s true, and traffic’s going fast enough that, and it was dark. There’s no lights out here.
Don Miller: Should see it all at night time, this place is pitch black.
The victim told investigators who’d done it. She’d given them the name: Joseph Scott Hatley. Don first heard of this years later, when a database matched the fingerprints at Susan’s house to Hatley, a man Don hadn’t heard of. And someone no one had suspected.
Bryan Burrough: And you got the file from the DA, and you start going through it. And it’s an awful rape case, but there’s nothing that really links it to Susan’s. What then did for you, what happened?
Don Miller: Well, the striking thing in her original statement to the original investigators was this: He told Shannon, “I will probably make you a star.” Like a star in the heavens. And he told her, “I have killed before. I have killed before.” By the time I’d gotten to that point, I knew that Hatley was the man who had killed Susan Woods.
The murder investigation had been cold for almost twenty years, but Don realized this clue had been there all along. This other case could have been the key that the Stephenville police had been looking for. But instead, what happened here, and what came next, shows that the mistakes—the injustice, really—were more wide-spread than anyone realized.
From Texas Monthly, this is Stephenville. I’m your host, Bryan Burrough. This is episode four: Shannon.
At Stephenville High School in 1988—about a decade after Susan Woods graduated—one of the new faces in the crowd was Shannon Myers. Shannon was fifteen years old that year, petite, with close-cropped strawberry blonde hair. And if you saw her in that crowd, there was a good chance you would hear her first.
Shannon Myers: I was not very quiet at all. I was very loud. I stated my opinion. I would just tell it how it is. If I didn’t like something, I changed it. And I went to school, hated it because I did not feel accepted.
Shannon had come to town a few years earlier, with her mom and older sister, from Arkansas. In Stephenville, where most folks pretty much knew everyone else’s story, Shannon was not only a newcomer, but a bit of a misfit.
Shannon Myers: I was a party animal. I mean it was a college town, Stephenville was a college town. So Monday through Saturday I partied the whole time.
She says she and her mom would fight—it got so bad that, every now and then, her mom would threaten to send Shannon back to live with her dad. Shannon says she never had a curfew. She came and went pretty much as she pleased, and she had her reasons for staying away.
Shannon Myers: My home life was very… I was a very troubled child. I would say that I was very troubled. I had a lot of molestation going on at that time. And so that’s kind of what set me up to become Scott’s victim is what I believe.
Scott Hatley was a local kid, stout and blonde, usually on the quiet side. He was a good seven years older than Shannon. When she was 15, he was already a young man at 22, already going through a divorce, and working for his father, delivering ice around town. As it happened, Hatley’s older sister Regina lived next door to Shannon’s family in a little development.
That summer, when Shannon got bored during the long hot days, she became friendly with Scott’s cousin Melissa, who’d come over to watch Regina’s baby. Melissa was about 19 or 20, and for Shannon, it was kind of cool to hang out with a slightly older woman.
Shannon Myers: I was like, you know what? I always liked the way she did her makeup and everything. And she was fun to hang around with, Melissa. So, I mean, we hung out a lot of times over [at] Regina’s house, watching the baby, it was just something to do.
This is how she met Scott Hatley.
Shannon Myers: He walked in and we kind of made eye contact and everything, and he just started paying attention to me. And something— no one ever took the time to sit down and really talk to me. And I was like, you know, this is nice. Just having someone to talk to.
It was nothing too deep. Just everyday joking and making conversation. Scott seldom talked about his own life or where he’d been. Or his divorce. But to Shannon, this attention from an older guy… it meant a lot.
Shannon Myers: He just seemed like a sweet guy that I could talk to. He cared about what I said, and he showed interest in me, and he encouraged me to make a little bit better choices. I went over there, started going over there at nighttime when he was there.
Bryan Burrough: Now, how long, from one minute to two months, did it take you to realize what he was primarily interested in?
Shannon Myers: Oh, it took two days to see what he was interested in. I mean, immediately we started having sex and we immediately started having a “relationship.” It happened on Regina’s couch. Just he turned over and he kissed me and I turned around and kissed me. I was like, oh, okay.
After that, they started meeting up at Regina’s house and they’d have sex there, often in the bathroom. Regina Hatley passed away in 2010, but Shannon’s confident this wasn’t some big secret. Scott’s sister and her husband knew she was a high schooler.
Shannon and Scott settled into a kind of routine.
Shannon Myers: I was still going out with my friends and I would come home and either he and I would meet, up or we’d meet up to talk or we’d meet up for sex. It just varied.
Mind you, back then we didn’t have cell phones. It was the good old landline. So he was always like, when I’d pull up immediately, he was in the backyard waiting for me because I would let my dog DeeDee out. And then I would see him, the smoke, or I would smell the smoke of his cigarette.
He would drink. I mean, he’d always have a drink in his hand every time I saw him. It didn’t matter what time of the day, he would drink. It was just like water to him.
Bryan Burrough: And so you knew he was out in the backyard waiting for you?
Shannon Myers: I knew he was out in the backyard.
Eventually, though, Shannon’s mother grew suspicious.
Shannon Myers: I spent a little bit too much time over at Regina’s, and then she saw us together a few times and she didn’t like the age difference, that’s her whole thing. And she goes, “You’re 15, you’re not supposed to be doing this.” And I remember yelling at her, “Well, be a mom, show me what I’m supposed to do.” And that didn’t go too well.
Shannon says her mom actually did confront Hatley about the relationship; apparently, there was an argument in a K-mart parking lot. But between Shannon and her mom, it all kind of blew over and just went away. One more fight like all the others they’d had before.
Shannon Myers: We still saw each other. So it didn’t… My mom telling us not to didn’t stop. I think it kind of fueled the fire a little bit because I was something that he could… he’s not supposed to have.
Shannon says she still liked the attention she got from Scott, but she saw it as a casual thing. To her, this didn’t have the makings of a serious relationship. In hindsight, though, there were warning signs.
Shannon Myers: Um, looking back now, 15, 16, naive me did not see it at all. He was very controlling. He wanted to know exactly where I was at all times. He’d be there… When I’d leave, “Hey, where are you going?” And I would tell him, and, “What time are you going to be home?” He just, he kept telling me that I’m special. That I’m the special one. And that still today sends shivers through my spine because, you know… it just does.
By the end of that summer of 1987, something else had changed—though it’d be years before Shannon understood why. But she saw it when Scott was with his friends, especially when, every now and then, the conversation turned to the murder of Susan Woods.
Shannon Myers: and I do remember a little bit of small talk about Susan. And when I was over there, they didn’t really talk talk that much. It was more jokingly and more laughing and cutting up. So I do remember the demeanor around there being shifted. And Scott’s attitude was a little bit different, meaning he was a little bit on edge.
Scott had just gotten an apartment of his own, and Shannon had met up with him there a couple of times. Further out of the sight of her mom. One night in September, she went to see him there. And she brought along her little white poodle, Deedee.
Shannon Myers: And I couldn’t really tell you what made me go over there on that night.
At first, it was kind of like all the other times they’d gotten together. But she says what happened next came out of the blue. When they began to have sex, he seemed more forceful, more aggressive.
Shannon Myers: It was different. Just the way that he and I were having sex, it was very different. It was very… And I kind of backed away and was like, “Hey, stop,” you know? And well, as soon as I said stop, all hell broke loose. And his eye was just… coldness in it.
She says that transformation, that turn to violence… it happened just that fast.
Shannon Myers: I just told him that, “You’re hurting me,” and to stop. And, you know, me telling him “no” made him mad. And he took a knife out and held it to my throat and he was raping me. And then I finally pushed him off me and I grabbed my dog and I ran out. I got my clothes and I ran out.
DeeDee had started growling at Scott. And Shannon was afraid he might turn on the dog next.
Bryan Burrough: You told me before when we talked about this briefly, that the main reason you didn’t object more forcefully was you were worried about your dog.
Shannon Myers: Yes, I was worried about my dog. I did not want my dog to get harmed. Me, 15-year-old me, I was worried about my dog.
And then there she was, racing down the sidewalk with DeeDee in the dark.
Shannon Myers: And I was crying and upset and he gets in his truck. And he goes, “Get in.” And I’m like, “No, you hurt me. How could you?” He goes, “I’m sorry. Get in.” He goes, “Let me take you home.” I was like, “No, no, no.” And he goes, “Well, get in. I told you to get in. I’m going to take you home. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I love you.” And I looked at him, and I didn’t see that anger in his face anymore. I could see that he truly meant that he was sorry that he hurt me. And stupid 15-year-old me got in the vehicle and he did take me home.
Bryan Burrough: What happened when you got there?
Shannon Myers: Um… He looked at me and put his hand on my face and said, “I’m sorry. I love you.” And I, 15-year-old little me, “Love you back.” And I had to tell my mom, and I think that was the hardest part was telling my mom.
Basically. She goes, “I told you not to do this. See this is what you get for being with him. You’re in trouble.” And being molested and raped and everything. I was like, “Okay, it’s my fault. It’s me. It’s me.” I was always in the wrong, is the way I felt.
But her mom did insist she had to go tell the police. She went to the station and sat down for an interview. She explained what had happened at Scott’s apartment, but once Shannon said she and Scott had been in an ongoing sexual relationship, she could sense the officer growing skeptical.
But Shannon says she didn’t hear from the officer again. She told me she understands now that they saw this as a “he said, she said” situation. She was still new to many in town, and she had a reputation for being—as she is the first to point out—a little wild.
Of course, she was also a minor, seven years younger than Scott. By law, in Texas, sex between someone 18 or older and someone 16 or younger is statutory rape. But state law was different back in 1988, and it gave Scott an out: he could simply claim the sex was consensual.
At the same time that Donnie Hensley was trying to figure out who’d sexually assaulted and killed Susan Woods, interviewing her friends and staking out her ex-husband, the Stephenville Police were sitting on another complaint of a violent sexual assault—Shannon’s—against the man whose fingerprints were all over Susan’s bathroom.
And this might have been a very different story if the Stephenville Police had arrested and fingerprinted Scott right then. But that didn’t happen. Nothing happened.
In the meantime, Shannon tried to move on. She started dating a boy from school. It was nice. Not too complicated.
Shannon Myers: We would drive the drag. You know, that was through Sonic, through McDonald’s. I mean, it was small town. We would just have fun. I mean, fishing in the lake or just some good old fun. He would protect me from Scott because Scott would show up at a few places, and I was like, “Scott’s here.” And he goes, “Okay.”
She says she pretty well managed to avoid Scott for a while.
Shannon Myers: Because I was scared. I was scared of what he would do. And I felt the need to call him and ask him why. Here’s the rebellious 15, 16-year-old me wanting answers and why did you do what you did to me?
Bryan Burrough (voice-over): A reminder that this episode contains intense descriptions of sexual assault and thoughts of suicide.
Shannon and her boyfriend eventually split up. Then one night she went over to Regina’s house while Scott was there.
Bryan Burrough: Walk me through what happened.
Shannon Myers: He just told me, he goes, “Hey, I miss you.”
This was July 1988, nine months after the rape and a year after Susan’s death.
Shannon Myers: He goes, “Can I talk to you?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” He goes, “I miss you.” And I’m like, “Oh, I miss you too.” And we immediately started having a conversation, started talking again.
After that, she started noticing him around town.
Shannon Myers: And we would say hi to each other in passing. I still kind of felt a little uneasy. I feared him a little bit, but I just kept him at a distance.
But then, Scott started asking to see her again, alone.
Shannon Myers: And he kept calling. He would put Regina up to calling me. And he said, “Shannon, I really want to see you tonight.” And I asked him, I said, “Why tonight?” And he goes, “I just need to see you.” And he goes, “I need to explain why I did what I did to you.” And the 16-year-old me always wanted answers.
She agreed to meet him at a laundromat, a few blocks from her house.
Shannon Myers: And I got into the vehicle, and I immediately knew I made a mistake. Immediately. And he goes, “Come over and sit beside me,” before we drove off. And I was like, “Okay.” And just the way he was telling me and talking to me was totally different. He had aggression behind his voice. And I was doing exactly what he wanted me to do because I was afraid. I was afraid that, okay, what is he going to do?
As Shannon struggled to keep her composure, she realized Scott was driving them out of town. After a few minutes, he coasted to a stop in a roadside park on the side of a two-lane state highway—the same park where I spoke with Don. It was pitch dark.
Shannon Myers: And I was a little taken back. Why that roadside park? And that roadside park to paint the picture, you couldn’t see. It was like a hill down to that roadside park. I mean, so if cars are going past, you couldn’t hear, you couldn’t see. I mean, you would not know a vehicle or anybody was down in there. So I think it was all planned.
On the way there, Shannon says, he began by speaking softly.
Shannon Myers: He told me that he loved me, that we were destined to be together. And I’m just wanting to be loved and accepted. So I’m like, okay, I do kind of love the guy and this is what… You know, this is what I want to hear.
Of course, like, as soon as we got there, everything changed. the look in his eyes and everything, and I knew I was in trouble. I knew immediately. And immediately, he wanted to have sex. And I told him no, I couldn’t. And he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
At some point, they got out of the truck.
Shannon Myers: And he slapped me. And I’ve never been hit before by a boyfriend. And so I was like, what do I do? I just stood still, like, paralyzed in my own feet. And he immediately started taking off my clothes, and we ended up having intercourse and everything, and it was… it was brutal. And he started hitting me and knocking me unconscious the whole time.
This was by one of the covered picnic tables—that’s just one of the places where Scott attacked her. There’s a muddy little drainage ditch further down the hill—Shannon remembers the water was running because it had rained a few days earlier. Scott pushed her face down in the water and attacked her there too.
Shannon Myers: There was no explanation of why he was doing this to me. None. He just kept telling me, “Do you see the stars up there?” And he goes, “I can make you one of those stars. You better do exactly what I want you to do.”
At one point, Shannon got up and tried to run away, but Scott chased her down, fell on top of her, and said the words that Shannon later recounted to investigators. The ones that caught Don Miller’s ear all those years later. Scott said, “If you don’t mind me, I’ll kill you. And I’ve done it before.”
Shannon Myers: I thought to myself, I’m like, “I’m not going to make it out here alive. I’ve got to find a way where people would know that I was here.” And so I had a hair pin in my hair, and I left it at a certain spot, and I had my bra; I left that at a certain spot; my panties, I left that at a certain spot. That way, at least they knew that that was my white bra in my 16-year-old little brain. They knew, out of thousands of women that wore that bra, they knew it was mine.
Shannon says he would beat her and rape her, and she would pass out. And she’d wake up to find him smoking a cigarette and sipping his drink, and then it would start all over again.
Shannon Myers: I could feel my face swelling as he hit me countless times. With his fist, and he would pull my hair. I could feel the blood coming out of my ear. He also would choke me, to keep me quiet. A few times, he would take my hands and put it behind my back or he would hold my wrist super tight.
Bryan Burrough: How long did this last?
Shannon Myers: Six to eight hours. I knew I had to turn the tables on him. In order to survive, I knew I had to manipulate him and convince him that I loved him, convince him that we were destined to be together, because he kept telling me that a few times, over and over. He kept saying, “You don’t know what love is.” And I’m like, “But you need to show me.”
It wasn’t right away, but Shannon says she kept talking like this. And finally, he relented. This was around four in the morning, and they had returned to the cab of the truck. Scott knew Shannon’s stepfather got up at five a.m. He knew when she would need to be home. But as they prepared to leave, Shannon realized she had a serious problem.
Shannon Myers: We were in the cab of the truck and he turned the light on and I remember thinking, “I’ve got to hide my face.” So, I looked down real fast and he couldn’t see the bruises, he couldn’t see the swelling. And he was caressing the side of my face and he goes, “Are you okay?” And I’m like, “I’m okay.” And I said, “I just want to start my life with you.”
He goes, “Don’t you turn me in.” And I told him that I would not. I would say that I didn’t know who did this to me. I said, “I’m not going to say anything.” And he believed me.
They drove along the dark little highway back into town. Shannon sat close beside Scott, where he told her to. The whole way, she was terrified he would see the blood and the bruises, and realize the severity of what he’d done. He’d have to know that this time the rape could not be swept under a rug. But Shannon’s luck held. He didn’t notice. He left her in the laundromat parking lot just before the sun rose.
Shannon Myers: At the laundromat I’ve never ran so fast in my life. I ran home and my stepfather was walking out of the bedroom. I mean, it was just minutes. And he goes, “What happened to you?” And I fell into his arms and I said, “Scott did this to me.” And he hollered for my mom and he goes, “We’ve got to take her in.”
In the hospital, Shannon says she asked to see a doctor who she knew and trusted.
Shannon Myers: You know, small town hospital and everything, I asked for Dr. Donohue, I wouldn’t let anybody look at me but Donohue. So, they called Dr. Donohue in. I can remember him walking in and saying, “Oh, my Shannon.” And I can remember him holding back the tears of looking at me.
Nurses came and administered a rape kit—though awkwardly… Shannon got the sense that none of them had done it before. Deputies arrived from the Erath County Sheriff’s Office—they’d be investigating, because the attack happened outside town.
Shannon was badly bruised and bloody. But she was still alive, and she told them everything.
Shannon spent that night in the hospital. Her older sister stayed with her in the room.
Shannon Myers: Because I was terrified. I was terrified to be even alone. And the next morning I woke up and I looked out the window and I saw Scott at the post office.
This wasn’t just some night terror. The hospital was right downtown—on one side, across Tarleton Street, was the police headquarters. And out front, across Graham Street, was the post office. Shannon could see it from her window.
Shannon Myers: And I was screaming, “There he is. He’s going to come get me.” And she had to rest assure me, “Shannon, you’re safe. He’s not going to come get you.” And I’m like, “Yes, he is. He’s right there.”
Bryan Burrough: You came to believe that was literally the morning or the day that he left town?
Shannon Myers: Yes. Yes. And I do know from the police officers, they did tell me, “Well, we did notify Scott.” And I’m like, “Why did y’all do that?” I remember asking them, “Why?” And I said, “I’m going to be his next victim.” And they did not listen to me.
By “next victim,” Shannon meant he would make good on his threat to kill her, just like he said he’d done before. She’d made sure investigators knew he said this, but it seems not to have made much of an impression on the deputies, all of whom have since passed away.
Even though Donnie Hensley was looking for a murderer, he was never told of any of this. He doesn’t even remember hearing about Shannon’s case. The investigations were happening in separate buildings, and separate jurisdictions.
When it came time for Shannon to go home, the only thing that calmed her was the news that Scott had disappeared, and apparently fled town. It was a relief knowing she wouldn’t drive up and hear him in Regina’s backyard. Still, once back home, she struggled with what had happened.
Shannon Myers: I had a stepfather that believed that this happened, my friends believed it happened, but my friends didn’t know what extent I went through. Because they could see the physical scars, but the emotional scars, the trauma that I received, they didn’t see that, because I kept it hidden from them, and because I didn’t want them to feel the same pain I felt.
For now, Shannon tried to get on with her life. She was heading into her junior year of high school. She tried not to think about that long night in the park. She and her friends would cruise the drag or go to parties at Tarleton State. And when an investigator started making the rounds, asking about Shannon, she assumed this was part of the case against Scott.
Shannon Myers: Well, that private investigator said, you know, “I’m a private investigator,” but he didn’t say he was working for Scott’s family. So, of course my family just… My uncle Don was saying all of what he wanted to say, and a few of my friends were saying what they thought would help my case. And instead, it hurt my case.
Eventually, Shannon learned the district attorney had taken the rape investigation to a grand jury. And she’d also gotten word that Scott had gotten into trouble and ended up in jail—in Las Vegas, of all places, where it was said he’d robbed a hotel clerk. It was a relief to know Scott was so far away. And then, suddenly, everything changed.
Shannon Myers: And we were out one night at the drag and I was going on for a long drive and I ran into Scott. And he was going into a grocery store, a little convenience store, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I drove 85 miles an hour down to the sheriff’s office and said, “Scott is back. Scott is back.” I was frantic. And they were like, “No, he’s not. No, he’s not.” Yes, he was. And they didn’t even know that he was back in town.
He’d been released from jail and had returned to Stephenville. Now—even more terrifying—Shannon says Scott began to follow her around town.
Shannon Myers: I was at a skating rink, he would show up at the skating rink. I would be at a TKE party, he would show up at the TKE party.
She waited for word that he’d been arrested, that he’d go away for what he’d done. And—finally—one day, a letter arrived for her.
Shannon Myers: My mom was not home, my stepfather was at work, and I opened the mail up and I was reading it and I’m like, “What does this mean, not indicting him? What does this mean, lack of evidence.” It was just like those words could have been in Spanish, because I couldn’t even read it, you know? And I was confused. I was hurt. I felt like I was raped over again.
Now, I don’t know how much more evidence that they needed. If the police— if they would’ve looked, they would’ve saw a similarity to my case and to Susan’s case.
Why the grand jury chose not to indict Scott, with such clear physical evidence of the violence he’d done, is a mystery. Those proceedings are still a secret. I did put the question to Don Miller, who was in town at the time, though he wasn’t involved in the case.
Bryan Burrough: What did you make of the situation, the legal situation surrounding Shannon’s 1988 accusation of rape? What did you piece together had actually happened back in the day?
Don Miller: We’re going to come right to the way Stephenville was. It was a nice, quiet little community. And Joseph Scott Hatley was a fair-haired, blue-eyed boy, grew up with a nice family. As far as anybody knew, he was nice.
Don Miller: Now, what the Hatley family had done was they did hire a private investigator. And the private investigator did a hatchet job on Shannon.
Don says the way the law was written back then gave Scott another out. Even for such a violent crime, and with an underage victim, the law provided a defense where an accuser was considered promiscuous. And that’s exactly how it appears Shannon was being portrayed. This loophole was only closed years later after a vigorous public backlash.
Don Miller: And apparently, the private detective had enough people talking bad about Shannon to where the grand jury chose not to indict Hatley, which didn’t make any sense to me. Now mind you, I wasn’t the investigating officer, but I’m looking at photographs of this little 16-year-old girl and she’s been beaten. She’s been beaten bad. They’ve got forensic evidence. I mean, they went straight to the hospital. They did a rape kit, they got everything in the world. And I’m sitting there, “How…” It didn’t make any sense to me. It did not make any sense to me.
I put the question to Shannon too.
Bryan Burrough: Let me ask you one other thing about Stephenville and the justice system. There’s two ways of looking at what happened to you. One is the justice system let you down. Okay, that’s fine. Except we’re really not talking about justice. We’re talking about Stephenville justice. Do you think the town, the culture, those who would not look rationally at a young woman with a story such as yours, do you think Stephenville at the time bears any responsibility for what you went through?
Shannon Myers: Absolutely. Hundred percent. I believe that they… Stephenville at that time, the sheriff’s department, they didn’t want to see past what they wanted to see. They had blinders on. They saw this wild child. Her own mother is having issues with her and they couldn’t see past that. I don’t think they wanted to investigate it too much, honestly, because of who they were investigating too.
Because of who they were investigating. Scott’s family were business owners in town, and had been for years. His sister Regina’s husband worked for the city. Regina worked at the electric co-op with Donnie Hensley’s wife. Shannon says even her mother doubted her story about what Scott had done.
In the end, Shannon was pretty much on her own. She realizes it even more deeply now. And at the time, she began noticing Scott around town more and more. It was almost like the grand jury’s decision had weirdly empowered him. One night at the skating rink, she saw him again. When he left, she asked her friend to take her back home. She knew Scott would be there, over at Regina’s house like usual. Sure enough, his truck was already in the driveway.
Shannon Myers: I had enough. I had enough of always looking over my shoulder and I went outside to him and I called him out. I’m like, “Scott, you need to come out now.” “I’m not coming out.” I’m like, “Quit being a chicken s— and come out and face me like a man.” And I stood up to him that night. And I told him to stop. I’m like, “You’re always at Regina’s house, you know what you did to me, and you can stop.”
After that, she says Scott mostly stayed away. But her life was beginning to crumble. It happened fast. Her best friend was killed in a motorcycle wreck. Her mother and stepfather moved away, and she stayed behind, with an uncle. Looking for some sort of security, she impulsively got married, to a local boy. It lasted ninety days.
Shannon Myers: Honestly, I was kind of running out of friends, and because I was going through the molestation and sometimes it was quite honestly a lot. You’re not going to know this, but I am going to tell you, I almost took my own life, because I couldn’t hold on for much more. So, I was like, you know, “It’s either me staying in this town and not being here, or moving on.”
She decided she’d had enough of Stephenville. She moved back in with her mom, near Houston. She had a new last name now, from her brief marriage. Which gave her some anonymity.
Shannon Myers: When I left Stephenville, I left that part of Stephenville behind. I didn’t look back. I was undercover I felt like, and felt like, “Okay, I’ve got to find me.”
Eventually Shannon started therapy, slowly beginning to build a new life. She got a job, one of several, in fact. Within a year, Shannon was pregnant. She became a mom. Most importantly, though, she’d made it out of Stephenville alive.