PRATTVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - Nineteen years have passed and there’s still no apparent closure for the family of Shannon Paulk. For those who’ve lived in the River Region long enough, the girl’s name is familiar.
The 11-year-old was kidnapped and later found dead in 2001. Her killer has never been brought to justice.
Despite nearly two decades without answers, her family hasn’t given up hope. They and friends have planned a weekend vigil for their loved one.
The hellish nightmare continues for the girl’s mom, Marie Stroud, who called it “the worst nightmare you could ever live.” Her faith in God is what’s kept her going.
Paulk went missing from her Prattville neighborhood in the Candlestick Mobile Home Park on Aug. 16, 2001. With a trusting heart and a gentle smile, it is believed the little girl trusted a stranger and left the area.
She was never seen alive again. Hunters found her remains two months later in the northern part of Autauga County.
Tammy Evans is spearheading Sunday night’s candlelight vigil, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the amphitheater near Stanley-Jensen Stadium.
“Maybe this will bring somebody out and tell us something, explained Evans, who was Paulk’s aunt. “C’mon, it’s been 19 years. Surely somebody knows something.”
Evans said the candlelight vigil will include music, speakers and memories of the youngster. Among those set to be in attendance is former Prattville Mayor Jim Byard.
“People held their children closer, one of those things that just doesn’t happen in Prattville,” Byard explained.
Stroud moved away not long after her daughter’s body was found, but she still wonders why it happened after all these years.
“He may get away with it here on earth,” said Stroud.
The tree planted 19 years ago in Pratt Park is now fully grown with the marker at its base reminding all who pass by of the life snatched away in a most cruel manner.
Shannon Paulk would’ve been 30-years old today. Her mom can only wonder what might’ve been. No arrest and no closure, but they hang on to hope that justice is not far away.
“To this day she is not forgotten,” Stroud said.
And police haven’t forgotten either. The Prattville Police Department said the investigation very much remains active with an investigator working full time on the case.