Shepardson case being reviewed by state attorney general’s office

The Utah Attorney General’s Office has agreed to review the case surrounding the death of Shannon Shepardson, a Moab woman who died in November 2008, about two weeks after being found unconscious outside her former boyfriend’s Spanish Valley home.

According to Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen, members of a multi-jurisdictional investigative team called the Utah Technical Assistance Project met in Salt Lake City last month and reviewed the details of the case.

“We looked at the case for a couple of hours in that context,” said Torgensen, adding that he and three other investigators from the attorney general’s office visited Moab last week and met with Shepardson’s family members and close associates.

“We’re just making sure that we’re looking at every angle,” said Torgensen. “We don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we’re going to take the best shot that we can.”

Grand County Sheriff Jim Nyland, who attended the Dec. 16 meeting in Salt Lake, said that he and several other investigators, including the state medical examiner, went over the case in detail.

Shepardson, 44, was found injured and unresponsive in the driveway outside the home of former boyfriend Martin Fay on Lance Avenue on the morning of Oct. 29, 2008. According to police reports, a neighbor noticed Shepardson lying motionless and persuaded Fay to call 911. Shepardson died Nov. 13, 2008 after being taken off life support at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo. She never regained consciousness.

No charges have been filed in connection with Shepardson’s death. Fay moved to Florida shortly after the incident, law enforcement officials have said.

Nyland said he did send two of his investigators to Florida for a follow-up interview with Fay, who he said is considered to be a “person of interest” in the still-open case.

“The sad part is, that we may think the same way the family does [about what happened], but we need to have enough evidence to be able to file charges,” Nyland said.

One of the main challenges, according to Nyland, is that Shepardson’s autopsy report lists “alcoholism” as the primary cause of death. Even though Shepardson had also sustained various blunt force injuries, including multiple bruises, contusions, and a broken leg, Nyland said, those injuries “didn’t appear severe enough” to have actually caused her death, according to the autopsy report.

Nevertheless, friends and family members of Shepardson say they are encouraged that an outside agency has decided to give the case a fresh look.

“I feel like there’s hope now,” said Angie Nicol, a childhood friend of Shepardson’s and a member of the “Justice for Shannon” organization, which has been devoted to keeping the case in the public’s awareness. “I’m just so happy that it’s not getting swept under the rug. Maybe the attorney general’s office can find something the sheriff’s investigators missed.”

ByBy Jeff Richards

contributing writer