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Still, No Closure for Me When Tanya Shannon Was Found Yesterday

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We found out yesterday the final fate of Tanya Shannon. Tanya was found at 9:21 AM in a soybean field by a news helicopter that spotted her red party dress. The soybean field is three-quarters of a mile southeast of the crash site, where the couple had a car accident in the early morning hour of December 5th. The identification of Tanya was positive since they found her purse with her driver's license inside and her car and house keys.

Back on December 6th I had started a file on this case, since the way that Tanya had vanished from the scene of the crash was unusual. That is, there was a short trail of footprints in the snow, going from the car to the road and then nothing. Oh, a slipper was left behind, positioned right in the snowy footprint. This confounded me at the time?

dale and tanya shannon
This photo of Dale and Tanya Shannon, taken at the Christmas party shortly before the accident, tells the whole story, the good, the bad, and the tragic.
A way of explaining these two anomalies now is that Tanya was dazed from the accident, that she didn't even realize her slipper had come off. Normally, if say, your sandal slips off, you just bend down, pick it up, and put it back on. And as cold as it was, you think Tanya would have done this. But her injuries must have been bad.

This makes me wonder how she could walk through this snowstorm for three-quarters of a mile. I'm having trouble visualizing this, and almost don't want to. The car crash is not too pleasant a thing to think about either. As far as the footprints go, the snow must have buried all the further prints in the soybean field, as Tanya walked away from the site. A Chicago Tribune article from yesterday let me know that Tanya was barefoot where they found her.

Therefore, what happened to the other slipper? If the authorities can locate the other slipper, they'll be able to better trace the exact path she took from the car to the isolated field. I read that it makes little sense in terms of the location of her home in Ransom. Yet, given the fact she had been in a major accident, I'm surprised Tanya could walk at all? When the autopsy is complete and we get toxicology reports, many of these unanswered questions will be reconciled.

The question of alcohol keeps popping up, and yea, I realize this is the shadowy angle to this holiday tragedy, that leaves behind four children without any parents. I just learned of the alcohol issue last night from a Huffington Post piece from December 17th. You know, Dale was three times over the legal limit. I had filed away in my mind that Dale was sober when he left the Christmas party in Streator.

soybean field
This is the soybean field where a news helicopter spotted Tanya's red party gown. She was found three-quarters of a mile from the car crash.
I pulled the Tanya Shannon file from my file cabinet, and thumbed through the dozen or so articles I had printed out in early December. I was right (for a change)! In a Chicago Tribune piece, Woman disappears from car crash that kills husband, Dale's sister, Donna Baker, had said: "They were dancing together, really cutting up a rug. Both left the party arm in arm." The exact line I was seeking comes afterwards:

"Baker said the car was Tanya Shannon's, but her husband was driving. She said her brother was sober and often took precautions when he and his wife went out."

Okay, I'm not saying that Donna was lying. Maybe Dale had convinced his sister he was sober before he left the party, I don't know. But no red flags were raised, and the couple departed into a snowy night, bound for their home in Ransom, which was 17 miles west of Streator. LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton characterized the car crash as "alcohol and weather related."

The question is how much weight do we put on the weather, and how much weight do we assign to the alcohol. That's going to be a judgment call only. We'll never know, really. The one thing I'm left with is that misty photo of Dale and Tanya at the Christmas party. I don't know who took it, but I often look at it wondering. Somehow, all the events occurring before the photo and events after the photo, are rapped up in a simple image.

John Kays identifies timeless remnants from our past that will endure, or be admired by future generations.

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