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Who Killed Shawna Louise Jones?

Updated: 2 days ago

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New Years Day - 2am, 1994

Location: Henryetta, OK

At the age of 26, Shawna found herself navigating life as a solo parent to her two daughters, Miracle (aged 7) and Christina (aged 9). Recently, she made the courageous decision to return to her roots in Henryetta, Oklahoma, seeking the comfort and support of her family nearby. The absence of the children’s fathers meant Shawna shouldered the parenting responsibilities alone.

Earlier, Shawna had sought a fresh start in Tulsa, hoping the bustling city would offer prosperity and new opportunities for her family. However, a traumatic event shattered that dream: a sexual assault right outside her apartment, witnessed by her eldest daughter, extinguished her optimism for a better life in the city. Fearful and seeking safety, Shawna retreated to the familiarity of Henryetta.

Shawna’s resilience was not new; it was a response honed from a lifetime of adversity. Raised among Henryetta’s less fortunate, she maintained a spirit of joy despite her circumstances. Her romantic life, marred by indifference and mistreatment, never quenched her desire for a loving partnership. Shawna’s quest for a brighter future persisted, undeterred by the trials she faced.

(Photo: Shawna Jones in pink with her New Year's Eve Crown. Taken the night she disappeared.)

In 1994, Shawna embarked on a relationship with Uel Slane, a 27-year-old musician who performed with The Backroads Band at local venues. Uel’s association with his family’s prosperous medical supply business in the heart of Henryetta added to his multifaceted life. He contributed to the company when necessary.

Their connection swiftly deepened, and soon they found themselves contemplating a shared future. While it remains uncertain whether a formal proposal occurred or if they mutually acknowledged their intent to marry, it was evident that marriage was a topic of serious discussion between Shawna and Uel.

Shawna, juggling roles as both a bartender and a waitress, had her schedule set for The New West Club’s much-anticipated annual New Year’s Eve celebration.

Meanwhile, Uel had a gig scheduled with his band at a simultaneous New Year’s Eve event in a different bar across town. For this special occasion, Shawna meticulously curated her outfit: a vibrant pink shirt elegantly paired with classic blue jeans. She cinched her waist with a statement belt, its oversized buckle adding flair to her ensemble. And to complete the look, she slipped into a pair of Roper lace-up cowboy boots—a blend of rugged charm and undeniable style.

(Photo: Shawna with her daughters)

Uel Slane, utilizing his family’s spacious medical supply van, adept at transporting his band’s gear, collected Shawna from her residence before proceeding to their respective evening engagements. He dropped Shawna off at The New West Club, where she was due to work the New Year’s Eve shift, while he set off for his own musical performance across town.

The night unfolded without any notable disturbances at either venue. As the celebrations wound down around 2 am, Shawna and her colleagues began the routine of closing up for the night. Uel, having finished his gig, returned to ferry Shawna back home.

Upon their arrival, they were greeted by Jessica Barnett, the 15-year-old babysitter, alongside Shawna’s daughters, Miracle and Christina, who were eagerly awaiting their mother’s return.

(Photo: Shawna with her daughters)

Miracle recalls the tender moment upon awakening: "I woke up; my sister stayed in bed. When I got up. I went straight to her and wrapped my little arms around her waist; as I hugged her, she let her right arm fall on my back, giving me a hug back. I remember she said, 'Look, I got you and your sister New Year toys; go back to bed.' She patted my head, and I went back to bed."

The babysitter requested a ride home, so Uel stayed with the children while Shawna took his work van to take the babysitter home. The babysitter Jessica does state, “They went straight from Shawna's home to her home in the work van and were dropped off. “

Shawna took the van to the premises of Uel’s family’s medical supply company, where she swapped it for Uel’s recently acquired '93 Blue Ford F-150 dual cab truck. What transpired following this exchange remains a mystery, as there were no confirmed sightings of Shawna. The trail of her whereabouts that night goes cold, with the next sighting of her not occurring until later the following day.

(Photo: Shawna's trailer today.)

That morning, Uel filed a police report. Not a missing person's report, but an Unauthorized Use of Vehicle Report for his missing van.

(Photo: Uel's family business where Shawna was to switch the vehicles out front. It directly across from a gas station. Photos were taken in late 2022, but both businesses where there in 1993/1994.)

On a day that edged closer to what would have been Shawna’s 27th birthday by four months, a somber discovery was made around 4:30 pm. Local children, while playing in their backyard, noticed an out-of-place blue truck near their pond. Alerting their mother to the unusual sight, she ventured down to investigate and came upon a body lying at the water’s edge. It is believed that she turned the body over from its face-down position. Official reports confirm that neither EMS personnel nor police officers had done so, and the presence of livor mortis on the abdomen suggested the body had been in that position for an extended period.

In a heart-wrenching moment of recognition, the woman identified the body as that of her dear friend, Shawna Jones. The authorities were promptly notified. Upon arrival, the EMS team, initially dispatched for a potential drowning, quickly ascertained that Shawna had passed away sometime earlier.

Dr. Ted Lewis, the Medical Examiner, arrived at the scene at 7:30 pm and made several observations. He found Shawna lying on her back, her hands and arms positioned slightly above her shoulders, with her head resting in approximately 3-4 inches of water.

Shawna’s belongings were found dispersed around the truck, with both her purse and the truck keys initially missing. These items were subsequently retrieved from the pond, although the specifics of their location within the water remain unclear. The purse contained $150.00 in cash. Shawna was dressed in the same outfit she wore the previous night at the bar, but her jeans were found unzipped and unbuttoned, and her distinctive belt buckle was absent. Despite this, the multiple rings she wore on her fingers remained in place.

The aftermath of the truck’s journey through the field painted a picture of chaos and disarray. The vehicle bore the marks of its tumultuous passage: paint scratches adorned the right side, while the driver’s side door was marred by a vertical dent near the hinges. The chrome trim had been wrenched from the frame’s bottom edge, just ahead of the driver’s door, and the door lock itself was visibly damaged.

The trajectory of the truck suggested a reckless departure from the main road, plunging into and emerging from a 6-foot ditch, breaching a barbed-wire fence, and weaving through the pasture. It came to a halt parallel to the pond, with the passenger’s side facing the water. It was here that Shawna exited the truck, inadvertently leaving behind some personal items before tragically slipping and falling into the pond.

The severity of the crash was such that - according to authorities - it likely caused Shawna’s windpipe to be crushed—presumably as the truck became airborne and she collided with the steering wheel upon impact. Inside the truck, the dome light cover was nowhere to be found, and the ceiling liner around the light bore scratches and tears. Strands of barbed wire hung from the truck’s undercarriage, evidence of its violent encounter with the fence.

(Photo Above: The pond where Shawna was found. It was said by the new owner that it wasn't drained properly and never held water for long.)

(Photo Above: The Route Shawna would have taken that night. 1) From her work to 2) home. Then from home to 3) the babysitter's home. Then back down to drop off the van at the 4) medical supply business. From there she ended up at 5) the pond.)

Upon initial examination of the scene, investigators concluded that the incident appeared to be a vehicular accident, potentially compounded by alcohol consumption.

(Photo: Miracle stands in front of the home she shared with her mother and sister 29 years prior.)

(Above: Shawna's daughters visit her grave site after her death.)

The autopsy conducted by the Medical Examiner revealed several critical findings. Notably, there was petechial hemorrhaging in the eyes and mud obstruction in the mouth extending to the back of the throat, yet notably absent from the lungs, which also showed no signs of water. There was evident bruising and hemorrhaging over the right thyrohyoid muscle, as well as on the underside of the strap muscles on the left side, overlaying the thyroid cartilage. A fracture was present on the right side of the hyoid bone, and a potential bite mark was identified on the right forearm. Additionally, sperm was recovered from the vagina, from which a complete DNA profile was successfully extracted.

These findings are commonly associated with manual strangulation, as indicated by the Medical Examiner’s report. The force required to fracture the hyoid bone is substantial and can be exerted manually or with an implement. Petechial hemorrhaging is indicative of asphyxiation, typically resulting from strangulation, and is characterized by redness in the eyes due to ruptured capillaries. This collection of evidence points to a scenario that extends beyond a simple accident.

The DNA analysis of the seminal fluid yielded conclusive results. Upon inquiry, the young man involved asserted that the sexual encounter was consensual.

The unanswered question remains: Who was driving the truck when it reached its final location near the pond? Was Shawna operating the vehicle alone, or was she forcibly taken and the truck commandeered, leading to its eventual stop at the pond?

These lingering uncertainties are the very questions that Shawna’s daughter, Miracle, has been seeking to resolve for years: the identity of the person responsible for her mother’s death. Who was behind the tragic end of Shawna Jones?

(Photo: Miracle visits her mother's grave decades after her mother's death.)

The urgency to uncover the truth cannot be overstated. Should the individual in question indeed be the perpetrator, the safety of Shawna’s family and the general public could be at risk upon his release. If you possess any knowledge regarding the New Year’s Eve party, the circumstances of the incident, the individual under suspicion, or Shawna Jones herself, it is imperative that you reach out to the Henryetta District Attorney’s Office. Your information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has the potential to be pivotal in resolving this case.

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