Today a Saint Clair County, Illinois, Judge Milton Wharton released the taped police confession of the twenty-six year old teacher who had a relationship with a seventeen-year old student. The teacher, Samson R. Shelton, will go on trial later this year for the attempted murder of Ashley Reeves. He broke her neck, tried to strangle her with a belt, and then left her for dead in Citizen’s Park in Belleville Illinois.
The Freeburg High School teacher, charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of kidnapping, is in jail on a million dollar bond. Surprisingly, he showed up to teach school on Friday only hours after he left Ashley Reeves to die in the woods at the park. To his associate teachers and his students he did not appear stressed or unusually upset. Shelton teaches driver’s education.
Ashley Reeves disappeared on Thursday evening April 27, 2006, around 3:30 in the afternoon. The teen had told her parents she was going to a job interview when she left the family home. Her parents reported her missing when she failed to return home by her 10 p.m. curfew. The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department found Ashley’s car around midnight the same night at a local park, there was no sign of the teen and she was not answering her cell phone. Ashley’s parents and boyfriend cooperated with police; they were never suspects.
Being five foot five and only 120 pounds, the blonde hair and blue-eyed student was no match for the teacher who often wrestled and engaged in various sports. The teacher soon became a suspect, and the media soon discovered he had a Myspace account. On his Myspace Sam Shelton listed his hobbies as “pornography and touching prostitutes.” This was an alarming hobby for a teacher of adolescents.
Freeburg High School teachers and students were stunned when Sam Shelton was taken in for questioning about Ashley Reeves disappearance. During the questioning, police taped the complete session; the twenty six-year-old man denies knowing anything about the teen’s disappearance for several hours.
The officers leave Sam alone for a brief time. He begins to cry and pace. When officers return, Sam urgently asks to take the officers to Ashley and begins to confess to what happened almost thirty hours before this moment. The rest of the story is simply one side of what happened. There are always two sides to every story, and we have not heard Ashley Reeves side to what happened that night.
Shelton says while talking to the teen in his car he decided to end the relationship. Then he tried to drag the teen out of his car by placing her in a chokehold. While pulling her out Sam says, he hears a snap, a loud snap. He fears he may have broken her neck after Ashley goes limp in his arms. Then he panics and places his hat over her face so he does not have to see her looking at him. When he leaves her body in a heavily wooded area, he strangled her with a belt to make it look like it happened there.
When asked if he considered taking her to a hospital he says yes but he thought that if he did take her to a hospital they would point the finger at him if she died. Sam Shelton then takes officers to Citizens Park to show them where he dumped her body. Almost thirty hours after her parents reported her missing the teacher leads deputies to the teen’s body in Citizens Park in Belleville Illinois.
No one expected to find Ashley Reeves alive! Although she is unable to talk or move, she is clinging to life, her body covered in insect bites. Her family protects Ashley’s privacy. They give minimal information to the media and state her condition is guarded. A couple of months after her ordeal they did an exclusive interview with KSDK’s Steve Jankowski.
Today the teen continues to make a remarkable recovery. Where once she could not speak walk or move she now can get around in a wheelchair. Ashley continues to go through painful physical therapy and her mom is her biggest cheerleader. Ashley has a loving and encouraging family. Ashley still faces one of the hardest parts of her recovery in the future, the trial of Samson R. Shelton, the man who tried to kill her and left her for dead.
Sam Shelton’s Attorneys tried to ban his confession tape from the trial evidence and was unsuccessful. The judge denied the attorney’s request, which means the taped confession will be admitted into evidence, when the trial begins later this year.