Dying for Life: Ashley Reeves’ Story Explores Real-Life Cases of Trauma and Resilience. Ashley Reeves, 17, went missing on April 27, 2006, and was found alive in a park more than a day later, according to the Illinois Daily News. When authorities found her, she was suffocating, her neck was broken, and she was barely breathing. Following an investigation, police charged Samson Shelton, a 26-year-old high school teacher who knew Reeves, with a crime. He met her when she was in middle school, and the two eventually began a relationship.
According to the Crime Watch Daily, Reeves claimed that she was injured in a fight with Sheldon while trying to break up with Sheldon. Sheldon claimed that he was the person who initiated the breakup, but otherwise confirmed most of Reeves’s story. According to CBS, Sheldon told the authorities that he tried to push her out of a moving car, and when her neck cracked, he took her to the park “to make her look like she was strangled to death.” There”. After admitting to the attempted first-degree murder, he was finally sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2007.
Her assailant was convicted of lying.
In an interview with Crime Watch Daily’s Elizabeth Smart, Lieutenant Michael Handelt of the St. Clair County Patrol said that Sheldon was only considered minor in the early investigation.
He provided false testimony during the initial interrogation, claiming that he had not seen Reeves for several days. But after Sheldon was caught changing his story many times—before he admitted the truth, he first said that his relationship with Reeves was platonic—investigators became panicked. “He changed the story so much that a person with nothing to hide… Why did you change so much?” Swansea Police Chief Steven Johnson told the Daily Crime Watch.
Sheldon’s web of lies began to unravel, when someone revealed that he was with Reeves on the day she disappeared. After 12 hours of interrogation, Sheldon finally admitted to attacking Reeves and let her fend for herself.
The attack caused trauma to the brain.
Although Reeves confirmed that there was an argument between her and Sheldon after the breakup, she also said that this was her only memory of the attack. She told Smart that she hardly remembered the days before the attack, nor the weeks after the attack.
After she was discovered more than 30 hours after the attempted murder, Reeves fought an uphill battle for recovery. CBS reported that Reeves, once a talented athlete, had to relearn how to speak, swallow and move his limbs.
In 2017, she visited her rescue site with Smart as part of an episode of Daily Crime Watch. “It’s kind of unbelievable that this is actually where I’ve been in that situation for so long,” Reeves said. “[It] made me feel like I might be as tough as everyone says I am. I’m a fighter, I just keep trying to push myself harder.”
Anvin O’Driscoll, who played Reeves in the Lifetime film, told the Sioux City Daily that she contacted Reeves when she was preparing for the role but didn’t want to cross-examine her experience. Much of the film revolves around Reeves’ recovery and Sheldon’s trial.
“I didn’t want to attack her with this overweight subject,” O’Driscoll said. “It’s her story, and I think maybe she’s talked about it and it’s not about getting people to come to her.”
With the exception of a 2017 interview with Smart, Reeves has been trying to put the whole thing behind him. “I’m glad it’s over,” she said after Sheldon was sentenced in 2007. “I just want to get on with my life, not worry about it.” That’s what she did. Reeves is now 32 and has two children, according to Daily Crime Watch. The end credits of the Lifetime movie show her raising her family in Illinois while working as a paramedic.
Shelton is still serving his sentence at the Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg, Illinois, according to Illinois inmate records. He will be released on parole on April 22, 2024. By then, he will be 44 years old.