Jennifer Cahill Shadle has been missing since May of 2014. Her family, particularly her sister, have been LOUD and vocal with their frustration at a delayed, then stalled, then cold investigation.
Sean Shadle has been under a fog of suspicion, despite Ferguson Township Police claiming they cleared him. Sean and Jennifer were in the middle of a contentious divorce. Allimony payments had begun for a couple of months wherein a family court Judge had ordered Sean to pay Jennifer $5,000 per month. It was shortly after this order and several payments, when Jennifer disappeared.
From the beginning, Jennifer’s biological mother and sister have been infuriated with cops not taking this case seriously. They were openly critical of the Ferguson Township police, as well as Stacy Parks Miller. They felt ignored, and believed cops were not “doing enough.” They still feel as if their case has been abandoned, and are raising money for billboards to be posted around town.
It seems the Ferguson Township Police just took the ex-husband’s on his word that she “just walked away.” But, according to police, there has been no activity on his bank accounts and no activity on her cell phone. Jennifer did not have a car, and she had been staying in State College hotels in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. Previously she had stayed with her Mother in Orwicksburg (about 40 minutes away), but she had moved closer to be with her daughter.
The Ferguson Township Police did at one point conduct a lie detector test with Sean Shadle, but the results were inconclusive. Jennifer’s mother and sister claimed he smoked a copious amount of marijuana just prior to sitting for the exam.
The Ferguson Township Police also conducted a search of Sean Shadle’s home, but to the family it was a day late and a dollar short. The family home was only searched several months after Jennifer’s disappearance and the family was made aware in advance when the search would take place. Sean Shadle had provided to police that Jennifer was a hopeless alcoholic, and that she left on her own volition. Police seemed to buy this after coming up empty handed on a search of his home.
Jennifer didn’t have the means, the vehicle or the motive to disappear. So what happened to her?
Most missing persons cases are solved (if they are going to be solved), within the first 48 hours. But reports of Jennifer’s disappearance were ignored by Ferguson Township Police until nearly thirty days after she disappeared: Despite the repeated requests by Jennifer’s mother, the police would not treat Jennifer’s case as a “missing persons” case for more than 30 days as they relied on the assurances of Sean Shadle (Jennifer’s husband in process of divorce) that Jennifer went off on her own volition. The police were not actively involved until many weeks passed and did not even search or investigate last residence of missing Jennifer until months later.
The investigation was purportedly sloppy and mishandled from the beginning. To the benefit of Ferguson Township Police, they don’t deal with a lot of missing persons reports. But surely the pleading from Jennifer’s family didn’t strike a cord. Why thirty days had passed with the family calling law enforcement almost daily begging for answers.
They hired a private investigator who was able to unearth more answers in a couple weeks than the sloppy police work of Ferguson Township Police:
After one year had passed, the timeline for Jennifer last being seen changed from 5:00 pm at Walmart to after 8:00pm at the tanning salon. This major change was discovered by her birth family who also found that Jenny’s daughter had that information for one year but did not share it with the police. When informed, the police had to be pushed to interview the employees of the tanning salon to learn more about this last known encounter with Jennifer.
For Jennifer’s family it was like pulling teeth from the beginning to garnish any action whatsoever from local law enforcement. And when they did get action, it seemed Jennifer’s successful husband was immediately and blindly believed, in contrast with Jennifer – staying in motels and jobless – and by most accounts a serious alcoholic.
Jennifer’s birth family has repeatedly tried to push the police and the district attorney to involve the FBI who are able to make available more professional resources than local law enforcement. The FBI has to be invited by local law enforcement to get involved in the case. Local law enforcement continues to turn down the family requests but the family continues to investigate using various resources.
The family at one point had grown so frustrated with the lack of attention paid to the case by the District Attorney’s office and the Ferguson Township Police, that they made a public plea for the FBI to take the case.
Sean Shadle, now free of alimony payments, remains stone cold quiet to requests from the press and seemingly had moved on with his life.
Stacy Parks Miller who led the botched investigation from the beginning had bigger concerns, like for example suing the county.
Jennifer’s mother and sister continue to frantically look, and want answers.
Jennifer’s case is still categorized by law enforcement as a “missing persons” case, though years have gone by and the case should likely by now – as the family feels – be classified as a homicide.
The family believes and publicly states that they feel in their hearts, something terrible happened to Jennifer. This has been one of the most neglected cases in Centre County I have ever seen. And Jennifer’s family remains steadfastly searching for answers, begging the community to turn in any information so they can find their loved one.
As a former local of State College, I would also like to know what happened. Jennifer didn’t have the vehicle or means or motive to “walk away.” Her phone records and bank accounts have remained inactive. I too believe something unthinkable happened to Jennifer, and I think the cold case needs reopened, and Sean Shadle needs to be looked at more closely. God forbid he did the unthinkable, and killed her so he didn’t have to pay the $5,000 per month in alimony.
It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And I grieve for the family, whose loved one was treated like a throw away, and who fought and continues to fight – every step of the way – for answers to bring Jennifer home.