I recently wrote a blog post on Jennifer Cahill-Shadle and have had some contact with the family since posting. Due to the popularity of the blog, and the desperate measures that her loving family has taken in finding her, I agreed to publish a second blog. There are many twists and turns, and secrets in this case which I have found have not been published by the local media.
Let’s briefly reiterate the facts of the case as they were very articulately recalled by Jennifer’s family:
WHO EXACTLY WAS JENNIFER CAHILL-SHADLE?
- She was a 49 year old woman who vanished without a trace on May 15, 2014. She is a loving mother of three children, and was notably close with her friends and family, whom she never lost touch with.
THE UNDERLYING CIRCUMSTANCES OF JENNIFER’S LIFE AT THE TIME OF HER DISAPPEARANCE:
- A very contentious divorce from an abusive marriage & sudden move out-of State College: Jennifer was in the midst of a purportedly contentious divorce. She had been married for 27 years to Sean Shadle. There are reports from both relatives and acquaintances of Jennifer’s that her husband had been physically abusive. The divorce was in phase of litigation in domestic court wherein it had just entered into an acrimonious argument over “Division of Assets.” It was during this phase that a Judge in Centre County awarded Jennifer “sizeable” spousal support payments. In the interim, while her divorce was being finalized, Jennifer moved back to Orwicksburg, Pennsylvania and began living with her mother. She worked at “Seltzer insurance,” and per the reports of her family she spoke to her children nearly daily and She was on a positive track of establishing a fresh start for her new life.
- A sudden return to State College Before Divorce Proceedings were Finalized:According to the account of the family Sean eventually convinced Jennifer to return to State College, and she did so on April 29, 2014. Jennifer, either afraid for her safety, and/or unwelcome, and/or advised by her family or Attorney not to: Jennifer declined to stay at the marital residence with her soon to be ex husband Sean Shadle. Also according to the family, she had been staying at various “low-end” cheap motels as she searched for a rental properties.
DETAILS OF MAY 15, 2014 – THE DATE OF JENNIFER’S DISAPPEARANCE.
- The Last Sighting of Jennifer: The last known physical evidence of her living was at 5 p,m. that day at Walmart. She was spotted walking out of a Walmart Store. It was caught on camera, and this was the last time Jennifer was ever physically seen alive. Several witnesses report seeing her after this grainy camera footage, but this is the last physical evidence we have of Jennifer actually being seen alive. Why was she using a borrowed phone at the Walmart Customer Service Counter? The family reports she had lost hers, and (without a car), she made a special trip to contact her kids.
- An unnamed witness who spoke to Jennifer on the Date of Disappearance: The family reports an eyewitness who saw and spoke to Jennifer the day of her disappearance. The eyewitness, who I presume would like to remain publicly anonymous, reports that she was “happy, in good spirits and excited to begin her new life.” In other words, there was no signs of impending trouble.
MAY 20, 2014, FIVE DAYS AFTER JENNIFER WAS LAST CONFIRMED ALIVE, JENNIFER’S MOTHER CALLS POLICE
- The First Attempted Missing Person’s Report: Jennifer’s mother, Johanna Zmuida, had now heard nothing from her in five days, when they customarily spoke daily. She phoned the State College Police Department to report her missing. They informed Jennifer’s mother that they could not classify her as a missing person for 30 days. It is unclear whether or not they took down the details of her ongoing divorce with Mr. Shadle, her precarious living arrangements, lack of transportation or lack of cell phone. According to the family, Jennifer’s distraght mother: called the police daily, counting up to the thirty day mark when Jennifer could be reported as a missing person.
- Pre-Investigative Action By Ferguson Township Police; What Sean said: Wary and alerted by Jennifer’s mother incessant calls, during the initial thirty days, the police broke protocal and reached out to Jennifer’s soon to be ex husband. He responded without alarm, and without pressing the police to do any more, advising police that she probably left on her own free will. He was unalarmed, and it is unknown whether he made any further allimony/spousal payments to her in those thirty days her family waited so they could “officially” report her as a missing person.
JUNE 15, 2014 – THE MISSING PERSONS CLASSIFICATION FINALLY APPLIES
- Some suspicious items to note:Jennifer left all her belongings behind at the hotel she was staying at when she disappeared including her clothing.
- There had been no activity on her bank accounts, emails, or social media accounts.
THE POLICE INVESTIGATION WAS BOTCHED AND SLOPPY FROM THE START:
- The Crime Scene / Hotel Room where Jennifer was Staying: According to the family no investigation was ever made of this hotel room. The police never asked for the surveillance footage from the hotel, nor from the neighboring businesses. The Walmart film was the only surviellance ever requested, per account of the family. Most of the neighboring businesses, and hotel survielance footage had been “purged” from data servers within two months. That footage is gone, forever.
- Witness Interviews of People who Last Saw Jennifer Alive: The police interviewed the last person seen to speak to living Jennifer ten long months after she disappeared. It was a clerk at Wal-Mart, whom she spoke to when she borrowed the Walmart phone to call her children, because she had lost her cell phone.
- Other witnesses: One specifically who had seen Jennifer the night of her disappearance at a tanning bed were never spoken to. According to family: To date, many other individuals who saw and spoke to Jennifer in the two days leading up to her disappearance have yet to be spoken to by police.
- Lack of Progress, Lack of Movement in the Case: Months go by with Jennifer’s mother calling the Ferguson Township PD frequently asking for any update at all. Nothing.
A PUBLIC PLEA BY THE FAMILY FOR THE F.B.I. TO ASSIST IN THE CASE
- A desperate cry for help made to local media: Letters had been written, but the township and the district attorney’s office had responded calvalierly, lackadaisically – if at all. Jennifer’s family did what what most families of missing persons cases do and went to the media. On July 4, 2016, the Centre Daily Times, finally got around to publishing this: On television, when no one else can find out who committed a crime, a significant crime like an abduction or a murder, they call in the experts, the people who deal with the big stuff every day. They call in the FBI. Johanna Zmuida wants to know why that hasn’t happened for her daughter. CITATION
- The County’s Explaination for WHY the FBI was never involved? Parks Miller and former Ferguson Township Police Chief Diane Conrad consistently respond to the family with terse annoyance at their persistence, and with a sort of ephemeral brush-off, as if they had bigger and better things going on. The family grows more irritated with each email, finally exploding into the press:Ferguson Township Police Chief Diane Conrad and Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller both spoke to media outlets about the ongoing case, the work that had been done on it and the need for witnesses who may have seen the missing woman to speak up and help out.Zmuida was already frustrated before the remarks. Since then, she and her family have become even more passionate about the need to have more done.“We are getting nowhere with the police and would so much like to have (this case) handed to the FBI,” Zmuida said.Ed Cahill was even more pointed about his feelings in a candid post on the Facebook page the family set up to get and share information about the case.“Our entire family believes that Jenny has been murdered,” he wrote.
- He also expressed frustration that the FBI has not been brought into the case.“This was never done! Why?” he asked. CITATIONF.B.I. INVOLVEMENT (OR LACK THEREOF) IN THE PENDING CASE – BECAUSE THE D.A. AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT REFUSED HELP
- Repeated and Desperate Pleas from the Family to the County Begging for Federal Investigation Bureau Involvement: The FBI has more resources, and is more equipped to handle this case. Far more equipped than the Ferguson Township Police who let this case take the back burner. Those people reading who are not from Centre County may not be aware of the political turmoil in the criminal justice system, which had the unfortunate timing to occur conccurent to Jennifer’s disappearance. While the District Attorney was suing Centre County, and Centre County’s massive other amount of legal issues (Sandusky, Stacy Parks Miller, Judge Lunsford) were taking Centre stage. Somehow Jennifer’s case fell by the wayside of all that tulmultuous and scandalous and ugly political upheaval. The family was repeatedly assured by both the Chief of the Ferguson Township Police, and the former Centre County District Attorney (now facing disbarrment/license suspension) that the FBI and county officials met regularly to discuss cases. The unfortunate matter of the fact, at least I speculate, is that there were too many people and too many other hot-button cases, and Jennifer’s case fell to the wayside. It was of no importance, not of any importance in comparison to all that was occuring on the political landscape in the aftermath of her disappearance.
MAY OF 2015 – FAMILY’S PERSONAL INVESTIGATOR LOCATES TWO NEW WITNESSES NEVER INTERVIEWED OR LOCATED BY POLICE OR DA OFFICE DURING INITIAL INVESTIGATION
- A Private Investigator and Family-Propogated Social Media Campaign Unearths New Evidence, Two New Witnesses: Beyond the grainy Walmart footage, and with a lot of NOISE, and a lot of effort, along with the hiring of their own personal investigator (because they felt Ferguson Township and DA office were not trying), the family manages to uncover two more witnesses: These new witnesses worked at a tanning salon in the Walmart Shopping complex. The new witnesses explained that Jennifer came into the salon after leaving walmart at 5:15 PM, and then returned later that evening between 7:30 and 8:00 PM, soaked from the rain to see if she had left her wallet in the salon. Immediately the family Private Investigator and members of the family reported this information to the police; however, Ferguson Township Police sat on this vital new information for close to three weeks. The lead Detective reported that he was extremely busy and did not find the time to go to the Tanning Salon to question the new witnesses.
SEAN SHADLE AND THE CURIOUS ACCOUNTS OF THE LIFE INSURANCE MONEY HE CALLED POLICE ABOUT
- Mysterious Inquiries About Health Insurance: It is first important to note that Sean Shadle is an Insurance agent and owner of an Insurance firm himself. So he knows his way around life insurance company. The family divulged this very chilling information to me: The insurance companies explained that someone had attempted to secure health insurance for Jennifer online. This attempt could only signify someone was attempting to steal her identity online or some other foul play. But the family is missing another more sinister alternative, in that Jennifer’s almost-ex-husband, was putting what detectives call a “red-herring” variable into the search. As in, she could be alive if she is trying to secure health insurance. A skilled insurance agent would know exactly what to say to make that sort of inference to police that Jennifer could still be alive somewhere, so back off any potential murder investigation.
- The Mysteriaous I.P Address of the Alleged Health Insurance Inquiry: The family informs, and they were calling for updates persistently, that police sat on this new information for nearly five months before acting: Nearly five months have passed, and the local police have yet to diligently secure the IP address nor have they notified the federal authorities as internet fraud triggers federal jurisdiction. Just recently the police have begrudgingly revealed to us the name of the insurance company Within a few days, our private investigator was able to secure the origination of the IP address, an address in Newark New Jersey. The family was, understandably, outraged and “confused” as to why local law enforcement sat on this information so long without taking action, particularly as they claim they had been working with FBI assistance. Whether it is a case of identity theft, or it is evidence that Jennifer is alive, it is my opinion that the Ferguson Township Police Department and/or DA’s office should have jumped on this. Because, certainly, by that time the applicant applying for health insurance under Jennifer’s name (five months later) would also likely be gone.
A NAIVE AND HOPEFUL FAMILY WHO WAS LIED TO ABOUT AN “INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY”
- Somewhere towards the end of summer in 2015, the first county “Grand Jury” was summoned in Centre County. Parks-Miller had just previously faced her own Grand Jury under the administration of Kathleen Kane, which had investigated her felonious activities in office. Parks-Miller, ever notorious for her retaliatory maneuvers perpetuated against those pointing out her misconduct, gave a very vengeful press conference, releasing a statement and holding a circus of a press conference: At a press conference Friday, Parks Miller publicly called for the state Attorney General’s Office to pursue charges against parties involved in the forgery allegations. Parks Miller said she would not use the grand jury to investigate any issues relating to herself, “however, should Centre County law enforcement officials become aware of allegations of political corruption at any level within Centre County unrelated to her specific case, (she) will not hesitate to use the resources of the investigating grand jury.” CITATION
- Jennifer’s family, who had little concern about the political turmoil, and were hyper focused on finding their loved one, felt a pang of hope. Adding to this small splinter of hope, Parks Miller further stated in the press conference: Parks Miller detailed the cases that she was interested in investigating as “drug trafficking, corrupt organizations and unsolved disappearance cases,” but declined to elaborate because of confidentiality rules surrounding grand jury matters. CITATION In the end, by the end of 2017, after all the grand jury reports had been released, there was not ONE SINGLE investigative grand jury on a missing persons case. And while the former sitting DA might contend that these precedings are confidential, they always involve witnesses. So had their actually been an investigating GJ into Jennifer’s disappearance, then family members of Jennifer’s (particularly her mother and sister) would have recieved subpoenas to testify in these secret proceedings. But unaccustomed with Pennsylvania Investigating GJ laws, and uneducated about the process, they were given the run around, with emails from Parks Miller that stated: I also explained that those cases are confidential and protected by secrecy, and if there is a case in the Grand Jury, it cannot be disclosed to anyone. [CITATION: Email from Parks Miller to Cahill-Shadle’s Family]. But without the legal knowledge of the Grand Jury process, how could Jennifer’s family have possibly known that any Investigating GJ worth it’s salt would have called the immediate witnesses to Jennifer’s disappearance to hear testimony, which – unfortunately – indicates to me that Jennifer’s disappearance was never investigated by a grand jury EVER.
THE GREED FACTOR MONEY FROM JENNIFER CAHILL-SHADLE’S ESTATE, FOLLOWING THE MONEY
- Following the Money, Stalled Allimony Payments & Jennifer’s Estate: Meanwhile, Sean Shadle had kept to his story that Jennifer disappeared on her own free will. He even produced proof of this by showing Jennifer (potentially) had applied for health insurance a year plus after her disappearance. Sean, in the meantime, had his lawyer motion for the divorce court to temporarily “Cease” his $5,000 a month support payments until Jennifer was to be found. Instead of denying this motion and having Mr. Shadle submit these payments to an escrow account for the court to hold until Jennifer was found, or the timeframe had passed where she could legally “be declared dead”, the court granted the motion. Sean, in addition hired an attorney to appoint his two oldest children to Jennifer’s estate; after all, it would have looked quite suspicious to have himself – still her legal husband – appointed as executor/administrator of her estate. Sean Shadle is not only an insurance agent well versed in insurance laws, he is cunning to say the very least.
THE FAMILY’S PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR & PRIVATE ATTORNEY MAKES A PLEA ON THEIR BEHALF, ONLY TO BE DENIED
- At this point Jennifer’s family, who likely would have never paid such close attention to local politics, were beginning to understand the twisted web of local court and criminal justice politics. Worse, they had come to the understanding that their concerns and Jennifer were the last priority on the list. The following statement from the family is devastating and soul crushing and senseless:
Our family was advised by a law firm in Philadelphia to hire a well-known private investigator Diane Cowan. DIan is not located in the Penn State area so we felt she would not be involved in the messy local politics. Diane made contact with the local FBI. They ahve offered their help and services to the family. Unfortunately, Ferguson Police denied their help and turned down the US Attorney’s invitation to review Jennifer’s case. The FBI was instructed by the US Attorney’s office they could not help unless they recieved an official request by the Ferguson Police. The FBI instructed to our family to petition to the police the Chief of Ferguson Township Police, Diane Conrad.
THE FAMILY’S PLEA TO DIANE CONRAD, CHIEF OF FERGUSON TOWNSHIP POLICE & HER VERY DEFENSIVE AND CALLOUS RESPONSE:
- The family of Jennifer, after hearing this response and advisement of their private Attorney, sent an email to Diane Conrad, pleading with her to engage with the FBI and ask for their help. In response, they were met with a terse, beligerently defensive and strikingly cold response penned by former Chief of Police Diane Conrad. The remarks included: This case is still active and therefore we cannot share all information, but we have met and provided information to the family via their designated representatives, as I am sure you are aware on many occasions. Some of the statements in your email do not accurately reflet the totalitarity of the information provided to police, are not substantiated and are misunderstandings. Considering the botched investigation by the Ferguson Township Police and the Centre County District Attorney’s office (laid out earlier in this blog), this response by the police chief (essentially calling Jennifer’s family, their PI and their family attorney “liars”) is cold and insensitive. When all the family really wanted was added resources of the the PA Attorney General’s office and FBI, and when all the family was really requesting was a letter from the Chief of Police allowing these entities to review the case, they were met – instead – with a hyper defensive, cold and callous reaction from the very entity that they were relying to handle the case from the start. They were essentially left helpless, humiliated, and all but called liars by Diane Conrad.
THE FAMILY’S PLEA RESPONSE TO CHIEF DIANE CONRAD’S COLD BLOW-OFF EMAIL
- Conrad’s Cold Response: In response to Conrad’s email, who was responding to the family’s request for FBI and Attorney General intervention, review and resources on the case, the family gave a very measured response. This response was much more measured than my response would have been in consideration of all the obvious mistakes and treatment of Jennifer’s disappearance by local law enforcement:
In your response, you write that the police did commence investigation immediately upon recieving the first report. You also note that the case has been active ever since. I must take exception with this first statement as it is factually inaccurate.
In addition, during the initial days following Jennifer’s disappearance, Officer Slater treated [Jennifer’s Mom] with incredible rudeness – he also told [Jennifer’s Mom] he would look into things, and call her back. No return call was ever recieved. When [Jennifer’s Mom] did not hear back, she called the station the next day and once again got OFficer Slater, but asked to speak to the person in charge hoping to find someone to help her. She spoke to Officer ALbright who seemed concerned and assured her he would do everything possible to help her find her daughter. However, after three days of agony, with no contact from police, she called Officer Albright again.
The “waiting” [thirty days before you can file missing persons report] is not always the procedure in your department of a missing woman or child that is announced the second day they were first missing. What is different with Jennifer? Why was my Jennifer not worthy of the same attention? Why were [Jennifer’s Mom’s] concerns not taken seriously by your department. She was told by the police, they called and spoke with Sean [and one of Jennifer’s maternal children] and were assured Jennifer left on her own. Why was the “story” given by an abusive husband who had so much to gain from this situation more credible than that of a frantic mother?
As a family, we cannot understand why the resources of the FBI would NOT be welcomed by the Ferguson Township Police. In addition, we have identified search and rescue organizations willing to assist, but they indicate that they too must first have the police request their assistance before they lend a hand. We URGE the police to avail themselves of the resources of a search and rescue organizations, [and] to engage the FBI as an active participant in solving the disappearance of Jennifer.
NO EMAIL WAS EVER RETURNED AFTER THESE PLEAS BY JENNIFER’S FAMILY, NOT BY FERGUSON TOWNSHIP POLICE CHIEF DIANE CONRAD TO THIS EMAIL…… BUT IN THE WEEKS FOLLOWING, THE FAMILY GOT THE FOLLOWING RESPONSE FROM THE CENTRE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY….
- Another blow off by another law enforcement agency purportedly out to help them: Essentially Parks Miller responded to the email of the family that stated there was “nothing criminal” so the FBI would not participate. According to the family attorney and their experienced PI, both entitities who had already communicated with the FBI, this information was FALSE. Parks Miller responded: We work and meet with “Steve” [FBI Agent who works with Centre County DA’s office] monthly. They are always willing to assist on all of our cases, if they are based on legal standards. They have not been able to do anything in this matter. They still need to met a certain threshold. It was yet another brush-off. The FBI investigates missing persons cases all the time. The family had heard directly from the FBI that all they needed was written request for help from the county in order to intervene. For some reason – likely political – nobody was able to offer that written request, neither the Ferguson Township PD, nor the Centre County DA’s office. I.E. The former scandalized DA was too busy with her own agendas to bother looking for a missing women, and didn’t want the FBI or US Attorney’s office to “crack a case” and steal any potential press.
- The Family’s Response to the Brush Off Email from the DA’s Office: Again, this response was much more cool headed than the one I would have issued at getting a run around like this:
We have been told by the FBI that they are willing to assist with the case, and have offered as much to the Ferguson Township Police. In addition, the FBI has reached out to the US Attorney’s office and has them willing to do a group meeting with Ferguson Township Police to help uncover a potential crime. Our family is incredibly frustrated that none of these offers have been pursued by Ferguson Township Police. [EXPERT] Please help us understand why the request for a meeting with the FBI and US Attorney’s Office was denied. What harm is there in getting a fresh set of eyes (with even more resources) involved in the case. The focus should be on finding out what happened to Jennifer and not on territorial or POLITICAL motivations.
HAPPY VALLEY CITIZEN’S PERSPECTIVE?
Something smells with this case, it has been discarded and abandoned and neglected from the beginning. God forbid I disappear in Happy Valley as a woman, because I’m likely to not be reported missing till the key components of evidence dry up, and I’m likely never to be found.
Why am I posting this? BECAUSE SOMEONE OUT THERE KNOWS SOMETHING, LIKELY SOMEONE READING THIS KNOWS SOMETHING. So email the family, or email me your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org – Put a Mother’s heart to rest, and DEMAND better for the missing people in Centre County. God forbid you or I go missing, because this is apparently how we would get treated.
Can I just say this one thing? Thank god Parks Miller got FIRED, and thank god Diane Conrad retired!!! Because those emails to this grieving family were COLD, and RUDE.