"There was never a night that could defeat sunrise."
It was the 27th of December 2010. A Monday. Thirteen year old Hailey Dunn was at home in Colorado City, Texas, United States. Hailey was a friendly and likable cheerleader and loved sport and band at school. But her cheery nature and big smile hid a secret. Life at home was far from ideal. She lived with her sixteen year old brother David,her thirty four year old mother, Billie Dunn, and Billie's twenty five year old boyfriend Shawn Adkins.
Hailey, Billie and Shawn
Billie and Shawn had a volatile relationship, mainly due to drink and narcotics, and police had previously been called to their house on foot of a domestic disturbance complaint. So when Hailey was initially reported missing on the 28th of December 2010, some believed that she may have run away. But her bedroom told a different story. All of her favorite clothes and items, such as her iPod, were in her bedroom as well as some cash she had saved. Nothing was missing.
Police searched her home and spoke to Billie, Shawn and Hailey's father Clint and her brother David. Clint lived on the same street as Hailey and they would see each other almost every day but he didn't see her on the 27th of December.
David last saw Hailey around 9pm on the 26th of December. He was heading out for the night to stay at a friend's house. Police said that there was evidence to suggest Hailey played video games until midnight.
On the 27th of December, Billie went to work at 6.20am in the morning. She had a 12 hour shift as a receptionist at the hospital. Several people saw her leave around that time. Billie claimed that she argued with Hailey the night before but she told police that when she left for work, Hailey was asleep in bed.
Shawn was also at work that morning. His shift began at 6 am. Shawn told police he saw Hailey later that day and she said she was going to see her father and then to a friend's house where she planned to stay for the night.
When police spoke to Clint and Hailey's friend, neither of them had seen her on the 27th. Her friend said they had not made plans to meet that day. Nobody on the street or in the area saw Hailey walking outside that day.
Hailey's brother, David, told police that he arrived home at 4pm that day, the 27th, but all of the doors were locked. David got into the house by climbing in through a side window and he saw Shawn inside. Shawn was standing in the hallway with "a deer in the headlights look." Hailey wasn't there.
So, as far as police could establish, the last known person to see Hailey was Shawn so they wanted to find out more about what he did that day.
Shawn told police that he went to work in Snyder that morning, the morning of the 27th , at 6am. According to Shawn, he was fired that day and went straight to his mother's house from work. She lived in Big Spring which is 40 miles west of Colorado City. There was a problem with his version of events though. When police spoke to his boss, his boss said that Shawn was a great employee and he had not been fired. His boss said that Shawn arrived at work at 6am that morning and went into the break room. He bought a Dr. Pepper. But then for some reason, he just left at 6.10am. Nobody knew why.
Police looked at his cell phone records and the pings from calls he made showed he went from his work to Colorado City first that morning, not to his mother's house.
Calls from his phone were placed from Colorado City between 6.35 am and 6.56 am. At that time, Hailey would have been the only person at home. He went to his mother's house around 9am and made 11 calls between 9am and 2pm that day and used her computer.
Police searched the house where Hailey lived. They found hundreds of articles about mass murderers in Shawn's and Billie's bedroom. They included articles about serial killer George Banks, who was convicted of 13 murders, including 5 of his own young children. Billie told police that she printed them because reading about true crime was her hobby. That wasn't the only thing that caused concern. Billie admitted that on the night of her daughter's disappearance, she went to an ATM with Shawn to withdraw a total of $140 so they could buy illegal narcotics.
Police also found a digital memory stick containing images of child pornography in the bedroom and more than 100,000 pornographic images were found on a computer that Shawn had access to which was seized as evidence by police from his mother's house.
Four days after Hailey went missing, Billie and Shawn had friends over to the house for a New Year's party.
Police asked them to take a polygraph test.
Billie agreed. But the first test had to be stopped as she was under the influence of narcotics. A few days later, she took a second test and she was told that deception was indicated.
Shawn failed his polygraph test also. But, according to the polygraph test, he was truthful when he answered two questions:
Question-"Where can we find Hailey?"
Answer - "somewhere in Scurry County."
Question- "Who should we be looking at in this?"
Answer- "You should be looking at us."
When police went to speak to Shawn at Billie's house, Billie told them he wasn't home. Police accused Billie of lying about the whereabouts of Shawn when they were looking for him as he was later found at her home even though she said he wasn't there. Billie pleaded no contest in June 2011 to making a false report to law enforcement and received a suspended 90 day jail term with probation.
Police obtained a search warrant for a 2000 white Chevrolet Lumina owned by Billie and Shawn. They obtained a search warrant to search the car based on the results of the polygraph test and the domestic disturbance incident they had been called to prior to Hailey going missing. During that incident, Billie claimed that Shawn threatened to kill her and Hailey. Police were also disturbed by an alleged conversation between Shawn and Hailey's uncle. Shawn allegedly said that hurting a child would be like "killing a deer." This disturbed Hailey's uncle as he was aware Shawn liked to talk about times that he hunted and killed deer and cut them up using a chainsaw.
Hailey's family believed that Shawn was involved in her disappearance. Her grandmother, Connie Jones, told ABC News:
"Hailey did not like him. She was afraid of him and she didn't want him there. She had told me on a couple of occasions that he walked around at night and she said that she could see his shadow standing at her door. She said, 'Nana, he scared me. I'm afraid he's going to come in there.'"
Connie last saw Hailey on Christmas Day. Hailey was showing her her new iPod. Connie never liked Shawn:
"Ever since this has happened, he's been my top priority as a suspect. I've just always had an eerie feeling about him, just a gut feeling that he's not a trustworthy person."
Connie wasn't the only one who thought Shawn may have been involved. Shawn Adkins was named a suspect in Hailey's disappearance. But that was as much as police knew. Hailey was missing. They didn't know where she was or what happened to her.
That changed in March 2013. A hiker found a skull , a femur , a tooth and blue warmups. Police believed that the remains may belong to Hailey as it was believed she was wearing her blue warmups when she went missing. The hiker made the discovery at Lake J.B. Thomas which is a remote area about 20 miles north of Hailey's home. Police confirmed the identity of the victim through dental records. The victim was Hailey Dunn. They did not release details about how she died.
Police looked at Shawn's phone records again. His cellphone pings were picked up in the area where Hailey's remains were found on the day she disappeared.
Hailey's death remains unsolved. But her father Clint is determined to get justice for his daughter and will not stop seeking justice until there has been an arrest and a conviction. He believes that Shawn is the one who killed his daughter. Clint said that two police officers told him so.
Shawn has never been charged in Hailey's disappearance.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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