A typical young girl who had to fight for her life three times—first in the woods, then in the hospital, and finally in court—is the subject of The Ashley Reeves Story, an astonishing true story.
Ashley Reeves: who is she?
17-year-old Ashley Reeves, a junior in high school, lived in the Illinois community of Millstadt with her parents and her younger sister Casey. She was doing well in school, had plenty of friends, and even had Jeremy as a boyfriend who her parents admired.
Ashley was looking forward to graduating. She had no idea that Ashley would go through the unbelievable and survive to tell her tale just a year before she was scheduled to walk across the stage.
What Happened to Ashley Reeves?
Ashley informed her parents that she would be attending a job interview in Fairview Heights, which was about 20 minutes away from Millstadt, on Thursday, April 27, 2006. After the interview, Ashley said she would play basketball and return home by her curfew of 10 o’clock.
At 3:30 pm, Ashley Reeves took Jeremy’s car for the day and drove off for the interview while carrying a change of clothing.
Curfew ended at 10:30 p.m., but Ashley was nowhere to be seen. Casey said that she hadn’t heard from her sister Ashley all day when her mother Michelle asked whether she had spoken to Ashley.
Ashley didn’t answer when Michelle and Casey called or texted her many times, unlike her.
Michelle made a call to the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office after sensing something wasn’t right.
Officers initially believed Ashley was out with her friends and had become disoriented, but after eight hours of searching, they discovered Jeremy’s abandoned car at Laderman Park, Belleville, which is 15 minutes from Ashley’s house.
Ashley’s bag, which contained the clothes she would have worn if she had gone to play basketball, was discovered by investigators inside the vehicle.
Detectives instantly concluded that this was a missing person inquiry and that time was of the essence. This wasn’t your ordinary instance of a disobedient teenager defying her parents’ severe curfew.
Given that Jeremy was Ashley’s boyfriend and that she had been driving his car, detectives hauled him in for interrogation; nevertheless, they soon realised he was not responsible for her abduction.
Jeremy admitted to the police that he had given Ashley permission to use his vehicle to travel to a job interview and a basketball game.
Detectives questioned Ashley about why she would play basketball at a park so far from her house when one was nearby.
Unless she had a meeting.
Since Ashley was just 17 years old, her phone was in her mother’s name, so Michelle called the phone company as the police got closer to finding her. She had access to all of her incoming and outgoing call information in her phone records.
After looking over the logs, Michelle discovered that one particular number had made numerous calls. Samson Shelton, who was 26 years old, answered Michelle’s phone when she dialled the number.
If Samson had seen or heard from Ashley, Michelle enquired. Before she could inquire as to why he was speaking to her adolescent daughter, he replied “no” and hung up the phone suddenly.
Fortunately, Ashley kept her friends informed about her personal life, and Michelle’s skin tingled when she heard what they told the police.
Ashley allegedly had a love relationship with an older man, according to her acquaintances. Ashley made planned to meet him the day she vanished since they frequently got together to play basketball.
Samson Shelton was that person.
At a nearby high school, Samson coached the gym and taught driver’s education. On the side, he was a professional wrestler. Naturally, he was known as “The Teacher.”
Female students of Samson’s sometimes referred to him as the “cute” teacher, while others thought he was odd and a little conceited.
When Ashley was in the seventh grade in 2001, the detectives learned that Samson had been her instructor. Two months before she vanished, in February 2006, they had reconnected.
They frequently met at Laderman Park, close to where cops discovered Jeremy’s abandoned car, in Belleville, where Samson resided with his mother and grandmother.
Ashley had been absent for a whole night by this point on Friday, April 28. Michelle was in excruciating pain while troubling questions like, “Is Ashley cold?” raced through her head. Was she injured? Was she in pain?
Samson was arrested by detectives after they went to the high school where he worked and questioned him. They became aware of his involvement in Ashley’s disappearance very fast.
Samson first maintained a composed demeanour; he was cordial, kind, and even cooperative with the investigation. But as more and more of his lies were revealed by investigators, the truth started to come out of his mouth.
When asked about his friendship with Ashley, Samson claimed that the two only occasionally got together to play basketball.
Samson insisted that his relationship with Ashley was only platonic, but after hearing claims from Ashley’s friends that theirs was a passionate and sexual one, he revised his account in an effort to put himself in Ashley’s shoes.
Samson revealed to the detectives that Ashley had grown interested in him. He described a crush-obsessed adolescent who called him at all hours of the day and night. Samson claimed he had avoided Ashley in the hopes that she would leave him alone for days.
After several hours of questioning, Samson admitted that not only had he had sex with his former pupil, Ashley, but that they were also together on April 27, the day she went missing.
Samson claims that he was driving when he and Ashley got into a fight. He wanted to break up with Ashley, but she became agitated and began yelling at him. Ashley’s seatbelt was unbuckled after he stopped, and he instructed her to exit the vehicle. He took her out of the vehicle when she struggled and dumped her on the side of the road.
Samson stated that Ashley was still alive when he last saw her and that since he had a “very weak stomach,” there was no way he could have hurt her.
Samson claimed that he loved Ashley and worried about her wellbeing just as much as her family did, but would someone who loved someone abandon them abandoned by the side of the road in the dark?
According to phone records, Samson never even made an attempt to call Ashley to check on her safety following the incident. Instead, he visited a nearby country bar and partied all night long.
Samson’s narrative had undergone numerous changes. Detectives did not take him at his word. Ashley had been absent for almost thirty hours at this point, and they begged him to be honest.
Samson didn’t begin to cry until the police noted how disappointed Samson’s grandmother would be with his behaviour.
Samson gave a chilling and upsetting account of what he had done to Ashley and where he had left her to die 12 hours into the interrogation.
Samson didn’t simply remove Ashley from his car and abandon her by the side of the road, according to his confession on camera. The part-time pro wrestler dragged the teenager from his car while holding her in a chokehold. Following a loud pop, Ashley became limp.
Samson panicked and pulled her into the woods where he strangled her with his bare hands after realising he had snapped her neck. He used his belt to choke Ashley once more when he realised she was still breathing.
Samson put the belt around Ashley’s neck and pulled as hard as he could until the belt broke, using his foot as leverage.
Samson continued to hand-choke Ashley when the belt gave way before releasing her and leaving her to perish on the chilly, hard ground in the middle of the woods.
Samson confessed to the crime, and in exchange for a reward, he promised to direct police to Ashley’s body in Citizens Park, a 45-acre park in Belleville that is only 12 minutes from Ashley’s house.
But since it had poured all night, Samson had trouble recalling where he had left Ashley when they got to the park.
Detectives hastily combed the woods for thirty minutes with spotlights. They eventually saw Ashley just as they started to wonder if Samson was playing a prank on them. Her hands were resting on her chest as she lay on her back. Hundreds of mosquito bites covered her body, and her tongue was protruding from her mouth.
Her hands abruptly moved as the detectives’ disappointment over not being able to help Ashley in time swept over them. Her chest then started to expand. There was Ashley.
Ashley miraculously lived despite three attempts to strangle her to death and more than 30 hours of exposure to the elements.
Immediately after arriving on the scene, EMTs took her to the nearest hospital, where she was placed into an induced coma.
Detectives started looking for the missing adolescent right away because they understood how crucial the first 48 hours were. It is quite doubtful that Ashley would have been discovered in time if they had not been able to persuade Samson to point them in her direction.
Samson was detained and accused of trying to kill someone in the first degree.
Samson requested a separate restroom while he was being brought into custody. He claimed to have a urinary stress problem and that having to urinate in front of other people would make him miserable. His appeal was quickly turned down.
Samson revealed himself to be a genuine narcissist who lacked both empathy and remorse for his deeds. He provided authorities with a comprehensive confession and helped them locate Ashley, but he maintained his innocence and never expressed regret to Ashley.
What Happened to Narcissists Samson Shelton Then?
Unbelievably, Samson was granted bail and put under house arrest; a man who had killed an adolescent by snapping her neck, strangling her three times, and leaving her for dead in the middle of the woods was permitted to remain in the comfort of his own home while awaiting trial for a full year.
Samson’s mother Susan called the police to report that he had attempted to commit suicide by consuming a mixture of different prescription medications and alcohol just before he was charged with attempted murder in court.
Samson appeared to be asleep when deputies and emergency personnel arrived to his residence, and the words “do not resuscitate” were inscribed on his chest.
Samson immediately woke up and started punching the EMTs while they were trying to revive him. He was then taken to the neighbourhood hospital, where he is accused of kicking a nurse in the face and using racial obscenities toward her.
Samson’s mental state was questioned by the judge presiding over Ashley’s case, but prosecutors thought his attempt at suicide was only a ploy to get sympathy from prospective jurors.
Samson was found to be mentally fit to stand trial a month later, according to a psychiatrist. Even yet, Ashley’s family agreed to a plea deal because they did not want her to have to relive the horrible incident she had experienced on April 27. Samson accepted the plea agreement, and he received a 20-year prison term. The Illinois Department of Corrections projects that he will be eligible for release on April 22, 2024.
Where is Ashley Reeves Now?
Ashley successfully recovered. Ashley was determined to pursue her aspirations despite the fact that she was unable to recall the day Samson attempted to kill her.
The extraordinarily resilient and brave adolescent had to relearn how to speak, eat, and drink a few months after the incident. She finished high school a year later and began working as a volunteer at a centre for preventing violence.
Ashley has two kids and is 32 years old today.