Ashley Reeves’ Story – Survivor of three strangle attempts

On the 27th of April, 2006, Ashley Reeves went missing. The 17-year-old girl was expected to return home before her curfew but never did. After multiple calls and text messages, her parents got so worried that they reported the situation to the police, and an investigation began.

Her mother, who had access to her call log, noticed she made and received several calls from her former teacher, Sam Shelton. He was then called in for questioning. During the interrogation, he switched his story multiple times which made the detectives suspect he knew something about Ashley’s disappearance. 

Ashley Reeves is a survivor of three strangle attempts after being left in the woods for 30 hours

Once Reeves’s parents had reported her missing, the police began investigating the case. Their first suspect was her boyfriend Jeremy, whose car she had used that day. He said that he gave her his car to go for an interview and play basketball with some friends. After speaking with Jeremy, the officers concluded that he knew nothing about her disappearance.

When her family discovered that Sam Shelton was the last person she contacted, he was brought in for questioning as a minor suspect. He first told them that he had not seen her in days and did not know where she could be. As the interrogator kept talking to him, he kept changing his story. After a lengthy 12-hour interrogation, he finally revealed his relationship with Reeves, when he last saw her, and what he did to her.

After a fight between them, Shelton put Reeves in a chokehold and dragged her out of the car. She struggled for a while and then went limp. When he realized he had snapped her neck, he panicked and dragged her into the woods. He proceeded to strangle her with his hands. She was still breathing after he removed his hands. He then put his belt around her neck while using his leg for support and pulled as hard as he could until the belt snapped. Once it snapped, he choked her for a third and final time till he believed she was dead. He left her in the woods and went out dancing.

Following his confession, Shelton agreed to escort the detectives to Reeves’s body in the place where he had left her. Due to the rain, it took a while for the team to find her body as Shelton could not remember exactly where he had left her. After a while, they found her lying on her back with her hands up to her chest. Her tongue was sticking out of her mouth, and many insect bites were all over her body. She had been there for thirty hours.

The detectives thought she was dead at first, but fortunately, she moved. EMTs were then called to take her out of the woods. She was taken to the hospital and put into an induced coma.

In a 2017 episode of Crime Watch Daily, Reeves said, “It’s kind of hard to believe that this is actually where I was for that long and in that condition. It makes me feel like maybe I am as tough as everybody says I am. I’m a fighter and I just keep wanting to push myself harder and harder.”

Sam Shelton was charged with the attempted murder of Ashely Reeves

After Reeves was found, Shelton was arrested. He was then granted bail and put on house arrest for a year, awaiting trial. During that year, Sam tried to commit suicide. When the Paramedics got to his house, they found him with a self-written ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ sign on his chest.

According to CBS News, in 2007, Shelton took a plea agreement signed off by Reeves’s family and the District Attorney’s Office. His mother, Susan, said they took the plea deal in order not to further demonize him and stop him from getting a fair trial. Reeves’s parents signed off the plea deal to give their daughter some level of peace from the traumatizing event. He was eventually sentenced to twenty years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted first-degree murder.

Ashley Reeves had to re-learn how to live again after suffering traumatic brain injuries

After the incident, Reeves lost some of her memory. All she could remember was the fight they got into that day. Her road to recovery was hard as she had to re-learn how to talk, eat, and move her limbs. The doctors had told her parents that it would take a while before she was back to her former self. They also mentioned that there was a possibility that she may not make it.

Speaking with True Crime Daily, Reeves said, “They had to retrain me how to eat and how to drink. I remember my first drink of water, and it was amazing.” A few months later, she was able to get back on her feet. She graduated from high school a year later and started volunteering at a violence prevention centre.

Reeves is now in her thirties and lives a private life with her two children.

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