RIVERVIEW (FOX 13) - Family and friends came together for a candlelight vigil on Monday to mourn the loss of 13-year-old Janessa Shannon. The teen went missing at the start of the month.
Loved ones said they’d been searching for Janessa and posting her pictures on social media since she disappeared on July 1. Her body was found July 12 by a hiker about a mile from the entrance inside the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Riverview.
The preserve is about five miles from Janessa’s home in Riverview where she lived with her father, Nahshon Shannon.
As her father approached the entrance of Triple Creek on Monday night during the vigil, he was overcome with grief and could barely stand on his own.
Family members said he and his daughter were close and shared similar personalities.
“Her and her dad always dancing, always being goofy,” said Laquilla Shannon. “He did anything and everything he could for those girls, whether it was drop them off to my house, because he had to work late, whether it was just a, ‘Help me braid their hair.’”
Family members said they were concerned that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office did not do enough to find the teen when they first reported her as missing.
According to deputies, Shannon had run away in the past and her case did not meet the criteria to issue an Amber Alert.
Investigators said once Janessa Shannon’s body was identified, Nahshon Shannon originally cooperated with their investigation, but later stopped cooperating. He hired an attorney and investigators obtained a search warrant for his Riverview home.
Family members are adamant that the teen and her father had a good relationship.
“Janessa loved her dad. Her dad loved her. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, and he wouldn’t either,” said Laquilla Shannon.
Just before Monday’s vigil, deputies were back at the preserve. They closed off the entrance to the public as the forensic unit continued its investigation.
Family members said they hope getting answers will bring them closure.
“I want them to know that she was a gift from God, that she was loving and that she is an angel, and that anyone that knows anything, just please, please bring it to the police, or their parents or someone’s attention so we can find out who did this to her," said Michelle Williams, Shannon's cousin.