Shannon Louise Matthews was born on 9 September 1998. She went to Westmoor Junior School, Dewsbury Moor. On 19th February 2008, she was reported missing when her mother called the police to report that her daughter had not returned from school.
West Yorkshire Police immediately started searching for Shannon and eventually the search involved 250 officers and 60 detectives. Police questioned 1500 motorists and searched 3000 homes. Shannon’s disappearance and investigation was the largest in 30 years!
Following her disappearance, a £20,000 reward was offered by The Sun newspaper for any information leading to the girl. This amount was increased to £50,000 pounds by March 10. Another business in Huddersfield offered £5000. There was even a website called ‘Help Us Find Shannon’ and ‘Shannon Matthews Appeal’ that was launched on 11th March 2008.
Shannon’s disappearance was given a lot of publicity and compared to the disappearance of Madeline McCann (who disappeared in May 2007). The Times newspaper reported that it was because Madeline belonged to an upper-middle-class family their story was more “newsworthy”. But The Independent said, “...Karen Matthews is not as elegant, nor as eloquent.”
Nevertheless, the local community searched for her and brought about awareness of Shannon’s disappearance, even going to the extent of printing their own t-shirts.