Heaven Ross (True Crime)

Heaven Ross (‘Shae’)➜ Vanished 2003 while walking to the school bus stop. May be related to disappearance of Teresa Dean, Shannon Paulk, and/or Tabitha Tuders

Date:
August 19, 2003 (Tuesday)

Location:
Northport, Alabama, USA

Situation:
Deceased

HEAVEN LASHAE ROSS

Nickname: Unknown
Alternative Name: Unknown

Disappearance

Missing from: Northport, Alabama, United States
Date Missing: August 19, 2003 (Tuesday)
Taken By: Unknown

Circumstances:

Disappearance

Heaven (‘Shae’) is memorialized as an incredibly sweet child who was a daddy’s girl with a love for butterflies and her older sister. She was a fun and spirited girl with a passion for romping around outdoors with the boys and practicing on her trombone. She had recently started writing in a diary and was starting to talk about her crush on a neighborhood boy.

‘She was the sweetest kid there was. She was spoiled, she was the baby . . . . Fifteen years later, we’re still asking ourselves why.’

– Beth Thompson (Shae’s mother) (Link)

On August 19, Shae and her older sister Alex were headed towards Collins Riverside Middle School where Shae had recently started 6th grade. Alex left their home in the Willowbrook Trailer Park first, headed towards the bus stop approximately 50 years away.

Heaven departed just a few minutes afterwards at around 6:55am, headed to catch up with her sister. However right as she left, it began thundering and her father (Kevin Thompson) became concerned as she was frightened by thunderstorms. He grabbed the keys and hurried after the girls, planning to pick them up at the bus stop and drive them to school himself.

But when he arrived at the bus stop, only Alex was there.

The Search

Some cast suspicion upon the family, noting that there had been domestic disputes between Beth and Kevin in the past. In 2000, Shae was called as a witness after Kevin shoved her when she went for help during one of their arguments. However, three separate witnesses reported seeing Shae that morning, confirming she had left home and was headed in that direction. One neighbor claimed to have seen Shae at 7:00am on Hunter Creek Road walking towards the bus stop, so she appears to have made it out of the trailer park itself.

Beth and Kevin also voluntarily took and passed lie detector tests.

Police failed to issue an Amber Alert. They argued that there was no evidence she was actually kidnapped and there were no details of the vehicle she was in. They felt it was possible she was simply a runaway or was just skipping school; although there was no evidence to suggest such. They did conduct a door-to-door search of the trailer park, but it was not until Shae failed to return by 4:00pm (16:00) that police became genuinely concerned.

Police questioned a young male friend of Shae’s older brother who was known for harboring runaways, but he was cleared of suspicion.

Then in late September something particularly suspicious occurred. A mysterious fire erupted in Shae’s bedroom that ruined many of her possessions. The origin of the fire remains unknown, but police felt that it was highly questionable.

Recovery

A little more than three years after her disappearance, Shae’s family finally was given some answers; though certainly not what they wanted to hear. In December 2006, a man walking near an abandoned home in Holt, AL accidentally stumbled across discovered Shea’s remains in the crawl space. (Some say his dog escaped; others say he was searching for cans). Her clothes and backpack were both recovered with her.

The home was located off Crescent Ridge Road only 7-8 miles from where she disappeared. It was difficult for strangers to find, being on a dirt road tucked in the woods. Locals were familiar with it as a place where illegal activities (e.g. drug dealing, prostitution) often occurred.

Link to Other Missing Girls

Police have acknowledged that there may be a connection between the disappearance of a collection of other girls of similar age across the Southern US. Specifically the disappearance of Shannon Nichole Paulk (Georgia – 2001), Teresa Melissa Dean (Georgia – 1999) and Heaven LaShae Ross (Alabama – 2003). Some believe Tabitha Danielle Tuders (Tennessee – 2003) should also be added to the list.

Similarities

  • Age: 11-13
    • Teresa, Shannon, and Heaven were 11
    • Tabitha was 13
  • Gender: Female
  • Demographics: Caucasian, Fair-Skinned, Light Hair, Light Eyes, Similar Build
    • Exact hair & eye colors varied:
      • Tabitha (Blonde, Blue-Eyed)
      • Teresa (Brunette, Brown-Eyed)
      • Heaven (Red, Hazel-Eyed)
      • Shannon (Brunette, Green or Hazel-Eyed)
    • Tabitha and Heaven were similar enough in appearance that some missing persons sites have mixed up their photos
  • Taken From: Trailer Parks
    • Teresa, Shannon, and Heaven were taken from the Trailer Parks where they lived
    • Tabitha did not live in a Trailer Park (tips suggest she may have been seen at a nearby trailer park around the time of her disappearance); however, her neighborhood was an older, poor, and run-down community.
  • Time: August, 2 Years Apart
    • Teresa, Shannon, and Heaven were all taken in Mid-August almost exactly two years apart
      • Teresa (8/15/1999)
      • Shannon (8/16/2001)
      • Heaven (8/19/2003)
    • Tabitha does not fit the timeline – (4/29/2003)
  • Circumstances: Walking Alone
    • Teresa, Heaven, Shannon, and Tabitha were all walking alone around or near their homes.
    • Teresa, Shannon, and Heaven all had commercial construction going on near the path they walked.
    • Tabitha and Heaven were headed towards the bus stop for school.
  • On Major Highways
    • Major highways connect all four hometowns involved in Teresa, Heaven, Shannon, and Tabitha’s disappearance.
    • Tabitha was possibly sighted in Linton, IN which is also on a major highway connected with the others.

Key Descriptors

  • Date of Birth: June 11, 1992
  • Age at Disappearance: 11
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
  • Nationality: American
  • Gender at Birth: Female
  • Hair: Red
  • Eye Color: Hazel
  • Height: 4’6″ (137cm)
  • Weight: 100lbs (45.4 kg)

Distinguishing Marks or Factors

  • Small moles above and below her lip

Clothing

  • Hot Pink Shirt w/ ‘Bratz’ & a Graphic on the front
  • Hot Pink Shorts w/ ‘Bratz across the back
  • Light Blue Canvas Shoes.
Heaven Ross
Shae in her Halloween Costume (2002)

If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact Northport Police (+1 205 339-6600) or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-TIPS

Missing Person poster for Heaven Ross

References

  • Taylor, S. (2019) ‘Heaven LaShae Ross’ death is still unsolved 16 years later’, Tuscaloosa News, 19 August. Link
  • Sutton, R. (2005) ‘After two years, parents find only frustration’, The Montgomery Advertiser, 20 August.
  • Associated Press (2006) ‘Investigators: multi-state murders may be linked’, Pensacola News, 17 August.
  • Associated Press (2019) ‘Heaven LaShae Ross vanished 15 years ago: Murdered 11-year-old’s case remains unsolved’, AL.com, 21 August. Link.
  • Thompson, E. (2017) ‘Who Killed Heaven LaShae Ross?’, Morbidology, 16 October. Link.
  • Associated Press (2006) ‘Remains of missing girl found in Holt house, The Anniston Star, December 20.
  • Associated Press (2006) ‘Child may have link to Paulk’, The Montgomery Advertiser, 20 December. Link.

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