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Cold Case: Owensboro Teen’s Disappearance Unsolved Decades Later

It’s a cold case that has puzzled Owensboro Police for more than three decades. In the summer of 1986 a young woman and two teenagers all went missing within a matter of weeks. To this day, 16 year old Shannon Green has never been found. Green would be turning 50 this year and a recent age-progression photo is renewing interest in her case.

In 1986, Green was student at Owensboro High School but that summer would be the last time anyone saw her alive. On July 6th, Green was walking down 2nd and Poplar Streets on her way to babysit for a man named John Reneer but whether she made to the home is unclear. Detective Mark Saffran with Owensboro Police investigated Green’s disappearance. He’s now a retired reserve officer for OPD and says after so many years he does not believe Green is alive.

The summer of 1986 was a mysterious one in Owensboro. In June, a young woman went missing and within weeks two teens also disappeared. The body of one of the three missing people would eventually be discovered in a cornfield off Lower River Road, a couple miles West of the city. The body of 23 year old Mary Ethel “Angie” Dickens was found October 2nd, nearly three months after she was originally reported missing. What happened to Dickens still remains much a mystery and who’s responsible is a question that remains.

Owensboro Police investigated Dickens’ and Green’s cases for any possible connections but say the department never found any corroborating evidence. Green’s disappearance has always been a missing persons case and John Reneer was OPD’s number one person of interest. Reneer has always denied having anything to do with her disappearance and even had a recording he told police would prove his innocence, “Reneer taped a conversation with DeWayne, DeWayne had come over was needing some money to get out of town,” said Detective Saffran.

DeWayne Bell was 18 and worked for Reneer along with his father David Bell. Reneer had a lengthy criminal history and told authorities he recorded the conversation to protect himself not knowing he would be taping a quasi-confession, “Initially just hearing the voice said, I’ve killed, I’ve hurt my girlfriend,” said Det. Saffran. What police heard on the tape raised even more questions when Reneer asked DeWayne why his girlfriend couldn’t go to police, “He says no she can’t go to the police. He says why not? Well I killed her, then he mentions he killed another person, another girl and a child.” Investigators were able to determine it was in fact DeWayne Bell’s voice on the recording but Bell was never arrested. Five days after Green went missing — DeWayne Bell was missing too. Some believe it was at the hands of his father David who was also implicated in that recording — helping to bury Green.

Year after Green’s disappearance OPD received a tip as to where they could find her remains. Investigators dug in a field for days but nothing was ever recovered. To this day Green nor Bell’s bodies have ever been found and with little physical evidence there’s an even slighter chance of solving the crimes decades later, “We investigated it, the investigators back then investigated it and it’s frustrating not being able to solve something for the family. I mean I know what the family went through and that is the frustrating part, is not being able to give answers to the family,” said Det. Saffran.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Owensboro Police.

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