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Prosecutor asks more time for panel probing girl’s death

March 31, 2018

PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama prosecutor says he’s asking state courts to allow more time for a grand jury that is investigating the disappearance and death of an 11-year-old girl more than 16 years ago.

District Attorney Randall Houston told the Montgomery Advertiser that grand jury secrecy keeps him from giving any specifics, but he doesn’t think there will be any problem getting the extension.

The Autauga County grand jury was empaneled in February 2017 to look into the death of Shannon Paulk, who was missing from her home in Prattville for two months in 2001 before rabbit hunters found her body in a public hunting area north of the town.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is continuing to investigate, and “we continue to need the grand jury,” he said. “We have cleared two or three subjects, which is progress. We don’t want to have to start over with a new grand jury.”

The group of 18 people has met periodically, Houston said.

Within 48 hours of its start in 2017, officials announced that they had discarded a composite drawing that had been published and broadcast across the nation as a possible suspect’s picture. It wasn’t credible, they said: The young girl who gave the description at the time, now an adult, told authorities that she concocted the image in an effort to help the investigation.

“I really hope they can find something, not only for Shannon’s parents and family, but for Prattville too,” said Grace Bryant, 28, of Prattville and a mother of two young children. “I remember when she went missing, how scary it was. Now that I have children of my own, I understand what her parents must be going through all this time.”

Houston said, “The good news is the case remains active, it is being worked. As long as that is the case, we have a chance.”

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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