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Family on 97-year-old found buried in backyard: 'We tried to get help'

Posted: 10:39 PM, May 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-24 00:52:26-04
Pinal County: San Tan Valley man hid mother's death to keep receiving her benefits

LOVELAND, Colo. -- For years, Rich Shannon tried to get help for his elderly mother, Leonie Shannon, even contacting social services to intervene. But Leonie would never cooperate, so there was little family could do.

Wednesday, police in Arizona found her body buried in the backyard of her youngest son, Daniel Shannon's home, and arrested him.

"He was taking advantage of her and everybody knew it," said Rich Shannon, who said his younger brother had been taking money from his 97-year-old mother for years, moving her away from concerned family in Loveland a few years ago to Las Vegas and eventually to Phoenix.

"When the detective called the first time, he said 'We're looking for your mom,' said Rich Shannon, "And I said, 'Well, did you check the freezer?' And he kind of laughed, and he said, 'Yes, we did.' And I said, 'I'm just telling you that's the kind of guy you're dealing with.'"

About five months after a neighbor first reported Leonie had disappeared, detectives dug up the grave in Daniel Shannon's backyard. Detectives said that Shannon eventually confessed that he hid her death to keep collecting her social security, saying he needed the money to fund a patent on his invention. Years ago, his inventions, including a self-closing toilet seat, were featured in the Loveland newspaper, but his brother said they never took off.

"He's gone through over a half-million dollars of my dad's money. There is no money left that we know of," said Rich Shannon. "The detective said he had $300 that they know of."

While detectives have told family they don't suspect foul play, Rich Shannon said that his mother, a WWII decoder and longtime Loveland teacher, deserved better. He said the family will bring her home for a proper burial beside her husband with full military honors.

"Hopefully, he'll go to prison for a while," said Rich Shannon. "The Karma gods have come back, that's the way I look at it."

Daniel Shannon faces several felony charges, including fraud and concealment of a body.