Three years later, Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk still missing

Three years later, Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk still missing
Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The mother of a woman who has been missing since 2014 is hoping her daughter's killer will come forward about where her daughter's body is.

Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk was last seen at a downtown Wilmington bar on April 5, 2014, the day before her birthday. Police say they have the accused killer in custody, but they still haven't found Vannewkirk's body.

"You learn to cope with it, but it never gets easier. It doesn't heal," Shannon's mother, Bobbie Lewis, said.

James Bradley was arrested in connection with Vannewkirk's death a few weeks after she vanished. Bradley picked her up from the bar and surveillance video shows the two in his car at a gas station down the street.

That's the last time Vannewkirk was seen.

A few weeks later while searching property Bradley had access to, investigators discovered a body buried near a tree stump. Lewis got the call that her daughter's body had been found.

"I couldn't believe it," Lewis said. "Then my son called and told me it wasn't Shannon. It was another girl. That's when they found Elisha Tucker."

Elisha Tucker had been missing from Leland since 2013. Bradley was charged in her murder earlier this year after investigators discovered a patch of blood in his car. Lab tests revealed the blood belonged to Tucker.

Bradley is a man with a murderous past. In 1988, he was convicted of killing his 8-year-old stepdaughter and was in prison until 2013.

"I have no idea where to look," said Shawn Dayton, Vannewkirk's brother. "Sometimes you're just driving over the bridges in Wilmington looking down. You don't know what to look for."

Dayton says he has searched numerous times alongside police, but worries the real clues to finding his sister remain with Bradley.

"Part of you decides that she probably will never be found you know, but then the other part keeps hoping," Dayton said.

Bradley is scheduled to go to trial in June for Vannewkirk's death. He also faces the death penalty for Tucker's murder, though a trial date has not been set.

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