NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Body of missing Manatee County woman found in ditch; investigation underway

Stephanie Shenefield.png
Posted at 10:15 AM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 10:05:15-04

PALMETTO, Fla. — The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said the body of a woman who went missing last week was found in a ditch in Palmetto Thursday night.

An investigation is now underway into what caused the death of Stephanie Shenefield, 38. She was last seen on Friday, June 3 and her body was found Thursday night by two people walking their dogs. Her cause of death will be determined by a medical examiner.

Authorities said on Monday, June 13, that an autopsy on Shenefield found no signs of trauma. Investigators are waiting for toxicology results to determine her cause of death.

During a Friday press conference, Sheriff Rick Wells said a 51-year-old Palmetto man, William Redden, has been charged with abuse of a corpse in relation to her death. He was later charged with tampering with evidence.

Wells said Shenefield arrived at Redden's home in an Uber around 1:20 a.m. on Friday, June 3. Sometime during the night, Wells said Shenefield died.

Authorities said video from inside Redden's home showed the two hanging out and Shenefield was later carried out of the camera video by Redden, "presumably to the bedroom," the sheriff's office said.

The next day, around 12:20 p.m., Wells said Redden was seen on that video moving her body, wrapped in a sheet, and loading it into the back seat of his car.

Wells said detectives initially spoke with Redden after they learned Shenefield took an Uber there. At the time, he told them they "hung out" for a while and she left the next morning. Wells said he gave detectives permission to look in the home and let them take the DVR for cameras they saw inside and outside.

Wells said Redden told detectives the camera didn't record inside. But, "he was wrong," Wells said.

Detectives went back to Redden's home after they watched the videos and he refused to talk, Wells said. He was arrested on Thursday for abuse of a corpse, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of an altered firearm. Wells said the serial numbers were filed off of the gun they found in his home.

Authorities tried to figure out where Shenefield was dumped before she was ultimately found by the people walking their dogs. Wells said she was found in a deep, 12-foot ditch in a field near a train track and her body was badly decomposed.

"Our hearts break for the family of Stephanie," Sheriff Wells said. He added that she was "truly loved in this community."

"Stephanie has a lot of friends in Manatee and Sarasota counties. She is popular, she is outgoing. They knew Friday that something was wrong when she didn't show up to a concert they were scheduled to attend. She didn't show up for work on Sunday, that never happens," Wells said. "They knew that something was terribly wrong."

Wells added that authorities don't believe Redden and Shenefield had a relationship.