Karen Matthews

Shannon Matthews timeline: When did the little girl go missing? How many days was she kept locked up?

A new C5 documentary retells the shocking story...

Shannon Matthews’ shocking kidnap case is currently the focus of a new Channel 5 documentary – so when did Shannon Matthews go missing?

How many days did she ‘disappear’ for? And where did they find her?

Here’s a timeline of the disappearance of Shannon Matthews.

Shannon Matthews BBC News
Shannon Matthews’ school picture appeared on the BBC News (Credit: BBC One/YouTube)

Read more: Where is Shannon Matthews now? Why she will never speak out publicly

When did Shannon Matthews go missing?

First of all, Karen Matthews reported her daughter missing on February 19 2008.

Nine-year-old Shannon ‘disappeared’ outside Westmoor Junior School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

She had been on a swimming trip, but did not return home.

Her mum Karen called the police, and a hunt began for the little girl.

Shannon’s disappearance: the note

After three days, police detectives revealed that Shannon had expressed a wish to leave home.

She had written on her bedroom wall saying she wanted to see her biological father more frequently.

As a result, officers stated that they were “gravely concerned” for her safety.

Karen Matthews and partner Craig Meeham leave home in Dewsbury last night Friday PICTURE BY PHIL SPENCER
Karen Matthews and partner Craig Meehan pictured in Dewsbury after Shannon’s alleged disappearance (Credit: Phil Spencer)

Read more: Where is Karen Matthews and does she see her other children besides Shannon?

Shannon Matthews: The reward

The Sun offered a reward of £20,000 on March 1 2008, 11 days after Shannon’s disappearance.

The newspaper asked for anyone with information to come forward.

This was later raised to £50,000 another 11 days later, on March 12 2008.

Karen’s behaviour raised suspicions as the investigation went on.

How many days was she missing?

Finally, police found Shannon Matthews after 24 days.

On March 14 2008, police officers searched the home of Michael Donovan after a tip off from his neighbours.

They were relieved to discover the child safe and well.

DC Nick townsend on the left, and DC Paul Kettlewell on the right - both retired police officers who worked on the case
DC Nick Townsend (left), and DC Paul Kettlewell both worked on the case (Credit: Channel 5)

Where did they find Shannon Matthews?

Shannon was discovered hidden in the base of a divan bed at a house occupied by Michael Donovan in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire.

Michael tied her up and drugged her with sedatives to keep her quiet, and stop her escaping.

He was the uncle of Karen Matthews’ boyfriend Craig Meehan.

Michael, who was born Paul Drake, had learning difficulties, with an IQ of around just half the national average.

He was arrested at the scene, and Karen was arrested weeks later on April 8 2008.

Subsequently, they both served four years in jail for plotting the scheme – seemingly purely for money and fame.

Where is Shannon Matthews now?

Shannon is currently 21 years of age and is living under a new identity.

She received a new identity and family and her location can never be disclosed.

She has no contact with her birth mother Karen, whose six children were all taken into care for their own protection.

Above all, Shannon is protected for life due to a lifetime reporting restriction and lifelong anonymity.

Karen Matthews makes public appeal for her daughter's safe return
Karen Matthews makes public appeal for her daughter’s safe return (Credit: Channel 5)

The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews on Channel 5

The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews is a two-part documentary.

The second part airs on Thursday February 11 2021 at 9pm on C5.

It examines the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews in Yorkshire in 2008.

The investigation gripped the nation – not least when her own mother was found guilty of the plot.

The series features exclusive interviews with Shannon’s best friend at the time Megan Aldridge.

It also talks to the police officers who eventually found her and members of the local community.

The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews concludes on Channel 5 at 9pm on Thursday February 11 2021.

Did you watch the first part of this documentary series? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

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