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A man linked with Florida missing mother case now gets state charge for child neglect

Carli Teproff, David J. Neal
·3 min read

An Alabama man who was arrested last year in connection with the mysterious disappearance of a missing 21-year-old mother is no longer facing a federal kidnapping charge.

Instead, 39-year-old Shannon Ryan was charged Thursday by Miramar police with child neglect. Ryan, a self-proclaimed witch who has been in jail since his August arrest, is now being held on a $100,000 bond.

On July 26, Leila Cavett’s 2-year-old son was found wandering alone in a Miramar apartment complex. Investigators soon learned that his mother was missing. Cavett, who was living in Georgia and visiting Florida, was last seen July 25.

Her pickup truck was later found in Hollywood. In August, the FBI stepped in and released a timeline showing Cavett’s last known locations before she disappeared.

On July 24, video showed Cavett with her son at a Vero Beach Cracker Barrel. The next day, surveillance video showed Cavett at a RaceTrac gas station in Hollywood around 3 p.m. She was seen getting in and out of a gold Lexus. She was seen one more time on video at about 10:30 p.m. July 25 at the RaceTrac.

Meanwhile, her 2-year-old son was found at the Willowbrook Apartments, 1860 SW 68th Ave. Miramar police posted a photo of the young boy, and the story soon went viral.

Ryan, of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was arrested on Aug. 16. Before his arrest, Ryan posted a Facebook video on Aug. 9 in which he described his relationship with Cavett — who grew up in Jasper, Alabama. Muscle Shoals and Jasper are in the North Alabama region, sitting about 90 minutes apart

A still from Shannon Ryan’s Aug. 9 Facebook video in which he makes several claims about Leila Cavett, the mother of the 2-year-old found in Miramar, last seen at a Hollywood gas station on July 25.
A still from Shannon Ryan’s Aug. 9 Facebook video in which he makes several claims about Leila Cavett, the mother of the 2-year-old found in Miramar, last seen at a Hollywood gas station on July 25.

He said he met her in 2019 when she showed up at his house wet and dirty, looking for help. He ended up taking her in, he said.

According to the criminal complaint, which was dropped Wednesday, he told investigators he was going to buy her truck for $3,000. He also noted to investigators that Cavett had left the RaceTrac gas station in Hollywood in a car with two men.

But investigators said Ryan’s vehicle was the only car they saw. They were also able to determine that Ryan was in the area where the boy was dropped off through cellphone data.

In October, the FBI confirmed that investigators were searching Monarch Hill Landfill, a north Broward landfill, in connection with her disappearance. The FBI did not say if anything was found.

The Department of Justice did not say Thursday why the federal charges were dropped or whether he would face new charges.

Miramar police said in a social media post Thursday that Ryan had been charged with child neglect stemming from “the July 26, 2020 incident involving Leila’s son, who was two years old at the time and found wandering alone in a Miramar neighborhood.“

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The department did not release any other information. But said in the post: “We will not be commenting further at the time, due to the ongoing investigation concerning Leila’s disappearance — being conducted by our law enforcement partners.

Anyone with information is asked to call FBI Miami at 800-CALL-FBI or go to FBI.GOV/TIPS or call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).