In February 2008, Shannon Louise Matthews, a nine-year-old girl, was reported missing in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. The search for her became a major missing person police investigation which was compared to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The women in Shannon’s neighborhood put their lives on hold in order to search for Shannon.
Unlike Madeleine McCann, Shannon grew up in a working- class neighborhood. Her mother Karen did not work and she had several children from several different fathers. The local people were harshly judged in the media, but the way they pulled together was actually quite remarkable and admirable.
What investigators discovered in this case shocked and outraged the community. The adults in Shannon’s life, her mother included, would be exposed as immoral, exploiting Shannon for the possibility of monetary gain. As the facts of the case surfaced, a sense of betrayal fell over Dewsbury, leaving Shannon’s neighbors confused and questioning how anyone could treat a child as Shannon had been treated.