Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"My daughter died with one hell of a secret"

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Not my daughter. But she's somebody's daughter- Sharon and JC Nolan's daughter. I knew her from family birthday parties and picnics. I'm good friends with her cousin, Julie. In 2001, they were both excited about being pregnant together. Both were expecting babies in December.

We all know what happened in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. But at the same time that terrible tragedy was hitting the country, my friend Julie was dealing with the murder of her cousin. On Sept. 6, 2001, Sharon Nolan was talking to her daughter, Shannon, about her 26 week sonogram which was being done the next day. "I'll call you as soon as I'm done, Mom." The call never came. Instead, Sharon called the police to report her daughter missing. My friend called me, telling me what was going on, and asking me to help distribute flyers with Shannon's picture on it. It was surreal... I hope I never get That Call again in my lifetime.

Sometime during the night of Sept. 7, 2001, Shannon was killed. She was beaten so severely she had to be identified with dental and scar records. On Sept. 10, 2001 her husband lead the police to her body, which he had buried in a shallow grave on the side of the highway. The baby, a girl, whom Shannon had decided to name Alexandra, was removed during her autopsy and buried cradled in her mother's arms. I was so afraid to go to that funeral. In an odd move, her parents decided to bury her in her wedding gown- because that was the happiest they had ever seen their daughter. None of us understood that decision. I still don't.

Even more uncomfortable was the fact that John Broe's parents were at the funeral. Their son was in jail and their daughter-in-law and unborn granddaughter were dead. Sharon and JC Nolan understood their grief and sorrow, and welcomed them at the funeral. I remember thinking "How can Sharon and JC allow them to be here? Their son KILLED their daughter!" Then, after talking to his parents, I started to realize the depths of their loss and sorrow as well. Two families, once united by the marriage of their children...now united in death.

John Broe, her high school sweetheart and husband, was eventually sentenced to two back-to-back life sentences, each with the first possibility of parole after 20 years- meaning he will remain in jail until at least 2042. During the investigation he told the police that Shannon was mad at him for having sex with an 18 year old girl in their house... so he took an aluminum baseball bat to her head as she slept.

In the years following Shannon's death, her parents have become more outspoken about domestic violence. Her mother says that John may "think he has taken Shannon's voice away, but he doesn't realize how strong we've become. We were quiet people before, but we're not going to be silent anymore." Her father, JC, said "My daughter died with one hell of a secret. We did not know of her abuse until her death."

While cleaning out Shannon's closet about a month after her death, a pattern of domestic violence which started in high school became clear to JC and Sharon. (Be sure to click on the video in that linked news story) Love letters written by John to Shannon contained apologies for biting, hitting, choking and slapping her, but then go on to say that "You (Shannon) made me do this". In the months leading up to her death, Shannon and John started fighting more, and Shannon started confiding in her Mom. She started to admit to some of the abuse that had taken place, and John's controlling nature. Sharon says "It's so easy now to see little things we missed. There are always warning signs, but we ignore them or don't see them."

I'm so proud of Sharon and JC. I hate knowing that their daughter and granddaughter are dead, and how they were killed. I cringe when I see my friend Julie with her daughter Cammie- because Julie and Shannon were pregnant at the same time, and due within weeks of each other. Cammie and Alexandra should be happy, healthy, loving 3 1/2 year old cousins... but they're not. Cammie serves as a constant reminder to all of us that there SHOULD be another little girl the same age running around at family functions.

Sharon and JC Nolan have testified before Congress on domestic abuse. They've spoken publicly on numerous occasions regarding Shannon and Alexandra's murder. They have appeared in public service announcements and a domestic violence documentary entitled "Batterers Will Kill". In a couple of days they will once again address the public on this subject at the 11th annual Day of Peace program for domestic violence awareness in Covington, KY.

Another story of abuse and murder is unfolding in Cincinnati right now. We need your help. About a week ago, 13 year old Katelind Caudill confronted her best friend's step-father and called him a pedophile. Katelind told her aunt, who called the police and started an investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse. Last Monday Melvin Keeling entered Katelind's home, and murdered her. He then fled the area and robbed a convenient store in Indiana. Before leaving the store, he murdered both of the store clerks. He's been on the run ever since. His van has been located, but Melvin Keeling remains at large. The police have no idea where he might be. PLEASE... PLEASE... keep an eye out for this man:
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I know this is a long post, but it's important. Be aware of your surroundings, and be aware of the signs of abuse. If you suspect abuse, gently approach the victim and ask the following questions: Does your boyfriend/husband get jealous or possessive? Does he lose his temper? Does he make insulting or belittling comments? If the answer is yes to any of these questions... he may be prone to violence. If you find out abuse does exist, go right to the police. Don't give abusive people the opportunity to become murderers.

4 Comments:

  • I know this probably seems wierd, getting a response to a blog you posted almost a year ago. But I found your entry today when I was surfing around online. I went to school with Shannon and found a picture of her and John today while I was going through some old photos. I was stationed in Germany at the time of her death and was not in Cincinnati to attend the funeral. I played Volleyball with her in highschool and was saddened by her death. I did not learn until today what sentence John received. I just wanted to stop by and say that I am sorry for the loss you and her family faced. Thank her parents for me for speaking out against the unnecessary violence that many women face. I am glad that someone has the courage to do that.
    Gina Tracy-Schwans
    Walnut Hills '95
    Proud Army Wife & SAHM

    By Blogger Gina S, at 1:45 PM  

  • I am posting this comment long after you wrote this post. But I was surfing online and found this post. I, too, played volleyball with Shannon in high school. In fact, she was my best friend when she was in 9th grade and I was in 10th grade. I remember hearing the news too. I think of her very often. If you see her parents anytime soon, tell them I said hi and thank them for speaking out about domestic violence. I see them on TV and stuff and know Shannon would have been proud.
    Andrea Bryant Canterbury
    Walnut Hills '94

    By Blogger Andrea, at 11:37 PM  

  • Hello - I just came across this blog as well. It has been a long time. I also went to school with Shannon. And there were details here I am glad you posted, as it was interesting to know. I also want to point out that I did hear on the news maybe a year or so ago that when President Bush came to town, he met with Shannon's parents. I hate that this happened to such a wonderful, loving person - but I do hope that her parents efforts will help to save others.
    Cindy (Hamm) Jett
    Walnut Hills '95

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:32 PM  

  • I went to Mr. Kenneth Williams history class and sit near Shannon in the class, I was sick a lot in school so I did not remember what paper she researched on but she is always nice to everybody, I feel so sad and so sorry such an wonderful person and her child have to go this way, I send sympathies to her family for their tremendous loss.

    Grandnephew of Chairman Mao, Yi Shen -Graduate of Walnut Hills Class of 95

    By Blogger 雷柳沈, at 11:44 PM  

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