RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) — Detectives with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office are asking for help from the public as they investigate the death of a 13-year-old girl who was reported missing, then found dead last week at a nature preserve in Riverview.
“If anyone had been in the area of the Triple Creek Nature Preserve several weeks up to this incident and they saw anything suspicious, please contact the sheriff’s office,” said Colonel Donna Lusczynski with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies say they are investigating the case as a homicide.
The body of 13-year-old Janessa Shannon was found by a hiker last Wednesday in a heavily-wooded area of the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Riverview. She had previously been reported missing by her father on July 3, 2017.
Janessa lived with her mother in Bradenton but was staying with her father in Hillsborough County when she disappeared.
Detectives and forensic investigators were spotted at Janessa’s father’s home on Saturday. They say it’s the last place she was seen alive, back on July 1. She was not reported missing until two days later.
Col. Lusczynski says Janessa’s father then left Florida.
“It is unusual, I think, if a child is missing, but originally he was out of town for work,” Lusczynski said. “Initially, he was cooperative with this investigation and provided an interview. When we asked for consent to search his residence where she was last seen he did not allow us to do that. We obtained a search warrant. He has since invoked and wants to consult an attorney.”
News Channel 8 asked Lusczynski if detectives are calling the father a person of interest.
“We are not focusing on any one person right now,” she answered. “Janessa was on social media and talking to different people, and had a number of friends so we want to make sure we are talking to everyone who may have possibly been involved.”
Janessa’s father leaving the state and getting a lawyer doesn’t add up for Janessa’s mother, Michelle Mosley.
“I think that, why get a lawyer if you have nothing to hide? I am doing everything that I can to cooperate and whatever they needed to help find our daughter. I never once went out of state. I called out of work, but while I was calling out of work looking for her he was out of state on a business trip,” said Mosley.
Detectives are asking for help from the public as they continue to investigate the teen’s death. They want anyone who was in the preserve and saw something to call them.
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering up to $3,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the identification and arrest of a suspect or suspects involved in the girl’s homicide.
Anyone with information should call 1-800-873-8477 or visit the Crime Stoppers website.
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