PALMETTO, Fla. — An alleged drug dealer is charged with abusing the body of a 38-year-old Bradenton mother of two after she was found lifeless in a ditch.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office on Monday said its deputies were looking for Stephanie Shenefield after family and friends hadn't heard from her for days — it wasn't like her to leave and not be in touch with anyone.
But in an update June 5, the sheriff said her body was found Thursday evening by some people who were walking their dogs in the area of 21st Street Court East and 29th Street East. And it's home surveillance cameras inside the home of 51-year-old William Redden that helped deputies make an arrest.
The search for Shenefield began Sunday evening when the sheriff's office received reports from Shenefield's mother about her disappearance, Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said. She was reportedly last heard from three days prior and no one could reach her.
The following day, law enforcement started to search for the 38-year-old. Wells explained how Shenefield's roommate helped deputies get her computer for them to search. While sifting through accounts of the computer, deputies were reportedly able to determine that Shenefield ordered an Uber and arrived at a house at 1:20 a.m. Friday, June 3.
After learning this information, deputies went to the house to speak with the homeowner, Redden, who Wells called a drug dealer.
"[Redden] verifies that Stephanie was there on that Friday," the sheriff said. "He tells them that they hung out for a while and that Stephanie left the residence that next morning."
Redden gave consent for the deputies to look throughout the residence, and they found cameras both inside and outside the house, Wells said. Redden, who believed the inside cameras didn't record, reportedly allowed law enforcement to take the DVRs from the cameras for viewing.
"He tells them that [the cameras] do not record inside of the residence," Wells said. "He was wrong."
After watching the video recording from the DVRs, detectives were able to determine that Shenefield died inside of the house, Wells reports.
"...William Redden does nothing about it. He doesn't call 911, he doesn't call authorities, he doesn't call anyone," the sheriff says.
Video evidence from the cameras showed Redden dragging Shenefield's lifeless body wrapped in a sheet through the house shortly after noon on Friday, June 3, Wells said. He then reportedly loaded the body into a car and drove away.
Law enforcement made a trip back to Redden's house after watching the videos, and Wells says the man refused to talk. At this point, while deputies are trying to find Shenefield, the sheriff's office said received a call Thursday evening of a body found in a ditch.
Wells says two people walking in a field near railroad tracks came across Shenefield's body, which was placed in an almost 1-foot-deep ditch.
"Stephanie's body was badly decomposed, it took us a while to be able to identify here," Wells said. "But we have positively identified her...
"We are deeply sorry for [the family's] loss."
The cause of death is still unknown at this time.
Redden, an eight-time convicted felon, is now facing charges of abuse of a corpse, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of an altered firearm, Wells said. In an update Friday, June 17, authorities say additional charges of sexual battery - victim incapacitated and voyeurism were added on.
He is still in the Manatee County Jail with bond currently set to $218,000.
"William Redden is a piece of crap, that's what he is," the sheriff said. "He had an opportunity to call law enforcement, to call 911, to try to save her or to do something to let anyone know."
Watch the full news conference down below: