Lost, but not forgotten

Woman has been missing for 7 years
Ryan Shuttleworth (center) holds a photo of himself, his sister, Krystina, and his mother, Lisa. His grandparents Jerry and Lorraine Mabrey obtained custody of the children when Lisa Shuttleworth disappeared seven years ago.

 

NORTH AUGUSTA --- We love you. We miss you.

They're words that Lorraine Mabrey and her granddaughter Krystina Shuttleworth have written a number of times each year to their missing daughter and mother, Lisa Shuttleworth.

On Saturday, seven years to the day since Lisa Shuttleworth disappeared, they released their words again, tied to balloons, over River Watch Parkway.

"It's my way of releasing my love to her," Krystina said.

The family still remembers how Shuttleworth's Beech Island home looked in 2003, left as if she would come back. A boiling pot of tea was on the stove with a paper towel on top of the pot's rim. The doors were locked and her blue-green Pontiac Grand Am was in the driveway. Only she and her purse were gone.

The divorced mother of two talked by phone to Krystina, then 14, about 7:15 a.m. on Sept. 4, 2003, saying she would pick her up that afternoon. She was also scheduled to meet her son Ryan, then 9, at the bus stop.

But she never showed.

"You wonder where she is and if anyone knows anything," Mabrey said. "You never lose hope."

Mabrey and her husband, Jerry, a retired Army recruiter, still believe she was taken against her will. There's been no movement in the case in the past four years.

"We have a good idea who may have taken her," Jerry Mabrey said. "We don't have proof, but nobody's talking about it and we're just begging for that person to come forward."

Unlike cases involving missing and abducted children, which now include immediate Amber Alerts, missing adult cases are often difficult to solve because people can vanish for financial or criminal reasons, or they just want to take a break and don't tell anyone, according to the National Center for Missing Adults.

Each year, 90 percent of the more than 1 million entries made into the center's database and that of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children result in the person being found alive. About 100,000 Americans are missing at any given time, according to the center.

In 2009, 719,558 missing person cases were filed, and 716,130 were cleared. The number of missing persons last year also dropped 7.5 percent from 2008.

Forty Georgians and 31 South Carolinians, including Shuttleworth, are listed as missing adults, according to the center.

Today, her family is just waiting for one missing piece of evidence or a testimony to get Aiken County's sole missing person case solved. With no signs of a struggle, her family believes she went with someone she knew and was then abducted.

Krystina said it's possible that her mom could have left, but deep down she's ready for closure, even if that means finding her mother's body.

"We wonder did she suffer? What happened? I just feel -- I'm just in pause," she said. "It's not possible to move on."

Immediately after the disappearance, the Mabreys took custody of their grandchildren.

For all the somber moments that Sept. 4 and missed holidays bring, Lorraine Mabrey said their home is really filled with laughter and love, and it's brought their family closer than before.

"Now I don't know what would happen if they leave me," she said with a timid laugh. "I think I need them around just as much as they need us."

"I love you" and "thank you" isn't taken lightly and is often followed with a lingering hug from Krystina, just in case her grandparents didn't already know.

As the family waits for answers, Lorraine Mabrey said her faith has become her comfort and she still believes God's in the business of miracles.

"I'm always reminded of, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' " she said. "And he hasn't. Sometimes you just go through the motions, but she's on our mind every day."

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111 or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com

Missing persons nationwide by the numbers

96,192: Active missing person records filed nationwide in 2009

719,558: Missing person records filed in 2009

778,161: Missing person records filed in 2008

Source: National Center for Missing Adults

Her disappearance

On Sept. 4, 2003, Lisa Shuttleworth spoke with her daughter about 7:15 a.m. after Krystina spent the night with a friend.

Lisa was last seen about an hour later at the Pit Stop on Pine Log Road in her 1994 Grand Am. The witness said she appeared to be reading as the car was idling in the parking lot.

HER BACKGROUND

Lisa Shuttleworth attended North Augusta Middle School and graduated from Midland Valley High in 1987. She married Jack Shuttleworth in North Augusta in 1990. Daughter Krystina was born in 1988, followed by son Ryan in 1994. The Shuttleworths divorced in 1996.

After their daughter vanished, the Mabreys took custody of the children through a mutual agreement with the father, who retains visitation rights.

Since high school, Shuttleworth worked a variety of jobs, mostly in bookkeeping or secretarial work, including stints at Dixie Clay Co. in North Augusta and the Savannah River Site.

Her last job was managing Jerico's, a private club on Belvedere-Clearwater Road owned by her father.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle Archives

Letter from Krystina Shuttleworth

I wish I knew why you felt the need to take Lisa from us. What could she have ever done to you to make you want to hurt her and take her away from her family? Did you realize how many lives you would be hurting? How many lives you would be changing?

I wish you could hear the pain in my voice as I talk about how hard it is to be without a mother and how much I miss her. Would you even care!

I pray that you have a soul and that maybe one day you will feel some guilt and come forward and give us the answers we need. But, I find that happening very doubtful. If you had a soul, you would have never taken her.

You have a mother, maybe a sister. Imagine how you would feel not knowing where they were and what happened to them. Would you wonder, like us, if they suffered, were scared and their remains are lying in the woods unable to be found? Would you?

Those are the things that run through our mind everyday. Did she know that she would never see her children again? What horror for a mother. How could you take her?

I won't say that I hate you, God doesn't allow me to hate, but I can tell you that the punishment that you are trying to hide from on this earth will be nothing compared to what awaits you when your life ends. You may think you're smart. You have gone unknown for seven years. But I can tell you that you will be caught,. You may be able to hide from law enforcement, but you can't hide from God.

And with God's strength we will continue to look for Lisa, we will find her and I don't care if it is 20 years from now, you will be brought to justice. No one can keep a secret forever and no one does something like what you have done without telling someone.

I pray that God weighs heavy on your heart to do the right thing.

Lisa Shuttleworth

AGE: 34 (now 41) HEIGHT: 5'3"

WEIGHT: 102 lbs. HAIR COLOR: Brown

EYE COLOR: Blue RACE: White