The Disappearance of Natasha Marie Shanes

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Natasha Marie Shanes was born on January 23, 1979. She lived in Jackson, Michigan with her mother, Susan Shanes, and Susan’s live-in boyfriend, Robert F. Forbes. At the time, Robert was a drug dealer who had previously served time in prison for trafficking heroin.

Growing up, Natasha was said to cry often and suffer from mood swings. However, that didn’t prevent her from enjoying activities, which other children her age partook in. She was known to enjoy playing around with makeup, purses and shoes, and could often be found singing.

Early into her life, the young girl had been diagnosed with epilepsy, from which she suffered seizures. In order to prevent them, she took Depakote, as she was allergic to other medications. As well, she suffered from scoliosis and had flat feet, the latter of which she was wearing special shoes to correct.

Natasha also had a mild intellectual disability. As such, she had the mental age of a four-year-old and had to attend a special education school for children with disabilities.


The exact date in which Natasha went missing is unclear. While some sources state her disappearance occurred on May 5, 1985, others have cited it happened on May 8.

According to her mother, Natasha had fallen asleep on the couch the night before she went missing. At some point during the early morning hours, Susan had woken to the sound of a car door slamming outside the house, but not thinking anything of it fell back to sleep.

When 6:00am rolled around, Susan once again awoke and this is when she discovered her daughter was not in the house. Upon further inspection, she’d noticed that one of the doors leading outside was wide open. Not longer after this, the authorities were called and Natasha was reported missing.


Upon arriving on scene, investigators were unable to find any signs of forced entry into the house. They did an extensive search around the surrounding area, but could  find no signs of Natasha.

Two days after Natasha went missing, Robert was discovered shot to death near his mother’s house. Police looked into it, initially believing it could have a connection to Natasha’s disappearance, but were unable to find any evidence to support this theory. Given the circumstances and the evidence investigators were able to recover, his death was eventually ruled a suicide. Susan disputes this conclusion and to this day suspects her boyfriend was murdered.

Natasha’s DNA, dentals and fingerprints are currently not on file.

There have been no substantial leads in the missing girl’s case. Due to her medical condition, police feel she is currently deceased.


Given the lack of evidence in the case, it’s currently unknown what circumstances surround Natasha’s disappearance. However, there are two theories that have come up during the course of the investigation.

1) The first theory is that Natasha wandered away from the house sometime between 1:30am and 6:00am on the morning she disappeared. It’s currently unknown if any of the doors in the house had been left unlocked at the time. While this has been presented as a possible theory, some feel it to not be the case, as they question how far the little girl could have walked before police were called to the house.

If Natasha had simply wandered away from the house, wouldn’t a neighbour have seen her or wouldn’t search personnel have come across her during their sweep of the area?

2) The theory held by many who come across this case is that Natasha was abducted from her house between the hours of 1:30am and 6:00am. This is substantiated by the door Susan had found open and the sound of a car door slamming she’d heard when she’d woken up that first time.

As stated above, investigators were unable to find any sign of forced entry into the home, but that doesn’t immediately prove an abduction didn’t occur. It has not been publicly stated if any evidence pointing to a stranger abduction was ever uncovered.


Susan has said she continues to worry about her daughter everyday because of her epilepsy and disability. She hopes Natasha will either be found safe or that her body will be returned home and given a proper resting place.


Natasha Marie Shanes went missing from the 900 block of Maple Avenue in Jackson, Michigan in early May 1985. She was six years old and was last seen wearing a large blue and white shirt with a safety pin on it, and either blue jeans or a denim skirt. At the time of her disappearance, she was 4’0″ and weighed approximately 57 pounds. She has light brown to blonde hair and brown eyes, and her ears were pierced. She has a strawberry birthmark on the back of her neck, just at the base of her hairline; a small scar on her forehead; and a dog bite on her cheek. She suffers from epilepsy and has a mild intellectual disability, amongst other medical conditions.

Currently, her case is classified as a non-family abduction. If alive, she would be 40 years old.

If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Jackson Police Department at either 517-768-8727 or 517-788-4100.

Image Credit: Crime Watchers

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