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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Woman May be a Girl Missing Since Age 6

Aired July 28, 2003 - 19:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, police in Indiana say they have new information in the case of a missing girl who may now be a missing woman.
Six-year-old Shannon Marie Sherrill disappeared on October 1986. Now, police say a 22-year-old woman has shown up who may hold the key to this mystery.

CNN's David Mattingly joins us now from Indianapolis to fill us in on what we know -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Shannon Sherrill disappeared in 1986. She vanished without a trace while playing in the yard outside of her mother's home at a trailer park in Thorntown, Indiana. It's a very small town, about 1,500 people, northwest of Indianapolis.

Well, people there describe her as a very cute little girl. You can see by the picture that she was absolutely that. She's also described as very shy and a sweet little girl.

But this is what she looked like when she was 6. Here is that authorities believe she could look like now this photograph. This photograph age enhanced to the age of 19. Investigators are now trying to find out if this is the woman who is now 23 years old who contacted the Sherrill family and said, "I think I might be Shannon Sherrill."

State police are taking the call seriously enough that they are extending an investigation, they say, to other states outside of Indiana and checking this out.

But it's apparently a very sensitive situation. They're saying that all the media coverage of this case is now attracting has made it difficult for them to stay in touch now with this young woman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID HURSTEN, FIRST SERGEANT, INDIANA STATE POLICE: What I would Hope is that at this point that no one would air anything about this so that we can find out who this person is and establish is she, in fact, Shannon Sherrill. And as you probably have astutely determined at this point, we don't have a firm grasp of this person.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTINGLY: Shannon's parents not willing to talk right now. But the father did tell us that they are on pins and needles waiting to find out if there's any credibility to this woman's claim.

As you can imagine, Anderson, it's been quite an emotional ride for them for the past 17 years of getting leads in this case that have led nowhere. And they're hoping that this one is actually something that brings them some Hope.

COOPER: Yes, I can't even imagine what these last years have been like for them. Obviously, we'll just have to keep following this one closely. A lot of unanswered questions at this point. David, thanks for the update.

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