Detroit police officer bonds with 2 daughters of victim of killing
Shannon Jones has lost track of all the terrible things she’s seen as a Detroit cop, but she says she’ll never forget a heart-breaking thank-you from a 6-year-old girl.
Shianne Robinson’s mom, Deann Robinson, had been missing since January 2015, when police recovered her body last month in an abandoned westside house.
An acquaintance of the mom, Jerry McCoy, faces first-degree murder charges after investigators say he confessed to strangling the 20-year-old and hiding her in the basement of the vacant house on Sturtevant Street.
Jones described in a Facebook post Friday what happened during a March 19 memorial for the victim when Deann Robinson’s two daughters recognized the officer.
“I attended the candlelight vigil in front of the house where Deann was found and both girls saw me and ran to give me a hug. Miss Shianne then looked up at me and said ‘You found my mommy, and you found the bad guy.’
“I told her yes, while my heart was breaking a little more inside. She is 6 years old and already knows that some bad man/men murdered her mother.”
Police are looking for a second person of interest in the case, Jones said..
“One little girl at the vigil overheard Shianne telling me I found her mom, and the other girl asks me, ‘so can we see her again?’ ” Jones told The Detroit News. “I said, ‘no, you can’t see her, but I think you can feel she’s with us here today.’ That’s the only thing you can tell little kids: ‘You mom’s watching over you.’ ”
Shianne and Sienna miss their mom, said their aunt, Deborah Robinson, who has been appointed as their guardian while she seeks custody.
“Shianne knows what’s going on, but Sienna is 4, and she really hasn’t processed it, although she knows her mom is gone and she’s sad,” she said. “Shianne will tell you, ‘God is taking care of her; she’s in heaven.’ She’s really smart for her age.”
The two girls have bonded with Jones, Robinson said. “They love her like an aunt. She’s been amazing to our family throughout this whole thing. I love her like an aunt, too.”
Jones, a 16-year veteran, said she doesn’t usually get emotionally involved in the job — “but I fell in love with Shianne and Sienna.
“I can’t explain it. I try to keep work separate, because you see all these things and you can’t let it get inside your heart. But they just hit me in a place that doesn’t usually get hit.”
Detroit police take an average of 16 missing person reports a day, Jones said. Most involve juvenile runaways or elderly people with medical issues who wandered away from home, Jones said. Those cases are handled in the precincts, although she monitors them. When further investigation is warranted, Jones takes the case. She is the only Detroit officer assigned to investigate missing person cases full-time.
“Right now, we have two that are serious missings,” she said. “Last year, we had about 15 of them. Most end up being homicides.”
Jones had been working the Deann Robinson case for months when, in late February, investigators say McCoy confessed to killing her, although he could only recall a general area where he’d hidden the body.
Jones said she had about 40 abandoned houses to search for the body. On Feb. 29, she led a Detroit police team, aided by Michigan State Police cadaver dogs Lightning and Phil. The dogs found Robinson in the fifth house searched, Jones said.
Police are trying to determine McCoy’s relationship with Robinson, Jones said. “We know they’d been in contact for a while, but it’s not clear if he was her boyfriend, or just acquaintances.”
It’s always tough breaking the news to a family of a missing person that their worst fear has come true, she said.
“I don’t tell them around the kids, because I don’t want them seeing the reaction of the family. When kids see their family react, they panic.”
Jones said she can’t explain why she’s grown so close to the Robinson children.
“I’ve worked the streets when I was six months pregnant. My partner was shot. I’ve done (undercover prostitution stings). I couldn’t tell you the first dead body I saw; I don’t remember. After all the years, they all sort of blend together. I’ve had several child abuse cases. I’ve pretty much seen it all.
“I can’t say I care about all the other victims less than Shianne and Sienna. But I just fell in love with them.”
In her Facebook post, Jones sent a message to the girls’ mother.
“I don't know what is in store for their future but I know that I will always remain in close contact with them, I love them as if they were my own. So Deann, if you are listening, know that your little girls are safe!”
How to help
The family has set up a gofundme account seeking donations to help with funeral costs and care for Shianne and Sienna.