Remains of missing girl found at Narraville – Missing person’s case of Shannon Wasserfall turns into murder inquiry

There is little doubt that the weathered clothes found with human remains in a shallow grave near Narraville in Walvis Bay on Tuesday is that of missing girl Shannon Wasserfall. The missing person case has now turned into a murder investigation.

Shannon Wasserfall

A glimpse behind the scenes of the murder investigation

Eileen van der Schyff

The missing persons inquiry of Shannon Wasserfall, the 20-year- old who went missing in Walvis Bay at the beginning of April, is now a full murder investigation. Following anonymous tip-offs, the Namibian Police found the human remains of a female in a shallow grave near Narraville on Tuesday. Clothes found with the deceased resembles the clothes Wasserfall wore on the day of her disappearance.

Namib Times spoke to a retired police detective this week who explained that justice for Shannon Wasserfall cannot be delivered on mere assumptions. Although there are indications that it could be her remains, he urged her family, and the public at large not to be led by assumptions, but only on proven or provable evidence.
This retired officer also applied his mind to what the Police have right now, and what leads are possibly followed up. “We have a case of a missing person by the name Shannon Wasserfall. As from Tuesday, there are human remains [of a person], weathered clothes found with the deceased and a shallow grave in which the deceased person was buried”, he explained.

For the Namibian Police to determine who the deceased person is, several options are on the table. Forensics are regarded as the most important factor in the investigation. Forensic tests can prove more than just the person’s identity. Forensics can also be used to determine whether the person was sexually assaulted, but the condition of the remains found is the determining factor. Dental records are also an option, should the postmortem establish the deceased person in life underwent dental procedures.

With regard to the clothes, there are also several points investigators can establish. Was the deceased person dressed or undressed? So far, the Police remain sketchy on this issue. “There is a definite resemblance between the clothes found with the deceased and the clothes worn by Wasserfall. The clothes are a key factor, but it remains an assumption without the deceased person positively identified.

The shallow grave forms the basis that the deceased has been buried there. More clues are needed to determine was the person’s life ended at the scene or was the person’s life ended somewhere else and an attempt followed to conceal the crime by burying the victim. A shallow grave also means the perpetrator/s was in a hurry to leave the scene and was probably also not planning the killing in advance or planning too much detail in advance. It also seems easy to access the scene where the remains were found by vehicle.

According to this retired officer, the police would trace Wasserfall’s last few days before her disappearance in April. “There are many factors: the day of her disappearance was during the Covid-19 lockdown. People were not allowed in public places like clubs, or other places frequented by young people. That means Wasserfall would have been in the company of a limited number of people in her last days. That is if she followed the lockdown rules correctly”.
Investigators will also look at key people in Wasserfall’s life, ac-cording to the retired officer. Where were they and what roles they played in the last days of her life? What daily pat-terns were they following after her disappearance was confirmed?

Note: at the time of going to press the Namibian Police was yet to brief the media on the latest update with regard to the investigation of the discovery of the human remains. The press briefing was stated for yesterday afternoon at 15:00.

 

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