Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Rilya Alert Shemaeah Nicole Gunnel
Shemaeah Nicole Gunnel
Missing since February 10, 1989 from Yuma, Yuma County, Arizona.
Classification: Lost, Injured, Missing
Date Of Birth: November 6, 1983
Age at Time of Disappearance: 5 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 4'0" (122 cm); 50 lbs (23 kg)
Distinguishing Characteristics: Black female. Black hair; black eyes.
Circumstances of Disappearance
She was last seen at her home on February 10, 1989 and has not been seen since.
Her 26-year-old mother, Valerie Gunnel, was found beaten to death with a tire iron in the family's apartment. Shemaeah and her 9-month-old sister, LeCresha Gunnel (sometimes called "LeCresha Kirklin"), were missing. LaCresha's body was found floating in an irrigation canal in Mexico six days later. The baby had also been beaten to death.
Alvie Copeland Kiles, Valerie's live-in boyfriend, was convicted of murdering all three members of the Gunnel family and was sentenced to death.
Prosecutors believe he killed Valerie because she would not give him money to buy cocaine, then killed the children because they began screaming. His conviction was later overturned on the grounds that he had an inadequate defense, but he was convicted again of three counts of murder and two counts of child abuse in 2000. Kiles is awaiting execution.
Shemaeah has never been located.