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Missing Bradenton woman’s body found in Palmetto ditch

Stephanie Lynn Shenefield had been missing for six days.
Stephanie Lynn Shenefield, 38, had last been seen in the 5300 block of 16th Street E, Bradenton on June 3. Her body was found in a ditch on Thursday night.
Stephanie Lynn Shenefield, 38, had last been seen in the 5300 block of 16th Street E, Bradenton on June 3. Her body was found in a ditch on Thursday night. [ Bradenton Herald ]
Published Jun. 10|Updated Jun. 10

The body of a Bradenton woman was found in a ditch in Palmetto late Thursday night, six days after she was last seen, Sheriff Rick Wells announced Friday morning.

Stephanie Lynn Shenefield, 38, had not been seen or heard of since June 2 when her mother reported it to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, prompting a missing person investigation on Monday. Family and friends, meanwhile, began posting fliers that offered a reward around town.

“They knew that something was wrong. This was totally out of character for Stephanie,” Wells said at a news conference Friday. “She had not contacted anyone. No one had seen her. Friends were behind the scene trying to call other friends just trying to make sure she was OK.”

But Shenefield was already dead when family, friends and the sheriff’s office began looking for her.

With the help of Shenefield’s roommate, lead detective Nate Boggs was able to access her laptop and discovered she had taken an Uber in the early morning hours of June 3 to the home of William Redden in the 200 block 30th Street East of Palmetto.

Redden initially cooperated with detectives, telling them that Shenefield had come over around 1 a.m. to hang out, spent the night, then left the next morning. He said he didn’t know where she went. He also allowed detectives to search his home, which they discovered he had video surveillance inside and outside. Although

Redden claimed that the system did not record, he agreed to let detectives take the DVR. When they began reviewing the footage, detectives confirmed that she had been there. Footage showed her arriving at 1:20 a.m., hanging out with Redden and later being carried by him out of camera view.

“Sometime during the night, Stephanie dies inside that residence. We do not know the cause of death,” Wells said. “But what we do is that William Redden does not nothing about it. He doesn’t call 911. He doesn’t call authorities. He doesn’t call anyone.”

At 12:20 p.m., video footage showed Redden dragging her body — wrapped in a sheet — through the house, loading her in the backseat of his car, then driving off. With this information, detectives went back to Redden’s home, but he refused to speak with them.

Detectives then began tracking her electronic devices in an attempt to locate her body. As they were doing so, they received a call from two Palmetto residents who were out walking their dogs at 6:50 p.m. Thursday and spotted a body in a drainage ditch in a field between 21st Street Court East and 29th Street East.

“Stephanie was badly decomposed,” Wells said. “It took us a while to identify her and notified the family.”

Redden was arrested Thursday and charged with abuse of a corpse, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of an altered firearm because the serial number had been filed off.

An autopsy was underway on Friday morning to determine a cause and manner of death, sheriff’s office spokesman Randy Warren said. Redden is expected to make his first appearance before a judge this afternoon.

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He is currently in custody at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $108,000.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated. Check back with tampabay.com for details.

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