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An Illinois teenager who was left for dead in the woods with a broken neck, watched as her attacker, a former teacher of hers, was sentenced to 20 years in a plea deal that saved her from having to testify. But 18-year-old Ashley Reeves did not hear an apology from Samson Shelton, who expressed no remorse.

As a part of the deal he made with prosecutors, Shelton (pictured in mug shot), 27, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree murder and was immediately sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In a videotaped statement to police, Shelton said he and Reeves had sex one time and tried to end their relationship while driving around with Reeves on April 27, 2006. Shelton said he unbuckled her seat belt and tried to push her out of the car after she became upset.

Shelton told investigators that he heard her neck pop and her body went limp. He drove to a city park and carried her into the woods "to make it look like she got strangled there."

He tightened his belt around her neck until he heard a gurgle. He left her for dead in woods so thick rescuers had to use chain saws to access 30 hours later when she was found by searchers.

Rescuers first thought Reeves was dead; she could not move and her eyes were glassy. When she took a breath, they realized for the first time she was still alive.

Ashley went through months of intense rehabilitation. She had to learn how to swallow, talk and move her head and arms. She recently graduated from high school, however, and plans to attend college.

"I'm glad it's over with," Reeves told reporters after the sentencing. "I just want to continue with my life and not worry about it."

Earlier Articles:
Samson Shelton Released on $800,000 Bond
Grand Jury to Hear Ashley Reeves' Case
Left-for-Dead Girl Still in Serious Condition
Missing Illinois Teen Found, Teacher Faces Charges

Discuss This Case

See Also:
'Miracle' Girl Sees Attacker Sentenced

Photo: Police Mug Shot


June 25, 2008 at 1:30 pm
(1) Maxx says:

1. Feminists have created sex crime punishments so severe they have become the sole motive for murdering and concealing the bodies of thousands of Women and Children who otherwise would have been allowed to live. Vilifying a mans penis in Court is such a irresistable high for feminists they don’t care they are responsible for the “MOTIVE TO MURDER”.

2.Sexual predators used to practice ‘CATCH & RELEASE’ because the punishment did not pit the Predators future and freedom against the Victims life.

3 The punisments for “SEX CRIMES” including the consentual sex between this Student and Teacher have become so severe the Predator will murder the Victim to avoid being caught. No sexual Predator should ever be afraid to let the victim live.

4. This mans actions are unforgivable! The trust he had with this Woman/girl/student was near sacrosanct.

June 25, 2008 at 2:03 pm
(2) Joel says:

It’s the miracle girl. I wish she would be my miracle girl. XOXO

June 25, 2008 at 7:30 pm
(3) Susanne says:

It’s genetics, NOT A MIRACLE , that allowed this young Woman to survive and regenerate nerve tissue injuries that put 90+% of single breeding Women in the grave or wheel chair for life. Now that she’s famous she’ll have no trouble choosing a mate that has “life force genes” equal (or near equal) to her own. Damn fine job by the Parents and Grand Parents Great Grand Parents Great Great Graet Grand Parents in mate selection. “THIS GAL TAKES A LICKING AND KEEPS ON TICKING” !

June 28, 2008 at 12:05 pm
(4) Jackie says:

Lunatic Fringe
I know you’re out there
You’re in hiding
And you hold your meetings
We can hear you coming
We know what you’re after
We’re wise to you this time
We won’t let you kill the laughter

Lunatic Fringe
In the twilight’s last gleaming
This is open season
But you won’t get too far
We know you’ve got to blame someone
For your own confusion
But we’re on guard this time
Against your final solution

We can hear you coming
(We can hear you coming)
No you’re not going to win this time
We can hear the footsteps
(We can hear the footsteps)
Way out along the walkway
Lunatic Fringe
We know you’re out there
But in these new dark ages
There will still be light

An eye for an eye
Well, before you go under
Can you feel the resistance
Can you feel the…thunder

ŠTom Cochrane

June 19, 2010 at 3:58 am
(5) margot says:

Hi Ashley,,i’m from australia and only saw your devestating plight on a crime show today–19th june 2010. oh my god honey,, how did you survive– yet i know you ask yourself this same question???? as you don’t remember what happened & thank god you didn;t — in my eyes you are a very STRONG person,, well done you–especially for your parent’s and friends…… you are such an inspiration– may you be blessed with a loving husband now and a tribe of children
good health to you always

June 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(6) Nick says:

I just learned about this story today after watching On the Case with Paula Zahn on ID TV. Wow, is all that I can say. More power to Ashley! She’s one strong person.

January 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm
(7) Brian says:

I do not believe the punishment is severe enough. Seriously as an adult people to exhibit self control if you cannot there is no place for you in society. Wasting money by letting this guy live in prison for 20 years is not except able. There are much more conventional ways to deal with this guy. All of which end in his end. If the punishment actually does fit the crime we would not have this current dilemma. This man went way out of his way to make sure she was dead. Left her in the woods like trash and rushed out to go line dancing and flirt with other students. Execution would send a very loud and clear message to any chomo having thoughts of living out his or her fantasy.

February 15, 2012 at 12:19 am
(8) rdrpxlnlne says:

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February 29, 2012 at 8:44 am
(9) Nancy German says:

Just saw your story on OWN. You are such a strong and determined woman. I couldnt watch Sam’s mom. I understand he is her son, but good lord…Look at the camera, open yours eyes to what your son confessed to doing to Ashley. His sentence is not near enough. He should be tortured and left in the woods. But Ashley is stronger than most, and I know she holds no bad feelings towards him. God Bless Ashley…..you are an inspiration to us all!

July 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm
(10) jason says:

ashley is not hot at all. in fact looking at her face, im reminded of a horse…

July 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm
(11) Geri says:

Ashley, God has blessed you. It is so awesome that you are alive and well. People like Sam have no business sharing this earth with the rest of us. But in prison he will get the punishment he deserves at the hands of other inmates. His mother needs to wake up, this is YOUR SON. He did this and you need to wake up and see that inside he is a monster. Ashley: You are a beautiful person inside and out to not hold any anger or animosity towards him. You will go on and be a successful person in life. God Bless and Good Luck….

July 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm
(12) Cindy says:

Ashley- Not sure whether you still check this website, but wanted to contact you with words of praise. Just finished viewing a rerun of the Paula Zahn piece on your brave victory. I was in awe you actually servived this ordeal, and the strength you showed to retake your life and future. You appear to be a very sweet, sensitive, intelligent gal and I wish the very best future for you.


P.S Your vocabulary and thoughtful dialogue amazed me. If only more people had half of your intelligence. Don’t take this wrong, but you would think 75% of the youth suffered irreversable brain damage!

August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm
(13) edze says:

its really a hartbreaking story ,i wish you all the best to recover from all of this greetings from holland

August 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm
(14) JOEL says:

I just seen your story on discovery channel. I really wish you the best of luck with everything in the world. I really hope that he is getting his in prison. I seen the video when they found you and its a miracle. 30 hrs after breaking your next u remained alive and make a full recovery. Wow.

August 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm
(15) vonny says:

Maxx, you sound like a predator on the loose. I hope by now that you are safely behind bars where other predators can practice catch and release with you!!
Jason, you sound like a horse’s arse.
This young lady is a miracle. I hope she never reads your ridiculous and twisted comments. Grow up, these are real people you are writing about.

August 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm
(16) N says:

first of all, what is a 17 yr old girl doing with a 26 yr old man to begin with?

where was her parental guidance?

October 23, 2012 at 10:18 pm
(17) kelli says:

To the young man Jason (10) who left the comment that Ashley’s face reminds him of a horse, I say this….you are nothing more than a horse’s a**.

October 24, 2012 at 6:10 am
(18) DCZipster says:

What a horrible thing to happen to such a beautiful, amazing young woman. I hope the scum-sucking dirtbag that perpetrated this heinous act is subjected to daily terror in prison. He should’ve been fed into a wood chipper feet first.

To the first poster, Maxx, you are a Class A moron, not to mention an ignorant, insensitive jackass. There was nothing consentual. The predator wanted to kill Ashley, but Ashley wanted to live. Period.

And to Jason, please do the world a favor and put on a walkman, turn the volume WAAAAY up and take a nice long walk on the nearest railroad tracks.

February 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm
(19) Bianca says:

The truth is the truth, shes not amazing looking but that has nothing to do with what she went through, it was a horrible thing. Shes a strong person and i commend her.

April 20, 2013 at 4:35 am
(20) Celeste says:

I have watched this show this morning on Paula Zahn and I am totally in admiration of this young ladies courage to survive such an ordeal but more than anything that she is is not bitter and twisted and has forgiven the perpetrator. What a remarkable woman! Greetings from South Africa.

April 22, 2013 at 9:26 am
(21) samantha says:


For the first time 20 April 2013 I watched the Paula show. GOD WAS WITH YOU and is stilL WITH YOU brave dear lady!

ALl glory to God and all praise to him for giving u that fighting spirit.
As for your perpetrator thats the work of the devil! LET HIM continue to take him to the burning pit of hell!!

stay strong angel.

June 17, 2013 at 10:05 am
(22) T says:

To N she was 17 and at that age who didnt do stupid stuff? He was a adult and should have known better. He was talking to all those high school girls Why because they’re young and dumb and are easily controlled.Your blaming the victim and that’s not right.

June 21, 2013 at 9:25 am
(23) Kyle says:

#1 – Maxx – Your pretzel logic reminds me of my father (a child molester) who claimed it was an older man’s duty to teach young girls about sex. To suggest that sexual predators “back in the day” were nice guys who practiced “catch & release” provides an insight to your nonchalant attitude about abusing women. Women are not fish Maxx, they are human beings. You seem to possess a “no harm no foul” attitude so long as the perpetrator let’s the victim go after abusing them. Your claim that the modern day rapist is “forced” to murder his victims as the result of radical feminists who want to put a man’s “penis” on trial is really twisted; you have a sick mind. Your opening comment about Ashley being “hot” reveals your condescending view of women in general; to you women are objects, not human beings. Your final comment represents the inner-mind of a sexual predator in the wake of an orgasmic conquest. The brief moment where the criminal shows the faintest spark of humanity and privately laments their evil deeds. The brief moment of remorse is quickly replaced by the urge to repeat the process, just like Sam Shelton, who went line dancing shortly after his horrific act, and preying on his next victim. Maxx, you are a selfish and underdeveloped neanderthal who likely lacked any guidance from a decent and strong male role model during your non-developmental years. I hope investigators have tracked your IP address and keep tabs on you. You are a scary individual who regrettably represents far too large a segment of society.

June 21, 2013 at 9:28 am
(24) Kyle says:

#10 – Jason, you are a shallow and disgraceful pig of a human being and only separated from Maxx by your inferior intellectual ability.

#16 – “N” It is the parental guidance of Sam Shelton that is question here, not the parental guidance of Ashley Reeves. Sam Shelton used his charisma and authority to charm young girls to feed his selfish predatory sickness. As a teacher, Sam Shelton was entrusted to provide mentoring and teaching skills that benefit those in his care. Sam Shelton abused his position and authority to prey upon the trusting nature of a decent and innocent young teen. How dare you condemn Ashley’s parents and focus on her upbringing while ignoring Sam Shelton’s parents.

June 21, 2013 at 9:33 am
(25) Kyle says:

Sam Shelton, you got off easy. You are narcissistic, selfish, and revolting. The fact that your mother would even allow herself to be on the show and defend you gives viewers a glimpse into the environment that allowed you to become the creep you are. She is as selfish as you, evidenced by her focus on how these events have affected her. Sam, your patronizing letter to your mommy praising her for winning the “best mom” award ignores the obvious – “best mom’s” don’t raise monsters like you and then defend them in the face of overwhelming evidence. At the very least a good mother would deny to appear on the show or if she does, she joins the rest of us in condemning you and apologizes for letting you crawl out of her womb. She deserves you for a son but the rest of us deserve to be spared the both of you.

I know from growing up in a child molester’s home that you will never change and during your incarceration your disease will only infect you deeper. I truly hope you never exist as a free person. If and when you are released, society will again be forced to deal with your future horrible acts. Your confession and willingness to lead police to Ashley before she expired says nothing decent about you. Instead, it is a testimony to the skilled interrogation of the detectives. You thought you were the smartest guy in the room and tried to lie your way out but were cornered like a rat and eventually knew there was no escape.

June 21, 2013 at 9:38 am
(26) Kyle says:

Ashley, you are inspiration to me. You are a beautiful human being who is strong and an inspiration to many people. Your mother is also a wonderful person and it is easy to see you are so much like her. Thank you for showing the rest of us the way. Some have posted that a god was with you but excuse me for saying this – I can’t fathom a loving and caring god allowing this to happen to a beautiful person like you. If that is part of god’s plan, it isn’t a very good plan. I hope my atheism and comments do not offend you. If you are religious, please understand that my admiration is for you and I see no evidence of a higher power here. I only see there are good and bad people truly driven by free will, not as puppets fulfilling some great plan by a hidden and mysterious creator. If we truly have free will then these are the acts of humans and god plays no part. If we are fulfilling god’s plan, then there is no free will and we are just toys in god’s weird playpen. You are one of the great people and I give you the credit for enduring and surviving this terrible event. I am glad to see you making a recovery and the very best to you, your family, friends and your future.

August 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm
(27) David Rumore says:

Give him to me. Justice would be served shortly after I fed him his balls.

October 10, 2013 at 9:55 am
(28) Allie says:

Wow, you break someones neck, destroy their life and leave her for dead, and you get 17 years. Are you freaking kidding me. The jerk should never see the light of day. He is a DANGER TO SOCIETY STUPID JUDGE. ARE YOU SERIOUS. THIS GUY IS A MONSTER. HE DAMAGES THE GIRLS BRAIN AND HE HAS A RAGE PROBLEM AND SHOULD NEVER BE OUT.

October 10, 2013 at 10:03 am
(29) allie says:

The best mama. saying a murderer is a good man. You got to be kidding lady. To deny the evidence and think your child could ever do this and only worry about his reputation makes me say how sick your whole family is…..
He breaks a girls neck screws up her brain and get freaking 17 years and you mam have the sea of DENIAL.

Your son should never see the light of day. To know what your son SAM SHELTON did and say he is good you are beyond sick.

October 10, 2013 at 10:14 am
(30) iMichael R Ryan says:

I hope Ashley NEVER gives up!! Only through determination, help from family and friends, AND a LOT of luck can you come back fully. In my case I also have a strong Catholic background and DO a lot of conventional praying. I was once a total quadriplegic and at the mercy of nursing homes. I am now totally independent without any help, starting to walk again. My ABSOLUTE Best Wishes! Look me up on face book. Mike

October 10, 2013 at 11:27 am
(31) shen says:

I just seen this on ID channel..Ashley, you are an amazing girl and I wish u the best!! Now, for that disgusting pig that calls herself a mother of a “good” man..you literally turn my stomach. I could barely watch you spew that filth he wrote to you. Something tells me that you spoiled and smothered him with ” poisonous mother love” that ALLOWED him to act in this manner. Normally we cannot blame parents for theactions of their children, but in this case– your refusal to see him for the monster he is speaks volumes! You go ahead and gloat over your mother of the year award..mother of a disgusting peice of filth puke that does not deserve to draw breath. You do realize that he is getting just what he gave, everyday in prison..from all the other “good sons” locked up with him. The very thought warms my heart!

May 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm
(32) john bowler says:

well done Ashley, you are one very strong girl. I HOPE YOU RECOVER fuly .You deserve it with what you went through to now live life to the full. hopefully to marry and have children.but if you ever come to England do pay me a visit just to give you a hug and to say WELL DONE.

May 8, 2014 at 8:06 am
(33) marra says:

Maxx, please tell me why you would blame feminists for causing murders? How about blaming the Pedophile MEN who can’t keep it in their pants. That’s where the blame goes Dumbass.

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