In February of 2008, Karen Matthews of West Yorkshire, England reported her 9-year-old daughter Shannon missing. After 24 days, Shannon was found in the treacherous care of Karen’s boyfriend’s uncle, Michael Donovan. Reports suggested that Shannon had often been drugged to keep her subdued, even in the months leading up to her disappearance, and that Michael had left her tethered under a bed in the apartment where he held her captive. 

An investigation determined that Karen and Michael had cooked up the scheme, hoping to get money out of the ordeal. The plan was that Michael would release Shannon near a grocery store, and then, moments later, would “discover” her. Then, he would take her to the police and collect the reward for her safe return and split it with Karen. So, sure, not the greatest plan, but one that excelled in cruelty and was truly traumatic for many involved. 

Michael Donovan (Image: West Yorkshire PA)
Michael Donovan (Image: West Yorkshire PA)

Karen and Michael were tried together and each sentenced to eight years. It was determined that Karen’s boyfriend and Michael’s nephew, Craig Meehan, had nothing to do with the twisted kidnapping scheme. However, during the course of the subsequent investigation, he was found to have child pornography on his computer. Whoops!

Naturally, peopled hate Karen. Shannon was only one of seven of her children, none of whom had a particularly great life. She was branded the world’s worst mother and excoriated in the court of public opinion. And Karen wasted a lot of resources and money with her sick game. The search for Shannon had been massive, involving over 300 law enforcement officers and detectives.

Shannon Matthews (Image: Family Photo)
Shannon Matthews (Image: Family Photo)

Karen is back in the public eye as she’s been out of prison for a grip and isn’t doing so well. The Mirror reports that she turned to God in prison and has now quit drinking, stopped swearing and joined a Bible group to meet friends. However, she is unemployed and has been ostracized from the family and friends she once had. Every time she gets an interview, potential employers discover who she is and instead pick an applicant who didn’t kidnap her own kid. She lives on a mere 25 pounds a week and wishes everyone would just forgive her for being such a total shit. 

Image: West Yorkshire PA