When Lisa Shuttleworth dropped her 9-year-old son, Ryan, off at school on the morning of September 4, 2003, she told him she loved him and would pick him up at the bus stop that afternoon. Ryan waved at his mother and then headed for the door of his Beech Island, South Carolina school. He had no idea that he had just seen his mother for the last time.
When Ryan got out of school that afternoon, he got onto his school bus as he always did. He expected to see his mother waiting for him when he got off the bus at his usual stop, but there was no sign of her. Undaunted, Ryan walked home alone. When he got to his house, his mother’s greenish-blue Pontiac Grand Am was parked in the driveway, along with a truck that Lisa had borrowed from a family friend that morning.
Ryan tried to go in the front door but found that it was locked; he knocked and called out for his mother but got no response. As he was standing on the front steps, the owner of the borrowed truck arrived at the house, expecting to simply pick up his truck. Like Ryan, he had expected Lisa to be home.
Unsure what to do, the man decided to wait with Ryan for a few minutes to see if Lisa returned. He thought she might have gone off to visit one of her neighbors and had simply lost track of time. He eventually got tired of waiting and decided to leave, but he didn’t want to leave Ryan alone. He knew that Lisa’s parents lived nearby; he walked Ryan to their home and told them what was going on.
Lorraine Mabrey had a key to her daughter’s house. Worried that Lisa might be in need of assistance, she and her husband, Jerry, immediately went to the property and let themselves in. They quickly checked the entire house, but there was no sign of Lisa. Her home was neat and tidy, and nothing appeared to be out of place. There was nothing to indicate that any kind of struggle had taken place inside the home.
In the kitchen, Lorraine found a pot of tea sitting on top of the stove; there was a napkin wrapped around the handle, indicating Lisa had likely taken it off the burner while it was still hot. She had apparently left before drinking any of the tea; the pot appeared to be full and there were no cups on the table or in the sink.
Although there was nothing in the house to indicate that Lisa had been injured or abducted, her mother was concerned. Lisa’s world revolved around her children, and Lorraine knew that Lisa never would have voluntarily missed picking her son up at the bus stop. She and Jerry began calling everyone they could think of who knew Lisa, but no one was able to provide any clues to her whereabouts.
Lisa’s 14-year-old daughter, Krystina, had spent the night at a friend’s house and planned on going back there after school; she had called her mother around 7:15 am to let her know what her plans were. Lisa asked her to call home once she got to her friend’s house that afternoon, and Krystina agreed. She tried to call her mother shortly after arriving at her friend’s house, but there was no answer. She wasn’t immediately concerned, but after several more unsuccessful attempts she started to get worried and decided to get a ride home. She was startled when her grandmother told her that her mother was missing.
No one in the family slept well that night. When they hadn’t heard anything from Lisa by the next morning, they knew something was seriously wrong. Lorraine called the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and reported her daughter missing.
Initially, law enforcement didn’t take much interest in the case. Lisa was an adult, she was free to come and go as she pleased. As they learned more about Lisa, however, detectives realized that it would have been completely out of character for her to simply disappear without her children. They started interviewing everyone who knew Lisa, hoping to piece together a timeline of her movements on the day she went missing.
Most of the people detectives interviewed were unable to provide any helpful information, but an acquaintance did recall seeing Lisa around 8:00 am on the day she vanished. Lisa had been at a gas station on Pine Log Road in Beech Island; she was driving the truck she had borrowed and was sitting in it reading a newspaper. The truck was idling at one of the gas pumps, though it’s unclear if Lisa had purchased any gas. To her friend, it looked as if she had been waiting for someone.
One of Lisa’s friends had spoken to her on the phone around 10:00 am; Lisa had been at her house at that time. She mentioned that she was expecting a guest, but didn’t provide any details. Detectives were unable to uncover the identity of Lisa’s guest; it’s unknown if this guest was a male or female.
None of Lisa’s family members or friends spoke to her after 10:00 am; a couple of people tried to call her after this but got no answer. Whatever happened to her must have taken place sometime between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
Investigators combed through Lisa’s home but found nothing to suggest that she had been harmed there. Nothing had been taken from the home; if Lisa had left voluntarily, she didn’t take any clothing or other belongings. Aside from Lisa herself, all that was missing from the home was her purse. Oddly, her driver’s license and Social Security card — items that she routinely carried in her purse — were left behind.
Detectives found nothing in Lisa’s background that made her a likely candidate for running away. The 34-year-old divorcee was raising her two children on her own, and she loved being a mother. Although she had previously worked as a secretary and a bookkeeper, she was unemployed at the time of her disappearance. Despite being out of work, she always made sure that her children were well-fed and healthy. Both of her kids described her as being a wonderful mother who always put her children first.
Lorraine had been certain from the start that Lisa had been a victim of foul play, and it didn’t take long for detectives to admit that they agreed with her. The week following her disappearance, they conducted several physical searches for Lisa, using both bloodhounds and cadaver dogs to comb through the area surrounding her home. Unfortunately, they found nothing that brought them closer to locating Lisa.
Lorraine and Jerry believed that Lisa was abducted from outside of her home; this would explain why her house was not in disarray and there were no signs of a struggle. They were certain that Lisa would have put up a fight if she had known what was about to happen; it seems likely that she was taken off-guard by someone she knew and trusted. They have some suspicions about who is responsible for this crime, but admit that they have no evidence to prove it.
The lack of evidence in this case has made it difficult for law enforcement to determine exactly what happened, but they believe that there are people in the community who have the information they need to solve the case. Investigators have made several pleas for assistance from the public, but to date no one has been willing to talk.
Lorraine and her husband were awarded custody of both of Lisa’s children; both Ryan and Krystina have grown up to be adults that their mother would be proud of. Although they would like to believe that their mother is still alive, they know that she would never have walked away from them voluntarily. Detectives routinely review Lisa’s case, hoping that they will one day be able to provide her family with some sort of closure.
Lisa Shuttleworth was 34 years old when she went missing in 2003. She has blue eyes and brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 102 pounds. She was last seen wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants. If you have any information about Lisa, please contact the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office at 800–922–9709.