Teacher Who Choked 17-Year-Old Student and Left Her in Woods After Believing She Was Dead Is Released on Parole

Samson Shelton, now 44, admitted to trying to kill 17-year-old Ashley Reeves in 2006



Samson Shelton
  • In 2006, Samson Shelton, a teacher and wrestler, admitted to authorities that he had had sex with 17-year-old Ashley Reeves and later choked her, tossed her body in a wooded area in Belleville, Ill., and left her for dead

  • Investigators found Reeves — barely alive — in Citizens Park around 2 a.m. April 29, 2006

  • On Monday, April 22, Shelton was released on parole after serving about 17 years of his 20-year sentence in connection with the attack on Reeves

The teacher who became the subject of a Lifetime movie after admitting to trying to kill a teenager with whom he had been intimate with is a free man.

Samson Shelton, 44, was released on parole Monday, April 22, per Illinois Department of Corrections online records.

Shelton was booked into Illinois River Correctional Center in June 2007, per his inmate records, after being convicted of the 2006 attempted murder of Ashley Reeves, then 17.

At the time, Shelton was a driver’s education teacher and a professional wrestler called “The Teacher,” The Belleville News-Democrat reports.

The teenager had been reported missing in April 2006, and Shelton became the target of the 30-hour missing persons case, when law enforcement learned that she had been involved with the then 26-year-old, The Belleville News-Democrat reports.

Shelton had previously taught at a middle school where she had once been a student, CBS News reported at the time.

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While being questioned on camera by investigators, Reeves said the two had had sex one time and had subsequently gotten into an altercation while he was driving, per the outlet, which reported that he claimed the fight occurred when he tried to put an end to their encounters.

Placing her in a chokehold, he broke the teenager’s neck, and her body went limp, per KSDK.

Per CBS News’s 2007 reporting, he discarded her body in a wooded area at Citizens Park in Belleville, telling investigators he wanted “to make it look like she got strangled there.” To enhance the effect, he pulled his belt around her neck.

Leaving her in the park, investigators said Shelton went line dancing at a country bar, per The Belleville News-Democrat.

Following his confession, investigators went into the woods to recover Reeves’s body — but found her alive instead, per KSDK.

Suffering from brain trauma, Reeves had to relearn how to swallow, walk and talk, per the outlet.

In a phone interview with KSKD, Reeves, who is now in her 30s, said she wants to move on from the incident.

Per his inmate records, Shelton will serve three years on parole, ending April 22, 2027.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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