Soldier vanishes under mysterious circumstances; Army, family seek tips
10/24/2016 2:15 pm PDT
UPDATE Jan. 25, 2017: Skeletal remains found in Robertson County have been positively identified as Shadow McClaine, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The remains were found on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 at Exit 19 on Interstate 24 in Robertson County, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer Susan Niland said.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joined the Army CID investigation of the case in November at the request of 19th District Attorney General John Carney, Niland said in a written statement issued Wednesday.
Is Army Private First Class Shadow McClaine missing in action, or has she gone AWOL?
Her car was found abandoned in a Nashville parking lot 70 miles from home and 11 days after she didn't show up for duty at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Now for more than a month, Shadow has either been living in the shadows, or has disappeared altogether. Her heartbroken family is desperate to find her.
Some say Shadow bugged out and ran; others say that her enemies were closing in.
Shadow McClaine enlisted in the Army, trained and served as a field air-traffic controller, and deployed to front lines in Afghanistan and South Korea. But her last battlefields may have been here at home.
Shadow's mother, London Wegrzyn, says those conflicts began when Shadow met another soldier and fell in love.
"They were dating for like a year, I think," said Wegrzyn. "Never spoke to him, never seen him in person, I've only seen him through photographs."
The romance is fast and furious, followed by an impulse decision.
"I heard, 'Mom, are you sitting down?'" said Wegrzyn. "She was like, 'I got married.'"
But Shadow says the honeymoon is over almost as soon as it begins.
"For the first maybe month or so everything was fine, and then things started happening and I would get texts that would make me angry," said Wegrzyn.
Shadow's stories from the front lines of marriage are not good.
"She would find like condoms in his clothes when she was doing laundry, just things like that," said Wegrzyn.
After five months, London Wegrzyn says it's Shadow's husband that wants out. But Shadow won't retreat.
"It was almost like he had to push her out to get the divorce 'cause she would always tell me, 'Mom, I don't get married I didn't say those vows just to five months later, you know..."
When Shadow's husband leaves, Wegrzyn says Shadow is furious. Shadow reportedly takes her hair-trigger temper online, posting on various adultery websites. The fights get ugly, with commenters taking sides in the bitter divorce war. Some posts drag her ex through the mud. Other posts expose the women who allegedly broke up the marriage, listing their addresses and calling them, among other things, home-wreckers.
Then, Shadow takes her obsession too far. She's arrested for stalking one of her targets, a waitress at a Hooters restaurant named Tiffany. But Tiffany says Shadow got the wrong one.
"I mean there's like eight Tiffanys that worked at Hooters at that time," said this Tiffany.
This Tiffany claims she has no idea who Shadow's ex-husband is. And shadow's jealousy turned her life upside down.
"I guess the story is that Shadow went through his pants or something and found a receipt from Hooters, and I guess his waitress's name was Tiffany, so she found the first Tiffany that worked at Hooters, which is me," said this Tiffany. "I know she was stalking me. She tried to break into my Facebook, break into my emails, break into everything.
"Shadow first started talking about a Tiffany at Hooters, she actually tried to get me fired," Tiffany said.
Tiffany thinks shadow's hiding from the lawsuit Tiffany now has against her.
"I don't know where she is, but I think she's running," said Tiffany. "I think she will be found and I think she is going to get in a lot more trouble than she would have been."
"That's not Shadow," said London Wegrzyn. "That is not my daughter."
Wegrzyn says Shadow learned her lesson, and was putting trouble behind her.
"She was happy, she was moving on," said Wegrzyn. "She was focusing on getting out and coming home and going to school."
But trouble kept creeping back into Shadow's world.
Two days after Memorial Day, Shadow tells a friend someone was trying to kill her.
"She started seeing someone else and I'm thinking, 'OK, great,'" said London Wegrzyn, Shadow's mother.
But her friends say Shadow's past was sneaking up on her.
"At one point her brake lines were cut in the barracks parking lot," said Shadow's friend Trystan Harding. "Soldiers just -- they don't go around cutting people's brake lines. Somebody was out to hurt her."
Shadow reports the potentially deadly sabotage, taking a photo as proof. But her mother says the threats aren't taken seriously.
"When she went to people in her command, it was like it was shoved under the rug," said Wegrzyn. "Whoever she told they failed her, and now she's missing, and there's a possibility I won't see her again. So who's gonna pay for that?"
Three months later, Shadow agrees to house-sit for her friend Trystan Harding over the long Labor Day weekend.
"I texted her Thursday night and I was like 'Hey, we're leaving. You still good?' She had a copy of my house key, and she was like 'Yeah I'll be there tonight when I get off work,'" said Harding.
That Friday, September 2, 2016, Shadow's mom heard from her daughter for the last time.
"I got her last text, texted her 'good morning' the very next day, nothing," said Wegrzyn. "Call her. Phone goes straight to voicemail. And then, just nothing. And I knew, I knew something, something was going on."
Eleven days later, Shadow's silver Hyundai is located in Nashville. But Shadow is nowhere to be found.
"Her car was actually noticed because it was being ticketed, day in, day out," said London Wegrzyn. "And then, it got booted. And then they finally ran the plate and then, that's how they found the car."
For more than a month since, London Wegrzyn and Shadow's father Jesse have searched, prayed and wondered where their beloved daughter is.
"This not knowing is a hell that I don't wish on anyone," said Wegrzyn.
Crime Watch Daily retraces Shadow McClaine's last-known steps, starting from when she left her barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentcuky. And we're using just one "virtual" breadcrumb. It comes from an online smartphone game that Shadow loved, called "Ingress." When played, it marks the user's location in the real world.
On the Friday before Labor Day at 6:17 p.m., Shadow's phone "pings" on Providence Boulevard in Clarksville. There's a small motel and a pawn shop on the corner. Shadow's "missing" flyers are posted on the windows, but no one here has seen her.
The only other clue to Shadow McClaine's whereabouts comes 11 days after she goes missing, 70 miles away in a parking lot in Nashville.
"She wouldn't leave her car here. I'm sorry she wouldn't. She just wouldn't," said London Wegrzyn.
London and Jesse say Shadow had no reason to come all the way to Nashville. And that's what frightens them.
"There's no reason for her to be here," said Wegrzyn. "There's just nothing for a person of her age by herself, why would she park here? Where would she go? It just doesn't make any sense. None. There's no way she came here. I think her car was dumped here, I really do."
And the answers may come soon. In an interesting yet veiled development, the Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office just issued a statement exclusively to Crime Watch Daily:
"Two soldiers are currently being held as persons of interest in the disappearance of PFC Shadow McClaine. Fort Campbell Law Enforcement continue to investigate the matter. No further details are available at this time." -- Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office
Crime Watch Daily has also learned that Shadow's ex-husband is being held by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department on an out-of-county warrant.
Neither the Montgomery County Sheriff nor Fort Campbell will say what that warrant is for. And he has not been charged in connection with Shadow's disappearance.
Shadow's family hopes further details bring good news. Anything else is agony.