This blog post is a rerun. It originally appeared on my old blog on May 18, 2015. I’m posting it as/is. The featured photo is a screen shot of their mug shots in 2011.
My old friend and I used to ride horses together in Gloucester, Virginia, a pretty county not far from the historic triangle of Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Jamestown, Virginia. I didn’t like Gloucester that much when I was growing up, but I grew to appreciate it as I came of age. It was a place where serious crimes didn’t seem to happen too often. Of course, with the advent of the Internet and the growing population of Gloucester, true crime became more common. Now I keep up with this friend on Facebook. This morning, she posted a news article about a notorious crime that happened in our hometown.
On April 28, 2011, a Gloucester County deputy visited Brian and Shannon Gore’s home to investigate a burglary. While he was in the couple’s single wide trailer home, the deputy discovered a filthy, emaciated, naked little girl kept in a makeshift cage created by an upturned crib. She was covered in feces and unable to extend her legs owing to long term incarceration in the cage. The child didn’t speak and was observed eating her own skin.
Although she was about six years old, by the time she was found, the girl weighed only 15 pounds. When she was later examined by doctors, it was determined that she likely would have died of malnutrition within a week. The now ten year old has been adopted by loving parents. I don’t know how she’s doing physically and emotionally, but I do remember when this case was first brought to light, it was said that the child would never completely recover from the horrific abuse and malnutrition she had endured in her short life.
It was horrible enough to discover the starving little girl, who had apparently been malnourished for most of her six years. But police made an even more grisly discovery when they found the little girl’s brother, the extremely decomposed remains of an infant boy who was about seven months old when he perished. He, too, had been starved to death. Brian and Shannon Gore also had a third child, a relatively healthy baby boy who was about a month old when the police found him.
I am particularly interested in the circumstances that led the deputy to the Gores’ home. In April 2011, I was living in Sanford, North Carolina. In fact, we had just moved there on April 1. Tornados ripped through North Carolina and Virginia on April 16, 2011. I happened to be living about a quarter of a mile from one of the twisters that tore through Sanford, destroyed many homes, and decimated the local Lowe’s hardware store. Later that day, the same storms destroyed the school I attended in Gloucester, Virginia for 7th and 8th grades. They also ruined quite a few homes in Gloucester. Apparently, the Gores took advantage of the gaping holes left in some of the homes in Gloucester and decided to loot. One of the items stolen was a gold bullion, which Shannon Gore had sold at a local pawn shop. That was the event that led the police to her door and shattered the secret she and her husband had kept for seven years. In a weird way, those tornados on April 16, 2011 that devastated so many homes actually saved that little girl’s life.
Two years ago, the Gores were tried and convicted of starving their daughter when they abruptly entered guilty pleas. They are both serving thirty year sentences for malicious wounding and child abuse. Now, they are going to be tried for killing their infant son. Originally, they were not charged with his death because his remains were so decomposed that a cause of death could not immediately be determined. It took a special examination at the Smithsonian for investigators to conclude that the baby died of malnutrition. Experts at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History did a full anthropological analysis of the baby’s remains and could not find another reason for the baby’s death.
Like many people from my hometown and the surrounding areas, I was horrified by this case of extreme child abuse and neglect. While I never got the chance to really use my social work training the way I thought I would, I have done home visits in the role of a social worker. This is the kind of scene I could have stumbled on in my career. I am sure the police who were involved in this case are still haunted by it. Hell, just looking at the couple’s mug shots in the paper is traumatizing to me. Shannon Gore appears completely out of it– very tired or drugged or something. Brian Gore’s eyes look almost dead.
I still follow Gloucester’s news by reading The Daily Press, which is the regional newspaper that covers Gloucester and the surrounding areas. When this story was fresh news, it seemed like Brian and Shannon Gore’s mug shots showed up on my news feed every day. It got to the point at which those faces were kind of etched on my brain. I am particularly haunted by the tired, defeated look on Shannon Gore’s face. She looks like she’s so far removed from life… like she’s a walking dead person.
I wonder what led this couple to do what they did to their children. What caused them to have so little regard for the lives of their son and daughter? I can only imagine that had their third child spent much more time with them, he too would have died. Based on news reports, the girl was apparently fairly healthy for the first two years of her life, though no one knew she existed. What happened in 2006 that caused her parents to neglect and abuse her to the point at which she almost died of starvation while in their care? Brian Gore says he quit feeding her because he “got tired of it”. Why? He also claimed that she had cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. Doctors did not find evidence of either of these disorders. But then, it’s not as if the girl was ever taken to a real doctor. Indeed, she was apparently never even allowed out of the confines of that single wide trailer home. No one knew she or her brother existed, though the birth of the third child was apparently celebrated openly among neighbors.
At this writing, Shannon Gore hasn’t even reached her thirtieth birthday (circa 2015). She will almost surely never leave prison. I wonder if she’s still as cold and dead looking as she appears to be in her mug shot.
Another blogger has written a far more detailed post about this couple. I have written about all I can stomach for right now.
Below are the original comments from this post, which I am including because they’re interesting.
- UnknownSeptember 21, 2015 at 9:48 AM I knew Brian, and by knew him, I mean I grew up with him. From 4 years old until we graduated high school. We were friends. I knew his mother. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing what he did. You said Brian’s eyes looked dead…I felt that too. No emotion, like he just doesn’t care, no remorse. I don’t buy that these two didn’t know what to do. Brian was no idiot! They both had family and plenty of resources! I have two daughters of my own and thought of any harm to them makes my heart stop. These two are cold human beings and I firmly believe that crimes against children should be punishable by death. I pray the little heals from all this mentally and it lifts my heart to hear that she is now loved the way she deserves.
- knottySeptember 21, 2015 at 10:52 AM Thanks for the comment. It must give you the creeps to know that you grew up so close to such evil. I pray that poor child will recover as much as possible from her ordeal. It’s just such an awful story, especially when you consider the freak circumstances that led to her being discovered. A few more days and she probably would have died.
- UnknownFebruary 4, 2016 at 3:57 AM I was locked up with Shannon for a year dealing with my own mess. And the Shannon I met and did time with was nothing like the Shannon that has done what she’s done. Just saying. I wish no bad toward her she’s doing her time and I hope she is able to maintain because even after prison she still has to be haunted by what has happened…. Shannon keep ur head up, knowing the full story now of course I do not agree with your actions but it is not my place to pass judgment on you and whatever you where going thru that led you to allow such horrible things to happen to your children but good still lives you and so do I. You were so sweet and I really can’t believe that the Shannon I met is being locked away for so long for such a crime….
- UnknownFebruary 4, 2016 at 3:59 AMI Salisa nimmo made last comment Reply
- UnknownMay 31, 2016 at 8:44 AM Hi, my name is Charles at this time when this happened my wife Stephanie and Shannon were co-working managers at a fast food restaurant. Before this happened my wife and I actually went out to a club with Shannon and she never showed any care or concern that she had a daughter almost dead at her home as she had drinks and all smiles when guys tried to hit on her at the club. It saddened me that this happened because I love children and I would have helped had I known this was going on. Shame on you Shannon and Brian and hopefully God will forgive you.
- ShaneSeptember 12, 2018 at 6:31 PM I was working in Smithfield VA when this news story broke. I remember hearing that the little girl was at a local hospital, so some coworkers and I sent some money for clothes and other needed things. As I was leaving the area, I heard she was going to be adopted by a real nice family. Was there ever any other news of how she was doing?