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Updated: Monday, 04 Mar 2013, 11:36 AM EST
Published : Monday, 23 May 2011, 7:06 PM EDT
GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) - For the first time, Shannon Gore's mother is speaking out about the unspeakable horror her daughter is accused of.
Shannon and Brian Gore are accused of killing one child and starving another to near death.
"As mothers we blame ourselves for everything, so if someone wants to hide something from you they can do it. Obviously I've learned that lesson," said Karen, who didn't want to use her last name.
With help from Shannon's mother, WAVY.com created the following timeline into what went wrong. Much of this information has been reconstructed in hind-site after Karen realized the truth.
In 2003, Brian Gore was living in a car, and Karen, feeling sorry for him, asked him to come live in her home with her husband and daughter Shannon.
Eight months later, Brian and Shannon moved out and into a trailer nearby.
"I thought they were friends and roommates, but nothing more," Karen said.
Eventually, they moved again, into a mobile home given to Brian by his father. "They had a free home, and only had to pay hook-up fees."
Again, Karen believed Brian and Shannon were just roommates. She didn't know Shannon was pregnant.
On November 4, 2004, Shannon gave birth to a daughter. Karen said she never knew about the baby.
Why did Brian and Shannon keep the pregnancy a secret? "She was 17, and he was five years older. It was young love, and she was trying to protect him from a possible statutory rape charge," Karen said.
Brian Gore told investigators the daughter was born at home and there is no birth certificate.
Almost three years later, on August 3, 2007, Brian and Shannon had another child, a son. Investigators believe, once again, Shannon gave birth at home. Again, no birth certificate, and according to police, the child died in late 2007. However, it is possible this child may have died in early 2008.
In court documents obtained by WAVY.com, the Gloucester Sheriff's Office investigator wrote, "Mr. Gore states that when the child was approximately 7-months-old and in his care, he began having breathing difficulties. Mr. Gore did not summon medical attention, thus resulting in the child's death."
Brian allegedly left the mobile home, and the dead child, and went to Shannon's job to break the news to her. Shannon raced home. "When he died she threw herself on the bassinet and asked god to take her,' Karen said. Karen did not know about the child until recently when Shannon told her what she did when she came home. "She would rock the child in a rocking chair, holding the baby that had died...for three days."
It would be April 29, 2011 in his second interview with investigators that Brian told them where to find the wooden box with human remains. Sure enough, 10 feet from where Brian and Shannon slept - the box with the little boy. An autopsy is pending, but useful information in cause of death is unlikely.
Shannon Gore's Attorney Ron Smith said, "She gave birth to her son at home. Then seven months passed and the family pictures would indicate the baby and the daughter were healthy. There are no signs of pictures that show neglect."
Karen said, in hind-sight, after their baby boy's death, Shannon and Brian both traveled to a dark place with their daughter no one knew about.
Karen added, "Where do you go to grieve? You don't have a baby that I can tell everyone about because you aren't married...I don't think she ever moved on emotionally, no."
On January 24, 2009, Brian and Shannon got married, and 18 months later Shannon got pregnant. The couple had difficulties conceiving. Karen said, "I don't know for sure, but it may have been from the stress and sadness of losing the first son."
This pregnancy was not kept secret because this time the Gores were married. "She took the pregnancy test here at my home...it was positive...we were screaming, and jumping up and down for joy. We were ecstatic because we were having grandchildren."
Karen bought all things baby, even a pillow that said "#1 Mom."
On March 23, 2011, Shannon gave birth to a boy. It turns out the son was named after the first son that died. Karen didn't know this until after Shannon's arrest.
April 28, 2011, Gloucester County Sheriff's investigators got a search warrant for the Gore's home to investigate an unrelated burglary looking for gold bouillon. The victim who works at a Pawn Shop paid $2,000 for the gold. Shannon Gore signed the purchase agreement. We are told Gore's involvement in this will be minimal. Investigators took nothing of significance in the search warrant return.
On that day, investigators found much more than gold. They found the Gore's alleged evil deeds in one of the rooms. According to court documents, a 6-year-old was found in a crib with a top on it, so she couldn't get out. She was nude, living in her own feces, fed pop tarts twice a day. She was suffering from bed sores, severe starvation, and so hungry detectives saw the child eating the flaky skin from her forehead.
Investigators think the 6-year-old was
being starved to death, and it's possible the Gores were deliberately trying to make their "lie" go away by death. We asked Shannon Gore's Attorney Ron Smith, "In your own mind you can't explain it to yourself, can you?" Smith responded, "Of course not. How can you? That's the black hole in this case."
On April 28, Karen did not hear from Shannon, so early in the morning hours of April 29, she sent her husband over. A neighbor told Shannon's father, "That Brian has been arrested and Shannon went in an ambulance with the baby." The baby was the one born March 23. Karen knew about this child, because he was born after the Gore's were married and not kept hidden from the world.
Karen first learned the truth over the phone when a detective asked her how many children her daughter has, "I said, one...I was blown away by the question...she has the one son, and he said 'no...she has a daughter.' I said, no, absolutely not. No way. She could not have a daughter. I have seen her nearly every day of her life, and there's no way she could have concealed a pregnancy." Karen could not have been more wrong. We asked Karen, "does this sound like your daughter?" Karen answered, "No...I can't explain it. I really can't. I can't wrap my head around this beautiful girl I raised, and I can't grasp it," Karen said as she cried.
Karen has spoken with Shannon in jail every day by phone. She has not gone to visit her. "I just can't. It's too emotional. It's too sad. I can't emotionally do it, but this week I will go visit her."
When she asked Shannon to explain how she could have done this, Karen said, "Her answer is always just tears. I don't believe she has an understanding. It's like she shut down after her first son died."
Looking back, Karen said she noticed a depression with Shannon around that time of the son's death, mentioned something to her, but Shannon dismissed it as nothing. Shannon's defense team who has hired a psychiatrist will say it was something significant that changed Shannon. "I think he will find...that something went terribly wrong in her mind after the son died," Karen said.
Karen has become a quick study of all she didn't know, and has learned a lot since Shannon's arrest. Karen said she visited the mobile home while the daughter may have been there.
"Did you ever hear a child crying?" Karen answered, "No." It was Karen who decorated the nursery for the newborn.
In the next room, the 6-year-old was near death. Karen said, "That door was closed and I never heard anything. I never heard a cry...they had a dog in the house and there was a smell, but I thought it was the dog."
We asked her, Do you think it was the dog or the daughter? "I don't know. I've asked that myself, and I don't know. We wish we would have opened the door, and had she been in there I would have kicked every door down. I would have kicked every door down."
As she looks back, Karen remembers Shannon bringing the 6-year-old over to her house. "She said it was Brian's cousin's little girl. I had no reason to doubt it. I had no idea that child was my grandchild...I did say to her she looks a lot like you when you were a baby. It wasn't significant to me because it wasn't my granddaughter."
Karen said she often called before coming over to Shannon's mobile home, and Brian was never there,"I would call and say I'm coming over, and if they were there Brian could have easily taken her out of the home."
Why would Shannon have kept all these secrets, "I've asked her...she just cries. I think she's in total denial. I don't think she gets it."
In many ways Karen and her husband have died too. No access to the 6-year-old or the 2-month-old grandchildren, "We haven't done anything. I feel like we are being punished. We love them, and we want to see them and know they are okay." That is unlikely to happen. The 6-year-old remains in stable condition at CHKD, and the son born in March is in foster care.
Karen thinks she and her husband will eventually move, and blames her daughter's lies and secrets on immaturity and shame.
"I didn't want to disappoint you...I said I would never be disappointed, look how happy your father and I were when we found out about the grandchild." Karen said. "Had Shannon said these five words, the story would be different, 'Mom, this is your granddaughter'...instead I feel like my whole family is dead."
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