The first mother

June 15, 2021 Ann Season 3 Episode 10
The first mother
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever heard a mystery and then you imagination took over?  Well you know I have.  

You asked for me to tell you another tale based on a real life mystery.  Like "the dogs day" and "out of body experience", this is the story my mind created from the mystery of missing baby Darren "Jason" Shannon.

This 47 year old mystery will get your mind whirling

Music credit "The Brotherhood" by Darren Curtis

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Why hello there my dears and welcome back to murderlaide the podcast, the place where you come for deep dark and comforting talk of murder blood guts and gore, although not comforting today, this episode is just deeply fucking unsettling.  You’re welcome.  


I have missed you all and thanks for sticking it out while I have reshuffled the episodes on your playlist while on my break.  Some of your podcast payers are struggling to cope with the reshuffle so feel free to message me at my murderlaide the podcast Facebook page or email me at murderlaide @ if you are having any difficulties with your episodes, you should have now nine episodes of season three on your player, if not let me know and I will have another reshuffle. 


This is an official shoutout to the newest members of our little patreon family, so a big thankyou and welcome to Tarnia woolnough and Thora, relative of the god of thunder I am assuming.  Again thanks guys and enjoy all of your new content.


If you want to hear two other seasons of murderlaide, that is actually 45 episodes or the twenty-five serial episodes on serial killers and I mean these are usually 45 minutes of in depth recounts of some of the worst shit to ever happen, we have covered Snowtown, the Moorhouse murders and serial poisoner granny grills just to name a few.  plus the 20 microsodes on the missing missing, we are just wrapping up a really interesting story of a missing cult, if this sounds like your jam, head on over to patreon and become a member of our family, yes we are just like the mansons, and listen to more murderlaide than your poor earholes can manage.  This is the place where we really get into it.


This podcast contains graphic depictions of violence, salty language and poor grammar and if you find at any time any of these things offensive then please email me because there is nothing I love more than ignoring emails with subject lines like the thing I hate about you is or no offense but or the latest one hand on let me get the quote just perfect, I think your show is horrible, just horrible.  Don’t you just love how folks think I am even going to open that email, spoiler alert, I didn’t.


Also keep up the negative reviews, cos like it gets me traffic, nothing makes people want to listen more than telling them how much you hate something. they seem to want to check it out to either agree or disagree so I guess just do what you do folks.  Except for the guy who slammed me because apparently, I don’t do Adelaide murders, well its kinda my show and I will do what I want ok.


Today’s episode is going to be a little different.  Those of you who are long term strangeone’s know that when I hit a case where there is very little information it swirls around in the infinite depths of my mind.  Which by the way is a swirling vortex of complicated associations?  Nevermind.  And when that happens and I can’t get it out of my head, my brain creates a story about the case, details filled in by my mind so this tale is based on a true missing persons case.  


Sources for todays episode are the national missing persons register, the  Australian federal police missing persons page, The south Australian crimestoppers website, reddit thread on Darren Shannon, the daily mail article, what happened to baby Darren by Louise cheer, an article from the sunday mail by Nigel Hunt called police reveal second thory in insolved 1973 baby abduction case, 


The one called the dad goes out during the sun up time and then comes back just before the sun down time.  The mum is always here.  During the sun up she feeds me, we go out into the garden or the park.  I like the sunlight.  I only just realised that, that I am an i. It has been strange like that in the last few days, realising some things and I feel like I am forgetting others.  I try and hold on to the important things, like the smell of the real mum, the one with the strange and soft voice, the one that called me Jason.  This one called mum uses the name Niel when she looks in my face.  


If I remember the smell of the real mum, the one who was there all of the days up until the last week, perhaps I can hold her inside forever.  But I do know she is gone now.  There is a dog here and a really bug tree outside the space they say is my room, it throws an interesting and lovely shadow.  Shadows are my favourite thing.  The other mum knew that.  She would show me the shadows from the pusher when we walked, the shadows on the hard sun-baked pathways around the house that used to be mine.   Well the second one or was it third?  


I like talking to you, it helps me sort it out, you know this story of me.  The me that was Jason and the me that is now Neil but I suppose for you I am being confusing so I will start at the beginning and tell you what I remember, because I know that soon I will not be 11 months old, soon I will be one and then it will all slip away.  Can I trust you to remember it for me?


The first thing I remember is a sound, it was a soft tinkle of a bell, but I heard it as though through layers of cloth and thick air.  I heard the tinkle and opened my eyes.  There were muffled voices coming from somewhere behind me so I tried to roll over but there was a soft and spongy wall in the way.  They were a man and a woman.  There was the bell, and now they were laughing.  It made me smile, I liked the laughing.  


Though the dim pink light I could see my fingers so I stuck a few in my mouth to try it on for size, and it felt good, right and comforting.  The memories are hazy for a short time, all I remember is muffled voices, the pink light, darkness and my own thoughts.  I was about to do something, I knew that much, but I didn’t know what it was or how I was expected to do really anything.  I don’t have much control over my body you see, but I think that is how it is supposed to be.  


Then there was a crushing pressure, and as I sought to escape it I wiggled my head out into the first cold I had ever felt.  It was so bright I had to blink my eyes over and over.  One more crushing pressure and the only thing was cold, freezing cold and noise, not laughter as such but a cross between that and tears.  I opened my mouth and out came a bellow.  Then there were hands, water and soft warmth, then there was the smell of the first mum, and the voices were so loud and close.  I could hear them and knew that I had done my job and done it well.  I just hope they put me back in the warm floating soon, and I hope to hear the tinkle of the bell. The first mum touched my face and I opened my eyes and looked into her big soft brown eyes.  “Hello Jason” is all she said and I knew her to be the souce of the voice and the laughing.


Over the next few months I didn’t actually do a lot, but I was trundled places, dressed washed and fed, but mainly I just observed.


My parents relationship seems strange to me, but then again I am only new here and don’t really understand the big people in my life yet.  The mum woman talks low and soothing and I like that.  The dad one is nice too sometimes, but other times he isn’t.  Mum tells me they are married, Mr and Mrs Shannon.  I like the sound of that, she says that makes me a Shannon too.  Jason Shannon, but the dad one calls me Darren


I like how the mum one talks to me, all the other big people talk in high pitched voices with goos and gaahs which is some part of language I think I will learn later but as of right now it makes no sense to me.  I see how the big people don’t see that I hear and understand them, all accept mum.  I just can’t voice what I understand yet. What I do understand is sometimes mum is afraid and dad is angry.


Then the dad man went away for a while.  It was just me and mum and she often took the bell, a glittering glass object, from the shelf in the room where the food comes out, and she would put me on the floor and make it tinkle.  That was the first time I laughed and I liked it.  It felt right and good.  I know I can make her come to me now, by making loud ugly sounds, but I don’t do that often, only when I really need her to make something right with my body, because I still can’t move it right, but I really don’t like the big ugly sound so I just try and copy mums sounds.  


I also understand that mum, grandma and grandpa talk a little different to everyone else around me, not a different talk, like still this language I have been hearing since before my big entrance into the world, they just make slightly different sounds.  It may have something to do with what the dad one says when he shouts at her that she’s a Pom.  


When the dad comes back things are different for a while.  He is not angry.  He does seem confused.  He talks to mum about things I don’t understand, but he is quiet and calm.  He pets her gently now, instead of rough and angry.  He is sad, I don’t really know what that means but I know it.  I have discovered how to use my knees and hands to move around the house.  I makes mum laugh when I go backwards so I do that a lot to hear the laugh.  When the dad one is here, we don’t play with the bell. Mum also says shhh all the time now, dad doesn’t like the noise.  


He doesn’t leave in the sun up all the time now, he spends it in the big bed.  That the bed I am not allowed in when he is around and this really annoys me.  I miss that now, him annoying me.  Sometimes I go up to the edge of the big bed when he lays there and I use the sticks he uses to walk on, and pull myself up on my own sticks.  I will get the hang of this one day and walk like him.  I like the sound of his voice when he sings, but he doesn’t do it often.


Then things changed.  I sat and watched mum put all of my things in bags.  The one called dad was angry and sad.  She touched his face and picked me up.  I love the smell of her, he is yelling for her to come back as we pile into grandpas car and drive off.  I pop over mum shoulder and see him standing in the driveway.  He looks so alone.  I do want to be with him but I know he hurt mum last night.  I had laid in bed and heard the yelling and then it went really quiet, except for mum crying.  She tells me we are going to live with Grandma and Grandpa for a while.


I like this because of how soft and quiet they all talk.  I like the shadows and sunlight in the house.  I like the dog next door.  The one called dad comes by most days and we cuddle.  His smell is strong and familiar.  The grandpa is much more fun though, and he never gets dark and angry.  He never goes away for days.  He takes me outside and lets me play in the mud.   I like to sit in my bouncy chair and watch the shadows as he sprays water from the long green snake in the yard.  I wonder why he pushes the water everywhere. The grass is my favortite thing about this second house, that and the grandpa.  Grandma wistles when she cooks in the food room and mum laughs a lot.  When the dad comes, its just to see me and mum.  Grandma and Grandpa go away when he is here, grandma to the food room, and grandpa to his metal box in the corner of the yard.  Dad is quiet.


Then that thing happened a week ago.  That thing where they all went away.  The dad one came in the afternoon and we played on a rug in the backyard.  The grandpa watched and spread the water from his green snake all across the green in the yard. The dad was quiet and sad.  He whispered Im sorry little man to me.  I don’t know why he was sorry, I don’t understand sorry. He went away.  


Then there was a dark time and I was in my bed with bars.  Mum came in and put me on my feet. We held hands and walked into the room with the moving pictures box.  She felt warm and I smelled her safe smell.  The late afternoon made everything look orange and the colours of the print on the couch were too bright.  I took my finger and tried to pull the flowers off the couch, but no matter how hard I pulled, they wouldn’t come.


The flowers outside came into my hand when grandpa and I pulled them.  The couch is obviously not the same as the flowers outside.  The dad sat down next to where I stood.  He put his face near me and I could see his sad deep down into his eyes.  The grandma called the grandpa and he patted my head as he left the room.  


The dad picked me up under the arms and we left the house, my second house, while all the colours were too bright and soaked in the last of the winter orange sunset.  It was quiet when he put me on the seat next to him.  I was still in the silly sleeping dress mum put on me when I sleep and my feet were all tangled up in it.  I could see them though the thin white fabric, but couldn’t make them do what I wanted.  The car hummed to life and we drove, me and the dad.  I laid my head on his lap and drifted off to sleep, smelling his warm familiar smell and mumbling the words I can make now, mama, pamper.  The dad stroked my hair with one big brown hand and all was for that time, just like it was when I was in the warm pink light before the cold and crying world.


And then it all stopped.  I must have slept because the next thing it was the same as the first thing, the crusing pressure, coming from the outside, this time on my neck and face.  I opened my eyes and there was the dad, the first dad, now I know his name is John, that is what the mum, the first mum called him.  John and I are in his car and all the world outside is dark and quiet.  His eyes leak water like Grandpas green snake and his eyes are red and sore.  My chest is hot and sore, my neck is burning under the strength of his big brown hands.  I remember being small, not so long ago when my had would only just fit around his big first finger.  I smell his smell and all the things drift away, except for the burning in my chest and neck and the deep sad in his big brown eyes.  


Im sorry little man he whispers over and over his voice all tortured and twisted.  The pitch is all off, he doesn’t sound like the dad but I know he is, he smells and looks like the dad.  I still don’t understand the sorry, but the burning starts to fade and everything begins to get small.  All I see by the light of the dashboard are his brown sad eyes, swimming in the waters.


And then I am above the car, flying like an invisible bird.  I see the dad open the door of his car and fall on his knees in the dirt.  There is nothing around, no light no cars.  I see a fence and a dark tree, naked of its summer leaves, sleeping till the spring.  The dad bends into the car and pulls out a small white bundle all wrapped up in my night dress.  Im sorry little man he whispers to the bundle, and this confuses me because I am his little man, not this parcel of fabric.  


The dad walks along the dark fenceline, lit only by the three quarter moon until he reaches the sound as soft as tinkling bells, the sound of the water from the grandpas hose.  From above I see the small chubby pink hand slip from under the parcel and dangle at the dads waist as he carries it towards the bell water sound.  I see the fingers with dimly knuckles and know them that instant to be mine, but how can they be mine when we are up here together. 


The dad finds the bell water and I see the water that must come from a huge green garden snake because it is bigger than any water I have seen.  It is misty in the mid winter night around the creek.  The dad wades in with his shoes and everything on.  He places the me bundle in the middle of the water and pulls my nightdress down.  Funny that this is the first time I am seeing myself and it is the last time I shall be seen.  Im sorry little man he utters and then some mumbling about resting with jesus, but I don’t really hear that, I must study myself before I am gone, because I feel the pulling, the pressure around me and I know that I will soon leave.  


As I float higher, I see the dad stand and tear at his hair.  He screams wordlessly into the still night, small whisps of cloud coming from his mouth with the sounds.   Slowly the me bundle drifts away into the dark landscape, a stark white against the dark.  I watch it sweep and turn in the fast waters until it slowly sinks and I can only feel where it or I am.  


The dad sits a long time by the bank.  When he rises his eyes are clear deep pools of black.  Whatever dark and angry there was living in him, it is gone now.  He trudges back to his car on lighter feet than he left it.  He glances back over his shoulder and get into the car, headed back south, back towards the first mother, I want to but the pull is to strong.


I blink and then there is the pink light and the crushing pressure.  I move away from the pressure but it insistently follows me.  I wiggle away one last time and the light is blinding and bright.  There is cold, the coldest I have ever felt is seems and there are hands and voices.  I think of the white clad flesh me that I know is floating down stream and hear the soft voice of the new mum, the second mum.  Hello Neil she says.


The worst day of English immigrant Michelle Shannon’s life was the evening of Saturday the ninth of June 1973.  On this night her estranged husband John whom friends called Barry, Shannon took her 11 month old blonde haired blue eyed son from her parents lounge room while he was visiting on an access visit.


Their marriage had fallen apart after John had become violent and she had been forced to leave with tiny Darren Jason Shannon and seek refuge at her parents house in Blackdown street in Elizabeth west, now called Davoren Park, in the northen Adelaide Suburbs.  At that time Elizabeth was still a bit of a satalite city.  When they moved back in with her parents and siblings, Darren, whom everyone called by his middle name Jason, was doted on by his loving grandparents and aunts and uncle.



John Shannon had suffered from depression and mental illness.  He had spent some part of the earliest of Jason’s life in a private mental hospital.  Although the couple were legally separated, with Michelle getting full custody of the baby, there were no restrictions of John coming and going from the home.  He saw his son as often as he liked. The day of the 9th is the only time he had come to the home twice in one day to see Jason.  The couple were not reconciling.


In a matter of five minutes, john snatched Jason and bundled him into his distinctive nineteen 60’s Woolsey was seen by neighbours leaving the home with the lights off. Moments later, Jason’s grandfather was seen chasing the speeding car down the street yelling.  After her father raced back to the house, he briefly told Michelle that John had taken off with Jason and grabbed his own keys and drove off in pursuit.  Police were immediately called that call was logged at 6:57.  


As in most cases with a kidnapping of a young child police were at the home within 20 minutes and there was a be on the lookout for John’s car across all of the emergency police and radio channels.  Michelle’s father returned empty handed to his angry wife and devastated daughter.


John took baby Jason at around 6:50 pm that night, Jason has never been seen since. 


At about 9:15pm police responded to a call from the public of a terrible accident southbound on the main north road just south of roseworthy, a rural farming town roughly twenty minutes from Michelle’s family home, from where Jason was taken.  The accident involved John Shannon’s car. that night John Shannon was killed in a head on collision with another vehicle .


Police began an immediate and intense grid search of the area for baby Jason.  In the middle of a cold winter night, the assumption was that the baby had been thrown from the car.  As the night pressed on and no sign of Jason appeared police began to search up and down the main roads for any sign of Jason, thinking that a crazed father may have thrown the child from the car.  At that moment the heavens opened and Adelaide was torn apart by a terrible winter storm.  Police and volunteers searched in the poring rain.


The hours passed and ….nothing.  The next day police began to search homes of people who were close to John Shannon, his parents, his brother and his friends… nothing.  Canvases of all the service stations in the area and as far as port germain were undertaken for any sign of Jason or any sighting of John that fateful night…nothing.  


During his autopsy the pathologist searched the body of John Shannon for any clue of what he may have done with his child.  The only thing was silt found on the bottom of his shoes may indicate that he was near a river or creek in the hours before his death.  But it was a torrential fucking storm so it could also mean nothing.


Baby Jason was not in the car, the scene was thoroughly searched but there was no sign of Jason on the road, in the surrounding areas or in the car. They found no sign of the infant ever again.



Police believe it is likely that John Shannon murdered his son and disposed of his body somewhere that night, only to then die in a car accident. No remains have been found.


The other theory that police do not completely discount, is that John may have given his son to an unknown person, and that person has gone on to raise baby Jason as their own, unbeknownst to Jason. The likelihood of this is quite small, especially considering the large media coverage at the time, but it can't be truly discounted until a body is found.

If this was the case he would be 48 years old today.

When John 'Barry' Shannon snatched Jason from the lounge that night, he had not displayed any strange behaviour to michelle and her family that day.


Michelle left Adelaide with her parents and returned to the United Kingdom in early the following year. She has remarried and has a son.  Michelle has returned to Adelaide and is said to lay flowers at the sight of the fatal car accident involving her first husband.  Darren Jason Shannon is still listed as a long term missing person in the national missing persons database. His mother thinks about him everyday and lives in hope that he is alive, even if he doesn’t know who he really is.



Internet chats throw out the theory that baby Jason may have been sold.  That the black market for healthy babies was booming in the 1970’s but I don’t really know about that.  


In 2005 a strange tip came in to say that baby Jason had been buried in another person’s grave in Kapunda.  Excavation of the area found nothing.


Jason was last seen was wearing a long white nightdress, blue buttoned up cardigan and a nappy. There is a one-million-dollar reward for any information in this case.  If you have any information call crimestoppers.