It’s been more than three months since Shantina Smiley and her 8-year-old son Azriel Carver went missing off a beach in Washington State. Sadly, Azriel’s body was found shortly after they disappeared, but there’s been no sign of Shantina. I spoke with Lt. Chris Mealey from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office this morning and he said, “It’s still an open case and if we get information we will move on it as quickly as we can.” He also said that the leads have fizzled out and there is a chance she went into the water with her son, but they have no official confirmation on that.
I confirmed with the Medical Examiner’s office in Tacoma that Azriel’s death is officially ruled an accident and drowning is the cause of death. The area where the child’s body was found is west of Tacoma, Washington, and about 12 miles from where he and his mom’s mini-van was found on a private beach. Azriel’s father flew in from Lancaster to help look for his son initially, and was near the location when Azriel was found. Several memorial services have been held on Grand Island in memory of the child and Shantina.
Police say Shantina and Azriel left their home in Silverdale, Washington around 5 p.m. on March 13, 2010 and were heading to her step-father’s home in Castle Rock. Shantina’s van was found early the next morning, abandoned near the North Gull Harbor, nowhere near her destination. Police say the doors were open, cash, license and a credit card were left inside, but Shantina’s purse was gone. The search continued for days to find the family. Robb Simmons, Shantina’s fiance, created a websitewith his timeline of events. Lt. Chris Mealey from the Thurston County Sheriff’s office told me investigators were initially focusing on a lead from a resident who claims someone was knocking at his door around 1 a.m. the morning after they went missing, but that lead turned into a dead end.
Lt. Mealey says his team has identified contents found on a beach. Some belong to Shantina and Azriel, and some do not. Lt. Mealey also mentions that they could have fallen out of the family mini-van because the doors and hatch were left open:
• Wine bottle (Shantina was seen purchasing this earlier in the night at the Handy Pantry around 7:55 p.m., it was found on the beach, half empty with the cap on it)
• Baseball (not identified)
• Orange ball (does belong to Azriel)
• Possibly a men’s shoe, size 13 (not identified)
• Asthma inhaler (belongs to Azriel)
• Two water bottles (unidentified)
• A woman or man’s shoe size, 9w (does belong to Shantina)
I spoke in length with Robb about Shantina. He says he and Shantina have been together for two and a half years, and they have a blended family. He has two children, and Shantina has Azriel. Robb and Shantina are both Cub Scout Leaders in the community, and active with their children. He says Shantina had a lot of exciting job interviews coming up, and they were looking forward to starting their life together as husband and wife. Robb said Shantina is a recovering alcoholic, and had a relapse last week, but he does not think the relapse contributed her disappearance. Robb says he is having some health problems, and that is what set Shantina over the edge.
This timeline is based off my conversation with Lt. Chris Mealey.
5 p.m.– Shantina and her son leave their home in Silverdale, Washington. Their destination was Castle Rock, Washington.
6:45 p.m.– Shantina stops off at an unknown location and calls her fiancé Robb Simmons. She tells him her cell phone was left at home, and she was hoping he could bring it with him on his way to Castle Rock later.
7:55 p.m.– Lt. Mealey says there is video of Shantina stopping off at the Handy Pantry, where she made a purchase and left.
9:08 p.m.– Shantina stops off at the Martin Way Diner and orders one corndog to go. This is odd because this is a sit down diner, not an establishment you order carry out from. Although she placed the corndog order, she did not pick it up. Instead, police say Shantina walked outside, tripped before getting into her van, and drove off with her son.
9:55 p.m.– Lt. Mealey says there is more surveillance video of Shantina stopping off at a local store on a rural county road. The store was closed, so she left.
10:00 p.m.– Shantina and her son stop off at a residence occupied by an elderly couple. She used the phone in the residence and called her grandfather to say she was lost, and there was an accident of sorts, but she did not elaborate. The elderly couple fed her son a slice of pizza and gave her directions to get back on the main road.
Shantina left the residence, and made a wrong turn. Somehow, she ended up about five miles away on an abandoned beach. When found, her mini-van doors were open, and it was stuck in the sand. It appears she drove far out, and tried to come back to the road. The van got stuck, and she left it there.
I confirmed that Shantina was employed with the Kitsap Medical Group in the billing department, and everyone is distraught that she is missing. Investigators are currently diving into her bank account and cell phone records. Investigators need your leads on this case.
If you have any information, please contact the Thurston Sheriff’s Office: 360-786-5500