Wilmington, DE

He Went For A Weekend Visit With His Father. He Never Returned. The Disappearance Of Shawn White

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished

1-month old Shawn White was last seen on December 8, 2002, with his father, Thurman R. White, at his father's home in the 200 block of 29th Street in Wilmington, Delaware.

According to the Charley Project, the infant was on a weekend visitation with his dad. On December 9, 2002, Thurman went to visit Shawn's mother, Tonya Graham, at her apartment in the 900 block of Vandever Avenue. Tanya was at home with her five other children, one who belonged to Thurman, when Thurman arrived. He did not have Shawn with him, and when Tonya questioned him, he told her a woman would drop Shawn off to her later that day, the Charley Project reports. When the woman did not show up with Shawn after two hours, Tonya and Thurman started to argue about Shawn's whereabouts. Thurman grabbed a knife and stabbed Tonya in the neck three times. Thurman fled her apartment in his 1989 Chevrolet GM4 pickup truck. He turned himself in to the police the following day. Tonya, who was hospitalized, was released after two days.

Authorities charged Thurman R. White with second-degree assault. Those charges were later updated to first-degree attempted murder. Thurman refused to tell authorities where Shawn was. Investigators searched his home, seized his boat, and went to a local landfill looking for Shawn.

"When we arrested White, we labored under the assumption that the child was alive," Corporal Stephen Martelli said, reports Delaware Online. "But as time went by, chances have diminished of the child being found alive."

According to Delaware Online, investigators contacted the Cherry Island landfill and were told where the bulk of Wilmington's refuse is dumped.

"We've narrowed it down to a 250 by 250-foot area that's 10 feet deep," Martelli said, reports Delaware Online.

Authorities utilized 15 officers and 21 police academy recruits wearing hazardous material suits. The group used a backhoe to scoop out sections of rubbish before combing through individual piles with rakes in the landfill. They were unable to locate Shawn, or any evidence connected to his disappearance.

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Thurman R. WhiteThe Charley Project

Thurman R. White pled guilty to assault, possession of a deadly weapon during a felony, and endangering a child. A judge sentenced him to twelve years in prison and seven years of probation after his release. Thurman R. White has never provided any information on the whereabouts of his son Shawn White and maintains that Tonya knows what happened to their missing son.

Tonya Graham continues to search for her son.

"Keep this image in your mind," she said, holding up his picture at a press conference in 2002. "Sean, I love you. Please come home. If anybody has seen this baby ... please come forward and tell somebody so my baby can come home with me."

Shawn White has never been found.

If you have any information, please contact the Wilmington Police Department at 302-571-4525.

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Shawn White Age ProgressionThe Charley Project

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