Shirley Harmon was worried. Her 10-year-old daughter, Shakeima Ann Cabbagestalk, didn’t come home, so she called her mother, Clara Cabbagestalk, to check if the young girl had spent the night at her grandmother’s house. When Clara told her no, Shirley contacted the authorities. According to Clara, the last time she saw Shakeima was on July 22, 1993, playing in her front yard. Clara would later testify that when she looked outside to check on Shakeima, her granddaughter was gone.
The distraught Shirley spoke with police while Clara asked her daughter’s husband, Sam Harmon, about the last time he saw Shakeima. Clara would tell a courtroom that Harmon’s response was troubling. “I ain’t hurt Shakeima. I love her just like Shirley do,” Clara testified Harmon told her.
When questioned by police, Harmon stated that on July 22, he and Shakeima went to the Turning Point Grocery store in their hometown of Dillon, South Carolina. Harmon asserted that he left his stepdaughter at the store with her brother and hadn’t seen or heard from her since that time. Investigators believed Harmon was the last person to see her alive.
Twelve years later in 2005, prosecutors officially charged Sam Harmon with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and murder. During their lengthy investigation, police learned that a year prior to her disappearance, Shakeima accused her stepfather of touching her inappropriately. There was an investigation conducted by the Department of Social Services, but it’s reported that they decided not to move forward because Shakeima’s account of what happened changed multiple times.
Harmon’s trial began in 2008, and according to WBMF News, prosecutors believe that Harmon’s motivation for murdering his stepdaughter was due to the molestation accusations. Although prosecutors initially sought the death penalty, they eventually took the criminal sexual conduct charge off of the table and pursued a sentence of life in prison. During the trial, Shakeima’s uncle testified that Harmon shared he knew how to dispose of a dead body just weeks within the 10-year-old’s disappearance.
It must be noted that Shakeima’s remains have never been located, there has never been physical evidence to suggest that Shakeima is deceased, and Harmon has always denied involvement in her disappearance. The Charley Project reports that Harmon was convicted of kidnapping and murder, and he became eligible for parole in 2011.