Man convicted of killing child charged with murder of missing Shannon Rippy

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Submitted: Thu, 05/01/2014 - 3:59am
Updated: Fri, 05/02/2014 - 3:52am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The search for a missing woman might have ended Tuesday night. But, not the way family and friends had hoped.

Tuesday, police accused James Bradley, who was convicted of a 1988 murder, of killing Shannon Rippy Vannewkirk. She was last seen alive April 5 at the Husk bar in downtown Wilmington.

After countless prayers, more than 20 days of searching and more than 1,000 hours of detective work, police now believe they have found Vannewkirk.

“Our gut told us early on this was not going to be a good outcome,” Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

Tuesday morning investigators discovered human remains off Hoover Road in Hampstead.

“We are waiting on confirmation of those remains from the medical examiner’s office,” Evangelous said.

Bradley has been charged with murder before. According to a 1988 story in the Fayetteville Observer, Bradley killed his 8-year-old stepdaughter by beating and strangling her.

He was released from jail in 2013. Tuesday night, police arrested him at a traffic stop.

Investigators have not released many details in the case. They think that Vannewkirk and Bradley knew each other.

Friends say they both worked for Mott Landscaping. We reached out to the owner, but have not heard back.

Bradley also declined an interview. He is in the New Hanover County Jail without bond.

Vannewkirk’s friends say they are in shock. They said they were too distraught to talk to us today.


  • Wendy Barnes says:

    People are convicted of murder all the time without the body being found. Why should they benefit because they hid the body better than their cellars?

  • Mike Ibara says:

    Just google “White Girl Bleed a Lot: The return of racial violence and how the media ignore it.

  • Ashamed in nc says:

    This is outrageous that this man was walking among us in the community and how many more murderers are out there with the same free will to roam and hurt others as they please. I am also equally disgusted that the owner of Motts hired him after being released from prison. I know their are laws regarding discrimination, however he was and is a murderer and to put your employees in jeopardy is irresponsible beyond words. My heart goes out to the family as I first saw the flyer at a restaurant in Wilmington and know that she was loved and cared for by many. Our judicial system is so screwed up and the simple fact is that criminals have more rights than law abiding citizens. Shame on the system for letting him out and shame on Motts landscaping for putting your employees at risk!

  • guest123 says:

    Wow. The news article states this animal murdered the 8 yr old girl and threw her little body in a dumpster. She was then dumped in a landfill.
    Who thought it was a good idea to let this freak ever walk out of prison after such an act?
    If he had been made to serve his life sentence this innocent woman would be alive now. May she rest in peace and strength for her family and friends.
    He was set free and less then a year later murdered again. Makes no sense. I agree if his employer knew he was a child killer he should have let other employees know. I doubt anyone would want to be friends with a person who had just recently been set free from prison after murdering an innocent little girl!!
    There are some cases where a person like this really should get the death sentence.

  • Hiatus Againus says:

    The local banter in this forum is repulsive, out of hand, and outright ANNOYING! Shut up with your ignorance and political stupidity!

    When and If this “Recently Released Murderer” is found guilty, THEN we will know for sure. UNTIL THEN, this is like all news….just stories.

    Since the News CAN AND DOES LIE, no one can be sure what is true and what is the typical local bias.


    Maybe, Justice will be served, but don’t expect it, because this area is full of small town mentality and bias IS what makes many arrests NOT PROOF. That has been proven time and again.

    I do hope for Justice, but that will only come if some OUTSIDER makes it happen, as we’ve seen the incompetence of the local authorities…even when hired to work on a set and somehow things get STOLEN on their watch. Just a reminder of WHERE YOU ARE I guess.

    Stop ruining our film industry with your ignorance, people. You are why many Film jobs LEFT HERE!

    RIP Lovely Shannon. You, unlike many, Rocked!

  • portcity says:

    There is no rehabilitation for a murderer! Especially murdering a child. Our government system fails us everyday. We pay taxes so this doesn’t happen. Gov. doesn’t care about what’s right. There is no profit from murderers being killed by execution. The longer an inmate stays in prison the fatter someone’s pocket gets. And every time a prisoner is booked someone receives a paycheck. This is why u have murderers convicted and still killing. You shouldn’t have “rights” when convicted of murder or rape. Did the offender care about the rights of the victim. Not even for a minute, so why should we care about his? to murder a child you have no soul, no reasoning, nothing but a savage mind that need to be extinguished. I hope the judge who let this man out after 13 years is haunted for the rest of his/her life by the child and woman this man has taken from the world!

  • Bill O'Brien says:

    Even if the news has this wrong…even if the cops have it wrong…it still begs the question as to why was this convicted murderer released back out into the civilian world? Serving 13 years for murdering a little girl and dumping her body in a trash can…well, I don’t care how high and mighty you consider yourself…this bastard should never be free again!

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    What the hell are you talking about? You need to be medicated. STFU already.

  • Up DATE Her says:

    Updated on the news is that it was NOT Shannon’s body but this man is Still being charged for her murder. Murder with no body? CROOKED!

  • lonetraveler says:

    You don’t have to have a body to be convicted of murder. It is more difficult to prosecute but has been done quite a few times. He is also suspected in the murder of the unidentified body so this strange story if bound to unravel eventually.

  • lonetraveler says:

    We now know that another murdered victim was buried and was not the missing woman. This is even worse, now we know that someone else is missing a loved one. I pray for the family and I also pray for Rippy’s family who was told that the body found was Rippy. That had to have been very painful. Are there more bodies out there buried? It is very strange indeed for another body to be found in the area on property nearby or owned by the employer of Rippy and the man charged with her murder and now suspected of murder of the body found this week. What next?

  • 2quick2judge says:

    I’ve never in my life heard of someone being arrested before they get a positive ID on the body. I’ve also never heard of someone being held accountable for a crime they weren’t even originally being accused of. Does anyone else think it’s odd that this body is on Mott’s property? Why is he not a suspect? Is it because he’s white with no criminal history? Also, no one thinks it odd that he’s considering closing down his business? I swear if he skips town and we do find Shannon and find out he may be involved, lots of people are gonna be looking might stupid. If it turns out that Bradley is not guilty on either count, he better sue. They have put him through the ringer all on a hunch, nothing really solid. He lost his job, his freedom, and if he’s no guilty and is free to go, his name has been dragged through the mud to the point of no return. People can rehabilitate… it’s society who refuses to let them.

  • Guy Incognito says:

    Well that sure shut everybody who thought they already knew everything up….

  • Stacy Smith says:

    If you firmly believe in bringing back the rope and tree, then why hide your identity? Are you ashamed that you are a racist? You just indisputably proved that racism is alive and thriving, but I’ll bet you my wife and kids that you’ll get in front of people, face-to-face, and swear on your life that you are NOT a racist.People like you ensures that the “United” States of America will never truly be united. You need to pull your head out of your ass and take a good look at the real world. Times have changed, it’s people such as yourself who will not.

    PS: Go find Jesus, and ask him to help you TODAY!!!!

  • Guest2020 says:

    So, you have to be a racist if you believe in bringing back hanging? I have seen these comments refer to white defendants as well.

    People who see racism everywhere will never change.

  • Grand7 says:

    My sympathy’s to the family of this lady.

    Did Bradley’s employer know he was a killer? If so were all the other employees made aware of what type of murderous savage they had to work with?

    Why was this man out of prison? When will our justice system learn.

    He was released on 02/11/2013 after serving only 23 years of a LIFE sentence !! This is unacceptable and someone needs to be held accountable for his release !

  • g black says:

    Shannon was a old roommate of mine that was allways there when I needed her.a wounderful soul and a sweet girl.she will be missed by all who knew her.they need to put this guy to death!

  • one-cent says:

    Did all the employees know he was a convicted murderer? If they didn’t, I think the owner should be held accountable somehow. If I were working side by side with a murderer, I would want to know so I could QUIT! Rest In Peace to this lady! God Bless her family too!

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    The judges, the DA’s tha law wrangling, ambulance-chasing attorneys…that’s whats wrong with it!

    Ol’ Jimmy here was convicted of 1st degree murder in 1990 and was released on parole from “minimum security” just a tad over a year ago and allowed to co-mingle with the rest of society once again. He commits murder once again to another innocent female.

    This just isn’t right!!! He should’ve NEVER, EVER been allowed out of prison and really hould’ve been exterminated upon his first conviction!

  • Anne Russell says:

    This is why we need the death penalty. ASAP.

  • PublicAvenger says:

    Does anyone wonder why crime is so bad ? This guy is a “Convicted Murderer”. We keep slapping these evil murdering monsters on the wrist. We will hear much more, over the next several years, from the murderers of the CFCC student. After all the plea-bargains, and deals are struck.

    Central Prison should execute at least 300 criminals a year, from across NC. And this thug needs to be at the top of the list.

  • anne Russell says:

    Bring back the death penalty for murder, please. This guarantees convicted murderers will never be allowed out of prison to kill again. A sociopath has no conscience, no remorse, and is not amenable to rehab. May God be with Shannon’s mother and brother in this time of sorrow.

  • guestnra says:

    The death penalty never went away. It’s alive and well in North Carolina. But they should stop giving lethal injection and bring back firing squads.

    And NO appeals. As soon as the judge administers the death verdict, straight from the courtroom to the firing squad!

  • nofaithnlaw says:

    You know that there is not one member of law enforcement going to take the blame for this no good trash being let out of prison. WTH!
    It disgusts me that he is even allowed to live amongst the living breathing souls.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    This has to do with our legal system, the people who manipulate it out of context and continually allow violent felons to freely walk among us. These people includes Lawyers, Judges, DA’s AND the Parole Boards, not law enforcement! Don’t confuse the two.

    And we REALLY wonder why we have a problem with gun-related violence? C’mon!!!

  • justin says:

    Law enforcement has nothing to do with him being let out of prison – blame the judicial system.

  • guest123456 says:

    There is not one Law Enforcement Officer in the country that thinks he should have been let out of jail. Blame Lawyers, judges and Politicians. They are the ones making real money off the system.

  • Big says:

    Im sure that lawyers and judges are responsible for this idiot’s freedom and not law enforcement.

  • Mary Golding says:

    Without even considering if he is guilty of this murder he never should have been released from prison from the murder in 88. Our prisons are so full that they are letting them out the backdoor and bringing in new ones through the front. Crime rate in this area is very high. I sure don’t know the answers but someone who killed an eight yr. old child over a tv argument should never be allowed to return to society.

  • Rachel Anderson says:

    So I understand that he’s a convicted murderer… and I understand that they’re charging him with Shannon’s murder. Has anyone considered the possibility if him behind framed or that maybe Steve has more to ddo with it that originally thought especially since Shannon was found on his property? I’m not saying James isn’t guilty, but I’m saying there’s other factors to be considered as well. Steve was also seeing Shannon as more than just his employee and it’s highly possible that he could have become enraged after finding out she was also going out with James. Just something to consider before we condemn someone without know all the details of the case.

  • anne Russell says:

    Oh sure, this creep is being framed, and Elvis really killed Shannon and the moon is made of green cheese.
    Get a grip.

  • Guest123456 says:

    You are correct, maybe they should question Mr. Mott…when you pull the tax records for Hampstead, Mr. Mott does own property off Godfrey Creek Road, which is next to where her body was found! Might not want to post your name, they may come question you next.

  • sheila says:

    These are very inflammatory accusations, if you have proof report it to the police, if not and this is just gossip and conjecture, please refrain !

  • Fishwife says:

    Before ya’ll grab a rope and find a tree, how about this man be allowed his due process rights and remember that he is innocent until proven guilty?

    I am not taking sides, just saying that jumping to conclusions about an arrest when there has been NO press release as to what evidence that they have against the man leading to his arrest is foolish.

    Those without sin shall cast the first stone.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s one thing to be angry, but it’s not cool to go ahead an crucify the man without having all the evidence against him to legitimately declare his guilt.

  • guest111 says:

    People with your mentality are why these cretins get out of jail and kill again. I firmly believe in bringing back the rope and tree. Our society has gone to hell.

  • lonetraveler says:

    The horse has been out front on this cart for a long time. This murderer should never have been released from prison after beating and strangling an eight year old girl to death and throwing her into a dumpster to be thrown into a landfill. You would think that he would have received life without the possibility for parole for such a heinous crime, but no, he was released to murder another victim. I would not be surprised if there are other bodies buried by his hand.

  • Big says:

    Get out of here. Really? Liberal!!

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    Sorry, but what we have here is readers that clearly understand a previously CONVICTED murderer is the ONLY suspect in yet another murder, barely a year after being paroled from prison from his first one. This should’ve NEVER happened and we can voice our opinions as clearly and as loudly as we desire.

    Nobody here is “hanging” anyone, but we will all eagerly await to see if another mamby-pamby courtroom ruling will allow this piece of criminal vermin to live out his years or wear a red jumpsuit and wait for the needle. Either way in my opinion, will give him far too much time on this earth for the disgusting acts of violence he has thrown on our society.

    There’s MY stone!!! Now, slip back in that easy chair go on back to watching your Jim and Tammy Baker reruns.

  • boldizar says:

    He killed an 8 year old CHILD AND ADMITTED IT ! He should already be swinging from a TREE.

    ….. ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’.

  • Thomar says:

    ok,let’s say he didn’t murder this woman,he did,but for sake of argument let’s say he didn’t.He still murdered an eight year old child.This son of a bitch should have been exterminated,period.HE MURDERED A CHILD!

  • Timekeeper says:

    Obviously, You condone what this man did……twice. If any ropes or trees are sought, whoever turned him loose one year after killing a child should share his fate.

  • Lara says:

    Wow cart before the horse arent you putting the cart before the horse? Hes already been convicted of capitol murder in the death of his step daughter and served 23 or 24 years for that. Are you really saying give him due process???? You must be insane yourself? You most def put the cart before the horse earning your name but do you think its so far fetched that he has killed again? You must be a politician and while I hate politicians you are the worst there is no innocent before proving guilty anymore this country lost sight of that a long time ago and when ppl start to realize that I hope you make our government see the wrongs of the judicial system and finally make them right.

  • Guestomfg says:

    This sick trash killed his 8 year old step daughter in 88. AND THEY LET HIM OUT???? FAIR SENTENCING ACT my ass. Thanks Jim Hunt.

  • 2quick2judge says:

    So let me get this straight… Because the person who made this comment isn’t trying to jump to conclusions before knowing all facets of the situation, THEY need to get a grip? I know that those who were close to Shannon and loved her deeply are beyond any kind of describe able pain… but right now this man is only being accused. He hasn’t been convicted yet and the reports say that they still need to verify that the body is without a doubt that of Shannon. This is a case of guilty until proven innocent because he has a record and understand how easy it is to jump to that conclusion in this scenario. but until he’s convicted, the man is innocent regardless of his past or how anyone feels about it. It’s possible that he has family. Has anyone considered how they might feel about the ordeal. They are victims too if he does in fact have a family and having to read these accusations whether they be true or not is probably hurtful to them. I remember reading the uproar when someone posted about Shannon being a habitual drunk and having gone to jail for her drinking. This is no different.

  • Guest2020 says:

    If they need to alleviate overcrowded prisons, they certainly should let the non-violent offenders out instead of people like this man. A life sentence wasn’t harsh enough.

  • Smokey the Bearer says:

    HAD he been smoking a joint while arrested, he would STILL BE IN PRISON! That’s the bottom line of Who is IN the prisons and who is let out!

  • wilm city here says:

    well thats what u get for going downtown. its not safe there

  • Vog46 says:

    I didn’t see where this guy used a gun in either murder.
    I agree the Judiciary bears some blame on this however I would also include the Legislative body for this for not passing stiffer laws.

    I have said this before and I’ll say it again. I’m all for stiffer sentences, however, each and every one of us will have to pay the price for that as stiffer sentences will require many more prisons, and prison guards.
    Are we willing to pay that tax increase? If so, then lets pass the laws while we start the construction !!!
    Oh and BTW – our Legislative body is made up of a LOT of lawyers (Thom Goolsby included). It is HIS JOB to get his clients lighter sentences.


  • Guest-o-matic says:

    My point never was that he used a gun. My point is about how criminals are continually released regardless of the severity of their crime. Violent criminals are put back into society by the thousands every day in this country. Do you understand my point now?

    Let’s progress to some ideas I’ve brought up before regarding prisons and taxation to support them. Your idea is typical of staying in the same old box doing the same old frustrating round-about antics that has this country in the shape it’s currently in. Things require some very fundamental and radical changes to have impact. What we now have does NOT work, is very costly, generates money for the lawyers and does very little to protect the general public from criminals.
    So…one more time, here it goes!

    -Build and operate the prisons like Mexico, Bolivia and Venezuela. Not pretty and they’ll hate it. The way prison is supposed to be!
    -No TV, No workout areas and very basic food. Their workoout will be their 14 hour days! More on this…
    -All prisoners work 14 hours a day at hard labor, busting rocks, making concrete and forging steel to build all of the new prisons. All the Free labor you could possibly ask for!
    -Build enough prisons to consume the entire state of Nebraska if necessary. Prisoners convicted of 3 violent felonies will never see freedom again…EVER!
    -The “Games we Play” in the courtrooms have to come to an abrupt halt. This is the very root of the problem and requires change. Violent offenders have already proven what their intent is within society. 3 chances and you’re out, forever, no excuses!

    Eventually the majority of those that want to contemplate rape, murder, theft and child molestation will develop decision making skills before attempting crime and decide, they really don’t want to go there.

    Yeah, these are big changes, but something big has to happen to change what we currently have. You do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten!

  • Vog46 says:

    “Build enough prisons to consume the entire state of Nebraska if necessary. Prisoners convicted of 3 violent felonies will never see freedom again…EVER!”

    Congrats !!! You just bankrupted this country !!!!
    The BUILDING of the prisons is bad enough but housing feeding these folks for this long will BK this country.
    Sure you could build them with prison labor but its the peripheral things that will consume the most money – never mind the HUGE costs to man the prisons.
    I’m willing to pay for more prisons GOM – but I am in a very small minority on this one…


  • WTF345 says:

    You sir are an idiot, and should be first in line.

  • Guesttoo says:

    I read the post by Fishwife…twice! Your reply was so far off base, it doesn’t even rank on the pathetic scale. The poster didn’t condone nor judge. Basically, Fishwife only repeated what our Bill of Rights paraphrases…that suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

    Granted, this POS Bradley is hardly an innocent person and should not have been set free after killing a child. And it’s a simple assumption that someone who kills is more likely to kill again…but neither of those issues is proof of guilt in this case.

    If he is found guilty of the murder of this person (and/or Vannewkirk), I’m all for sending him to Oklahoma to get his injection (you know…take a while and, hopefully, make it sting a little). Until then, he’s innocent of this crime…however repulsive that may be.

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