Image: Tanya Shannon
AP
Tanya Shannon, 40, of Ransom, Ill., was at a holiday party on Dec. 4, 2010 and went missing early the next day after a car crash that killed her husband. After a search that resumed Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, LaSalle County authorities say they believe they've found the Shannon's body in a field.
updated 1/3/2011 5:31:35 PM ET 2011-01-03T22:31:35

Searchers on Monday found the body of a mother of four who vanished after an early December car crash that killed her husband, solving a mystery that began with the discovery of her slipper in the snow and footprints leading away from the car.

The body of 40-year-old Tanya Shannon was found in a LaSalle County field about three-quarters of a mile from where she and her husband crashed into a light pole while returning during a snow storm from a holiday party in the early morning hours of Dec. 5. Dale Shannon was found dead behind the wheel, and his blood-alcohol content was found to be 0.266, or more than three times the state's legal driving limit of 0.08. An autopsy found he died of spinal injuries.

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A sheriff's deputy who found the wreck found one of Tanya Shannon's slippers in the snow and footprints leading away from the car, but no other trace of her. Searchers spent days combing through the flat, snowy terrain on horseback, on foot and in helicopters, probing snow banks with poles and sweeping through soybean fields with metal detectors. The search resumed Monday because conditions had improved.

The clothing on the body found Monday matches what Tanya Shannon was last reported to be wearing — a red dress and a gray hooded sweat shirt — and her purse was found nearby, said LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton. The body was first spotted by a helicopter for Chicago's WBBM-AM.

"I think everyone feels relief, but it's not about us," Templeton said. "At least there's a closure to it. It's not the (outcome) we hoped for, but at least there's closure for the kids."

An autopsy for Tanya Shannon has been scheduled for later this week.

The crash occurred about six miles from the couple's home in Ransom, about 70 miles southwest of Chicago. The Shannon's four children, who range in age from 4 to 15 years old, have been staying with family.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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