“She was always the life of the party,” Ryan Shuttleworth told Dateline. “She was just a cool mom.”
On September 3, 2003, Ryan’s mother, 34-year-old Lisa Shuttleworth, disappeared in Aiken, South Carolina.
Ryan told Dateline his family is from the North Augusta area of South Carolina. “It’s your average old little town,” Ryan said. “We have turkey shoots and stuff like that.”
Lisa had two children, a daughter named Krystina and a son named Ryan. “[Krystina] kind of stayed with my grandparents a lot more,” Ryan told Dateline. He said his older sister enjoyed staying with them because they “spoiled” her. “So it was just me and my mom most of the time,” Ryan said. Lisa and Ryan’s father divorced in 2003. Ryan said his father also lived in South Carolina, but wasn’t really in the picture. “I really didn’t see him often at all,” Ryan said.
Ryan told Dateline he and his mother were extraordinarily close. “She was loving and caring and smart,” Ryan said. “She was just awesome.”
Ryan was just 9 years old on September 3, 2003. He remembers the day started just like any other. “She got me up, made me breakfast and took me to school,” Ryan recalled.
Ryan said his mother was supposed to pick him up from the bus stop after school that afternoon. “When I got off, she wasn’t there,” he said. “So I walked to the house and there was all the cars in the driveway -- everything was normal, but the door was locked.”
Ryan told Dateline he initially didn’t think anything of it, so he just went across the street to a friend’s house and waited for his mother to come home.
She never came home.
“This time it was later on in the afternoon, just about dark so I sat there and waited on her for, you know, hours,” Ryan told Dateline. He said while waiting, he noticed one of his mother’s friends showed up at their house looking for her and Ryan informed him she wasn’t home. “Then [the friend] took me to my grandparents’ because we couldn’t get in the house and nobody knew where she was,” he said.
Ryan’s grandparents only lived a few miles away. His sister, Krystina, wasn’t there yet when Ryan and his mom’s friend arrived with news that Lisa was missing. “She was riding home with her friend from school,” Ryan said. And when Krystina arrived at their grandparents house, “My grandparents told her.”
The family eventually got into Lisa’s house. “There was a pot of tea with a napkin over it,” Ryan said. “Everything -- her clothes and all were there. The only thing missing was her pocketbook.”
Ryan said his grandparents called the police that night to tell them their daughter had vanished. But Ryan said police informed them they had to wait at least 24 hours to file a report.
On September 5, 2003, Lisa Shuttleworth was officially reported missing to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.
Dateline spoke with Captain Eric Abdullah from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. Referring to the original police report, he confirmed that Lisa’s family grew worried when she failed to pick Ryan up from the bus stop around 3 p.m. on September 3. Captain Abdullah said that Lisa was “last seen at her residence at 111 Middle Street” in Aiken. He said she did not have any known medical problems.
Although it’s been 19 years since anyone has seen or heard from Lisa, Capt. Abdullah told Dateline that there’s nothing in Lisa’s missing persons report that would indicate foul play.
“Obviously, we are hoping that anybody with information comes forward,” Capt. Abdullah said. “No matter how small or insignificant.”
Ryan told Dateline he is extremely disappointed in the police investigation. “They didn’t do a proper investigation at first,” Ryan said. He believes they still aren’t. “I mean, they just don’t care.”
Ryan said he has tried numerous times to get updates on his mother’s case and every time, Aiken investigators have nothing to say to him. “I believe a lot of possible evidence was overlooked,” he said.
Regardless of what he feels is a lack of investigating by the police, Ryan said he will never stop fighting for answers. “I just think somebody did something to her,” he said. “I’ve done my own investigation; I’m for certain going to figure it out.”
One of the ways Ryan plans to do that is with the ‘Forever Searching for Lisa Marie’ Facebook page, which is dedicated to spreading awareness of his mother’s disappearance. He is hoping the exposure will finally lead to answers.
Lisa is 5’3” and the time of her disappearance, weighed 102 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes. And, according to her son, Ryan, “She was beautiful.”
Lisa would be 53 years old today.
Anyone with information regarding Lisa’s disappearance is asked to contact the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office at 800-922-9709.