When a parent dies, an older child sometimes ends up having to fill the now-empty role: Driving younger siblings places, cooking meals and giving advice become daily tasks, all while they try to have a childhood of their own.
Lavonna Kehm says her son Shannon House stepped up to the plate when his father died.
“He was like the rock for his younger siblings, and the one that people went to for advice and support,” Lavonna said of Shannon. “Thanksgiving dinner was always delicious, because he always cooks. He’s been helping me most of his life because I was a single parent.”
To bring in extra money for the family, Lavonna said Shannon “had a few different jobs at one time. He was a long-haul truck driver and manager of a restaurant. He also did some maintenance work here and there.”
It was on one of the maintenance jobs in January of 2010 that Shannon got in an accident.
“He had been hit by a car while he was doing road work,” Lavonna told Dateline. “He was hit so hard he went flying up onto the windshield.”
Shannon ended up having back problems because of the accident and had to stop working. In 2012, one of Lavonna’s co-workers said she knew of a job Shannon could do to earn some money. Shannon began maintaining rental properties, then began working in the fields on his employer’s private property. He became friends with the landowners and even began living in a trailer on the property.
On October 11, 2015, Shannon left his trailer to work in the fields for the day.
But the 39-year-old never returned home after work.
“His younger brother, Thomas, called me and told me that he couldn’t find Shannon,” Lavonna told Dateline. Thomas worked at the same property as Shannon did, says Lavonna. “I was scared to death because I knew something must have been terribly wrong. He never would’ve left Thomas.”
Shannon’s mom said she immediately picked up two of Shannon’s other siblings and drove up to the property to search.
“I kept thinking, ‘Well, maybe he just got upset and left or was too stressed or something…’ I kept thinking he would come back,” Lavonna said. “We eventually said ‘We have got to call the police. We don’t know what we’re doing here, and something is wrong.’”
Dateline reached out to the Trinity Sheriff’s Office for comment but was unable to reach them. According to a press release the Sheriff’s office sent out at the time of Shannon’s disappearance, they received a report of a missing adult male, Shannon House, on the morning on October 13, 2015.
“House walked away from his residence in the remote area of Trinity County,” the press release said. “House left his personal effects and was believed to be barefoot.”
The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office did not conduct a search of the property at the time, Lavonna said, because it was close to harvest season. Lavonna told Dateline she has since personally hired helicopters and drone operators to search for Shannon.
“We looked all over that property – under buildings, deserted refrigerators. We looked everywhere on that property. He was not there,” she said. “We are going to continue to keep going back up there until we get a phone call saying he is OK.”
A few months later in December 2015, Shannon said the nearby Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office brought in cadaver dogs to help search.
“They found nothing,” Lavonna said. She added, though, that “they only went on the property where he had been working,” and didn’t search other areas where he might have wandered.
“Shannon has such a gentle soul. He never forgets a Mother's Day or birthdays – he was so loyal,” Lavonna told Dateline. “I can’t stop looking. We truly miss him.”
Considering none of the searches have produced significant leads, Lavonna told Dateline she fears Shannon might have been miles away when the searches were conducted. He had recently lost about 100 pounds, mostly by becoming an avid walker.
Shannon House is 5’11’ with brown hair and brown eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he weighed about 300 pounds. Shannon was last seen wearing a green t-shirt, black shorts and no shoes. If you have any information, please contact Trinity County Sheriff's Department 530-623-2611.