The 1986 Disappearance of Kentucky Teen Shannon Rena Green

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OWENSBORO, Ky. — Shannon Rena Green, 16, left her home at 907 W. 2nd St. at 12:30 p.m. on July 6, 1986, to walk to the home of a family friend, John Edgar Reneer, then aged 39. He resided at 1430 Haynes Ave., two and a half miles from Green’s residence. The walk would have taken Green approximately 45 minutes. She has not been heard or seen from again.

Reneer later said he had talked to Green that day. She called and asked if she could visit, but he told her he had plans to attend a barbecue at his grandmother’s house and would not be home. Some reports say she went to Reneer’s home to babysit.

Green did not take her clothes, driver’s license, money, or other belongings with her, and she did not have a history of running away. 

Her mother, Lois Green, told the Messenger-Inquirer in July 1987 that her daughter had asked her to pick her up that night, so Green had every intention of returning home. There were no family problems, and she had a boyfriend.

Lois Green reported her daughter missing the following day.

A few days later, a caller who identified himself as “Dwayne,” telephoned Lois Green, saying he and Shannon ran away to get married. Police never identified the caller, and the message is considered a hoax.

The only person Green knew by that name was DeWayne Bell, 18. He disappeared five days after Green. Bell’s mother reported him missing a week later. Family members grew concerned when they found his cherished bicycle abandoned near his home. 

Bell and Green knew one another and were together at Reneer’s house the day before Green disappeared. Police believe the two cases are related and that Bell possibly had information about her disappearance.

Six months after Green vanished, an unidentified man called her mother and said that he had heard Green was killed and buried in a garage on Triplett Street and that’d he’d call later for the reward money, the Messenger-Inquirer reported. Lois Green notified the police, and they investigated the tip but found nothing.

Shannon Rena Green: photo of Mary Ethel "Angie" Dickens

Police believe the Bell and Green disappearances could be related to the murder of Mary Ethel “Angie” Dickens, 23, who was last seen on June 17, 1986, when she and two of her friends visited a home in the 1800 block of West 2nd Street, less than a mile from Green’s house. Her friends later said they remembered seeing a car with two people following them. A deer hunter found Dickens’ body near the Little Hurricane boat ramp three months later on Oct. 2, 1986. 

Reneer has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1966 when he robbed Jimmy Bunch’s grocery store (now Southern Wine & Spirits) at 1921 W. 2nd St. He served less than 10 years in prison for the crime.

He later committed murder and sodomy and other crimes, such as trafficking in morphine, and has spent much of his life behind bars.

Reneer has claimed that Bell and his father, David Bell, were involved in Green’s disappearance. All three men worked together for an Owensboro construction company when Green vanished. 

In October 2004, Detective Mark Saffron of the Owensboro Police Department interviewed Reneer hoping to obtain fresh evidence in Green’s disappearance. 

Reneer said he tape-recorded Bell’s confession before the teen boy disappeared and gave it to Detective Keith Cain of the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 23, 1986.  

Here is a transcript of the taped confession from 14 News Investigates :

John Reneer: “What’s going on?”

Dewayne Bell: “Aw, nothing. Got any money I can borrow?”

John Reneer: “How much? I might have a few dollars?”

Dewayne Bell: “About a couple hundred anyway.”

John Reneer: “S**t. I ain’t got no two hundred dollars. I wish I did have.”

Dewayne Bell: “I need it pretty bad, I need to get out of town.”

John Reneer: “Why’s that?”

Dewayne Bell: “I done something the other day. I need to get out of town for a while.”

Then Bell said he had severely injured Green.

Dewayne Bell: “Me and her been into it for a while, and I just got p****d off.”

John Reneer: “Did you beat her up?”

Dewayne Bell: “Yeah.”

John Reneer: “H**l, the other day, apparently she ain’t going to tell on you or you’d done be in trouble.”

Dewayne Bell: “It’s worse than that. I mean, I hurt her real bad. Hurt some others too. I need to get out of town pretty bad.”

John Reneer: “Who all did you hurt?”

Dewayne Bell: “It’s a girl and a kid.”

John Reneer: “A kid?”

Dewayne Bell: “Yeah.”

John Reneer: “Hadn’t nobody called the police on you yet?”

Dewayne Bell: “Naw, there’s another girl, I hurt her pretty bad too. “

John Reneer: “Well how come ain’t nobody been to the police on you? What in the h**l are you trying to do? Just get a hold of a little money? Trying to talk me out of it?”

Dewayne Bell: “No. No. I’m telling you the truth.”

Dewayne Bell: “Well, well… I’m going to tell you the truth. They can’t go to the police.”

John Reneer: “Why can’t they?”

Dewayne Bell: “Because I killed one of – I killed them.”

John Reneer: “Where did you kill them at? How come there ain’t no bodies showed up or nothing?”

Dewayne Bell: “Well, I hid them pretty good.”

John Reneer: “You hid them good?”

Dewayne Bell: “Yeah.”

John Reneer: “Hid them where? You ain’t going to tell me where you hid them? I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t tell neither.”

Dewayne Bell: “I put them in a corn field.”

John Reneer: “D**n man, you are scary. If you are telling the truth, I don’t know what to tell you. If you are lying, I don’t know about no G*****n lie like that either. I don’t want to be involved in it. How come you come to me with this s**t anyway? “

Dewayne Bell: “I don’t know. I needed some money.”

Shannon Rena Green: pictures of DeWayne Bell
David DeWayne Bell/Doe Network & Messenger-Inquirer

Reneer said he recorded the conversation with Bell because he believed the police had wired the teen with a tape recorder to reveal Reneer’s involvement in Green’s disappearance. 

Reneer claimed he insisted Bell show him where he buried the bodies. The teenager took him to a cornfield along Griffith Station Road, where Reneer said he viewed Green’s buried body.

Bell said he allegedly strangled Green when she refused his sexual advances at his home on East 20th Street. Bell claimed he called the Owensboro police and confessed.

After leaving the cornfield, Bell took Reneer to a different cornfield by Little Hurricane boat ramp, where Dickens’ body would later be found. Reneer said he saw the young woman’s remains.

In a Nov. 14, 2005 story, the Messenger-Inquirer reported that a “1986 case report by Kentucky State Police Detective Gerald Nickens noted that an informant claimed to know that Renner had told David Bell about his visit with his son.” Reneer let David Bell listen to the taped confession that night. The informant also claimed the elder Bell gave his son money to leave town. 

Reneer never saw the younger Bell again. Several family members confirmed the voice on the tape as Bell’s. 

According to The Charley Project, the tape was documented in police files but never saved. Miraculously, records of the tape reappeared in 2005. Reneer had planned to kill Bell and his father after hearing the confession but never got a chance to do it, he said. He passed a lie detector test about his involvement in the Bell and Green disappearances.

Investigators shifted from Reneer to Bell as a suspect in Green’s disappearance based on their renewed investigation, which led them to believe Green never made it to Reneer’s home and vanished on the walk there.

Police have on file a handwritten note from Sergeant Mary Dickens with the Owensboro Police Department about someone calling on July 6, 1986, confessing to murder. 

The note reads: “I’ve done killed two or three better stop me for I kill more.”

After hearing the taped confession, David Bell said he looked for his son but never found him. A few weeks later, he moved to Tucson with his girlfriend, Tina Szetela, aged 20. The two had a son together in December 1986 and returned to Owensboro the following year.

Owensboro police arrested the couple in July 1988, and they were “later convicted of trafficking in more than 70 pounds of marijuana,” the Messenger-Inquirer reported. Investigators said the couple and others were moving marijuana from Mexico to Owensboro through Tucson. 

Police arrested David Bell for violating parole conditions from that conviction after he pled guilty in August 2005 to driving under the influence. 

David Bell maintained his innocence in Green’s disappearance and claimed his son was not in Tucson with him, nor had he seen or heard from him since his son disappeared.

Saffron was not entirely convinced of David Bell’s innocence in Green’s disappearance, and a few facts surrounding his son’s disappearance did not sit right with Saffron. For example, Bell’s mother reported him missing to the police a week after his disappearance even though he and his father worked together.

Saffron said Bell had initially agreed to take a polygraph test, but his lawyer called Saffron the next day and said David Bell would not take the test. The elder Bell subsequently refused to talk to investigators about his son’s disappearance.

In late summer 2005, authorities searched two 100-square-foot plots in a western Daviess County field for Green’s body. A team from NecroSearch International of Colorado identified those areas as target areas. The non-profit organization has assisted law enforcement in searches for clandestine graves since 1988.

More than a dozen police officers dug down about five feet in each plot. Forensic anthropologist David Glassman from the University of Southern Indiana was on hand to help direct the officers, who sifted through each shovelful of dirt excavated with their hands. They sifted the area again before the officers returned the dirt to the holes.

Owen Covington, Messenger-Inquirer, Sept. 13, 2005 

Unfortunately, authorities never found Green’s body. Detectives believe her remains were there at one time but later moved. 

If you have any information regarding the Bell or Green disappearance, please contact the Owensboro Police Department at (270) 687-8888.

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

Even though Reneer has an extensive criminal history, I am not convinced he had anything to do with Green’s disappearance, although I know he cannot be ruled out as a possible suspect. 

I am leaning toward Bell and his father, primarily because of the tape, and that Bell disappeared five days after Green. David Bell stopped cooperating with the police, and that is usually a red flag.

I think David Bell helped his son leave town and has always known of his location. I’m guessing Bell was in Tucson, which was why his father and Szetela moved there. I also believe Szetela knows what happened to Bell.

Bell’s full name is David DeWayne Bell, and his father is also David DeWayne Bell, according to The Charley Project. I chose to go with DeWayne because that is how the teen is referenced in news articles. I’m not sure David Bell’s middle name is DeWayne, though.

I found Tina Szetela on Facebook, and there is a David Bell on her friend’s list. I think this David Bell is Bell’s father.

The David Bell on Szetela’s FB page died in 2015 at age 70. His obituary states his middle name as Lee, and that son David Bell Jr. and DeWayne Bell preceded him in death, as did three other children. 

The obituary also says that Jimmy Bell, Jonathan Szetela, and Roman Tolson are his surviving sons. The dude had like 10 kids with different women. 

What’s strange is that Szetela’s husband of 20 years died in June 2020, and his obituary lists Jimmy, John, and Roman Tolson as his surviving sons. I’m going with Jimmy Bell as David Bell’s son with Szetela because he is seen in a family picture on David L Bell’s Fb page.

David L. Bell’s obituary also lists Lydia Haught and Noni Henderson as surviving daughters. When I looked Haught up on Whitepages, the site said she might go by “Lydia Lanham.” A December 2005 newspaper article stated that David Bell had a daughter named Lena Lanham, so I wonder if the newspaper got the first name wrong.

In a 2002 newspaper article, Noni Henderson is listed as DeWayne Bell’s younger sister, nine years old, when he disappeared.

A 2005 article stated David Bell has a daughter Samantha Kellums. There is a Samantha Powers on the Fb page of David Lee Bell and in his obituary. When I punched in her name on Whitepages, it said she used to go by Samantha Kellems, last name spelled one letter differently. She lost a son in 2015 with the last name Kellems.

I believe David Lee Bell is DeWayne Bell’s father, but I cannot explain the different middle names and don’t hold me to it, obviously. When I looked up David L. Bell, I got a hit that stated he used to live in Tucson. It has to be the same one. 

If it is the same David Bell, why are agencies reporting David DeWayne Bell? Did he change his middle name for some reason?

None of Bell’s surviving siblings have public pictures of him on their FB pages. There are no FB pages set up for him either. The kid has been missing since 1986, so what gives? Do they know something we don’t? I’m not convinced he’s dead.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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