Shiverdecker: 28 years later, still unsolved
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Chanty Shiverdecker, 15 years old, went missing from Alexander City on December 9, 1994. Her body was found more than two months later in Coosa County on February 24, 1995.
This file photo from the June 21, 1996, edition of “The Coosa County News” shows one of the billboards that were utilized in hopes of solving the homicide of Chanty Shiverdecker.
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Twenty-eight years ago today a body was found in Coosa County, and 10,220 days later a family remains hopeful for answers, although that hope has dwindled over the years.
On December 9, 1994, 15-year-old Chanty Shiverdecker of Alexander City was reported missing, having last been seen at basketball practice at Radney School in Alexander City. She would not be seen again for more than two months, when on February 24, 1995, her body was found in Coosa County.
Her body was found along Alabama Highway 9 near the Nixburg community, and while forensic examiners were not able to determine a specific cause of death, they did rule her death as a homicide.
According to an article in the March 2, 1995, edition of “The Coosa County News,” her body was discovered following an anonymous tip to the State Trooper’s office. At that time, the Coosa County Sheriff’s Office reported that Chanty’s body had been found uncovered in a ditch approximately 75-100 feet behind a trailer that served as an office for Bama Woods, located off Highway 9 and about one mile from the intersection with Alabama Highway 22.
Exactly 28 years later, the case remains open as a cold case, with Chanty’s few remaining family members still hoping to eventually get answers, see justice served and have some closure with Chanty’s death.
Chanty’s father, Howard Shiverdecker, passed away on April 4, 2022. Chanty’s only remaining immediate family members are her brother, Christopher Shiverdecker; stepmother, Gloria Idiaan, who still lives in Alexander City; and her birth mother who lives in Illinois. All of her grandparents have also since died.
“That was the saddest part about Howard passing away was that he didn’t get the answers he needed to feel good, but I think he felt good about where everybody was in his life and that it was time,” Idiaan said. “He held on an extra 12 years.”
She explained that her ex-husband had heart surgery 12 years ago at the time and that the doctors had given him nine years to live, but that he lived for 12 more. She added, “Still no answers.”
“That was the saddest part of the whole thing, that he didn’t get answers before he passed,” Idiaan said.
The situation remains sad and bleak for the remaining family members, as things seem to be at a standstill regarding the case, which is one of five cold cases listed on the Coosa County Sheriff’s Office website.
“There are no new leads as far as I know, no new nothing,” Idiaan said. “I don’t even know for sure who’s on my case anymore. I’ve been through three chiefs of police and four detectives.”
She hopes that someone will step up and re-investigate Chanty’s case “before everyone is dead.”
Chanty’s brother, Christopher Shiverdecker, also continues to hope for the case to be solved and to get some amount of closure.
“We are definitely hoping for the case to be solved,” he said, “especially with the advances in forensic technology and the use of DNA and ancestry databases. I truly believe that if the evidence is rerun it would produce useful clues to work with.”
While for her family Chanty will forever be 15, on May 12 this year she would have been 44 years old. Her brother wrote a post on his social media page last year in memory of his sister on what would have been her forty-third birthday.
“I had been thinking about what I was going to say today for a long time,” he wrote. “I was going to start by saying that if she was still with us, this would have been her first birthday without our father. It went on and was horribly sad. I decided on a different approach – one that is optimistic. Instead, I’ve decided to look at it like this is the first birthday in 27 years that my father got to celebrate it with her.”
Meanwhile, as time has gone on, although she tries to remain hopeful, Idiaan’s hope has diminished over the years. She has especially lost faith in law enforcement as she feels that some of them have neglected to follow up on leads.
“I have my own suspects, but one of them has passed away since then,” she said. “As far as I know, neither of those people ever got questioned. Chris had to go through three lie detector tests and all this other crap, and the ones I feel were responsible never even got questioned as far as I know.”
“They’re not even trying,” Idiaan added. “I don’t feel like they’re even trying. I gave them something over 10 years ago that I felt was a really good thing, and then recently Chris has got somebody that said her ex-boyfriend witnessed it, and as far as I know they’ve never been questioned – that he actually witnessed Chanty being killed. So what else can you do if those people aren’t even questioned or even called? It’s sad. It’s just sad.”
Idiaan hopes that eventually someone will come along to review the case with fresh eyes, review the evidence on file and re-interview anyone who may know something.
“I think they’ve made mistakes right from the beginning, and they just don’t want to admit there were mistakes; it was a ‘good ole boys’ syndrome, and it’s never going to be solved because of that,” she said. “Nobody wants to say, ‘Well I’m going to take this on, and I’m going to figure this out.’”
Idiaan recalled other times when she felt that law enforcement officers who were supposed to be working the case let them down, as well.
“There was a video at the gas station that she supposedly went to, and it was erased,” she said. “Now who erased it? Did the police erase it? Did the store owner erase it? How was it erased? My detective told me it was not like it wasn’t turned on, it was like it had been erased. That’s what I was told, because eight hours of data was missing. What does that tell you? Good ole boy syndrome – somebody knows somebody and doesn’t want anybody getting in trouble.”
She further recalled that 10 years after Chanty was gone she had done a life insurance physical on an individual who said they saw two brothers the night Chanty went missing and that they had come to his house asking if he wanted to play “a card game” with them. Idiaan said that he did not really know them well and that he turned them away.
“I feel like that was an alibi, and that’s the one that now one brother hung himself,” she said. “It goes on and on – just so much.”
“I don’t feel it was followed up on,” she added. “As far as I know nobody ever got a hold of that person that I gave to Coosa County. I gave it to Alex City. I gave it to the Sheriff’s Office in Tallapoosa County. As far as I know – as far as anybody coming back to me and saying, ‘Gloria, yes we questioned this person,’ I have never gotten that response.”
Additionally, she said that it has been three years since the woman mentioned to Chris and Idiaan that her ex-boyfriend had said he witnessed Chanty being murdered. She said that as far as she knows neither of them have ever been questioned either.
“We don’t have too much confidence in the police – not much confidence,” she said.
Over the years, the family has utilized other avenues of helping get the word out regarding Chanty’s case, with Chris Shiverdecker finding reignited hope that these might help get answers regarding his sister’s murder.
There have been two podcasts about Chanty’s disappearance and murder. The first was on a site called “Bitter Endings,” and the other was done by a duo called “Two Blonde Sleuths.”
Additionally, Shiverdecker also did an interview with WSFA of Montgomery for their cold case segment about this time last year.
“I’ve lost faith in the police. I’ve lost faith in the sheriff’s departments. I’ve lost faith in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. I’ve lost faith in all of them that it’ll ever be solved,” Idiaan stated. “That’s why we’ve turned to getting podcasts out there – not that that’ll do any good, because if they don’t feel guilty by now… Well, the one that probably felt guilty hung himself, and if the others don’t feel guilty by now, they’re never going to. What’s going to make them change now?”
In a social media post from December 9, 2021, Chanty’s brother wrote, “27 years is a long time. Long enough that I can’t remember the last time I saw my sister or the last words we said to each other. Long enough that I can’t remember the last place we went together or the last time we ate as a family. Who takes note of these trivial things assuming that there are tens of thousands of such moments to come? Little did my family and I know that on December 9, 1994, that no more of those moments were to follow. We, as a family, were about to have the worst day of our lives – the day that my sister, Chanty Martria Shiverdecker, wouldn’t be coming home.”
He went on to describe those years as time spent considering the same unanswered questions and being lost “in a terrible limbo of suspicion and wonder… to know that there is an answer out there, but to remain elusive to this day.”
Idiaan recalls the day they were told Chanty’s body had been found. She said that at that time the detective who had been on the case since December told her, “I really thought she’d come home.”
“Like she ran away,” Idiaan recalled, regarding the way the detective said it. “We had tried to tell him from the beginning that she would not run away.”
Thinking back on 28 years ago and how the case was worked even in the beginning, Idiaan sounded somewhat defeated.
“I lost faith pretty early,” she said. “I don’t feel like they’ve done their due diligence from day one.”
She said that after Chanty had been reported missing she closed off her bedroom and did not bother it. However, she said law enforcement officers never went in Chanty’s bedroom to gather information or look for possible evidence, never going through any of her things in her bedroom.
Later when they were moving, Idiaan said she finally went through Chanty’s belongings. She went through her notebooks and even took the police a note she found in one of her notebooks, having also provided numerous books and copies of things to law enforcement for them to make copies of them to assist in the ongoing investigation.
However, Idiaan feels more that “ongoing” means the case is sitting in a drawer.
“Every time I talk to any of the services they say it’s an ongoing investigation,” she said. “Then when I ask if they investigated this, ‘No, we haven’t got that done yet; it’s an ongoing investigation.’ Yeah right. What I told you five years ago hasn’t been done yet, but it’s ongoing.”
She added, “I don’t know what anybody can do other than somebody actually sits down and goes through it and actually re-questions everybody and see if there’s anything that they can come back with. The police need to – somebody – needs to step up and re-question.”
Despite the bleak outlook on the case after nearly three decades, the family still asks that anyone who knows anything to please contact law enforcement or to contact Christopher Shiverdecker directly if they do not feel comfortable going to law enforcement with information.
“If anyone out there has any information, even a little thing might be all they need,” Idiaan said. “Anybody saw her picked up or if anyone saw her with anybody.”
Regarding the community, Shiverdecker said, “I’d like to thank them for their continued interest in this case, and if they know or have heard anything, no matter how trivial, please contact Coosa County, Tallapoosa County, or the ABI and share. You never know what’s going to break a case.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Coosa County Sheriff’s Office at 256-377-2211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office at 256-825-4264 or email email@example.com, or the Alabama governor’s office at 334-242-7100.
There is also a Facebook page for those interested in following along with Chanty’s case. It is called “Chanty Shiverdecker Unsolved” and can be found at www.facebook.com/ChantyShiverdecker.
While Idiaan has carried the torch for the last 28 years in trying to find justice for Chanty, she has now passed the torch on to her stepson to carry it forward.
“I’ve asked Chris to take over this because it eats at my heart,” Idiaan said. “I just feel like the case was lost from the beginning.”
“It’s a burden on me,” she added. “It’s not a burden on the police.”
Tearfully, Idiaan stated, “I’ve been going on with it for so long that I’m so disheartened, and it still upsets me so bad that… I just can’t do it anymore.”