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Murder in a Santa Monica Squat 

The death of 14-year-old Shevawn Geoghegan

Wednesday, Jul 28 1999
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Photo by Debra DiPaolo

On the morning of his daughter’s death, Edward Geoghegan had no reason to suspect that anything was amiss. The 14-year-old Shevawn had certainly had her problems — she’d run away from home several times, and she still affected a goth style, with green strands of hair above shaved temples and a dog collar around her neck. She wore a Betty Boop watch and carried a butterfly pocket knife for protection. But she was attending her therapy sessions, and her parents had successfully petitioned the courts to have her put on probation. There seemed to be cause for optimism.

Related Links: more on the Geohegan murder from surfsantamonica.com

Shortly after 11:30 on the morning of Tuesday, February 24, 1998, Shevawn announced she was going to the Third Street Promenade, her frequent hangout. When she failed to return by 6 p.m., her parents paged her, but their calls went unanswered. They grew concerned that their daughter had run away again.

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They paged her throughout the eve ning and reported her missing to police at midnight. On Wednesday morning, Edward Geoghegan and his daughter’s friend Candace Sanford walked the length of the Promenade, showing drifters and strangers pictures of Shevawn. Then, armed with a flashlight and a crowbar, the father began entering abandoned buildings frequented by his daughter and her runaway friends. Early Thursday morning, "in response to suggestions by one of Shevawn’s friends," Geoghegan entered an abandoned mental-health building at 1525 Euclid St., where Shevawn was said to hang out with squatters.

The structure was dark and labyrinthine and anything but comforting. On the walls of the old Spanish-style courtyard building were pentagrams scrawled in blood and the crucified body of a headless bird. An impaled lizard hung from the ceiling on a hook. On the wall of one room, a heart had been drawn along with the words "Will you be my victim?"

In Room 13A, Geoghegan discovered at the foot of a cot a pair of black Doc Marten ankle boots with green soles. There was no question that they were Shevawn’s. "I went to the central area and screamed her name."

After screaming and waiting in the building for 30 minutes, Geoghegan went home to pick up his wife, Eileen, and they headed over to the police station. At 9 a.m., they returned to the scene with two officers, and Geoghegan showed them the room where he found his daughter’s boots. But the officers found no other evidence of Shevawn.

Geoghegan, a clinical lab technician who comes from a long line of New York City cops, spent the rest of the day going from squat to squat, while his wife combed the streets gathering information. Later that day, Shevawn’s friend Candace nervously approached Geoghegan and told him word on the street was that Shevawn was dead in the basement of the mental-health facility. Geoghegan called police, and they returned to the Euclid squat, this time with a Fire Department searchlight.

At around dusk, Detective Ann Marie Gray informed Geoghegan that the officers had "found something in the basement wrapped up tight." "They could see the black hair," Geoghegan said. "I immediately knew it was my daughter. I just collapsed on the sidewalk. I just went down."

Earlier this month, Glen Mason, 23, was convicted of Shevawn’s murder. Last week, a second suspect, Elizabeth Ann Mangham, 17, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death, and two days later police apprehended the final suspect, Dennis Scott, 23, on the streets of Birmingham, Alabama. A caller had tipped them off after seeing the drifter’s face on the popular television show America’s Most Wanted. Scott, who went by the street name Jimmy "Linus" Turner, was extradited to Santa Monica last week.

The strange and deeply disturbing case of Shevawn Geoghegan has shed light on a deadly mix of teenagers, runaways and criminal drifters who hang on the trendy Third Street Promenade by day and retreat at night to abandoned buildings. "I’m going to take you to a place you’ve never been," Mason’s defense attorney Marc Lewinstein told the jury in his opening argument last month. "In this place, the rules we live by are different. Up is down, night is day . . . This is the squatters’ place."

By all accounts, Shevawn Geoghegan was, at the time of her death, a tough little girl with a big mouth and an attitude to match. An only child, she had been raised to be assertive. "She decided when to get rid of the bottle," her father said, "when to go to the potty." Now he worries that it was that same assertiveness that "got her in trouble." A reading disability had put Shevawn behind in school, and she soon felt ostracized, Geoghegan said. She suffered from severe depression.

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