UNADILLA, Ga. — After 25 years, Veronica Pate still holds onto the hope that one day she will know what happened to her daughter. Shy Shy was just eight years old when she went missing from their home in Unadilla.
"It was like the ground just opened up, and my baby disappeared," says Pate. "For two years, I slept in a chair beside my door without locking it, thinking she would walk back in."
Meanwhile, the family of 18-year-old Shy Daniels also continues looking for answers.
"She had been shot right behind the earlobe in the head," says her stepmom Lori Daniels.
Her daughter was in the room with her brother when a bullet came through their west Macon home, killing Daniels.
The initial investigation brought chaos, worry, and fear for both families.
"I did lie detector tests. They came inside my house. They took her book bag, some of her clothes and stuff," says Pate.
"We're worried about Shy, and we've got detectives walking around and police," says Daniels.
Things eventually calmed down, but life was forever changed for both families.
With a hole in their home and hearts, Daniels' family was left to plan a funeral.
"She wasn't even two weeks graduated from Central High School, which has been great. They had her funeral there. They did a scholarship for her in Shy Daniels' name," says Lori.
"Everywhere I went, through high school, when I got my first job, everywhere I was just 'Hey, aren't you the brother who was in the room when his sister got killed?'" Daniels' brother Chris says his sister's death has almost become part of his identity.
Both families have since put away or donated their loved one's things, but they refuse to pack up their quest for answers.
"I want to keep my story out there however long it takes for me to find her," says Pate.
They say each interview, anniversary, and balloon release stir up the pain left behind, but it also symbolizes the hope that they'll get their answers one day.
"I'm never going to stop believing," says Pate.
Pate still talks with investigators about finding her daughter and plans a celebration in October on Shy Shy's birthday.
Shy Daniels' family says they've been frustrated with how long it is taking to find the person who shot her, and they refuse to fix the bullet hole in their home until an arrest is made.
MORE THAN A NUMBER
More Than A Number is a Poynter-Stand Together award-winning project by Justin Baxley designed to help families of loved ones impacted by tragedy and trauma interact with journalists in a less intrusive way.
The initiative's goal is to give a face to the victim and a voice to the family and give the family more control over the process. In addition to the memorial page and the form page, a resource guide will be available to help families in the aftermath of their loved one's death with connections to various organizations for help with things such as counseling, cleanup and funeral costs.
More Than A Number will officially launch in August with a streaming special available on 13WMAZ+ for on-demand streaming. For any questions or concerns about More Than A Number, contact us here at the following email.
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