Lifetime’s ‘Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story’ is a film that chronicles the extraordinary real-life tale of an ordinary teenager whose whole world turned upside down in the spring of 2006. Ashley was in a secret romance with an older male around that time, which led to her almost losing her life at the age of 17. Though with the help of friends and detectives, there was soon no mystery surrounding what happened to her, and her strength, courage, and resilience became the focus of her story. So now, let’s find out more about her, shall we?
Who is Ashley Reeves?
Hailing from a village called Millstadt in Illinois, 17-year-old Ashley Reeves was a Columbia High School junior with a steady boyfriend named Jeremy Smith in 2006. Having been together for two years, they were very close, and he loved how funny and bright his girlfriend was. Ashley did well in school as well, but she still couldn’t wait to graduate the following year. Her parents, sister, and friends were constants in her life, yet all of them were unaware that the teen would soon grapple with the unimaginable. Fortunately, she managed to survive and thrive.
On April 27, Ashley left her family house at 3:30 p.m. for a job interview in a nearby city, telling her parents that she would play basketball after that and be back by her 10 p.m. curfew. However, the evening came and went, and there were still no signs of Ashley around. With her not responding to any calls or text messages either, which was uncharacteristic, her parents wasted no time reporting her missing. As time passed by, the car she was driving was found abandoned in Laderman Park, Belleville. Ashley’s pack with her change of clothes for basketball was still inside.
Desperate for information, Ashley’s mother contacted the phone company and managed to get her records, which she used to find out if anyone else heard from her daughter. This pointed her to 26-year-old Samson Shelton, who said that he hadn’t talked to or seen Ashley. But before anyone could ask how he even knew her, he hung up. It then came to light that Samson, a driver’s ed and gym coach who had taught Ashley in middle school, was her older boyfriend. He also lived in Belleville, right where the teen’s car was discovered, leading him to become the prime suspect.
The following morning, Samson was questioned for about 12 hours before he admitted to reconnecting with Ashley in February 2006, being intimate with her, and explained what had ensued. He initially claimed that he tried to break up with his younger girlfriend, after which she began kicking and screaming, but it was the other way round. After Ashley tried to break up with Samson, he dragged her into the trees of a park, choked her with his bare hands, and then used his belt to continue until he heard a crack. He helped authorities locate her, but 30 hours had gone by.
Where is Ashley Reeves Now?
When police officers saw Ashley Reeves lying on her back in the cold dirt, her hands up to her chest, her tongue sticking out, and hundreds of insect bites covering her body, they were sure that it was too late. Except, that’s the moment her chest moved, and she was rushed to a hospital. Placed in an induced coma by specialists, the fear was that she would be paralyzed due to her internal injures, but thankfully that was not the case. Although, Ashley still had to spend months in medical and rehab centers to re-learn how to walk, talk, swallow, and do daily tasks.
Eventually, Ashley achieved a near-complete recovery and also graduated high school in 2007, with her original class. During Samson’s court hearing for his sentencing that same year, she merely declared that she’s “glad it’s over with. I just want to continue with my life and not worry about it.” True to this statement, Ashley has since preferred to live her life away from the spotlight. Thus, all we know is that she began volunteering at a center for violence prevention and is now holding a steady job with two children that keep her world bright and content. She does not remember her attack.
Read More: Where is Samson Shelton Now?