Ashley Reeves regretted relationship with Sam Shelton who 'left her for dead'

Sam Shelton 'buried' Ashley Reeves in the woods and then went out dancing

                            Ashley Reeves regretted relationship with Sam Shelton who 'left her for dead'
Teenager Ashley Teeves was attacked by teacher Sam Shelton and left for dead for 30 hours (Youtube/True Crime Daily)

Ashley Reeves (Anwen O'Driscoll) seems to have it all in Lifetime's 'Left For Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story'. She's an excellent student, a good basketball player and has a loving family, boyfriend and plenty of friends. So it's quite a mystery why someone like Ashley, would have found herself vulnerable to the charms of a teacher who set out to woo her. 

The Lifetime film attempts to answer this question, though it doesn't do so very convincingly. Ashley as we see in the film has been in only one relationship with her steady boyfriend Danny, who gives her a promise ring at just 17. It's a move that backfires, however, with Ashley visibly thrown off by even thinking about such a level of commitment so early. It's this dilemma on whether to continue her commitment to her boyfriend or to keep her options open, not just relationship-wise but with regards to life, that leads to Ashley confiding in teacher Sam Shelton. 'Left For Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story' has all the elements that fans of other Lifetime true-crime tales such as 'Gone Mom: The Disappearance of Jennifer Dulos'  will enjoy.


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Who was Sam Shelton?

Sam Shelton who a gym coach and a pro wrestler besides being Ashley’s teacher when she was in the seventh grade. They reconnected in February 2006, two months before she went missing.

In the film 'Left For Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story' we see that Sam's worldly-wise ways obviously impress young Ashley. But while this part we can understand, we're not sure why Sam's standard line, which we later see he uses with other young girls in the film, telling them that they are special, seems to work on Ashley. After all Ashley due to her outgoing nature, seems to get more than enough emotional validation from her family and friends. In the film, Sam's manipulation works and under the pretext of an upset stomach, Sam gets Ashley to come to his house where they then become intimate. Ashley in the film through disjointed flashbacks due to her memory loss clearly thinks better of the incident and expresses this to Sam who is worried he will lose his job if news of their intimacy gets out.

A look at the attack on Ashley Reeves

In 'Left For Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story', we see Sam trying to throw Ashley out of the car, after its clear that Ashley thinks they made a mistake by being intimate. However according to Sam Shelton's discussions with the police, he wanted to end the relationship and Ashley refused, which was when he was trying to get her out of the car. It was in an attempt to get Ashley out the car that Sam Shelton used a chokehold on Ashley. When she went limp, he realised he had snapped her neck. In a panic he then dragged Ashley into the woods and strangled her with his belt and also choked her with his bare hands.

Ashley was then left for dead by Shelton who 'buried' her with dirt and leaves in the woods. Chillingly, Shelton left the scene and then went out dancing. While the police initially focussed their suspicions on Ashley's long term boyfriend, they soon began to realise that perhaps Sam Shelton was the one behind Ashley's disappearance. After a twelve hour interrogation in which Shelton changed his story several times, it was finally the mention of his grandmother, that caused him to break down and confess.

Shelton was then the one to lead detectives to Ashley’s body in Citizens Park, located only 12 minutes away from Ashley’s home. Ashley was found 30 hours after her attack, paralyzed and gravely injured but still alive. As Ashley slowly inches her way back to recovery in the film, she asks her mother who did this to her since she initially has no memory of the incident. When her mother Michelle (Jennie Garth) tells Ashley it was Sam Shelton, Ashley's first reaction is that it's not possible because Sam is her friend. A friendship that turned out to be possibly the biggest mistake of Ashley's life, which she would pay for physically as she had to learn how to walk and talk and eat again and also emotionally as she bore the judgement of an inappropriate relationship with a teacher. 

Who was convicted?

Ashley Reeves and Sam Shelton's ill-fated mentor-mentee relationship finally resulted in Sam Shelton being sentenced to 20 years in prison. Shelton is expected to be out on parole on April 22, 2024. To find out more about the trauma that Ashley Reeves had to endure for getting involved with the wrong man, you can catch 'Left For Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story' on Saturday, June 12 at 8/7c.


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