Today marks a milestone for the family of a popular eighth grade reading teacher at Harris Middle School who disappeared last year.
Shelley Jones Mook, then 24, had moved from Shelbyville to an apartment in Murfreesboro over the prior weekend, taking Monday off to finalize the move. Her mother, Debra Sikora had flown from Pennsylvania to assist her daughter that weekend. Shelley had dropped Debra off at the airport early that Monday morning.
She was last seen by her ex-husband, Tyler Mook, around 3 p.m. that day when she went to his house to drop off their 6-year-old daughter Lilliana, according to investigators. She had a 4:30 p.m. appointment with her new landlord, but never arrived.
Her Pontiac Grand Prix was discovered burned in Rutherford County late Monday night, just off Manchester Highway.
"Shelley Mook is an excellent member of the Harris Middle School faculty and well-liked by students and staff," said then-principal Bill Pietkiewicz at the time of her disappearance.
A mother's love
Sikora received the news of Shelley's disappearance two days later, and drove the 642 miles from Edinboro to Shelbyville to assist in the search for answers. Even as the sun came up, Sikora says she never expected the worst.
Sikora took a leave of absence from her job and moved to Shelbyville for several months last year as the investigation into Shelley's disappearance continued. After a custody hearing in the fall, Sikora returned to her home in Erie, Pa., with Lilliana who, according to postings on social media by family and friends, is adjusting well to her new school and surroundings. Attempts to contact Sikora for this story went unanswered.
In an earlier interview, Sikora was appreciative of the support she received from the Bedford County community.
"I've met some fantastic people, however things turn out, we'll be hopefully friends for life. I'll remember always their generosity and support. To have come this far and endure all the trials that have come this way, the good days and the bad. They've been helpful."
Friends and family will gather this evening for a simple candlelit remembrance ceremony at a playground at Billings Park in Edinboro, Shelley's home town.
According to Kristen Helm, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesperson, the case remains open and active.
Shelley is one of three missing people in Bedford County. Antonio Taylor, then 21, has been missing since Sept. 20, 1999. Bobby Smelcer, then 52, went missing Nov. 21, 2010.
The three families have become close friends after a T-G profile last summer, and have joined forces to organize searches and prayer vigils for a group they now term "The Shelbyville Missing."
The reward for information concerning the disappearance of Shelley Jones Mook is $20,000. Contact the Bedford County Sheriff's Department at 684-3232 or the Tenn. Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.