The Florida man last seen with missing mother Leila Cavett, whose toddler was found wandering a parking lot after she disappeared in July, was charged with murder this week.
Shannon Ryan, 39, has now been charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence, the Hollywood Police Department announced Tuesday. Following an FBI investigation, he was arrested on kidnapping charges in August after the disappearance of 21-year-old Cavett. At that time authorities believed that he intended to collect a ransom for the toddler’s return.
Those charges were dropped in April, but a child neglect charge without great bodily harm was added after the 2-year-old was found “wandering alone in an apartment complex” in Miramar, the previous charging documents stated.
The arrest report released on Tuesday states that in a surveillance video from July 27, Ryan is seen dragging a large object wrapped in black garbage bags and tossing what appear to be bloody towels from his truck into a dumpster. It also states that in videos made by Ryan he calls Cavett a "manipulative thief" who "hustled him," NBC Miami reported.
Cavett, who is originally from Alabama, was living in Atlanta when she went to Florida with her son. Her body has not been found.
Ryan told authorities he met Cavett in 2019. He said she had driven to Florida with her son to sell him her white GMC 3500 pickup truck for $3,000. They met at the RaceTrac gas station in Hollywood around 2:30 p.m. on July 25 and then went to the beach in his 2004 Gold Lexus ES 330, leaving her truck in the parking lot.
Ryan, who identifies as a witch, tarot instructor and “master of the Occult Arts” on his Facebook profile, told authorities the two had returned to the gas station sometime later and that around 2:30 a.m. on July 26, Cavett and her child “left in a dark sedan with several unknown black males,” according to the affidavit.
“Leila got her and her son and got in the car with those guys,” Ryan said later in the nearly hour-long video he posted to social media before his arrest.
Surveillance footage from the station didn’t show Cavett getting into a sedan or Ryan’s car parked at the pumps as he described to investigators. However, footage from the area where her son was found appeared to show his Gold Lexus parked “directly in front of the apartment complex where the child was recovered,” the complaint states.
The RaceTrac gas station footage also showed Ryan's car leaving the gas station parking lot at around 8:15 a.m. and returning to the lot at around 8:38 a.m., which investigators said was “consistent with the time frame in which the child was abandoned and recovered.”
Footage also shows Ryan purchasing extra-large trash bags and two boxes of carpet odor eliminators at 9:42 a.m. He returned to the store 15 minutes later to buy Advanced Strength Duct Tape, according to the complaint.
Investigators issued a federal warrant for Ryan’s iPhone on August 15 and allegedly found a series of unusual searches made on July 26, including one at 12:01 a.m. that said “What day does commercial garbage pickup for Hollywood, Florida,” and another search at 1:45 a.m. that said “Does beach and alcohol make chloroform?"
On Wednesday, Ryan appeared in court on the murder charges. NBC Miami reported that he is being held without bond after the court determined him to be a flight risk.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.