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Mother’s Live-in Boyfriend Arrested for Alleged 2010 Murder of Eighth-Grade Texas Cheerleader


Hailey Dunn and Shawn Adkins

An arrest has been made in the 2010 disappearance and alleged murder of a Texas teenager.

Eighth-grade athlete, cheerleader, and band member Hailey Dunn, 13, was last seen on December 27, 2010 in Colorado City, Texas, in Mitchell County. Her mother, Billie Jean Dunn, reported her missing on Dec. 28. The teen’s body was found in March 2013 near Lake J.B. Thomas in Scurry County, approximately 35 minutes northwest of Colorado City.

Shawn Casey Adkins, Dunn’s mother’s live-in boyfriend, was arrested in Howard County, Texas, on Monday, online jail records indicate. The records say the Big Springs Police Department was involved in the arrest and that Adkins was initially held on a $2 million surety bond. The listed charge is “murder,” and the records indicate Adkins was released to another agency at some time on Monday. No court date in Howard County has been set.

Though the jail records do not provide specifics, jail staffers told the Abilene Reporter News that Adkins is being charged with murdering Dunn. A private investigator who examined Dunn’s death gave similar information to local television duopoly KTAB/KRBC, the local CBS and NBC affiliates.

The Howard County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook that it would “not be doing a release of information” on the arrest because the Texas Rangers brought Adkins to the county lockup and because the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Nolan County was the office which sought a warrant for Adkins’ arrest.

Billie Dunn, Hailey’s mother, told KAMC-TV that she was “not surprised” by Adkins’ arrest.

“I thank God that person has been apprehended and is going to pay for what he did here on earth,” the victim’s mother said.

Adkins had long been publicly named as a “person of interest” in the case. He was previously described as the last person to have seen Hailey Dunn alive. From the Reporter News in 2019:

In February 2011, authorities announced that almost 109,000 images described as child pornography, bestiality and of deviant acts were discovered on numerous electronic devices at the home of Billie Jean Dunn and that of Adkins’ mother in Big Spring.

Billie Jean Dunn was arrested March 17, 2011, in Colorado City, acknowledging that she lied to police who came to her house to execute a search warrant on Adkins.

The mother’s arrest resulted in a year of probation, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, for lying “about Adkins’ whereabouts.”

Erica Morse, the private investigator who worked the case, told the Reporter News that the relentless efforts of Dunn’s father, Clint Dunn, led to Adkins’ arrest.

“Everyone will learn this moving forward: Clint’s intuition . . . was the driving force in this case,” Morse told the paper. “And he is a template for every parent who wants to find justice for their child.”

Dunn in December 2019 said he was frustrated by the lack of progress in the case. He told the same newspaper back then that he was being left in the “darknesss” because “law enforcement is not communicating with me at all.”

In a 2011 television interview broadcast by KTAB/KRBC, Adkins denied any involvement with Dunn’s disappearance or death.

“Shawn Adkins, did you at all have anything to do with Hailey’s disappearance or do you know anything more?” asked reporter Tiffany Tatro.

“No, ma’am, I don’t,” Adkins said in that more than ten-year-old interview.

Shawn Adkins is seen in a 2011 television interview.

Adkins then provided this narrative to television viewers to recap what he claims he did the day Dunn went missing.

That morning I drove to work. I quit my job, and I turned in my belongings, and I didn’t speak to nobody at work. And, I left work. I stopped by this residence. Nobody was here, so I continued going towards C City, and I got on I-20, and I went to Big Springs to my mother’s house, and I made calls on my cellphone to my mom letting her know that I quit my job and everything. I got to my mom’s house that day, and I got on the internet, uh, looking up unemployment to see if I could get, you know, an unemployment check ’til I could get back on my feet and everything. And that was my day. Then I came home around — I guess — like 3:00 I got there.

He then described his version of his final interactions with Dunn:

Hailey was there watching TV in the living room, and I went into me and Billie’s bedroom. And she came in there and told me she was going to her father’s house and that she was staying the night with a friend. And then she left. And then I was there by myself for maybe an hour at the most. And then David and a friend came over, and they went to his room, and they were playing video games and so forth. And Billie called me and told me that, uh, that her relief got there — and that she was gonna get to leave a little early. So I was up there at the hospital in, uh, Snyder around 6:00 to pick her up and then came back. And then we went to bed shortly after that.

He clarified through additional questions that he “guessed” Hailey said she was leaving at about 3:00 or 3:30.

“It’s pretty normal for her not to call,” Adkins claimed.  He also claimed it was usual for Dunn to stay with friends.

Adkins said a few seconds later that it was “untrue” that he was fired. He said he told investigators he quit but told Billie Dunn he got fired. He said he didn’t want Billie to know he quit because he feared “it would cause a big fight” and “ruin the peace.”

Adkins then said information contained in law enforcement affidavits about his cell phone activities and movements the day Hailey Dunn disappeared was incorrect.

During the 2011 television interview, Adkins vacillated between thoughts of meeting with law enforcement and not saying a word. He said he was tired of being accused.

“I felt that I gave them all the information I had, and — which — I really did, and — like I said — I just feel like it was a witch hunt at the time and they were just trying to pin it on somebody — which was me — and I didn’t want that happening,” Adkins said.  “So, I just stopped talking to them.”

He then said that if his story changed over time, it was because he remembered more of his activities the day Dunn disappeared.

The reporter conducting the 2011 interview then circled back to the case authorities appeared to be building against Adkins.

“So everything the police used to obtain a warrant to build their case is completely inaccurate?” the reporter asked.

“Absolutely. It is. ‘Cause like I said, I sat down and looked through that affidavit and a lot of things are incorrect,” Adkins said at the time. “Some of it is but a lot of it isn’t.”

When asked why “all signs” appeared to be pointing at him, Adkins said people should focus on the victim.

“I’m just gonna do my best to get the focus back on Hailey and off of me,” the now-defendant said in 2011. “I have nothing to hide. I was just, uh, advised by my lawyers to do what I’ve been doing, and, you know, now I’m gonna talk and get everything cleared up about me so they can get back to looking for Hailey.”

“Shawn, do you know anything about Hailey’s disappearance?” the reporter asked again.

“No, I don’t,” he said.

“And could you or did you hurt Hailey in any way?” the reporter pushed.

“No, I didn’t,” Adkins responded.

Adkins later said “people want somebody to blame, and they’re gonna blame me.”

He also said he loved Hailey Dunn and that he was “not a monster.”

He now has to face accusations in a court of law — not just in the court of public opinion.


UPDATE:  Richard Thompson, the district attorney whose office is handling the case, released the following statement Tuesday:

The 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office would like to confirm that Shawn Adkins has been arrested in connection to the murder of Hailey Dunn.

Our office has not and will not be releasing any details of this case. Information will be released by public record and court proceedings, in due process. This has been a multi-county and multi-agency effort and is still under investigation.

Any statements made that have not been provided by the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, have not been made by our direction.

Our office believes the integrity of this case should be preserved until a time that it can be properly presented in a court of law.

Clint Dunn also released the following statement:

[R]ight now, there are no words to define how I feel. We will let the trial speak the truth. Thank you to everyone who searched for Hailey, and to those who fought tirelessly for an arrest. Hopefully, true justice will come in the courtroom.

[image of Dunn via missing poster; image of Adkins via the Mitchell County, Texas Sheriff’s Office]

[Editor’s note:  this piece has been updated to include statements from Thompson and Dunn.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.