Detective confident mother’s 2002 murder will be solved

South County

EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — The fisherman cast his line and started reeling in.

He was by himself in the peaceful spot on the Wood River in Exeter.

Then he saw her.

Dawn Shippee was dead.

Rhode Island State Police Detective Stephen Vinton said authorities were looking for her. Dawn’s father had filed a missing person report.

On the last day of her life, the mother of three was seen at a payphone in Warwick. It was Dec. 27, 2002.

“She was meeting there to drop her children off at the time to her father,” Vinton recalled.

After that, authorities said she went to The Middle of Nowhere Diner in Exeter for breakfast. It was the last time she was seen alive.

“She was, by all accounts, was doing the right thing,” Vinton said. “Turning her life around. I believe she was killed that day. The 27th.”

That night, her father filed the missing person report.

Two days later, on the 29th, her body was found in the river more than four miles away from the diner.

West Warwick Police Detective Sgt. Thomas Nye said the case could be connected to another homicide six weeks earlier.

“It seems a little coincidental,” Nye said. “Two friends, very short time apart, were both murdered.”

Dawn’s friend Cynthia Kane Clark was shot and killed in her home in November 2002.

Her daughter Katie found her mother the next morning.

“Why would you hurt a good person?” Katie Kane asked. “Why would you take a good person away from her family, knowing she had two young kids?”

Both cases remain unsolved.

Vinton said they’re investigating if there’s a possible connection but wouldn’t reveal anything further.

“I know West Warwick police is handling that side of the investigation with Cindy Kane Clark,” he said. “They did know each other.”

To bring in new leads in the case, Vinton added the investigation to a deck of cold case playing cards. Each card highlights an unsolved homicide or missing persons case in Rhode Island.

Dawn Shippee is the 6 of diamonds.

Vinton said state police look at the case every day.

“We’re looking at new ways to interpret information we have already collected,” Vinton said. “I think it is, you could say, exciting that any day could be the day that something’s going to break in this and were going to be able to close the case.”

“It would be good to bring closure to the family,” he added.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-RI-SOLVE.

More Cold Case Cards »

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