Shannon Doris Bower was born November 15, 1972, in Tupelo, Mississippi. Her parents, Joe and Marilou, owned and managed the Hot Stuff Bakery in Tupelo, where they worked long hours to provide a good living for Shannon and her younger sister, Marvella.
Shannon was a voracious reader and seemed to consume books on any subject. She once confided to Marvella when they were just children that she wanted to "do something important" and "be somebody." She maintained excellent grades in high school because she was determined to get a good college education.
Marvella often referred to her sister as "The Bulldog" because Shannon never gave up once she made up her mind about something. Shannon sometimes had tunnel vision when it came to something she believed was right, no matter how it affected other people. She could be very stubborn, a bit self-serving and often not able to see that there were two sides to an argument.
When she started at Ole Miss, Shannon wasn't sure what she wanted as a career but was sure she would discover it through an education. In her freshman year, her roommate Marti Scarr, who was interested in nursing, suggested that she and Shannon volunteer at a nearby hospice. They spent several hours each week as relief for full-time, in-home caregivers of terminally ill family members. As a result, Shannon discovered she was interested in the healthcare field but not as a nurse or doctor.
She decided on physical therapy and, upon graduation from Ole Miss, went on to get her Masters in Physical Therapy (MPT). She was hired at the same hospice, and still makes time to continue her volunteer work there. Her co-workers respect her as a dedicated therapist, and she is popular for her fun-loving persona outside of work. She often says, "I put my all into everything I do, whether it's working, volunteering or partying."
Shannon and her partner, Marti, bought a home in the Whitehall neighborhood in 2007. She and Marti are outspoken advocates for LGBT rights, healthcare rights, and green living, and they frequently host meetings and parties at their home. In the past, Shannon often clashed with another neighborhood resident, Ambrose Garrett, over the number of gatherings at her home and other issues. But since his death, she has gotten along well with the other Whitehall residents.
On Thursday morning, August 24, 2017, Shannon was jogging in Lamar Park when she found what looked like a bag of human body parts and called 911.