Man's missing mom buried in backyard as he collected benefits

Man says he needed money to pay for a patent

By Keith Allen and Steve Almasy, CNN
Pinal County Sheriff's Office via CNN

Daniel Shannon initially told detectives that his mother wandered away from their home in December 2018.

The last time anyone saw 97-year-old Leonie Shannon was in late December. In April, police were finally called to her Phoenix-area home for a wellness check.

Her son, who was her caretaker, told authorities she had walked away from the house in the suburb of San Tan Valley four months prior, and it wasn't the first time she had disappeared.

Police became suspicious of Daniel Shannon. They said his story changed each time he was interviewed. On Wednesday, they said, he admitted his mother died in December and he buried her in the backyard.

His motive? Police say he told them he was an inventor and needed to keep getting her Social Security and Veterans Administration checks to pay for a patent.

Pinal County Jail records show Shannon, who is in his 60s, was booked for suspicion of fraud and improper disposal of a body. It is unclear whether he has an attorney.

"Our detectives did a great job on this case, and in bringing Mr. Daniels to justice," Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said. "These types of cases are especially troublesome when the crimes involve family members."

Leonie Shannon's remains were recovered Wednesday.

The county medical examiner will positively identify the remains and determine the cause of death, the sheriff's office said.

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