Charles Curran Shannon is Kathleen Heisey’s first cousin. He is a registered sex offender who was convicted of felonies in at least three states before he moved to Mexico. He attracted the attention of Heisey investigators in 1998 because he moved into Bakersfield just before the killing and moved out just after.
Now 62, he was 43 years old in the summer of 1998 when Heisey was slain. He’s now living in seclusion in Mexico because, his sister said, he feels he has been unfairly targeted by police and community members.
We reached out to him through his sister, but he did not reply for this story, which is based on interviews with his sister and a retired police detective, as well as court records.
Shannon is a fourth generation Kern County native who comes from the same pioneer Bakersfield family as Kathleen Heisey. Kathleen’s mother, Catherine Swain Curran Heisey, was the sister of Shannon’s mother. Their grandfather, James Curran, started Bakersfield Sandstone Brick Company in 1886; Curran Middle School is named in his honor. Two of the family homes are on the local historic register. Curran Street in central Bakersfield is named after the family.
But Shannon did not distinguish himself in business or philanthropy as so many of his forbears did.
In 1977, a woman told police Shannon – 5 feet 6 inches tall and 140 pounds – tried to kidnap her. He punched her in the face and told her he had a gun and would hurt her if she didn’t cooperate with him, she said. Shannon crashed his car as he tried to drive away with her, and she was able to escape, she told officers.
Reports filed in connection with that prosecution say Shannon was a high school dropout who was under psychiatric care as a teenager. He got his first adult conviction, for DUI, when he was 18. No charges were filed after a grand theft arrest when he was 19, and he picked up a second DUI when he was 22, according to court documents.
He admitted he was on probation in Missouri for forgery.
The Bakersfield attempted kidnapping case ended in a plea bargain. Those charges were dropped and Shannon admitted the lesser charges of false imprisonment.
His attorney argued Shannon should get a lenient sentence because his problems were linked to chronic alcohol abuse and he was getting treatment for that addiction.
Shannon was sentenced to a year in the county jail and three years probation and ordered to continue treatment for alcoholism.
Four years later, he was in trouble again.
An Oildale woman said she was on North Chester Avenue on Feb. 18, 1981 when she met a man who had just come from Trout’s bar. She was new in town, she said, had few friends and needed a ride. She accepted a lift from the stranger.
She said he drove her to a remote oilfield and tried to forcibly rape her. When oil company security guards heard her screams and came to her assistance, she jumped out of the truck. The attacker drove off, with the security guards in pursuit. Just a few moments later, the attacker crashed his truck. He jumped out and ran into the darkness.
The attacker’s truck was unregistered, but two days later Shannon, then 26, came to the sheriff’s department to claim it.
Detectives put him in a line-up, and the victim identified him.
He was arrested and charged and he pleaded guilty to attempted rape in July 1981. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
He was ordered to register as a sex offender wherever he lives in the U.S. for the rest of his life.
In 1995, Shannon was convicted of grand theft in Arizona.
In early 1998, Shannon was in South Dakota – until the last week of June when, according to court records, he moved to Bakersfield just days before Heisey was killed.
He moved from Bakersfield to his mother’s home in Glennville on July 2, 1998 – the day after the slaying.
A month later, he still was living in Glennville – an unincorporated area of Kern County in the mountains about 40 miles outside the Bakersfield city limits – when BPD detective Kevin Legg heard about him.
Court records show Legg got a tip from an informant that Shannon was Heisey’s cousin and should be questioned about his whereabouts at the time of her death. Legg checked Shannon’s record and discovered he had not kept his sex-offender registration current.
Legg went to Glennville and arrested Shannon on the registration violation.
Shannon was convicted of failing to register and sentenced to a year in jail. But he denied any involvement in the Heisey killing and was not arrested for it.
Shannon’s sister said although he had several run ins with the law throughout the years, no one in her immediate family ever thought he was capable of murder.
Shannon’s sister said she and her brother spent time with Heisey and her siblings when they were children, but lost contact as adults.
His sister says he is an Army veteran who left the service with a disability pension – but she doesn’t know the nature of his disability. She says Shannon lives a quiet life in Mexico, supported by his veteran’s pension.Bakersfield police never told Heisey’s immediate family and friends that Shannon was questioned. They knew nothing about him despite the family connection until they were contacted by Channel 17.