Man who says he met missing woman at his Muscle Shoals home charged with her murder in Florida

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Leila Cavett disappeared in July 2020.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — A man long suspected in the disappearance of a woman whose toddler was found wandering alone in the parking lot of a South Florida apartment complex now faces a second-degree murder charge, police said.

Shannon Ryan, 40, also is charged with tampering with evidence in the case of Leila Cavett, a 21-year-old woman who had been working in Atlanta and disappeared during a trip to South Florida last July, Hollywood police said in a news release.

40-year-old Shannon Ryan is charged with second-degree murder. (Broward Sheriff’s Office via AP)

In a nearly hour-long video posted to his Facebook account, Ryan claims he met Cavett when she knocked on the door of his home in Muscle Shoals at 2AM, claiming her car had broken down. In the video, Ryan says he let Cavett stay the night, but the next morning, her story changed, and she said the person she had been living with kicked her out and she was stranded in Muscle Shoals. He goes on to say that he took Cavett and her one-year-old son in, allowing them to live with him.

Ryan later moved to Florida.

Ryan told officers he saw Cavett and her son get into a car with a group of men, but surveillance video at a gas station in Hollywood showed where Cavett was last seen: in the passenger seat of Ryan’s gold Lexus on July 25, police said.

The next morning, a woman spotted the toddler wandering alone at the apartment complex in nearby Miramar, and called authorities.

Also that morning, Ryan bought carpet deodorant, trash bags and duct tape from a Walmart store. Video surveillance at the gas station also showed Ryan returning there with a bottle of bleach and going back and forth between Cavett’s white pickup truck and a dumpster. Women’s clothing and toys were later found in the trash bin. Cavett’s body has not been found.

Cavett’s family in Jasper sought custody of the boy after seeing his image on social media and contacting police.

Ryan was arrested in early August on charges that include child neglect, kidnapping and lying to authorities. He remains in the Broward County Jail, but records don’t indicate whether he has a lawyer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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