A Millersville cold case detective is putting never before released information out to the public, sharing it first with News 2, in hopes someone will speak up about a decade-old case involving Shauna Fryar and her 3-month-old Zaylee Grace Fryar, known as Baby Zaylee.
Kia Towers remembered when Fryar’s body was brought to the Davidson County Medical Examiner’s Office after she and Baby Zaylee had been reported missing.
“Ironically, when I first came in contact with Shauna Fryer was when I was working as a forensic tech at the morgue in Nashville. I actually checked her body in,” Detective Towers said.
Towers is now a detective at the Millersville Police Department working to solve the cold case.
“When a 3-month-old goes missing, you know, it raises red flags for everybody. It’s the worst news you could possibly get,” Towers said.
Police believe Shauna and Zaylee went missing from their Millersville home on May 1, 2011. Her husband, Michael Fryar, reported them missing two to three days later, according to police. Then on May 7, Fryar’s body was found in the Cumberland River near the Cowan Street bridge in Nashville. It took investigators until May 10 to know for sure it was Zaylee’s mother.
“A body that’s been in the water for the amount of time during the time of year, that Shauna was in the water, is unidentifiable at the time when they recovered her,” Towers said. “Very hard to tell any type of trauma that happened before or after, what is animal activity, what is not animal activity.”
Millersville police shared never before seen photos with News 2 of the clothing Fryar was found in. Photos too graphic to share show her body swollen and partially eaten away by water life. They believe she was dead before her body was ever in the river.
“Definitely injuries that she shouldn’t have had from just being in the water,” Millersville Police Detective Chuck Consiglio said. “It appeared to be a through and through wound of some sort. The entrance wound from the front, and also an exit wound from the back.”
Detectives now reveal they believe her husband Michael, who was not the father of Zaylee, was their main suspect.
“I know Michael was a violent offender. He had a drug problem. He had a history of child abuse towards his own children, which tells me he would have no qualms being physically violent towards another person’s child,” Towers said. “But, he was known to be a violent man with an extensive criminal history, drug history, things of that nature.”
Police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation interviewed Michael after she was found. However, he has since passed away.
“He would never actually come out and say that he did it. There were a lot of red flags during the interview,” Towers said. “A lot of deceptive behavior. He provided three or four written statements, each of which were different. So the story changed and evolved along the way drastically.”
Police said Fryar had multiple children with at least three men. Zaylee’s biological father, Thurman Mcmurry, was in jail at the time of their disappearance and was ruled out as a suspect.
“I mean I would love to know if she’s still living or if she’s not,” Mcmurry said. “I mean I would love to know something because that is my daughter, and I do want to know where she’s at because I do love her.”
Detectives believe chances are slim when it comes to finding Baby Zaylee, who would now be 10-years-old.
“Zaylee being only three months old at the time of her disappearance, if she went into the water with her mother at the same time, then it would be almost impossible to identify her because of the development of the infant’s bones are different from ours. Our arm bone does not look like an infant’s arm bone, especially at that age. It could be mistaken for a rock, a twig. It could just never be found,” Towers said.
However, they refuse to give up on any chance she’s still out there.
“She was an infant. She could very possibly be passed off as someone’s biological child,” Towers said. “If she is still out there, I think she deserves to know where she came from. I think she deserves to know her mom’s story, her dad’s story, who is still alive. I think she deserves that much.”
After all these years, police are now putting all of this information on the table with News 2, hoping someone will be bold enough to speak up.
“At this time, I don’t believe she’s alive. I don’t believe she’s alive. We don’t have anything. We’re kind of at our wits end with leads. We haven’t had a good strong lead in a long time,” Detective Consiglio said. “I think somebody knows something, and I think that one person, maybe just that one little lead you know, could help us out tremendously, and they just don’t realize that.”
If Baby Zaylee is still out there, detectives have preserved part of Shauna’s liver so they could get a DNA hit with just a simple cheek swab.
Detectives performed a DNA test on a child in Texas who looked like Zaylee, but the hit did not match. They also ruled out a child in Florida who turned out not to be Zaylee.
Anyone with information is asked to reach out to Millersville Police at 615-859-2758. They said they will not charge anyone with withholding information up to this point, they simply want to know what happened in this case.