NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA – Questions surrounding the alleged disappearance and presumed death of a 9-year-old girl have authorities searching for a 1958 police report.

In 2003, Jimmy Shellman, of Jopin told authorities he killed a child in 1958 and hid the body near Afton in Delaware County, said Mark Wall, with the Ottawa and Delaware County Cold Case Unit.

Delaware County deputies interviewed Shellman who was at Veterans Affairs mental hospital in Joplin.

Wall is searching for that interview and a 1958 missing child report.

“It wasn’t a cold case, it was an unknown case,” Wall said.

In 1958, Shellman was 11 years old and lived in the Afton area.

Wall questioned if as a child Shellman was capable of killing another child, or if Shellman as an elderly man was trying to clear his consciousness before passing on.

Shellman died on Feb. 8, 2009, according to online records.

Shellman allegedly learned his adoptive mother was his aunt and was angry when he learned the truth, according to a Grove Sun Daily story. The information about the family history was passed on to the Grove paper by an acquaintance of Shellman’s who was not identified in the story.

Another question Wall had was the information about his adoptive mother a trigger for the allegedly slaying.

“We are unsure if the child was missing and not reported or if the child was missing and a report was made and now the report is missing,” Wall said. “We are unsure if the child even existed.”    

Wall is seeking any of Shellman’s relatives or anybody who might remember a missing child from 1958.

At the time of Shellman’s confession, then Delaware County Sheriff Lenden Woodruff said there wasn’t a file related to a missing child, Wall said.  Woodruff died in 2019.

Delaware County Sheriff James Beck said he wasn’t familiar with the case but has directed his staff to look through police reports in search of both reports.

“We are taking a hard look at all missing person reports,” Beck said.

Beck has met with Cherokee Marshals in the past on missing American Indian individuals as part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women advocacy project.

“Whether the person is American Indian or not, man or woman, adult or child, we want to find the remains,” Beck said. “Even if that person has been missing for 65 years.”

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections website shows Shellman was incarcerated from Nov. 1980 to July 1986 on a second-degree burglary conviction out of Ottawa County.

Ottawa County records show Shellman applied for a marriage license in 1971 and listed Fairland as his hometown.

Shellman’s name also appeared several times in northeast Oklahoma newspapers from 1958 to 1961 as a 4-H and Ottawa County Fair winner and listed his hometown as Afton.