How Video Surveillance Cameras Helped Identify and Track a Killer

The Senseless Murder of Alissa Reynolds

ARKANSAS. Jonesboro Police Department Officers were called to do a welfare check. 50-year-old Alissa Reynolds was found dead in her home. Neighbors and local businesses were key to solving the case.

Police were initially notified by concerned family and friends when they could not physically contact Alissa. Earlier, police knocked on Ms. Reynolds’ door but left when there was no answer.

While conducting a second welfare check on December 8, there was no sign of a forced entry, and no one answered the door. Upon approaching the door, officers reported they could “smell an odor emitting from the residence which they know to be that of decomposition.”

Around 6:45 p.m., officers forced entry into the home. Once police breached the door, Ms. Reynolds was found on a chaise lounge covered in layers of linens. Blood and other bodily fluids had soaked the towels and a blanket left beneath the chair. Reynolds’ body was lying on its back. She had been dead for several days. Officers noticed Reynolds’ body had multiple puncture wounds to the face, hands, and arms.

A probable cause affidavit outlined why friends and family became concerned for her well-being after text messages and her dogs being loose in the yard sparked suspicion.

Ms. Reynolds was last seen alive at work on December 2, 2019. It was subsequently determined that Alissa was dressed in the same clothing that she had worn to work, and she was still wearing her work ID badge. Security cameras at her place of employment showed her leaving work at 5:03 p.m. She was dressed in jeans and a pink pull-over top.

While investigating, officers learned Alissa’s live-in boyfriend, Shawn Cone, also resided at the house. Cone and Reynolds had been dating for the past year and a half.

When family and friends attempted to contact her by phone in the days following Dec. 2, they reported it was Shawn Cone who answered.

The victim’s neighbor testified that he had a home surveillance system operating at his residence during the week of December 2 through December 8.

Before Ms. Reynolds returned home from work on December 2nd, Shawn Cone was recorded driving his Chevrolet Tahoe from the garage. When Alissa arrived home at 5:38 p.m., she parked her white 2016 Range Rover in the garage. Cone arrived on foot ten minutes later. At 7:00 p.m., the Range Rover backed out of the garage.

A short time later, Cone arrived alone at the Elks Lodge in Jonesboro. Cone purchased beer at the Country Liquor Store using Ms. Reynolds’s credit card.

Cone returned to Ms. Reynolds’s residence at 9:59 p.m. Cone was shown to have been driving Ms. Reynolds’s Range Rover and using her credit cards and cell phone, beginning shortly after what was determined to be the time of her death.

On December 3 and 4, a call was placed on Ms. Reynolds’s cell phone to her employer by a man who identified himself as Shawn and claimed she was too ill to go to work.

A neighbor testified that he saw Cone on December 6, driving the Range Rover that day.

A family member said he tried calling Alissa on December 6 and 7, but Cone answered the victim’s phone.

The Sprint store manager likewise testified that on December 6, Cone purchased a new cell phone using Ms. Reynolds’s credit card to cover the activation fee. He was seen on the store’s video cameras.

On December 6, Cone appeared in Craighead County Circuit Court on theft charges brought against him for allegedly stealing more than $17,000 in checks from the mailbox of a flooring company. When he made the court appearance, he listed Alissa Reynolds as the person who would be responsible for ensuring he attended court sessions in the theft case. He said they both lived in the victim’s Jonesboro home. Cone had also been served eviction papers on a commercial building for non-payment of rent.

Witnesses said they visited Alissa’s home on Brac Place on Dec. 8 and noticed the dogs running loose in the house and a pile of blankets on the sofa. They thought this was odd because “she kept the dogs in a kennel when she was not there and kept the house clean.”

One friend told officers she was supposed to meet Alissa for lunch around noon on Dec. 8. Instead, she received a text message from Reynolds’ phone, saying she had been in an accident and was at a hospital in Jonesboro.

Neighbors told police they had seen Cone driving Alissa’s white Range Rover several times and reported seeing him coming and going from the house. The sightings were made after she had been killed. He was also picked up on surveillance cameras using the victim’s credit card, including at a liquor store where he purchased beer and champagne during the six-day period when evidence showed Alissa had already been murdered.

After an autopsy, it was estimated by the Medical Examiner that she was most likely killed on December 2, about six days before her body was discovered.

Cone, a former Mountain Home resident accused of murdering a Jonesboro woman, reportedly spent days responding to text messages on her phone, a move that ultimately caused suspicion among family and friends.

Cone Arrested in Key West, Florida

A former girlfriend of Cone provided police with a valuable tip that he had plans to travel to Florida. Officers tracked him to Key West, Florida, and contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The CBP notified the Monroe County, Florida Sheriff’s Office and American Airlines. Investigators determined Cone had made plans to travel out of Memphis International Airport for a nonstop flight to Miami on December 9. At Miami, his itinerary called for him to change planes for the 58-minute flight to Key West.

The airline confirmed to the sheriff’s office Cone was on the plane and provided a seat number. When the plane landed at Key West International Airport at 11:45 a.m., deputies arrested Cone.

Authorities arrested Shawn Gregory Cone to face several charges, including homicide. He was taken into custody and transported to the Monroe County, Florida jail. He was held there until extradited to Arkansas. When arrested, Cone was alleged to have a credit card belonging to the dead woman, Alissa Reynolds, in his possession and $3,000 in cash.

“During the investigation, detectives were able to determine Shawn Cone had cleaned up the crime scene and disposed of the evidence,” the affidavit stated.

Investigators also believed Cone had stolen Reynolds’ vehicle, personal and work cell phones, credit cards, and debit cards.

Cone invoked his rights and refused to talk to investigators.

At the time of his arrest, Cone was still on parole from a $275,000 bogus houseboat sale case filed in Baxter County.

Shawn Cone’s Arrest

Baxter County Charges

In 2011, Shawn Cone had felony charges filed against him in Baxter County for selling a large houseboat named the “Never Enuff” for $275,000.

The trouble came when it was discovered he had neglected to pay for the boat at the time he sold it. The bogus sale came to light when a local bank contacted the new owners and told them Cone had not paid off the loan to the bank and that there was an active lien against the property. The houseboat was eventually seized.

Cone was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Baxter County Circuit Court in early June 2015 on charges stemming from the fraudulent sale. He was on parole in the Baxter County case when the murder in Jonesboro took place.

Craighead County Circuit Court

During his murder trial in 2021, Shawn Cone took the stand and denied he murdered Alissa Reynolds. He said he believed a group known to him only as “The Organization” had killed her. He testified that he owed the group $200,000 in gambling debts, and “they” wanted the money paid, or he or someone he loved would be “roughed up.”

Cone said he was addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling. He testified he spent about $2,400 a month on heroin and cocaine.

Cone said he had been to the hospital five times for treatment of injuries he received at the hands of “Organization” members.

Prosecutors pointed out they found evidence of only a single hospital visit by Cone, and that was due to “alcohol poisoning.”

Cone said on the night of Alissa’s murder, he had been out doing errands and, when he got home, found the back door to the residence had been kicked in, and once inside, he had found a “bloody mess.”

According to witnesses and evidence taken from social media platforms, Alissa had ended the relationship with Cone on December 2, 2019, the same day she was killed.

In one Facebook message, Alissa was reported to have written about Cone that she was “done with him.” In another, she wrote, “I just want a normal life again.” Cone was shown the messages during his murder trial but said his relationship with her was not ending, and she had no intentions of forcing him to leave her home.

During oral arguments, the Prosecutor said only certain photos from the large number of post-mortem pictures taken were selected for use during Cone’s murder trial. The pictures were used to point out the numerous wounds Alissa had suffered and to show the proximity of the wounds and the damage to her body.

Information developed during the autopsy showed Alissa had been stabbed 18 times and had also sustained numerous cuts caused by “slashing.”

The state Medical Examiner said it was his opinion the “clustering” of many of the wounds resulted from Alissa being stabbed repeatedly while she could not move — either because she was being held down, was unconscious, or had already died. Four stab wounds to her neck caused injury to her left jugular vein and carotid artery — likely the major cause of her death, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office.

Affidavit Reveals New Details in Jonesboro Murder Probe with Local Tie (KTLO, December 2019)

According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office, deputies searched Cone and found a credit card with Alissa Reynolds’ name on it, along with $3,000 in cash. Cone was later extradited to Arkansas.

District Judge David Boling set Cone’s bond at $5 million cash-only. Cone faced the following charges:

· First-degree murder

· Abuse of a corpse

· Theft of vehicle valued at less than $25,000 but greater than $5,000

· Theft of $5,000 or less but great than $1,000

· Theft of property – credit/debit cards

· Non-financial Identity Fraud

· Tampering with physical evidence

· Fraudulent use of a credit card/card or account number is stolen

As part of the bond, Judge Boling specified that if Cone were to make bond, he must surrender his passport and wear an ankle monitor.

This was not Cone’s first run-in with the law.

In September, a judge found probable cause to charge him with theft greater than $5,000 after police say he cashed more than $17,000 worth of stolen checks. He was accused of stealing four checks worth slightly more than $17,400 from the mailbox of a Jonesboro flooring company. He was alleged to have deposited the checks into his own account from May through August.

When he appeared in Craighead County Circuit Court in the check theft case, he listed the dead woman as the person who would ensure he attended court sessions. He also listed her address as his residence.

He appeared Dec. 6 and was ordered to reappear Monday. If the estimated time of Reynolds’ death is correct, she was likely dead when Cone made his court appearance.

When the theft and murder allegation were made against Cone in Craighead County, he was on parole from the prison sentence he received in the fraudulent sale of a boat in Baxter County.

In 2012, Baxter County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested him on suspicion of defrauding a secured creditor and theft of property after investigators said he sold his houseboat for $275,000 to a Mountain Home man. However, according to court records, Cone had not paid off the loan on the boat to release the bank’s secured collateral interest.

Three years later, after submitting a negotiated plea of guilty, Cone was ordered to pay $191,500 restitution, along with other court costs and fees, at a rate of $500 a month. According to a motion filed, Cone had not made a restitution payment to the bank since August.

Jonesboro Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2019 Murder (Brianna Kwasnik, Arkansas Democrat Gazette (September 2021)

This case arises from the December 2, 2019, murder of Alissa Reynolds in her Jonesboro residence, the subsequent abuse of her corpse, and post-mortem use of her cell phone, credit cards, and automobile. Ms. Reynolds’s live-in boyfriend, appellant Shawn G. Cone, a parolee, was charged with these crimes.

Testifying in his own defense, Cone confirmed that he had made these calls. He also misled the victim’s family and friends about her not being alive.

According to the medical examiner, the state of decomposition of Ms. Reynolds’s body indicated that she had been dead for more than a few days, which was consistent with her having died on December 2. Cone’s DNA was found under Ms. Reynolds’s fingernails.

On December 9, Cone was apprehended in Key West, Florida. Upon traveling to Florida, Detective Brian Arnold retrieved Cone’s possessions, including a backpack, and transported the items to Jonesboro.

Detective Arnold obtained a series of warrants encompassing the property in Cone’s possession when he was detained by Florida authorities. The backpack’s contents included a printed list entitled “Countries with no extradition treaty with the U.S.” with a handwritten “CUBA” added and circled.

Cone unsuccessfully moved prior to trial to suppress the contents of the backpack.

Jonesboro Police Detective Keri Varner, an expert in cell phone data extraction, testified that she recovered Google searches on the phone used by Cone that queried about countries that do not have extradition treaties with the United States.

Before leaving Jonesboro, Cone had visited with friends and told them that he was moving to Key West “because there was nothing left here for him. ”He showed them a printed list of countries that have no extradition treaties with the United States. Cone told his friend that he wanted to leave the country because he did not want to go back to prison. According to the friend, she did not know the victim but asked Cone about his relationship with her. She testified, “I actually asked if Alissa was his girlfriend and hesitated that, no, she was not. She actually probably hated him. She was just a very good person that knew if she kicked him out, he would be homeless, and so she had let him have a room in her house.”

Cone also met with a former girlfriend. Cone likewise talked about non-extradition treaty countries, including Cuba, the Maldives, and maybe Morocco. He said he was going to Key West, which she assumed meant “he was going to Cuba.” Cone told her he wanted to leave because he did not want to go back to prison.

When Cone testified in his defense, he admitted that he could be seen on the neighbor’s December 2, 2019 video recording, approaching the home on foot and entering through the garage that evening. He also admitted that Ms. Reynolds was murdered that night but claimed he returned home from running errands to find the back door kicked in and Reynolds “a bloody mess.”

According to Cone, he did not call the police because he “knew what the automatic assumption was going to be.” Instead, he covered Ms. Reynolds’s body with blankets and pillows.

On cross-examination, Cone further admitted that he and Ms. Reynolds got into an argument on the day of the murder. He acknowledged numerous Facebook messages on December 2, including Ms. Reynolds’s message that she was “done with him.” Cone admitted that he was the person seen in the neighbor’s recordings, coming and going from Ms. Reynolds’s home in the days after her murder. He admitted that he continued to stay in her home after her death until the police arrived to conduct the first welfare check on December 8, 2019.

He testified, “[A]fter that, I thought it’s either I’m leaving, or I’m going to jail, so I hurriedly pack my things. I say goodbye [to Ms. Reynolds and their dogs], and I leave.” He left his passport behind in a vehicle in Jonesboro. Cone also admitted using Ms. Reynolds’s phone after she died to text and communicate with her friends and family, pretending to be her, as well as lying about Ms. Reynolds’s being in a car wreck and hospitalized.

He admitted calling Ms. Reynolds’s work supervisor on December 3 and 4, the days directly following the murder, to report that Alissa had the flu and text updates about her absence. He admitted that leaving the country was a “possibility of a plan at first” or “still a possibility” when he told his friends about it. Cone admitted using Ms. Reynolds’s Range Rover after her death, and he parked and left it, heavily damaged, at the Memphis Airport. He also admitted using Ms. Reynolds’s credit cards after her death.

Shawn Cone’s Appeal

COURT APPEAL: Shawn Cone v. State of Arkansas—Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion Delivered November 10, 2022

We hold that there is substantial evidence of both the identity of the perpetrator and the culpable mental state. By Cone’s own admissions, he and Ms. Reynolds quarreled on the day of the murder. Ms. Reynolds’s Facebook messages indicated that her relationship with Cone had ended on December 2. However, Cone continued to live at her residence. Contrary to Cone’s claims, Officer Jason Chester, who participated in the December 8 welfare check on Ms. Reynolds’s home, reported no evidence of the door having been kicked in. Officer Chester’s testimony was corroborated by body cam footage admitted into evidence. Further, the autopsy revealed that many of the wounds that Ms. Reynolds sustained were defensive wounds, and Cone’s DNA was found under her fingernails. Additionally, Ms. Reynolds was wearing the clothing that she wore to work, and surveillance video provided by Byron Holt placed Cone at the residence–––and no one else–––shortly after Ms. Reynolds returned from work.

Further, evidence of Cone’s flight to Key West, his desire to flee the United States to a country with which we do not have an extradition treaty, and Cone’s lying to Ms. Reynold’s employer and family are evidence of Cone’s consciousness of guilt.

Taken together, it provides substantial evidence of Cone’s identity as the perpetrator. Regarding the culpable-mental-state element, premeditation and deliberation, the medical examiner testified that Ms. Reynolds had been stabbed eighteen times and had multiple other cuts, including a cluster of eight repeated stab wounds to her chest, and a fatal wound to her neck. The number of stab wounds indicates a prolonged struggle and repeated application of deadly force. From the nature and the extent of the wounds alone, the jury could infer the premeditation and deliberation necessary for a conviction of capital murder.

Abuse of a Corpse

The evidence adduced at trial indicates that Cone not only murdered the victim, but also, he alone was present when her lifeless body was concealed. Cone himself confirmed that he was the person captured on his neighbor’s surveillance camera, proving that Cone was the only person with access to Reynolds’s body. Accordingly, the jury could conclude that he alone had the motive and opportunity to conceal the victim in her residence by covering her with bedding. Likewise, Cone’s decision to leave Ms. Reynolds on the chaise lounge, decomposing, could reasonably be found by a jury to be a course of conduct that would be offensive to a person of reasonable sensibilities. Finally, there is no evidence that anyone else was present to conceal Reynolds’s lifeless body while he continued to live at her residence.

Theft of Property

Cone was charged with three counts of theft of property arising from his use of Ms. Reynolds’s Range Rover, cell phone, and credit cards. The counts involving the Range Rover and cell phone were reduced to misdemeanors and are not covered by Cone’s appellate brief. Regarding Ms. Reynolds’s credit cards, Cone argued that the State failed to prove that his use of Ms. Reynolds’s credit cards was unauthorized because he lived with her. He contended that unauthorized use was therefore purely speculative. In denying Cone’s directed-verdict motion, the circuit court noted that in her Facebook messages, Ms. Reynolds made it clear that she had broken up with Cone on the day of her death.

Suppression of Evidence in Cone’s Backpack

Jonesboro Police Detective Brian Arnold testified during the hearing on Cone’s motion to suppress the evidence contained in Cone’s backpack. Detective Arnold stated that when Cone deplaned in Key West, he was arrested by deputies from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. Cone was carrying a blue backpack as his carry-on luggage. The deputies did not search the backpack but instead just seized it and held it in their evidence room. Arnold prepared two warrants. The first was directed at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, asking that the backpack be released to the Jonesboro police. The second was a request to search the backpack once it was in the possession of the Jonesboro police. Detective Arnold further testified that he was aware that Cone was on parole, and Cone had executed a warrantless search waiver pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 16-93-10.

Admission of the Autopsy Photos

Cone argues that the circuit court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence photos taken by the medical examiner. Over Cone’s objection, the medical examiner relied on selected photographs to assist in his testimony about Ms. Reynolds’s injuries and the abuse of her corpse.

An initial photograph was used to orient the jury to the upper half of Ms. Reynolds’s body, where all the wounds were located. The other sixteen photographs demonstrated individual or close clusters of wounds. One of the photographs depicted cuts to Ms. Reynolds’s hands and forearms, which the medical examiner identified as “defensive-type wounds.” Another showed eight stab wounds to Ms. Reynolds’ upper chest, as well as wounds to her neck and mouth. Due to the proximity of the wounds, the medical examiner opined, Ms. Reynolds was stabbed repeatedly while she could not move because she was being held down, was unconscious, or was dead. Ms. Reynolds also had four stab wounds to her neck, and a photo depicted the damage to her left jugular vein and left carotid artery, which was likely a fatal wound. The medical examiner also testified about the decomposition shown in some photographs, including discolorations or places in which the skin was slipping off with the epidermis coming away from the dermis, which indicated that Ms. Reynolds had been dead for “more than a few days” prior to the examination and was consistent with her death occurring on December 2, 2019.

Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-3(a)Review

In compliance with Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-3(a), we have examined the record for all objections, motions, and requests made by either party that the circuit court decided adversely to the appellant. We have found no prejudicial error warranting reversal.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 Available on Amazon

Know when someone’s in your front yard with advanced motion settings and get more accurate real-time alerts. Pinpoint motion and distance with 3D Motion Detection and Bird’s Eye View, an aerial view to track motion around your home plus map out your detection to only get alerts about specific areas with Bird’s Eye Zones. See more of who stops by and check in on package deliveries down low with improved 1536p Head-to-Toe HD+ Video.

REOLINK 4-Piece Smart Home Security Camera System

CAPTURE CRIME FROM DETAILS: Discover potential crime has never been so easier with superior 5MP HD. With advanced IR light, you can see up to 100ft in the dark, helping to protect your property and loved ones even at night.

PLUG & PLAY: With everything needed, the system can be easily installed even by yourself. Just hook all the cameras up with the NVR and you can enjoy your whole new security system day and night.

Swann Home DVR Security Camera System

1TB HDD, 8 Channel 8 Camera, 1080p Full HD Video, Indoor or Outdoor Wired Surveillance CCTV, Color Night Vision, Heat Motion Detection, LED Lights

Provide surveillance to your home or business. Spotlights deter intruders and provide Dusk-to-Dawn color night vision up to 32 ft or Black and White to 100 ft.

SECURITY MADE SMARTER: Receive alerts when activity is detected! See, store & playback footage from all of your Swann Security Camera Systems on your mobile device with multi-camera live streaming that’s always on

CONTINUOUS 24/7 RECORDING ENABLED: With a pre-installed 1TB HDD, users are provided an option of 24/7 continuous recording or Swann True Detect heat and motion-triggered event only recordings. Get up to 365 days of stored video with True Detect.

Donations to Support this Site Are Always Welcome

How Home Surveillance Cameras Helped Identify and Track a Killer and Thief