A self-proclaimed “witch” has been charged with kidnapping the young son of a missing Georgia mom, weeks after the boy was found wandering alone in a Florida parking lot.
Leila Cavett, 21, disappeared at the end of July after traveling to Florida with her 2-year-old son. The following day her son was found “wandering alone in an apartment complex” in Miramar but there was no sign of Cavett, according to a criminal complaint in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.
Shanon Demar Ryan, 38—who admitted in a Facebook video to being the last person to see Cavett—has now been accused of kidnapping her son “with the intent to collect a ransom, reward or other benefit and held the victim for that reason,” according to the complaint.
Ryan, who told authorities he met Cavett in 2019, said she had driven to Florida along with her son, in part, to sell him her white GMC 3500 pickup truck for $3,000.
He said they met up at the RaceTrac gas station in Hollywood, Florida around 2:30 p.m. on July 25 and went to the beach in his 2004 Gold Lexus ES 330, leaving her truck behind in the parking lot.
Ryan—who identified himself as a witch, tarot instructor and “master of the Occult Arts” on his Facebook profile—told authorities they returned to the gas station sometime later and parked at the pumps.
He claimed that around 2:30 a.m. on the morning of July 26, Cavett and the young boy “left in a dark sedan with several unknown black males,” according to the affidavit.
It was the last time he saw the missing mom, he said.
“Leila got her and her son and got in the car with those guys,” Ryan said in the nearly hour-long video he posted to social media before his arrest.
But investigators said that video surveillance footage from the gas station did not show Cavett getting into any sedan or show Ryan’s car parked at the pumps as he described it to investigators, according to the affidavit.
Video footage from the area where her son was later found wandering alone, however, appeared to show Ryan’s Gold Lexus parked “directly in front of the apartment complex where the child was recovered only minutes before the child was found,” the complaint said.
The car is distinctive because it is missing its front bumper, authorities said.
Surveillance footage from the RaceTrac gas station also showed his car leaving the gas station parking lot at around 8:15 a.m. and returning to the lot at around 8:38 a.m., which investigators said was “consistent with the time frame in which the child was abandoned and recovered.”
Cell phone data also placed his phone in the area where the child was later found, authorities said.
After the boy was discovered by a stranger walking in the apartment complex, Ryan used another person’s debit card to make several purchases at the RaceTrac gas station and a Walmart, which was located in the same parking lot, authorities said.
Surveillance footage allegedly captured Ryan purchasing Hefty extra large trash bags and two boxes of Extra Strength Carpet Odor Eliminator that morning at 9:42 a.m. He returned to the store 15 minutes later to buy Advanced Strength Duct Tape, according to the complaint.
Ryan said in his Facebook video that after Cavett left with the men, he had helped cover a broken window on her truck with a garbage bag because he didn’t want the vehicle to get damaged in the rain.
But authorities said all the windows of her truck had been intact when Cavett first arrived at the gas station on July 25.
After obtaining a federal search warrant, investigators said the driver’s side window of the car had been broken and a driver’s side visor was bent and “out of its ordinary position.” Even more troubling, investigators also found shovels with “small droplets of a red substance” on them.
Inside Ryan’s Lexus, they found a “half-empty container” of an all-purpose cleaner with bleach, trash bags and a white powdery substance under the front passenger seat.
An employee at the gas station also remembered Ryan using the dumpster on the property and video footage also placed his car in front of the dumpster. Another employee at the gas station reported seeing children’s toys and women’s clothing—including a pair of floral pants Cavett was seen wearing before she disappeared—in the dumpster on or around July 26, according to the affidavit.
Investigators issued a federal warrant for Ryan’s iPhone on Aug. 15 and allegedly found a series of unusual searches on July 26 made from his phone, including one at 12:01 a.m. that said “What day does commercial garbage pickup for Hollywood, Florida,” and another search at 1:45 a.m. that said “Does beach and alcohol make chloroform,” the complaint alleges.
Cavett has still not been found, but authorities said there has been no activity on her social media accounts since she disappeared.
Family and friends have also said that she never would have left her son alone with anyone and had still been breastfeeding him at the time she went missing.
Ryan, who is also facing two counts of lying to federal investigators, appeared in court on Monday, according to local station WPLG.
In his video on Facebook, he claimed he had first met the missing mom more than a year earlier when she showed up on his doorstep at 2 a.m. claiming that her car had broken down.
He said she later admitted a friend had driven off without her leaving her with no place to go and he allowed her to stay at the home for several months.
He repeatedly professed his innocence in the video and said he had nothing to do with the disappearance.
“You got my phone. Go through it, search my whereabouts, look at where I’m at, look at where I’ve been, look at who I talk to, the only thing you’re gonna find out is you’ve wasted your motherf—ing time when you could have been looking for her,” he said in comments apparently directed at investigators.