September 21, 2020 | By Project: Cold Case Staff
Shantell Pollard was a special baby.
She was a happy baby. She loved to laugh. She learned to walk at 9 months old.
But the most special thing about Shantell was that she was a Rainbow Baby.
LauraLee Pollard, Shantell’s mother, had gone through pregnancy once before. Her son Kevin had a rare birth defect and didn’t survive.
Then came Shantell.
The nearly 11-pound baby was born on the elevator at Thibodaux General Hospital in Louisiana.
Growing up, Shantell was a wonderful student, earning A/B Honor Roll throughout school.
“I didn’t play with grades!” LauraLee said with a chuckle. “There’s two things you need in this world – your God and your grades.”
Shantell never met a person – or a camera – she did not like. There were no strangers when it came to Shantell. She could befriend anyone. “Two minutes in conversation and you ain’t strangers anymore,” her mother stated.
Dance became a big part of Shantell’s life. She loved every minute of it. It was her space to grow and have fun and it fostered her “girly-girl side,” as her mother called it. Despite LauraLee not being a fan of makeup, Shantell had a large collection and could spend hours playing with new looks and perfecting her artistic hobby.
According to LauraLee, Shantell aspired to be famous. She wanted to be a singer like Mary Mary. She wanted to be a model. She wanted to dance. She wanted to do makeup for a living. Shantell had the whole world ahead of her to do whatever she wanted.
Those dreams never came to fruition.
On October 31, 2018, Shantell Pollard was shot and killed in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Shantell was planning to spend Halloween night with friends on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. She never made it out of Thibodaux.
Shantell’s ride showed up at the family house and she jumped in through the window, according to LauraLee. One of the friends had their children in the car, so they made a stop to drop them off before making the hour-long trip.
It was there that Shantell was shot in the head. When the police arrived, they found Shantell still sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Shantell was rushed to the emergency room, but LauraLee and her aunt beat them to the hospital.
The whole situation happened to fast. It wasn’t but a half-hour between Shantell leaving home and her being shot. She was pronounced dead on November 3rd.
“The doctor came to talk to us and took us into a room,” LauraLee recalled. “He said that Shantell had been shot in the head. She died twice on the table and they brought her back.”
Through the middle of the darkest tragedy a mother could face, there was a glimmer of light.
“Once he told me the bullet went in her head and she died instantly, I knew the organs were going to be used,” LauraLee said.
Organ donation was a big thing in the Pollard household. LauraLee said she sat her children down when they were old enough and discussed the topic. Shantell was quick to grasp the concept and wanted to be a donor.
“She was a giver,” her mother said proudly.
Shantell’s organs saved multiple lives. LauraLee has a list of them and what organ they received.
She’s received letters from many of them, including the woman who received Shantell’s heart. LauraLee had a Build-a-Bear stuffed bear made with the recording of Shantell’s heartbeat included.
Shantell’s ovaries were also saved and donated. The Rainbow Baby that had blessed her mother after a miscarriage was no longer alive to have her own children, but her organ and legacy live on in another woman who was struggling with a pregnancy of her own.
Following her daughter’s death, LauraLee went back to school. She earned her GED and is currently enrolled in medical school.
“I was cleaning up her room and just sat down and cried,” she recalled. She picked up one of Shantell’s makeup bags and the lightbulb went off.
“Shantell loved hair, makeup, and giving. Well, I can’t do makeup and I can’t do hair, but I can be a giver,” LauraLee said. “That’s how I deal with my soul and my grief.”
LauraLee will be the first to admit she has had her fair share of struggles with demons. “I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic addict,” she says. “I had my share of problems.”
Because of her addictions and the “hormones of a teenage daughter,” Shantell lived with other family members at times. But a few years before her murder, Shantell wanted to move back in with her mother. The two women worked things out and “kept the peace.”
“That was my best friend,” LauraLee said of her daughter.
The Pollard family keeps Shantell’s spirit and memory alive in everything they do.
“When some people die and they don’t want to talk about it, that’s not the case here,” LauraLee said.
LauraLee wants Shantell’s story to teach other women about the dangers of online relationships and the potential for predators.
“We go to her school and tell other young lady’s Shantell’s story,” she said. “I tell other parents the story about her as a cautionary tale.”
Talking about Shantell is easy for LauraLee and her family.
“Everywhere I go, I tell that story. If they don’t believe me, I just tell them to look at my daughter.”
LauraLee credits her faith and family for the strength to keep going and continue school. Despite the positive outlook on life, the lack of answers in her daughter’s case continues to be a struggle.
“I am a woman of Jehovah God. Forgiveness is for everyone. My thing is – please come clean!”
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Shantell Pollard, please contact the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985) 448-2111.
Research & Impact
The grief that follows a murder can be compounded in a myriad of ways. Many families may face an extended hospital stay, or the victim may succumb to their injuries shortly after being released from the hospital. Other occurrences could include comatose or, as in the Shantell Pollard story, the organ donation process.
The difference in date of incident and date of death could have other complications, including on the investigation itself. If a victim was injured on one date, but died weeks or even months later, witnesses may not know that there is a need to step forward and provide the necessary information. When discussing and promoting these cold cases, it’s important to include both the incident date and the date of death.
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