UPDATED 11:20 a.m. SATURDAY
RANTOUL — A Rantoul man was arrested Friday for allegedly trying to kill his own girlfriend, who had been in a medically induced coma in a Florida hospital and unidentified for almost a month.
Shawn P. O'Bryan, 38, remained in the Champaign County Jail in Urbana Saturday, held without bond on a warrant out of Suwannee County, Florida, for the attempted murder of Shannon M. Wrench, 34, also of Rantoul.
Rantoul police Sgt. Marcus Beach said it wasn't until earlier this week that authorities even learned the identity of the severely injured Wrench through fingerprints.
Badly beaten, Wrench was found about 10 a.m. on Monday, July 16, on the side of a rural county road off U.S. 90 near Live Oak, Fla., which is in northern Florida about mid-way between Tallahassee and Jacksonville.
"A passerby saw a leg protruding from bushes off the road. When the sheriff got there, they found who we now know to be Shannon Wrench, unconscious and not responsive about 80 feet off the roadway. She had no identification on her. She had a severe head injury and multiple abrasions and bruises," said Beach, who has actively worked the case with Florida authorities since Wednesday.
Wrench was airlifted to a University of Florida hospital in Gainesville, Beach said, where medical authorities put her in a coma to assist her recovery while police set about trying to learn her identity.
"They had no idea who she was. They submitted her fingerprints to AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) and also put out flyers in the area trying to identify who she was. They didn't have any luck. No one was able to identify her until Wednesday, Aug. 8, when they got the fingerprint results back," said Beach.
Learning she was from Rantoul, Suwannee County sheriff's investigators contacted Beach Wednesday to see if Rantoul police had had contact with her or her family members. Beach learned that in May, Wrench had been involved in a traffic stop in Rantoul in a Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle. They also found the name of a former boyfriend of hers through a separate police contact.
Based on that information, Beach interviewed the former boyfriend in Rantoul, who reported he had last seen Wrench around the first of July in Rantoul. Her SUV was loaded with personal items and she told him that she was moving to Florida. That man also identified O'Bryan as Wrench's current boyfriend.
Police then went to O'Bryan's house and found the Dodge Durango - which registered to both her and O'Bryan - in the back of the house. Working with the Florida authorities, Beach said Rantoul police obtained a search warrant for the SUV and interviewed O'Bryan. They talked with him but did not have probable cause to arrest him on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Aug. 9, Wrench regained consciousness and was able to talk to police.
"She was able to verify that she was with Shawn and he was the one that injured her," said Beach, declining to go into specifics of what she said. He did say that the beating occurred in the rural location where she was found.
Florida authorities then obtained the warrant for O'Bryan's arrest on Friday and Rantoul police arrested him at his home in the 600 block of St. Andrews Circle about 4:15 p.m. without incident.
Beach said O'Bryan on Wednesday had asked for a lawyer so police did not interview him further after his arrest Friday.
He said Wrench and O'Bryan were planning to move to Florida together to find work. O'Bryan apparently is from the area in Florida where she was found.
O'Bryan is expected to appear before a Champaign County judge Monday to address the question of his extradition to Florida.