A gripping two-part documentary on "The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews" started airing on Wednesday, and is shining the light on the 2008 case of a child from West Yorks who was intentionally abducted by her own mother in order to make money out of the ensuing media circus.
The Channel 5 documentary aired in the UK last night, sharing details about the malevolent scheme concocted by Karen Matthews and her partner's uncle, Michael Donovan.
Karen kidnapped her own nine-year-old daughter, Shannon, and had Donovan hide her while she pretended that the girl had gone missing. The crime was planned less than a year after the world was shaken by the kidnapping of another British girl, Madeleine McCann, while on vacation with her family in Portugal.
McCann was never found, but unlike her, Shannon's story turned out very differently. A massive manhunt that reportedly cost £3.2million eventually led to the discovery of the child just 24 days after her disappearance.
As it turns out, Shannon was drugged and hidden under the frame of a divan bed inside Donovan's home located in Batley Carr, West Yorks.
When the disappearance was first reported, Karen played the part of the worried mum, and used the media to gain public sympathy for her "ordeal."
She called the police herself on February 19, 2008, and told emergency services that her daughter had not returned from school. The police sprung to action and around 3,000 homes were searched during the extensive manhunt. Cash rewards were offered for any information that might help the case.
UK newspaper The Sun offered up to £50,000 for information on Shannon's whereabouts. All this time, Karen continued to give interviews about how she and her remaining children were suffering.
She had been planning to eventually "find" the missing girl, but on March 14, cops located her in Donovan's flat. It became clear that Karen was involved in the fake kidnapping after her suspicious reaction to the news that Shannon was found being hidden by Donovan.
They had apparently been planning on eventually releasing her, with Donovan claiming to find her so that he can claim the reward. Both he and Karen were sentenced to eight years in prison in December 2008. Karen was released in 2012, and Donovan at an earlier date.