‘She always said I love you:’ Jacksonville family wants justice for mother killed, left on porch

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The woman arrested and charged with her girlfriend’s murder was in court Thursday for a pretrial hearing. The victims family spoke with Action News Jax about what the last 8 months have been like grieving their mother.

Heather Sheppard was a mother of 3, daughter, and friend.


“She loved her kids tremendously,” Brenda McGehee said, speaking about her late daughter.

“One of the biggest things I miss right now is she always said ‘I love you,’” Samantha McGehee, Sheppard’s daughter, said. “Leaving the house, talking on the phone and it’s just kind of like less love without her around.”

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Sheppard was known for checking in with her family daily.

“She either called her daughter or me or someone every day,” Brenda McGehee said. “She hadn’t been heard from in two days.”

Read: Homeowner charged with murder after woman’s body found on porch in Jacksonville’s Lakeshore area

Sheppard was last seen on June 29, 2023. When her family didn’t hear from her, they began reaching out to her partner, Shannon McCarthy. A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrest report said McCarthy said Sheppard was “sick and still in bed.” McCarthy wouldn’t let anyone inside her property to see Sheppard during that timeframe. Neighbors and family noticed a foul smell coming from the screened in porch.

“She had been laying there 4 days before they found her,” Brenda McGehee said.

Brenda said she was there when they found Sheppard’s body on McCarthy’s porch. The Medical Examiner’s Office said Sheppard was shot multiple times. McCarthy was arrested and charged with “sending written threats to kill” in July. Her charges were later upgraded to second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

Read: Daughter says body found on Jacksonville porch was her missing mother

In January of last year, McCarthy was arrested and charged with battery against Sheppard, according to an arrest warrant from the State Attorney’s Office. The report said McCarthy punched Sheppard in the face several times during an argument. The case was still open at the time of Sheppard’s death.

Sheppard’s family said they plan to be at every court date.

Read: Decomposing body found in Lakeshore home owned by sister of once-missing woman

“I want her [McCarthy] to see my face,” Brenda McGehee said.

“It’s like opening up a wound every single time you have to [go to court] because you can’t move past something if you’re constantly having to live it,” Samantha McGehee said.

McCarthy’s next court date is set for March 26 at 9 a.m.

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