3-year-old Shanta's foster mother, Susan Marie Davis Johnson says that she and Shanta went to the Briarcliffe Mall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on the day of July 19, 1992. Susan told police that Shanta disappeared near the toy department of a K-Mart store inside the mall around 3:30pm. The K-Mart surveillance tapes showed Susan entering the store by herself, without Shanta. Shanta's biological mom was in prison on drug charges in 1992 and lost custody of Shanta because Shanta tested positive for cocaine when she was born. Shanta's mother was interviewed by police about Shatna's disapperance, but police got no useful info.
Shanta's birth family was hosting a family reunion in Myrtle Beach the weekend Shanta went missing. It was believed that Shanta's biological relatives took Shanta or Susan gave up Shanta to them, but Shanta's relatives were ruled out as suspects. Susan and her husband, Willie Johnson were beginning adoption proceedings on Shanta and her little brother a few months before Shanta vanished, but child services had legal custody of both kids. The day after Shanta disappeared, her little brother was removed from the Johnson household by social services and was later adopted by another family.
Three years later in July 1995, Susan was charged with abusing Shanta. A nurse at Duke University Medical Center filed a report before Shanta disappeared, claiming that Shanta had marks on her body suggestive to abuse and was behaving quite fearfully. Shanta's babysitter also reported that Shanta had severe burns on her buttocks, and Shanta alleged that Susan burned her with hot grease, but Susan claimed it was only a sunburn.
Police searched property owned by the Johnson family in Pender County in 1995 and found unspecified evidence relating to Shanta. Police believe Shanta's body was buried there, but since moved to another location. Police believe that Shanta was the victim of pre-mediated homicide and Susan is responsible for it. Shanta lived in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1992. She was wearing a navy blue shirt with Mickey Mouse on it, white shorts, and white tennis shoes with blue trim and rabbit designs on it when she went missing. Because Shanta tested positive for cocaine at birth, she might have mental and medical problems because of it, and Shanta was classified as a special needs child in 1992.