• Back Road Mysteries Staff

Memphis double homicide from 2003 of cousins remains unsolved

Sherlena “Penny” Burgess (April 22, 1980 – Sept 14, 2003) and La Shonia “Shon” Yvette Austin (Nov 13, 1978 – Sept 19, 2003) were murdered after a night out on Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee.

La Shonia “Shon” Yvette Austin (24) from Memphis, Tennessee, died on September 19, 2003. Sherlena “Penny” Burgess (23) from Southaven, Tennessee, died on September 14, 2003.

On Sept 13, 2003, Burgess picked up her cousin Austin at her North Memphis apartment after she had finished work. They were going out at Beale Street. Burgess was driving her blue Ford Taurus. It was a little after 10 pm. Burgess parked her car at the garage at Front and Monroe near the Peabody Hotel.

At approx. 330am on Sept 14, 2003, the cousins started their walk back to the garage. Police said that an acquaintance from Austin offered to drive them back to Burgess’ car.

Supposedly this acquaintance dropped them off but it is a fact that the cousins never drove away from that garage in Burgess’ car. Police found it there.

Around 5pm on Sept 14, 2003, Burgess’ boyfriend reports her missing. She had not come home all day and had not shown up for work. By this time, Burgess’ remains had already been found. She was face down in a ditch, shot dead, near a cemetery west of Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Home where Shon Austin's body was found.

Austin was found several days later in an abandoned house at 758 Cherokee.

Memphis Police Lt. Joe Scott told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that someone “was walking by and noticed the door was open to that residence.” Her body was decomposing. She was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. She had a gunshot wound to the head.

The Shelby County Medical Examiner said that both women had been shot to death.

Police believe that the cousins knew their murderers.

The authorities took surveillance tapes from Ihop and other establishments in the downtown area. However, no arrests have been made and the cases remain unsolved.

If you have any information about these murders please contact Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH or the Memphis Homicide Bureau at 901 545-5300.

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