Leonne Weeks was a vibrant and caring 16-year-old girl living in the town of Dinnington, near Rotherham, South Yorkshire with her family and twin brother. Studying hair and beauty at school, she had exciting plans for her future. On the morning of 15 January 2017, less than one hour after her worried family reported her missing, her body was discovered by a member of the public hidden beneath an abandoned sofa in a secluded alleyway in Dinnington. She had been stabbed 28 times in a vicious attack.
Her family has been left devastated by her senseless murder. In a statement outside Sheffield Crown Court this month her mother Paula Weeks said, “It was a normal day but there has been nothing normal about my life since.” Her words spoken after 19-year-old Shea Heeley was sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 24 years for her teenage daughter’s brutal murder.
“There in the dark for no reason at all and with a knife that he had taken there for that very purpose, Shea Heeley launched a furious attack upon Leonne, stabbing her no less than 28 times until she was dead.”
Shea Heeley was 18-years-old at the time he murdered Leonne Weeks and has given no explanation for his actions. He was friends with Leonne with the pair regularly spending time together in the months before her death. After Leonne’s body was found, police traced Snapchat messages where Heeley had suggested meeting at 7 pm on 15 January 2017 at the alleyway where she later died.
Heeley had gone to see friends later that evening, telling them he had been attacked with a knife and wanted to use their bathroom to wash up. He then took them to the alleyway where Leonne Weeks body lay hidden, in a clear attempt to create an alibi according to the prosecution, and told them this is where he had been attacked. He then left with his friends, who knew nothing of what he had done just hours earlier, to go for a takeaway. Police found his story suspicious and he was arrested two days after Leonne’s body was found.
“I’ll go to prison or hospital, but probably prison. If that’s what it takes to stop me killing people, that’s where I need to go.”
In extensive psychiatric assessments at Rampton high-security hospital after his arrest, no mental health issues were identified in Heeley but professionals held concern his behaviour may be an indication of an “emerging personality disorder.” When police examined his computer they found multiple online searches for ‘how to get away with murder’ and ‘how to train myself to be a killer’ in the weeks leading up the murder the Guardian reported. Searches on topics including weapons, murder, and serial killers were in the thousands according to police.
Shea Heeley’s history reveals a disturbed young man who appears to have planned this murder before telling mental health professionals, “I like that I have done it, I just do. I like killing.”
BBC News reports a foreboding incident in July 2016 where Heeley called police and told them he was outside a pub in Dinnington “having violent and murderous thoughts” and that “he had an urge to kill somebody.” He was taken into psychiatric care and prescribed anti-psychotic medication although no psychiatric disorder was identified. A report written by the Community Adult Mental Health Service at Rotherham General Hospital highlighted his behaviors as a concern and recommended he “should be very closely monitored,” although the report had not been completed and signed off at the time of Leonne’s murder.
“He’s planned murder for some time. He’s researched on the internet how to commit murder, how to get away with destroying forensic evidence.”
Heeley pleaded guilty to murdering Leonne Weeks at a hearing on 9 February 2018. At his sentencing, the judge told him, “She had done nothing to offend or upset you and she could in no way have anticipated the terrible and merciless attack to which you subjected her. Putting it shortly, you killed her for the sake of it.”
Shea Heeley will now spend at least 24 years behind bars for taking the life of an innocent young girl in a pre-meditated and violent attack which has devastated the lives of all who knew her. “How could you not struggle with this? It’s just so unfair for a young girl to lose her life like this,” head teacher Rebecca Staples said reported Planet Radio. “She’ll really be remembered as a bouncy lovely girl, loved by her friends, and the staff who worked with her,” she continued. Detective Chief Inspector Martin Tate said after Heeley’s sentencing, “He has robbed a family of a lifetime with their daughter, and of friends and loved ones of making precious memories together.”