Murdered businesswoman's sister speaks

Shannon Hercutt
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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The sister of a murdered Sevier County businesswoman calls the past few months a nightmare.

"I am tired of sitting back and being quiet during this frustrating time, especially listening to 'others' expressing their so called interests and opinions concerning [my sister] and her business," Penny Stephens said.

Shannon Hercutt's body was found in her wrecked Cadillac Escalade at the bottom of a cliff near her business August 3rd.

Hercutt, 40, owned and operated Auntie Belham's Realty and Nightly Rentals in Pigeon Forge.

Investigators initially called Hercutt's death an accident, but later declared an homicide investigation after Hercutt's family demanded an autopsy.

Penny has remained quiet the past four months.

But, with tears in her eyes, she broke her silence about Hercutt's mysterious murder to Volunteer TV Wednesday.

"God knows who did this and exactly what happened, and vengeance will be His," Penny said.

Family members believe Hercutt was murdered in her home, and someone staged the the crash along Walker Trail Road.

Adding to Penny's concerns, someone shot the front doors of Shannon's former business, Auntie Belham's Realty and Nightly Rentals, November 20th.

No one was hurt.

Pigeon Forge Police is investigating whether or not it's connected to Hercutt's murder, but won't release any other details

"Even though certain people are trying to make it difficult to keep Shannon's dream alive, it's not going to happen," Penny said.

"I want people to know Shannon would have wanted me and her Auntie Belham's family to continue fighting to keep her business running and to keep pushing to find who killed her," she continued.

Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals called his investigation into Shannon's death on-going.

"We want to solve this crime," Seals said.

Seals wouldn't discuss any details, and wouldn't name any suspects in the case.

"I have sympathy for the family, certainly. Anytime you lose a loved one, you know it hurts you in your heart," Seals said.

Penny says her silence didn't mean doubt in authorities. She's confident justice will be served.

"We all want the persons responsible for this horrible crime caught and punished for what they did to my sister," Penny said.

Governor Phil Bredesen has approved a $10,000 reward for information in this case.

Penny says she has mixed feelings about it, and wished someone would've already come forward on their own.

She urged anyone with even the smallest tip to contact authorities.

If have any information about the case, contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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