Crime

On August 28, 2018, at about 8:30 pm, Shannon Steven Fox, escorted by FBI agents, landed at SFO and was taken into custody by Menlo Park Police investigators. He was booked into the San Mateo County Jail for vehicular manslaughter in the death of six-year-old Lisa Xavier in 2009.

In that year, Lisa’s parents Charles Suresh and Shiji Varghese were driving in their vehicle, a Toyota Camry, on Willow Road at the Bayfront Expressway with their daughter in the back seat. As Mr. Suresh proceeded into the intersection of Willow and Bayfront on a green light, two vehicles, a Ford Mustang and Honda Prelude, which were racing each other N/B on Bayfront at speeds approaching 80 mph, ran the red light at the intersection of Willow Road.

The Ford Mustang crashed into the Toyota Camry, causing major damage to both vehicles. The vehicles spun out of control and the Toyota Camry collided with another vehicle in the intersection, causing minimal damage to that vehicle.

Several witnesses called 911 and as police and EMS were responding, the driver of the Ford Mustang exited his vehicle, got into the vehicle he was racing with, and both suspects escaped from the scene. Officers arrived on scene shortly thereafter and found 6-year-old Lisa critically injured and her mother Shiji severely injured inside the vehicle. Charles Suresh was uninjured in the collision.

Officer David Apple, who was one of the first on scene, attempted to render aid to Lisa while waiting for fire and paramedic units to arrive. Lisa was transported to the Stanford Trauma Center where she was later pronounced dead due to the trauma sustained in the crash. Shiji was treated at the hospital and eventually recovered from her injuries.

Officer Paul Phu led the investigation of the collision and then enlisted the aid of the Menlo Park Police Investigations Unit. Sergeant Brackett, who was then a detective under the supervision of Detective Sergeant Jaime Romero, was assigned to assist along with numerous other investigators and officers. The investigation revealed through physical evidence and witness statements that Shannon Steven Fox was the driver of the Ford Mustang that crashed into the victim’s vehicle.

Attempts were made to locate Fox, who had an address in East Palo Alto at the time. Investigators later learned that he fled the region shortly after the crash, and although they believed he knew he caused a fatality, he traveled to the U.S./Mexico border and crossed into Mexico, and eventually into Central America.

These officers and detectives continued to investigate the case, garnering enough probable cause to request a criminal grand jury review. In June 2010, the District Attorney’s Office presented the case to the San Mateo County Criminal Grand Jury, which returned an indictment against Shannon Steven Fox. An arrest warrant for half a million dollars was issued for Fox alleging the crimes of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, felony hit and run causing death, and participating in a speed contest.

Investigators continued to track Fox while the FBI communicated with law enforcement partners and liaison officers in Central America. The investigation revealed that Fox was living a normal life in Central America and may have been helped by relatives there.

Through the last eight years, Menlo Park investigators attempted to locate and have Fox taken into custody with the help of the FBI.  In December 2016, working with Law Enforcement partners and liaison officers in Guatemala, the FBI was able to locate Shannon Steven Fox, and at Menlo Park investigator’s request, he was arrested by the Guatemalan authorities.

For almost two years, the FBI, assisted by the United States Attorney’s Office and U.S. State Department, endeavored to have Fox extradited to face trial for the death of Lisa Xavier. In April of this year, Fox lost his final appeal to the Guatemalan Supreme Court and was ordered to be extradited back to the United States.

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