Alabama Woman Nearly Killed, Put in Coma After Beating Breathes Easy After Ex’s Arrest: ‘I Feel a Lot Safer’
Crystal Shannon was hospitalized for more than two months after being nearly beaten to death in March 2022. She was with a cracked skull, and suffered several strokes and a brain aneurysm while in a medically induced coma.
More than a year after she was beaten nearly to death, Crystal Shannon is breathing a sigh of relief knowing the man allegedly responsible is finally behind bars.
“I feel a lot safer knowing that he has been caught,” the Tennessee woman tells Inside Edition Digital.
Jesse Suggs, 37, had allegedly been on the run since the April 2022, one month after the attempted murder of Crystal. He was finally arrested in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, earlier this month, according to the local sheriff’s department.
A warrant for his arrest for the attempted murder of Crystal was issued following her hospitalization more than a year ago. She was admitted with a cracked skull from blunt force trauma and had a bleed on her brain.
In the 68 days following her admittance to the hospital, Crystal underwent multiple operations to her brain and skull. She was in a medically-induced coma for more than a month, and had two strokes and a brain aneurysm while hospitalized.
“They said from the blunt force trauma that my skull had endured, he couldn’t have done it with his bare hands,” she says.
After surviving the brutal beating, Crystal tried focusing on making the most of life. The 34-year-old mother moved to Alabama to live with her sister and began attending a rehabilitation program for sobriety. All the while, her attacker was out there, and she believed he would stop at nothing to finish the job he started.
Jesse Suggs and Crystal Shannon Meet, and Infatuation Turns Into Abuse
Crystal and Suggs met in 2020 through mutual friends shortly after Suggs was released from prison after being convicted of multiple counts of burglary and violating his previous parole. He again was on parole when he and Suggs met. Crystal was aware that he had been in prison, but the new couple did not spend much time discussing what landed him there.
"He didn't speak a lot about his past," she says.
They hit it off immediately. He was charming and a smooth talker, she says. The relationship moved quickly.
“I really thought he was the one. We seemed to be madly in love,” she says. “We were talking about getting married and I mean, I genuinely thought he was the one.”
But their relationship was built on a shaky foundation. At the time, Crystal was battling an addiction to methamphetamine and claims Suggs was as well. “I was using with my fiancé,” she says.
“Me and him both was abusing drugs," she says. "We both kind of struggled with addiction."
An attorney representing Suggs told Inside Edition Digital he is unable to comment on allegations that his client had struggled with addiction. Booking records Lincoln County, Tennessee, show that between 2014 and 2018, Suggs was charged twice for simple possession, twice for possessing drug paraphernalia and once for the manufacturing, delivery, sale or possession of methamphetamines. He was also charged three times with driving under the influence, records showed.
In total, Suggs had been charged with 25 crimes in Lincoln County before he met Crystal, booking records show. The outcome of each of the charges Suggs faced was not immediately clear. The District Attorney's office did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's request for further information on Suggs' criminal history.
Crystal says she and Suggs became engaged around Christmas 2021. It wasn't long after that that Suggs allegedly became abusive. "Right after we got engaged, that's when it started going downhill," she says.
Their fights got worse, and Crystal says she believes his anger was amplified by his addiction. "I don't know if it was the drugs that would do it to him, but he would always assume I was cheating on him, even though I would always stay home (with him)," she says. "I guess he realized I wasn't going anywhere and he could do what he wanted."
Suggs' attorney declined to comment on allegations of his client's alleged abusive behavior toward Crystal.
She alleges that he gave her a black eye on several occasions. She forgave him each time.
“I always knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t right, and he would always promise that he would change,” Crystal says. “He would always say the right things and I would give him the benefit of the doubt because he was good with his words. He was a smooth talker, so I always believed what he would say.”
Crystal says she introduced her daughter, Miracle, to him once for about an hour, but that they didn't have any further interactions. Miracle had been staying with Crystal's mom then as Crystal didn't believe her living situation at the time was the best for a child. “I truthfully didn’t really want her around him because he was kind of abusive to me … so I really didn’t want him interacting with her," she says. "I didn't want her around it all."
Then on March 25, 2022, Crystal was rushed to a local hospital. Her sister, Tabitha Shannon, says she was told by authorities that due to the severity of her injuries, Crystal needed to be flown to another hospital to be treated. That was the first time Tabitha met Suggs, she says.
“Jesse (Suggs) actually contacted my cell phone and said she had been hurt,” Tabitha says. “I had assumed, when I got there, that he had done it just by the panic in his voice. When I talked to him, it didn’t sound like somebody who was genuinely concerned.”
Crystal Shannon Spends 68 Days in the Hospital
Tabitha was told to prepare her goodbyes one day after Crystal was admitted to the hospital.
“I got a call that I needed to get to the hospital because they didn’t think she was going to make it,” she says. “They said she had coded, she had to be put on a ventilator.”
From then on, Tabitha was at her sister’s bedside every day.
In the following weeks, Crystal had to have half of her skull removed to release the pressure from the swelling and bleeding in her brain. She also had several holes drilled in her skull in order to drain fluid. At some point, she contracted an infection and her skull had to be cut open once again so it could be treated.
“It was well over a month before she finally came to and was able to start communicating a little bit with us,” Tabitha says.
Tabitha was her rock through it all, Crystal says. Tabitha became her sister’s medical proxy, and when it was not clear whether she would survive, Tabitha took custody of Crystal’s daughter, who was just 2 years old at the time.
“My sister has been my backbone throughout all of this and without her and her husband, I don't know what I would have done,” Crystal says. “She had to decide whether to pull the plug or not.”
Crystal Shannon Comes to Terms With the Abuse She Endured
Even after being hospitalized and nearly dying, Crystal still believed she was in love and that Suggs was incapable of causing her injuries. “I still didn’t want to believe it had happened, and I definitely didn’t want to believe that he did it,” she says.
Crystal suffered severe memory loss following the beating, but eventually, Crystal began to accept that the man she loved was allegedly responsible for nearly killing her.
“Slowly things started coming back to my mind, where I was in the kitchen and how he had hit me,” Crystal says. “Little pieces started coming back to my mind, and the argument that we were having and it all fell into place. And I knew he had done it.”
Crystal recalled the fight that led to the beating. It had been what they always fought about, she says. "He would always find some reason to accuse me of cheating on him."
When Crystal was discharged, she began her long road to recovery with the support of her sister. “If it wasn’t for her and her husband, Don, I don’t know what I would have done because they stepped up and took my daughter in,” she says.
But the harrowing journey was far from over.
"We had been on the police department since day one," her sister Tabitha says. "We had figured that it was him since he was the only one there at the house."
But Crystal, who was conscious when she was initially admitted to the hospital, had initially told authorities that Suggs hadn't caused her injuries. She had claimed someone else had done it, she says, and even after she came to terms with the fact that it had been Suggs all along, it was a while longer before her memory returned in any meaningful way.
"Until Crystal's memory completely came back and she was able to tell them that he done it, they couldn't charge him with anything," Tabitha says.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department issued a warrant for his arrest in April 2022.
A year later, on April 13, Crystal received a threatening message on Facebook. It was allegedly from Suggs, who she says threatened to kill her and her daughter and provided details proving he knew exactly where they were living. Her nightmare, it appeared, was far from over.
'I No Where U and Ur Lil Girl Lives Now ... I'll Kill U and Her Both'
After she was discharged from the hospital, Crystal moved in with Tabitha and her husband at her home in Alabama. There, she joined her daughter, who had already been living there since Tabitha gained custody of the little girl while Crystal fought to survive her devastating injuries. Tabitha's 16-year-old daughter and two other children, 9 and 10, also under Tabitha's guardianship were living at the home when a threatening message landed in Crystal's Facebook inbox.
The message allegedly came from Suggs' Facebook account. It contained threats against Crystal and her daughter and specific details that showed whoever sent it knew exactly where they were living. "Your daughter was having fun on the trampoline yesterday wasn't she," the message read. "Just think next time she goes outside could be the last time you see her alive."
Suggs also made sure that Crystal knew he was aware of their new address, which he detailed in the message.
"I'll kill u and her both before I go back to prison," the message ended.
After receiving the bone-chilling messages, Crystal forbade her young daughter from riding her bicycle outside. Tabitha and her husband also gave the other children in the home strict orders to stay inside.
“It had our whole family living in fear,” Tabitha says. “Every time the dogs would bark, our kids were thinking that he was here to kill them. They couldn’t go outside and play after he made the threats. It changed all of our lives in the last few weeks to where we were pretty much jumping at every noise that we heard."
Crystal and Tabitha reported the messages to authorities. As it appeared Suggs was no longer in Lincoln County, authorities stepped up the manhunt and involved U.S. Marshals, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and several other police departments and sheriff’s offices from Tennessee, Alabama and Florida in their search.
Suggs was finally arrested weeks after Crystal received the message. The multi-agency taskforce tracked him to DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He was initially arrested by the Walton County Sheriff's Department, and later extradited to Lincoln County, Tennessee.
He appeared in court on May 16 for a first appearance and is due to enter a plea at his next court date on June 20. The public defender attorney representing Suggs in the charge declined to comment on the case.
“I’m glad that he’s finally caught,” Crystal says. “I’m glad that he’ll have to serve his time, and that he don’t have nothing but time on his hands so [he can] think about what he did.”
Crystal Shannon's Sobriety, Her New Lease on Life and What Comes Next
Crystal continues to live with the aftermath of the attack. She struggles with headaches and memory loss, and has permanent damage in one eye. She also now walks with a limp and struggles with her balance.
“I’ve recovered about as much as I’m going to,” she says.
Crystal is now completely clean from drugs. “I haven’t even touched cigarettes. I quit smoking,” she laughed. She completed a three-month rehab program and has also regained custody of her daughter through the courts.
Though Crystal and Tabitha believe that closure can only come with Suggs' conviction, they say their whole family is breathing a sigh of relief. Life, they hope, can soon go back to normal.
“When the Marshals called and informed everybody he was caught, [the kids] were up and getting ready for school and they jumped up and down, screaming, ‘Now we can go outside and play,'" Tabitha says.
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