Shannon Doris Bower was born November 15, 1972, in Tupelo, Mississippi. Her parents, Joe and Marilou, owned and managed the Hot Stuff Bakery in Tupelo, where they worked long hours to provide a good living for Shannon and her younger sister, Marvella.
Shannon was a voracious reader and seemed to consume books on any subject. She once confided to Marvella when they were just children that she wanted to "do something important" and "be somebody." She maintained excellent grades in high school because she was determined to get a good college education.
Marvella often referred to her sister as "The Bulldog" because Shannon never gave up once she made up her mind about something. Shannon sometimes had tunnel vision when it came to something she believed was right, no matter how it affected other people. She could be very stubborn, a bit self-serving and often not able to see that there were two sides to an argument.
When she started at Ole Miss, Shannon wasn't sure what she wanted as a career, but was sure she would discover it through an education. In her freshman year, her roommate Marti Scarr, who was interested in nursing, suggested that she and Shannon volunteer at a nearby hospice. They spent several hours each week as relief for full time, in-home caregivers of terminally ill family members. As a result, Shannon discovered she was interested in the healthcare field but not as a nurse or doctor.
She decided on physical therapy and, upon graduation from Ole Miss, went on to get her Masters in Physical Therapy (MPT). She was hired at the the same hospice, and still makes time to continue her volunteer work there. Her coworkers respect her as a dedicated therapist, and she is popular for her fun-loving persona outside of work. She often says, "I put my all into everything I do, whether it's working, volunteering or partying."
Shannon and her partner, Marti, bought a home in the Whitehall neighborhood in 2007. Shannon belongs to several organizations, and she and Marti are outspoken advocates for LGBT rights. They often host meetings and parties at their home, and always tell their neighbors in advance about gatherings and invite them to attend.
When Ambrose Garrett became the Whitehall HOA president, Shannon's trouble-free existence in the neighborhood seemed to evaporate. Ambrose objected to the numbers of gatherings held at her home and the noise and traffic they created, even though her neighbors never complained. She chafed under his scrutiny and accused him of stalking her since he seemed to know her every move. He would call the police in her. She would retaliate by pushing every rule to the max, as though daring him to fine her, and then she would refuse to pay a fine for "some silly rule."
Never shy about expressing her opinions, Shannon argued with Ambrose over anything he favored in the association's meetings. Consequently, their feud was well known in the neighborhood. They engaged in a heated argument at the July 15 meeting over a Web site Ambrose was planning to set up.