Shawn Wesley Field is dead.
He passed away at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute in Pendleton, Oregon.
Shawn did not die an easy death, but it was a much easier death than the one he inflicted upon three-year-old Karly Sheehan, of Corvallis, Oregon.
The jury ruled Shawn had tortured Karly prior to her death.
We will never know why Shawn Field killed Karly. He had a daughter of his own. C. Field may have been the only person Shawn ever loved more than himself. She paid him a visit in prison this week, to celebrate his birthday. His parents, Hugh and Ann Field, haven’t visited their son in years.
Shawn had cancer. He also had AIDS, had it before he was in prison. Shawn Field was bi-sexual. I suspect he was a gay man, posing. Shawn came from a fundamentalist, legalistic home where being gay would have likely got him cut off financially from his inheritance and the lifestyle he so enjoyed.
At his core, Shawn Field was lazy. He wanted the good life, but never wanted to work for it. He would do anything to keep his gay relationships a secret, do anything to keep his parents funding his lifestyle, including kill for it.
I tried numerous times to interview Shawn Field. He always refused.
He insisted that he did not kill Karly Sheehan. He had no idea who did, even though he was the only person with Karly that day, other than Sarah.
Shawn Field went to his death claiming he had been the person wronged. He lived his whole life like that – with a sense of entitlement and a sense of everyone doing him wrong. I have letters from people who have known Shawn since he was a young boy and they all say pretty much the same thing – Shawn was mean. He was especially disrespectful to his mother. He thought he was better than everyone else. He maintained an air of arrogance all of his adult life.
Old girlfriends tell of the nightmares they still endure because of Shawn. I don’t think Shawn’s death will relieve the nightmares those women suffer.
Shawn’s death will not likely make life better for his daughter. C.Field has been the other true victim of Shawn’s. Everyone says C. Field is beautiful and bright young lady now. Her momma put her in therapy after Karly’s death. Anyone in the Benton County Courthouse who heard that then-elementary-school girl testify knows that C. Field felt guilt over Karly’s death.
Karly had been like a little sister to C. Field. She loved Karly. How does a therapist explain to a child that they are not responsible for the murder of another child? How does C. Field find the grace to forgive herself from something she needs no forgiveness from? She didn’t kill Karly. She was a little girl. She couldn’t have stopped Karly’s death if she had stormed into the living room with a baseball bat and beat her dad that night. Such an action would have likely only resulted in C. Field putting her own life at risk.
Her father was a sick man. Perhaps his sickness was the result of having to hide his true self. Maybe Shawn Field was gay and simply couldn’t risk being cut off from the family inheritance by coming out. Maybe he couldn’t come out because he was afraid of his own father’s wrath. Maybe he couldn’t come out because he couldn’t face his own truth.
Maybe his sexuality had nothing to do with why he tortured Karly Sheehan. Maybe Shawn Field had just given himself over to evil. Maybe Shawn Field liked the power evilness afforded him.
We will never know because Shawn Field, unlike Ted Bundy, never could own up to the truth of who he was and what he did.
His death will not restore all that Shawn Field took from David Sheehan and from the entire Sheehan clan, though, perhaps, they will find some measure of grace in knowing that the man who did those terrible things to Karly is now himself going to have to answer to a much higher court than the one he faced here on earth.
Shawn Field died a grim death, but his suffering, for all we know, may have just begun.
I can’t bring myself to ask God to have mercy on his soul.
I want God to bring justice for the torture and murder of Karly Sheehan.
You might want that, too, if you had seen the photos of Karly post-mortem as I did.
Justice is one of those characteristics of God that we like least. It makes him seem unloving, unforgiving. As if mercy and justice were somehow polar opposites of each other.
But they are not.
Only a just God can grant mercy. It wouldn’t be mercy, otherwise.
Think of the men and women you know who treat others justly. Are they not usually some of the most merciful and loving people, you know?
When people are dealt with justly, there is no cause to seek revenge.
Shawn Field is dead.
His death brings me no sense of joy, no sense of relief, no sense of satisfaction. The feeling that I have most when I think of Shawn Field is one of overwhelming darkness. Evil embodied.
I wish there had never been a reason to know his name.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Karly Sheehan: True Crime Story Behind Karly’s Law.
The day of Karly’s murder