FREEBURG, Ill. – A former teacher turned would-be killer may be released from prison next year.

For some, it seems like only yesterday when we learned former Freeburg High School teacher Sam Shelton tried to snap the neck of a 17-year-old student. He was having an affair with the teenager.

Shelton went to prison in 2007 for attempted murder. Now, just this week, he was moved to a minimum-security prison in preparation for his possible parole.

The police video from 2006 is unforgettable. It shows officers looking for a missing teen for more than 30 hours. They were searching a Belleville park for the student, who was feared dead. Then, in the dark, investigators not only found her, but they discovered she was alive.

Shelton had been changing his story with interrogators, first saying he and the student were just friends and later admitting he was having an affair with the child. Shelton eventually confessed that he thought he’d snapped his victim’s neck with a belt after hearing a snap. That snap turned out to be the sound of the belt breaking.

Shelton was 26 at the time. He’s now 42, and the Illinois Department of Corrections lists his projected parole date as April 2024, which would be three years short of his 20-year sentence. His prison move appears to be in preparation for his possible upcoming release.

FOX 2 reached out to the police and prosecutors involved in this case. No one would comment. When we asked about Shelton’s recent prison transfer, the Illinois Department of Corrections told us that he now meets the requirements for a minimum security placement.