Unsolved Murder: Cabin 28

Welcome to Freaky Friday.  Today, I have an unsolved quadruple murder case that took place in Keddie, California in 1981.  The cabin in which the murders took place–Cabin 28–is often referred to in discussions about these murders.

This is a huge case, and what I’ve presented here is a summary.  Please consult my sources if you find yourself drawn in and want more information.

Keddie, California is not a town but is instead listed as a census designated place in Plumas County, California.  Keddie was founded in 1910 and named for the man who surveyed the land.

The main attraction in Keddie was a hotel/bar/restaurant which was surrounded by thirty-three cabins.  It was, at one time, a popular tourist spot.

The Murders

 April 12, 1981, Morning

Fourteen-year-old Sheila Sharp returned home from a sleepover.  Home for Sheila, her single mother, and three of her siblings was Cabin 28 at the Keddie Resort.  The family had been living in Cabin 28 since November of 1980.

Inside Cabin 28, Sheila saw a sight she’ll never forget.  Three corpses littered the floor of Cabin 28’s living room.  Sheila ran screaming from the site and contacted authorities.  Law enforcement arrived and searched the cabin.

What they found would tattoo Plumas County, California forever.

The three murder victims had been tied up, beaten with a claw hammer, and knifed.  Two of the dead were Sheila’s brother John Sharp (15 years old) and her mother Glenna “Sue” Sharp (36 years old).  The third murder victim in the cabin was Dana Wingate (17 years old), a friend of John’s.

Sheila’s twelve-year-old sister, Tina, was missing from the cabin.

Three survivors were found alive and well in another room of the cabin.  Sheila’s other two brothers, Greg and Rick who were 10 and 5, slept through the attack.  Their friend Justin, a boy of twelve, was the only eye witness to the crime.

No clues were left behind.  None of the surrounding cabins heard the disturbance.

The Case

Police attempted to hypnotize Greg Sharp, Rick Sharp, and Justin, the three survivors of the attack.  The only useful information came from Justin.  However, his report varied under polygraph questioning and a subsequent hypnosis.

Witnesses saw John Sharp and his friend Dana Wingate hitchhiking on the evening of the attack.  Both young men’s bodies were found still wearing their coats, as though they hadn’t been home long when the attack occurred.

Some speculated that whoever had picked the boys up had followed them home.  Others speculated that the two young men walked in on the attack in progress.

The police questioned people who knew the Sharp family in hopes of learning a motive for the murder.

Neighbors of the Sharps talked about the traffic coming and going at Cabin 28.   This traffic was blamed both on drug trade and on promiscuous behavior by Sue Sharp.

Known boyfriends of Sue Sharp were interviewed and cut loose.

The victims were tested for illegal drugs, and their toxicologies came back clean.

Some lines of thought focused on the murder being committed by a pedophile who had taken an interest in the children.

In 1981, many potential suspects were wandering the streets of Keddie.  The idyllic small town was home to child molesters, drug runners, professional criminals, and at least one serial killer.

John Douglas, the criminal profiler, was consulted.  He noted that the murder weapons had come from within the Sharp residence, which led him to believe murder was not the chief intent of the attack.  Click here to read more of his report.  Very interesting stuff and worth the click.

Three years after the murders, a bottle collector found Tina Sharp’s skull near Feather Falls in Butte County, California.  The rest of her remains were never recovered.  The bottle collector said he found the skull sitting on top of a pile of leaves almost as though it had been place there on purpose.

The Documentary

Josh Hancock, an English teacher, got interested in the murders after a student told him about them.  He filmed a two-part documentary about the murder case which contains interviews with family and friends of the victims and interviews with law enforcement.  The documentaries also contain actual news footage and a video tour of Cabin 28.

The documentaries seem to be extremely extensive.  The second documentary even contains a confession by someone who was under suspicion for the murders at the time they occurred.

Go here for an interview with the filmmaker.

For purchase information go to: http://www.keddiemurdersfilm.com/index.php.  At the very least check out their videos.  They have a bunch of unused and bonus footage available to the public.

Watch the trailer:

The Aftermath

In 1981, around 200 people lived in Keddie.  Since the murders, it has dwindled in size to a population of 66.

The Keddie Resort Cabins fell into a state of disrepair.  Nobody wanted to stay where the murders occurred.  Since the murders remained unsolved, it was always possible to stretch the imagination into believing the murderers might return.

The site became a haven for squatters and hobos.  In 2004, Keddie Resort Owner Gary Mollath had Cabin 28 razed.

To this day, the case remains unsolved.  The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office is interested in speaking with anybody who has information on this case. Click here for their contact information.

[Fun Factoid: Some people believe The Strangers (2008) was inspired by the murders that occurred at Cabin 28.]

Update: Sheila Sharp has published a self-help book titled How to Survive Your Visit to Earth. In the final section of this book, Sheila talks about the Keddie Murders at length, including a discussion on who she thinks committed the murders and why. Click here to view the book on Amazon.com.

Thank you for your interest in this article. I often receive requests for further information on these articles. Please understand my knowledge of this topic is limited to what you’ve read in this article. I have no plans to update or expand these articles. I am currently focusing on my fiction writing career and am no longer writing or researching for non-fiction articles. If you’re interested in seeing what else I write, please check out the My Fiction page on this website or visit my Amazon Author Page on amazon.com. 

Sources:

Unsolved Keddie Killings Still Haunt Surviving Family Member (CBS)

Paradise Lost: The Keddie Killings, Part II (CBS)

“Thirty Years On: Are the Keddie Murders Solved” by Joshua Sebold 

http://www.johndouglasmindhunter.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=69118

Asylym Eclectica

Keddie Murders Film

51 thoughts on “Unsolved Murder: Cabin 28

  1. What a story. Too bad Douglas couldn’t help find the killer(s). You know how I feel about his expertise. Unsolved murders fascinate me, and this is one that makes me wonder if there were two killers. Killing to nearly adult men and an adult woman with a hammer would be tough for just one person, unless he lured them one at a time. It’s one of those cases that will likely never be solved. Since he (they?) took Tina, I’d think there was some pedophilia as motive. Perhaps the others were just killed to get them out of the way, but that’s a lot of rage.

    Great summary of a complex murder:)

    • John Douglas had some super interesting insights, though. He said that the mother (Glenna Sue Sharp) had been covered by a blanket. And that one act could tell law enforcement who the killer was.

      Like you, I suspect there were two murderers. Or at least the killer and an accomplice. Tina’s disappearance chills me to the bone. Can you imagine what she was thinking?

      I agree that the murder will likely never be solved. For one thing, some of the suspects are dead. For another, it has been very effectively swept under the rug for reasons my small amount of research didn’t turn up.

      • on ,
        Chichibcc said:

        Personally, I don’t think the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department (PCSO) wants to see this solved, because solving it would mean having to expose the skeletons they have in their own closets, which would be a big no-no. In addition, Justin’s stepfather, who was one of the main suspects, was said to have been “buddies” with Doug Thomas (the Plumas County Sheriff in 1981, when the murders occurred). If that’s true, then that certainly didn’t help matters.

        • Reading your comments makes me itch to come hang out on the forums and spend the $$ to watch the documentaries.

          Anyway, what you’ve said about Plumas County LE is chilling. I know that a lot of small communities are like that, though. You know, everybody is buddies, and people get away with a lot of stuff, including murder.

          Thanks again for your comments on this post. They’ve been super informative.

      • on ,
        d mac said:

        I can’t imagine what the victims were thinking, period. And I have no reason to think Tina survived one moment longer than the other dead that night. John Douglas? His hands were tied because LE lied to him. Douglas made his vague, fault-riddled evaluation based on what LE chose to deprive him of. YES< Douglas never saw critical details about the crime, so his outcome was naive and faulty.

        This is one f-d up case. Catie. you have done a much-better-than average job of paraphrasing things without turning it into another bullshit ghost story, and I applaud you for that! This isn't BS, it's not a ghost story. It is a real crime that went hidden because the DOJ and local cops intentionally buried it.

        I recommend anybody with interest or skills help solve the case look into joining the Keddie Forum. We're on the right path, after 30 years of lies, and it's still one of the most frustrating cases I've ever seen. Cops hold the answers, and they will lie rather than reveal.

        In my opinion, LE is the biggest roadblock into understanding why these people died, why the investigation into their deaths was ditched in the weeds, and why LE still lies about it to this day. Plumas County Sheriff's Dept and California Department of Justice have blood on their hands for a quad murder they refuse to solve, and the answers for murder arrests have been in their hands since Day One.

        • I appreciate the compliment. When I run into a case that has been researched as thoroughly as this one, all I can do is summarize and paraphrase. Part of me hates to do that, but I also know that many people have not heard of the murders at Cabin 28 and might be interested. A fair number of my regular readers are fiction writers, so I know the case might interest them for creative reasons.

          As I told Chichibcc above, I’m itching to join the forum. The two of you have provided such interesting additional information about the case. I am glad you decided to comment here.

          I’m fascinated by both what you said about John Douglas and what you’ve said about Plumas County LE.

  2. Incredible story Catie. thanks for pulling this together. I never heard of these murders before. scary and Ick. I have to wonder what would happen with more modern evidence collection and analysis. Or have I been watching too much CSI? the whole thing is weird.

    • Scary and ick is a good description. As I researched this case, I thought the very same thing you did about modern evidence collection. I wondered if it would have made any difference in the crime’s investigation. Like you, I have no idea.

      Thanks for stopping by. :D

    • on ,
      Chichibcc said:

      DNA testing and other related analysis methods would be very beneficial here…that is, if there is anything left to test and analyze. An evidence fridge at the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department was left unplugged, which compromised some of the evidence. There are other crucial items that have disappeared altogether, and no one’s been able to account for what happened to them. There were fingerprints and some hairs collected at the crime scene, including a bloody print that supposedly belonged to Justin’s stepfather on a glass that came from C28’s kitchen (although that’s never been officially confirmed).

  3. Anything including a claw hammer creeps me out! How could anyone do such a violent and vile act is beyond comprehension….
    Do you research these for a book you are writing?

    • The idea of being beaten with a claw hammer make my skin crawl. So I’m with you there.

      I research true crime for two reasons. 1) It’s fascinating to me. 2) Everything I write has some aspect of murder and mayhem. In my fiction, I do not use actual cases that I’ve researched, but I use what I’ve learned reading about these cases.

      Thanks for asking and showing in an interest in my fiction.

  4. We like to think that with a thorough investigation, we can catch every murderer. But sadly, that isn’t true. It haunts me, however, to people being killed, and no one brought to justice. I am reminded of the verse in the Bible (in Genesis) where God says, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” That’s how I always feel about murder victims — that their blood cries out from the ground until the murderer is brought to justice. Great coverage of this story, Catie. Maybe someone will eventually have new information that at least leads to knowing the truth.

    • Oooh, I had never thought of that Bible verse in relation to some of the crimes I study. I think that is true. Their blood does cry out from the ground for justice.

      I do think that one of the things that makes this case so disturbing is the fact that it went unsolved. We live in a time in which investigative techniques make “getting away with it” very difficult. But some people do get away with murder no matter what.

      I would be very interested to see this case solved.

      Thanks for your comment.

  5. on ,
    Dave said:

    Not a good family life. It sounds like the mom was okay with associating with unsavory types. Shame that the children have to pay. Murders by weirdos are so random. I hate that insanity is used a defence for murder. Doesn’t every murderer have to be a little insane? I think the death penalty is in order. Yup! I reckon I’m a little cowboy like when it comes to punishment. Now that’s justice. Mercy is overrated anyway. Oops! Off topic.
    Anyway. I read a book by John Douglas about his work as a profiler for the FBI. A good read but it’s kind of disgusting considering the people he was investigating.

    • I’ve not read a great deal about who the mom’s boyfriends were. It is out there, I just haven’t read it.

      Insanity as a defense for murder: Most of them do plead insanity, though. Or at least they try.

      The Death Penatly: I watched Into the Abyss this past weekend. It’s about a guy (in Texas) who committed a triple homicide so that he could steal a car. Ten years later, he was executed. The filmmaker said in the very beginning that he did not believe in the death penalty. Without getting into what I personally think (because it’s unimportant), I found this film incredibly interesting. It’s free on Netflix streaming if you have that.

      John Douglas: I have not read this book. You are, however, the second person who commented on what a good read it is. I think I need to read it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. How horrible for that young girl to walk into such a gruesome scene involving family members. And for the child that was taken. It’s just horrifying. What about the man who confessed? Just another wacko that wanted the attention or was there anything to it? Another great post, Catie.

    • Before I start talking, a quick note. I did not buy that documentaries. At $30, it was beyond my price range for something I know I’ll only watch once.

      From what I have seen and been able to understand, the confession was originally told to the murderer’s therapist. It is this therapist who appears in the documentary, telling what this patient said to him. Now, I have also read that this person (the one who confessed to the murders) is now dead.

      If you want to see the footage I saw, look at the first two sources I have listed. It was on one or the other of the videos that came with those articles.

      Glad you enjoyed this post. There’s a lot to this case, and I wanted to cover the basics well, but I knew I couldn’t talk about everything.

  7. Your posts are always so fascinating. I wonder why they killed three and left others in the cabin alive. Makes no sense. I also get creeped out by hammers as weapons and by thinking of that young girl’s ordeal.

    I still hope someday you’ll look into the apparently unrelated murders of a dozen or so young women in southwest Fort Worth back in 1984. Those still bother me when I think about them.

    • What chills me the most about this case is that nobody–not the kids in the next room, not the people in the next cabin–heard anything. I didn’t post crime scene photos here (because they’re gruesome) but the attack had to have been a hell of a fight. That little girl had to have screamed…at least until they knocked her out and carried her away. How did nobody hear any of this?

      I will revisit those murders. I did do some quick research a few months ago and thought it was interesting. One of the things I’ll have to assess is whether or not I can find enough information to put together a post like this. Even though my posts are short, I assimilate a ton of information from different sources into them. Those qualifiers out there, I will look into this again.

      • Where would one find those crime scene photos? Not that I’m a blood splatter analysist, but it might be a matter of the crime scene being somewhat staged.

        • One place you can view them is on the documentary footage I linked to. I didn’t purchase the documentaries, so that means I saw the crime scene photos somewhere in their free footage. Sorry not to be able to be more specific. Since I knew I wasn’t going to post the photos, I didn’t pay much attention. :D

          • on ,
            Linda said:

            You can find the crime scene photos on facebook. Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders

    • It’s a creepy story. I have my theories on why the kids in the back room were left alive. Two of the boys in the back room were sons of Glenna Sue Sharp. The third boy was just a friend of the family. One of the murder suspects was the third boy’s stepfather. Interesting, huh?

  8. on ,
    Shannon Esposito said:

    Gruesome. I always come away with so many questions when I read stories like this. The one that sticks out for me here is why take the little girl and kill her somewhere else? None of it makes sense. But asking why is like banging my head against the wall. There aren’t any answers except a diseased human brain.

    • One rather chilling school of thought I read was that Tina (the girl who was taken away from Cabin 28 and killed elsewhere) was the primary target of the attack. This line of thought has the killers as pedophiles who wanted to Tina to play out some sick sexual fantasy. But you’re right. Nobody will ever know for sure.

    • on ,
      Chichibcc said:

      It’s possible that Tina was taken from the cabin only to make it look like she was the target, when in reality, she might not have been. Doing so would’ve helped to further deflect the true target/motive of the crime.

  9. Again, Catie — a story I wasn’t familiar with that is right up my alley. I love true crime, especially cold cases. I hope that doesn’t make me some sort of sicko. :)

    It’s a shame the cabin was destroyed. I would have loved to add this stop to my bucket list.

    • I know what you mean, but I also understand why the owner razed the cabin. I’m sure he was just trying to make it into a money-making venture again. For that, I don’t blame him.

      This story is one of my favorites. It completely gives me the creeps. Mostly because it was never solved. But the idea that nobody heard anything worries at my mind a good bit, too.

  10. I’ve decided to make-like-it’s-Friday this Monday night… Why not, right? ;) I don’t recall the details, but there’s an unsolved spree of serial murders—all women at a college in Wisconsin. I think it’s called something like the “library murders,” due to the place the women were found. Yipes on many levels.

    • I’m going to look this up. I had never heard of it before now, and it might be a good Freaky Friday topic. Colleges can be weird places, you know? They are so full of transient people. Nobody really knows much about anybody else. It would be a great place for a murderer to hide.

  11. on ,
    Marz said:

    I just wanted to comment on some of the reactions/comments people have posted on sites relating to the cabin 28 murders..on one site I read several comments attacking the survivor, Sheila Sharp,for not wanting to respond to certain questions regarding this terrible,traumatic occurence in her life.I think these people need to be reminded that these were her loved ones that were butchered…she,at 14, found them…I’m sure her entire existence & every facet of her life was never the same again.If she doesn’t want to be poked and proded to answer questions from ghoulish sensation seekers, who obviously have never experienced real trauma in their lives,I think that’s her right.In todays society I think we need to remember that these are real people,& the survivors continue to suffer from crimes like this for the rest of their lives.As a survivor of trauma,I know no one can predict how they will respond to death/tragedy, or how each survivor copes in the aftermath.But I can say that you don’t know how it feels until you live through it,& no one has the right to critisize a survivors choice not to respond to questions & keep rehashing the horror,just to satisfy ghoulish thrill seekers.Grow a heart and a conscience,& put yourself in her shoes for just a moment….

    • If Sheila has decided to quit answering questions, I don’t blame her. This is a case I’d like to see solved, but I bet it never will be. Endlessly answering questions about these murders that happened a lifetime ago would be crazy-making for anybody.

  12. on ,
    Marz said:

    Just wanted to point out that I am in no way refering to this site,or any of the people posting on it in my previous comment.As a matter of fact,I find this site to be the best of the ones I’ve read & that’s why I chose it for my post.I also want to clarify that I do not think people interested in the facts behind murders/ serial killings etc. are ghouls…I’m one of them! I was referring to those individuals who specifically were attacking this poor woman for wanting to refrain from responding to certain questions , that’s all. I hope you continue with this site.I find your coverage of the crimes, details etc. to be intelligent & informative & look forward to reading more.

    • I appreciate your posting this clarification. I had been sitting here for the last ten minutes looking at your comment and trying to figure out if I should approve it or not. That you took the time to me know your intent made a big difference. I try to keep this a place where my friends can feel comfortable commenting and learning new things.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again.

    • on ,
      Ilene said:

      Sheila stopped answering questions because of the abusive comments on the forums from someone who thinks she should be at the beck and call, and when she wasn’t, called her a liar.

  13. on ,
    Chichibcc said:

    Hello Catie,

    Thank you so very much for writing a blog post on this case, which should be so much more well-known than it actually is. I am a member of the official forum on the case at http://keddiemurdersfilm.com/forum/index.php. When I first learned about it and saw the crime scene photos for the first time, I was horrified beyond belief by the brutality of the crime and couldn’t believe how people could do something so vicious and evil. There is no crime out there that I would like to see solved more than this one, and still hold out hope that now, 31 years later, it can still happen.

    In regards to the boys being asleep when the murders took place-there’s just no way that could have happened. The bedroom the boys were in was right off the living room, with both rooms sharing a wall, so it’s highly unlikely that they slept through all that commotion without hearing anything. I do feel that the neighbors had less of a chance to hear anything because of the thickness of the cabin walls and all of the trees in the vicinity C28 and the other nearby cabins, which also would’ve helped to mask any noise (although neighbors from Cabin 16 did report hearing “muffled screams” coming from the general direction of C28 around 1:15 a.m. on the morning of April 12).

    I also believe that Justin’s stepfather, Martin “Marty” Smartt (the man who made the confession you referred to) was totally involved in the murders, and that he had to leave the Sharp boys alive because leaving Justin as the only witness would’ve been way too obvious, in my opinion.

    As far as rumors of drugs and prostitution when it comes to Sue Sharp, I believe those were simply just that-rumors, and nothing more, which have never been substantiated whatsoever. There were no drugs ever found in C28 during the course of the investigation. I highly doubt she was involved in prostitution because that would’ve been hard to do living with five kids in a tiny cabin and having no privacy whatsoever (she mainly slept on the couch in the living room so that the younger kids could have the two bedrooms upstairs, and Johnny, the oldest, his own room in the basement).

    I hope I have helped to answer any questions that you or other visitors to your blog might have had. There is so much more I wish I could mention here. If anyone would like to learn more, I HIGHLY recommend joining the forum at the link I posted above-it is the absolute best source of information out there available on the case, with some highly knowledgeable and committed members who are dedicated to seeing it solved. In addition, the documentary by Josh Hancock on the murders is a must-have, particularly part II.

    • Thanks for taking the time not only to come here and comment but also to type out such an informative and interesting comment!

      I thought exactly what you said about the boys being asleep in the next room. I don’t understand how anybody could sleep through that. But I also know that I slept through Hurricane Ike, so I was willing to believe. :D

      The rumors about Sue Sharp sounded to me like things that might have been said about a newcomer to a close-knit community. Somewhere, I read that she was accepting public financial assistance, which I am sure fueled the rumor mill. It’s hard to believe the early 80s were such a different time, but they really were. A single mom with five kids would have been an easy target for rumors.

      As I said in early comments, I am itching both to join the forum and to watch the documentaries.

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

      • on ,
        Chichibcc said:

        I also think that’s exactly why such rumors about Sue came about-because she was knew to town and therefore considered as an “outsider.” While I believe she was on assistance, she wasn’t the only one-quite a few residents in Keddie were on it at the time, since jobs in the area were scarce and hard to come by. In fact, that’s another reason why Keddie fell into such decline in the years following the murders-the economic situation there only worsened over time.

  14. on ,
    pacific ghost said:

    My wife (Sheila Sharp) has chosen to refrain from participating in the keddie murders forum because of the continued abuse she has suffered from many of its members. The extreme zealotry some of the members exhibit in their aggressive quest for answers is without an inkling of compassion. She is continually accused of being a liar and of withholding information, neither of which is true. Why would she? Her personal experiences, insight on the murders and ideas as to what actually happened are included in her forthcoming book that will be published later this year.

    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing Sheila’s position on this matter. My heartfelt good wishes go out to both you and Sheila. I will keep an eye out for her book.

    • on ,
      meankitty said:

      From what I understand, Sheila has answered questions over the years, and has probably gotten burned by the trolls that were on the other boards. And I can understand being frustrated at answering the same questions over and over and having people still get the facts mixed up. And I agree with what Marz said here.

  15. on ,
    pacific ghost said:

    Oops I did not mean to publish my e-mail address

  16. on ,
    bigbelly said:

    This is my first post to any of the Keddie sites/blogs. I’m brand new at web sleuthing but I believe every murder can be solved. I am one of those people fascinated by true crime too. I’m not sick or deranged. I just want a look into the evil mind of the animals who can commit such vile acts. The unsolved ones really bother me. Someone has to know something, they HAVE to and it drives me crazy that people won’t come forward and do the right thing.
    Anyway, I watch alot of crime shows and I only stumbled upon this case 2 weeks ago by way of FB. I think the rumors surrounding Sue are terrible, leave her alone. I also feel for the surviving children. I can’t imagine having my life sensationalized by the comments posted by nutjobs I’ve read on other sites. So please keep doing what you’re doing here. Your info is clear and concise and it makes sense when I read it. The more I read other places, the more confused I get. I pray there will be justice for these victims. I also believe that if we stick together, compile facts, compare info we can make a difference.
    Sorry if this post is a little rambling, I think I’m a little nervous posting with all you big dogs out there.

    • There are no big dogs here [woof, woof]. Please comment as much as you want. I usually do a true crime case every other Friday. Over the past year and a few months, I’ve built up quite a few true crime posts. So…welcome!

      As for the Keddie Murders being unsolved–that is what makes this case so spooky. It feels like there was purpose behind the murders, and I’ll wonder what it was..

      Thanks so much for stopping by. And, again, welcome.

  17. on ,
    Brooklyn Rancid Elevator Music said:

    ANY unsolved (or solved) homicide from the early 80’s has a particular creepy feel to it for me. The 1970’s has a very similiar feeling too but nothing creeps me out more than early 80’s. Don’t get me wrong,I’m not suggesting any era of murder makes me feel warm and cozy inside, it doesnt. I have experienced many many strange and erie and outright terrfying things in my life (Sept 11 survivor) and I know many many murder victims personally and I never get “immune” to it. Ever. It always fascinates me yet scares the shit out of me as well.

    Nice site btw.

    Be well all. Be safe.

  18. Pingback: Surviving Your Visit To Earth | Catie Rhodes