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.
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.
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.
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.
Note 3/24/15 — The documentary’s website has been taken down, and the You Tube channel associated with it no longer exists. I have no idea what happened or why or if the film is still available for purchase.
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.