MONSTERS IN THE NIGHT
THE UNSOLVED KEDDIE MURDERS
One of the most disturbing unsolved murders in California history happened on April 11, 1981, when three victims – a mother, her teenage son, and the son’s friend – were beaten to death in a remote cabin while children slept soundly in the next room. A fourth victim – a 12-year-old daughter – vanished in the night and her body was found year later, miles away from the gruesome scene. The murders remain unsolved to this day.
Glenna Sharp, who went by the name Sue, had been renting Cabin 28 in the tiny community of Keddie, California, since November 1980. The isolated collection of cabins had once been part of a thriving resort, started in 1910 to attract vacationers, fishermen, and hikers. It once boasted a fashionable restaurant in the lodge and served as a getaway for those wanting to escape from the city for the weekend. The resort eventually closed and, over the decades, the cabins began to decline. In the 1970s, the owners began renting them out to low-income families and struggling students. The restaurant and bar still operated in the former lodge, catering mostly to locals since it was in such a remote spot. There was only one road in and out of the run-down community – and four of the residents would never leave.
Sue lived in Cabin 28 with her five children. On the night of the murders, she was at home while her two youngest sons and one of their friends played in a bedroom. Tina, Sue’s youngest daughter, returned home around 10:00 p.m., after an evening of television watching with neighbors in Cabin 27. Sue’s oldest son, John, had spent the day in the town of Quincy with his friend, Dana Wingate. The two boys were last seen walking along State Route 70. They returned home to Cabin 28 later that night and probably went down to John’s basement bedroom. Whether they entered the home while the murders were taking place, or became aware of intruders after hearing a disturbance upstairs, remains a mystery. No matter what happened, John and Dana died not survive the night of April 11.
The next morning, Sue’s oldest daughter, Sheila, came home after a night spent with friends. When she walked in the door, she was stunned by the carnage in the living room. The bodies of Sue, John, and Dana were lying on the living room floor, covered in blood. A panicked search of the rest of the house revealed the other boys still in their bedroom, alive and unharmed. With the help of neighbors, Shelia got the three children out of the house. The fourth child, Sue, was missing.
During the investigation, detectives released that Sue, John, And Dana had met a very violent end. Their bodies had been bound with medical tape and appliance wire, and then they had been stabbed, beaten, and strangled to death. Coroner’s reports revealed that they had suffered blows from at least two different hammers of varying sizes, and Sue and John had been stabbed repeatedly. Sue had also been bludgeoned with the butt of an air rifle, while Dana Wingate was strangled to death by hand. Various weapons were found at the scene, including a bloody table knife, butcher knife, and a hammer that was streaked with hair and gore. The Daisy air rifle was never recovered. Some evidence, like a second bloody knife, was found in the trash bin behind the Keddie resort lodge.
Several suspects were named in the case, including Marty Smartt, a close friend of the local sheriff, and a man named “Bo” Boubede, who had alleged ties to the mob in Chicago and Las Vegas. Other suspects included former romantic partners of Sue Sharp, but in spite of all of the evidence was collected and a long investigation, no arrests were ever made.
Three years later, parts of a human skull were found 29 miles away in Butte County. An anonymous telephone call to the local sheriff’s office claimed that the skull belonged to Tina Sharp. A search of the area discovered a jawbone and several other bones that were eventually determined to have belonged to Tina. The discovery added another element of mystery to the already baffling case. Why was Tina’s body found so far away from Cabin 28? How could a murder with so much physical evidence remain unsolved? Both the original and back-up recordings of the anonymous call that led the Butte County Sheriff’s office to the location of Tina’s remains were released to an “undisclosed law enforcement official” soon after the body was found. They have since disappeared.
Years passed and with no solution to the mystery, Cabin 28 was cleaned up and put back onto the rental market. But it would be two years before anyone lived in the house again, and they would not stay for long. Families moved in and out and the cabin, along with almost all of the others at Keddie, began to deteriorate. The restaurant and the bar in the lodge closed down and the cabins became empty, one by one. By the early 1990s, the water supply was found to be contaminated and after an inspection by the county, many of the cabins were boarded up and condemned, including Cabin 28, which had been drawing a steady stream of morbid curiosity-seekers for years.
And now it brought ghost hunters, too. For years, even when it was still inhabited, Cabin 28 had a reputation for being haunted. Former occupants spoke of screams, whispers, and strange foreboding feelings in the house. Children in the house seemed to be affected the most. They had night terrors, terrible dreams, and one told of a “man with a mean face” who peered at her from the closet. When the cabin was empty, locals crossed the road to avoid it. Residents and visitors alike told of strange sounds emanating from inside, and moans and knocking noises that came from behind the boarded-up windows.
In 2004, Cabin 28 was finally demolished, along with other condemned buildings on the former resort grounds. But this was not the end of the story. In 2008, a film called THE STRANGERS was released and brought new attention to the Keddie Murders. Although the film claimed to be “based on a true story,” it told the story of a young couple who are brutalized by intruders while staying at a remote resort cabin. It brought the Keddie Murders into the spotlight again, but the fresh attention led nowhere. To this day, the mystery still remains unsolved.
For the COMPLETE story of the Keddie Murders, see the book, FEAR THE REAPER by Troy Taylor and Rene Kruse