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Monday, January 8, 2024

The Murder of Skylar Neese

     Sixteen-year-old Skylar Neese lived in an apartment in Star City, West Virginia with her parents David and Mary Neese. Sky City is a town of 1,800 outside of Morgantown, the home of West Virginia University. The community, located in the northern part of the state, is a few miles south of the Pennsylvania state line.

     On the night of July 6, 2012, Skylar came home from her part time job and bid her parents goodnight. Just before midnight, a surveillance camera directed at the apartment complex caught her climbing out of her bedroom window. The camera also recorded Skylar Neese getting into a car occupied by two girls her age. When her parents discovered their daughter's bedroom empty the next morning they reported her missing.

     The police questioned the 16-year-old driver of the car seen on the surveillance tape who said she had dropped her friend off at her apartment an hour after Skylar had snuck out of her bedroom. In the initial stage of the investigation the authorities operated under the theory that Skylar Neese was a runaway.

     Over the next several weeks fliers bearing the missing girl's photograph were placed on hundreds of utility poles and distributed to dozens of local businesses. The FBI, suspecting foul play, entered the case. Several of Skylar's fellow students were chatting about the case on social media. One student eventually went to the police after hearing two 16-year-old girls discussing how they had murdered Skylar Neese. This student at first assumed the girls were joking and for that reason didn't alert the police right away.

     On January 3, 2013, almost six months after Skylar Neese was seen on camera getting into the car, Rachel Shoaf, one of Skylar's 16-year-old friends, confessed that she and another 16-year-old girl had lured Neese into the car that night for the purpose of killing her. According to Shoaf, they had stabbed Skylar to death and drove her body into Pennsylvania where, at a remote spot near the town of Waynesburg about 30 miles northwest of Star City, they dumped her body. When the girls ran into difficulty digging a grave they simply covered the corpse with branches.

     If Rachel Shoaf articulated a motive for the murder, that was not revealed. Police later arrested Sheila Eddy on the charge of first-degree murder.

     Police officers from several law enforcement agencies, on January 16, 2013, found a badly decomposed corpse in Greene County's Wayne Township. The body was preliminarily identified as Skylar Neese, but the identification was not officially announced until March 13, 2013.

     On May 1, 2013, Rachel Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder before a judge in a Monongalia County Circuit Court. She was incarcerated in a juvenile detention center awaiting her sentencing. The local district attorney indicated that he planed to recommend a sentence of twenty years. Under West Virginia law second-degree murder carried a maximum sentence of forty years.

     Sheila Eddy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in January 2014 and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. A month later the judge sentenced Rachel Shoaf to 30 years in prison.

     It was odd this case didn't attracted more attention from the national media. If this murder had taken place in Los Angeles, New York City or Chicago it might have developed into a big crime story. Sixteen year old middle class girls do not go around stabbing each other to death in cold blood. Where were the TV crime profilers, criminologists and murder shrinks?

     This strange and disturbing case was reminiscent of Chicago's Leopold and Loeb case in 1924. That murder involved a couple of young well-educated men from good families who killed an innocent boy simply to see if they could commit the perfect crime. They didn't, and like the West Virginia girls they ended up in prison.


  1. i believe Loeb died in prison

  2. This has the flavor of the murder of Shanda Sharer.....sad that young girls resort to such means.

  3. I agree that the behavior of that nature is haneous and deserves the fullest extent the law can give those girls. No one deserves to be murdered there is no compelling excuse for them.

  4. This murder was a) preplanned and b) especially cruel. I don't understand how either one of them is going to see the light of day again. Really frightening that some day they'll be back on the streets. They killed her because she got on their nerves and they just didn't want to hangout with her anymore! What a stupid reason.