When we’re kids , we tend to do really stupid stuff: sneaking out of the house, doing dangerous things without realizing, and worrying our parents sick. But sometimes these relatively harmless escapades of youth turned dark. Let’s go back to 1996 in a small town in West Virginia.
This is a time where technology has boomed. It was the first year that more email was sent than postal mail. Personal internet and cell phones were now common, to the point that even teenagers had them.
Star City Is a smaller town in northern West Virginia, not far from the Pennsylvania border. And in 1996, Dave and Mary Neese welcomed their beautiful little girl Skylar into the world. Skylar was raised in a very loving and happy home. Being an only child, she was showered in love and raised to just be a good person. In second grade she met her best friend Sheila Eddy, and the two remained friends all the way into high school.
In 2010 , the two best friends turned into a trio when they met another student named Rachel Shoaf. The three became inseparable. Skyler split her time wisely between her friends, her studies, and her part time job at Wendy’s. She had a 4.0 grade point average, and never missed a shift at work. By all accounts from family schoolmates, and friends, Skylar was just happy and thriving.
On July 5th , 2012, Skylar finished her shift at work and went home. She went to her room as usual and her parents thought she just went to bed. But the next morning the bed was never slept in and the window screen was taken out. They didn’t realize that she had figured out exactly how to sneak out of the house unnoticed. Obviously worried, her parents turned to law enforcement, but as a teenager missing for less than 48 hours, the police told them they needed to wait.
That evening, Skylar missed a work shift for the first time. More and more concern was rising as this was not her normal behavior. Now that there was a little more time, and more suspect behavior, her parents filed a missing person’s report.
Sheila called Skylar’s parents, and confessed that the girls had gone out the previous evening. Skylar snuck out of the house and then the three drove around town. Sheila said that they dropped Skylar off at the end of the road so that it would be easier for her to sneak back in without waking her parents. She said that they picked her up around 11:00 PM and dropped her off at midnight.
This gave police a window to look at any evidence to get some leads. A neighborhood security camera showed that those times were incorrect, but everything else lined up. The camera showed the car pulling up at 12:30 and Skylar leaving the house to join them at 12:35.
A few days later, the story hit the public. Dave and Mary were hoping someone might come forward with leads or answers. They scoured the neighborhood with friends and family helping, including Sheila, but found nothing. Skylar simply disappeared.
Weeks passed with no progress. Police believed that the most likely scenario was that she attended a part somewhere and overdosed, but her parents didn’t agree. They knew their daughter.
While police had some theories and ideas, they continued to investigate. They interviewed the last two people to see her alive: Sheila and Rachel. One of the detectives on the case found their behavior during the interviews odd.
Sheila was just “completely blank on emotions” and Rachel was incredibly nervous. And if that wasn’t suspicious enough, both girls’ stories were identical to the point of being verbatim. This may seem like a good thing, right? It must be the truth because they both said the same thing.
In reality, this was a huge red flag. Memory and perception mean that two individuals witnessing the same event with have slightly different stories and their own mannerisms to telling them. When suspects have stories that are identical like this, it’s a good indication that they are lying.
This prompted police to start digging deeper into Skylar’s best friends. Looking through more CCTV and pouring through phone records, they could tell the girls had a secret, but couldn’t quite figure out what it was. In a discussion with Skylar’s parents, police revealed this insight. Dave and Mary were still in close contact with Sheila and Rachel, and they started pressuring the girls for information.
In December, Rachel had a breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. When she was released on January 3, 2013, she confessed to her attorney.
Rachel and Sheila started their plans in science class. They were going to drive out to a remote location with Skylar under the premise of smoking weed. Then, while her guard was down, they would stab her and leave the body. They could return home and it was like nothing happened.
The two filled the trunk with what was later termed a “murder kit”: knives, shovels, clean clothes, towels and bleach. They followed their plan, murdering Skylar in a remote wooded area. Plans changed when they went to bury the body. The ground was rocky and difficult to dig, so instead they drug her into the brush and covered the body in branches and leaves.
The two teenagers then returned home like nothing happened, and even helped Skylar’s parents in the search for their daughter.
After the confession, Sheila’s twitter history came to light with odd messages like “we really did go on three” and “no one on this earth can handle me and rachel if you think you can you’re wrong.”
Rachel turned herself into authorities and pled guilty to 2nd degree murder. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison and eligible for parole in 10 years. While in prison, she has married a fellow inmate. In her first parole hearing in May 2023, the motive finally came to light. For 10 years, the girls refused to tell, but finally Rachel came forward. At the time of the murder, Rachel and Sheila began dating and this caused ripples in the friendship with broken plans, lies and a new social dynamic. This parole hearing ended in a denial of parole.
Sheila was apprehended in a restaurant parking lot and indicted on kidnapping, 1st degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Tried as an adult, she was sentenced to “life in prison with mercy” due to her age. She will be eligible for parole in 2028, 15 years after the start of her incarceration.
This case had another legal effect in the state of West Virginia. The federal regulation for an Amber Alert requires specific criteria:
- The child is believed to be abducted
- The child is under 18
- The child may be in danger of death or injury
- There is sufficient evidence to issue an alert.
In Skylar’s case, there was no evidence other than concerned parents knowing something was wrong. This meant they needed to follow normal procedure for a missing teen which was that the child was missing for more than 48 hours.
In 2013, West Virginia passed Skylar’s Law which allows the immediate issue of public announcements when any child is reported missing or in danger. A bill for the same legislation on a federal level was submitted to Congress in 2017 but has not made any progress yet.