The Keddie Cabin Murders, which took place in April 1981, rocked the small Californian town of Keddie to the core and left many residents scared and confused.
The crimes happened inside the home of Sue Sharp, a mother of five. On that day, she was murdered along with her two kids. Her son's friend was the fourth victim in the horrific quadruple homicide.
Sue's children were in the house with her on that fateful day, except for Sheila. She was spending the night with her friend next door. Rick and Greg were asleep in an adjacent room with their friend Justin (12).
Although Sue Sharp (36), daughter Tina Sharp (12), son John Sharp (15), and her son's friend, Dana Wingate (17), lost their lives in the massacre more than four decades ago, the crime is still unsolved to this day. Luckily, three of Sue's kids, Sheila (14), Rick (10), and Greg (5), survived the bloody ordeal.
The incident was initially considered a triple homicide and a missing child case because Tina, Sue's 12-year-old daughter, was missing, presumably abducted. However, after three years of searching, Tina's remains were found in Butte County, 80 miles away, turning the Keddie Cabin Murders into a quadruple homicide.
The horrific Keddie Cabin Murders took place in Plumas County, and the local sheriff believed that the crimes were carefully planned from the very start.
Naturally, the Keddie Cabin Murders came as a massive shock to the local community. After they happened, people started to lock their doors in an area where everyone felt safe, and children were allowed to play outside without their parents fearing for their safety.
What Was The Motive Behind The Keddie Cabin Murders?
Sue Sharp and her five children lived in Cabin 28 of the Keddie Resort. She had left her husband in 1979 because he was abusive and possibly acting inappropriately towards his daughters. Because of him, she moved from Connecticut to Quincy, California.
Generally, Sue liked to keep to herself. She was attending business classes at Feather River Community College. Initially, she rented a trailer home before moving to a bigger place that could accommodate her and her five kids.
The mother-of-five did not have a criminal record, which was a sign that it was highly unlikely that she was involved with dangerous people who would want to hurt her or her kids.
However, a week before the horrific Keddie Cabin Murders, she had started seeing a man known as Daryl. The pair last met two days before the murders took place.
In general, the authorities did not find any motive behind the murders, which made the case especially hard to solve.
However, a conspiracy theory claimed there was a feud involving Sue and her neighbor. Apparently, she advised her neighbor Marilyn to leave her husband Marty because he was abusive.
Allegedly, after learning about this, Marty enlisted the help of his friend Bo in attacking Sue. Curiously, Marilyn actually left Marty soon after the Keddie Cabin Murders, which gave some credence to this theory.
Additionally, according to another theory, the nature of the crimes on that day led many to believe that Tina had something to do with them. She was abducted even as her mother and brother were killed on the spot.
The Keddie Cabin Murders Crime Scene
When law enforcement officers arrived at the scene of the Keddie Cabin Murders, they found out that the body of John Sharp, 15, had been tied at the wrists and ankles with an electrical cord and a medical tape. His throat had been slit, and he had several stab wounds. John's head had also been hit with a hammer.
Sue was naked from the waist down, and her body lay on its side next to the couch. She was covered in a yellow blanket. On her body were several stab wounds in her chest and throat. Her head had also been beaten with the butt of a Daisy 880 BB gun.
Like John, she had been tied with an electrical cord and a medical tape. She was gagged with a bandana and her own underwear before her mouth was taped shut. Although she was naked from the waist down, there was no indication that she had been sexually abused.
However, she had defensive wounds on her hands. The soles of her feet also had blood on them, which showed that she might have stepped on blood before she was finally killed.
John's friend Dana had been beaten with a hammer. His body was lying face down on a sofa pillow. Dana had also been tied with an electrical cord and medical tape. It was also clear that he had been manually strangled.
The living room walls where the bodies were found had also been stabbed. The hammer and the knife used to commit the crimes were located close to the bodies.
Investigators also found a second knife whose blade was bent backward, possibly due to aggressive use. There was also blood on the ceiling and the furniture.
Based on the arrangement of the bodies, it seemed that they had been moved around. The authorities also suspected that someone had brought a hammer and knives into the home.
Several hours into the investigation, it was also discovered that Tina was missing.
Possible Suspects In The Keddie Cabin Murders
Jan Albin, a Keddie Resort co-owner, called the sheriff's office about a possible homicide in Cabin 28 in the morning the bodies were discovered. Sheila had found the bodies of her mom Sue, her brother John, and her brother's friend Dana in their house's living room while getting a change of clothes after spending the night with a friend.
Her brothers Rick, Greg, and their friend Justin were still sleeping in an adjacent room. The three unharmed boys were retrieved from the house through the window to keep them from seeing the dreadful scene in the living room.
Under hypnosis, Justin described the men who had entered the house and committed the murders.
Apparently, Justin had gone to the living room to see what was going on, and that's when he saw a man grab Tina and carry her outside before coming back without her. According to Justin, the two men talked to Sue before the conversation turned into a violent argument. Shortly before then, John had arrived home with his friend Dana.
One of the men stabbed Sue. That's when Tina came from her room and was grabbed by one of the men and taken outside. The man then came back without her.
Based on Justin's physical description of the two suspects, Marty Smartt, his stepfather, was one of the men guilty of the Keddie Cabin Murders.
When investigators looked into Marty, they found out that his hammer had "gone missing" at around the same time the crimes happened. His wife Marilyn also confessed to having seen a bloody jacket in the basement, and she believed it was Tina's.
Marilyn also gave up a letter from Marty in which he confessed to the murders:
"I've paid the price of your love, and now I've bought it with four people's lives."
He once again confessed to the Keddie Cabin Murders in therapy:
"I killed the woman and her daughter, but I didn't have anything to do with the boys."
Still, he was never arrested, and the confession and the letter were never treated as evidence.
His friend Bo, who was out with him on the night the crimes happened, was also questioned. Although he lied about his identity during questioning, he was never arrested or accused of the murders.
These are some of the reasons people thought the police did a terrible job investigating the Keddie Cabin murders, which are still unsolved.
Strangely, Sharp's closest neighbors lived just 15 feet away, but they didn't hear or see a thing as the brutal murders took place.
Keddie Cabin Murders Case Today
Although the Keddie Cabin Murders happened a long time ago, there has been very little progress in the case until now. There was always hope that more details would emerge and help reveal more information about the mysterious murders.
As of 2021, the case is heating up once more. Investigators have discovered that some evidence was never logged and that the crime scene had been interfered with. Additionally, proper follow-ups were never done on the available leads.
Even though cabin number 28 was condemned and later torn down in 2004, detectives recently found the hammer believed to have been used to commit the crimes. That might help break the case as the hammer matches the one reported missing during the initial investigation more than 40 years ago.
There is also a theory suggesting that Sue might have been having an affair with Marty Smartt and that he killed her to prove his love to his wife Marilyn after she found out. This would explain why he confessed in the letter he bought her love with the lives of four people.
According to another theory, Tina might have been abducted because she knew something she was not supposed to know but ended up getting murdered as well. Allegedly, the person who made the 911 call about Tina's remains seemed to have specific details about the case even though the bones were found several miles from Keddie.
Therefore, the current investigation focuses on the fact that there might be more people who were involved in the murders and are still alive. That is why today, authorities believe they are closer to solving the case than has ever been the case throughout its 40-year history.
All along, the Keddie Cabin Murders case was held back because the authorities did not have fingerprint or DNA evidence to tie any suspects to the murders. According to investigators, the suspects had gloves, and it seemed that none of them got injured at the scene and left behind any DNA evidence that would have led to their capture.
Throughout the years, the authorities had several speculations on what might have transpired during the Keddie Cabin Murders. For instance, they have a reason to believe that there was a cover-up intended to keep the main suspects, Marty and Bo, who have since died, from facing justice.
The gruesome crimes had a significant impact on the remaining members of the family and the community as a whole. People became suspicious of each other, and no assurances from law enforcement could address these fears. The locals also felt that the authorities had done a terrible job of investigating the Keddie Cabin Murders, and therefore had a high level of distrust in the sheriff's department.
There were also claims that corruption was involved in the case. After all, the main suspect in the murder, Marty Smartt, was close to the sheriff. Apparently, someone also told the main suspects in the Keddie Cabin Murders to get out of town.