Skylar Neese's murder was a massive shock to everyone. She had sneaked out of her bedroom to meet her two friends, and that was the last thing that happened to the teenage girl.
Skylar was just 16, and she had her whole life ahead of her. She was bright, an avid reader, and active on social media just like any other teenager.
Skylar was the only child of David and Mary Neese. She was born on February 10, 1996, and died on July 6, 2012.
Skylar was also doing a part-time job at Wendy's.
Skylar Neese's murder took place on July 6, 2012. Her best friends, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf tricked her into leaving their house before they pounced on her.
Ironically, Neese was often giving Shelia advice, as the girl was always doing all sorts of crazy things. Rachel was more restrained, and she greatly envied Shelia for being a free spirit.
The strained relationship between the three friends ultimately doomed the friendship and resulted in Skylar Neese's murder.
The Girls Responsible For Skylar Neese's Murder Were Very Close
Neese and her buddies Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf attended the same high school in Morgantown, West Virginia. Being an only child, she was raised to be independent.
Trouble started when Rachel Shoaf joined Skylar and Shelia as a third friend. Shelia loved attention, which meant Skylar and Rachel began competing to be closer to Shelia, who was fun to be around.
Shelia and Skylar had known each other since they were eight years old. Skylar had met Rachel during her freshman year, and the three girls became friends.
Nevertheless, the girls' friendship was not always smooth, and this was evident through Skylar's tweets. For instance, on May 31, 2012, she tweeted:
"Youre a twofaced bitch and obviously fucking stupid if you thought I wouldnt find out."
Skylar was also not happy that the bond between Shelia and Rachel was getting stronger while her relationship with both of them was growing weaker:
"Too bad my friends are having lives without me."
Skylar was also constantly getting into fights with Shelia.
The Day Of Skylar Neese's Murder
On the day Skylar Neese was murdered, she was seen sneaking out of her apartment early in the morning. She then got into a nondescript Sedan.
It was pretty unusual for Skylar to disappear from her room, so her parents reported her missing when she did not come back.
They were sure she had not run away since her phone charger and other personal items were still in her room.
The following day, Shelia called Skylar's parents to inform them that the three of them had met up the night before to get high before dropping her off.
Shelia claimed they left her at the end of the road to ensure she would not wake her parents up while sneaking back into the house.
For a while, the story made sense, and nobody suspected that Skylar Neese's murder had already happened.
Investigation Started Into Skylar Neese's Disappearance
According to Shelia, she and Rachel picked up their friend Skylar at 11 PM and then brought her back before midnight. However, the security footage showed that Skylar had left at 12:30 AM, after which the car left at 12:35 AM.
That was the last time the car was seen.
Shelia joined Skylar's mother in her search for her daughter on July 7. In the meantime, Rachel was already at a Catholic summer camp, where she would spend the next two weeks.
There were also rumors that Skylar had been to a house party, where she overdosed on heroin. Apparently, after the incident, the people at the party panicked and got rid of the body.
Despite these claims, the authorities doubted the story because it sounded rehearsed. It was also apparent that Shelia was behaving strangely while Rachel seemed scared.
Unfortunately, even with these realizations, the authorities did not have enough information to make an arrest. So, the investigation into Skylar Neese's murder had to go on.
The process of finding out the truth about Skylar's death took a while, but social media offered some much-needed clues.
The three friends were quite active on social media. For instance, on the afternoon before Skylar's disappearance, she posted:
"sick of being at fucking home. thanks 'friends', love hanging out with you all too."
Shelia And Rachel's Suspicious Behavior On Social Media
A state trooper, Chris Berry, suspected that those responsible for Skylar Neese's murder would eventually come out and confess the truth. For this reason, he felt that Shelia and Rachel would finally start boasting about their crime.
Berry made a fake online account as an attractive teenage boy. In his profile, he claimed that he was attending West Virginia University in Morgantown.
He befriended the girls on Facebook and Twitter and then got more information based on their posts.
While Shelia was quite bold online, Rachel was reserved. It was pretty apparent that neither was grieving Skylar Neese's murder.
Some of their social media posts were quite strange. Shelia tweeted on November 5, 2012:
"No one on this earth can handle me and Rachel if you think you can you're wrong."
People on social media were also saying that Shelia and Rachel were responsible for Skylar Neese's murder. This made the girls nervous, mainly because people claimed that it would not take long before they were taken into custody for Skylar's murder.
In the meantime, Shelia and Rachel gave police interviews. Additionally, their shared secret made them withdraw from other friends as they had to rely more on each other.
Authorities also discovered that the car they had seen in the security footage was Shelia's. Further research revealed that the vehicle was also at a convenience store in Blackstone, West Virginia.
Although the location was west of Star City and Morgantown, Shelia and Rachel had claimed they had gone east on the night Skylar disappeared. Consequently, the two girls were discovered to be lying.
Despite the mounting evidence against Rachel and Shelia, only a confession would help the police say for sure that they were responsible for Skylar Neese's murder or disappearance.
Rachel's Confession About Skylar Neese's Murder
As much as they tried to hide it, the gravity of what Rachel and Shelia had done was starting to weigh heavily on the two young killers. In particular, Rachel's mother called 911 on December 28, 2012, saying her 16-year-old daughter was out of control:
"She's hitting us, she's screaming, she's running through the neighborhood."
During the call, Rachel was crying uncontrollably in the background, and Patricia Shoaf told the dispatcher that her husband was trying to contain the girl.
After she broke down, Rachel was taken to a psychiatric hospital. By the time of her release, she was ready to confess the whole truth to the police.
She said that they had stabbed Skylar. Rachel also revealed that Skylar Neese's murder had been planned a month before it happened. The agreement to kill her was made while they were in a science class.
The plan was to kill Skylar before Rachel went to the summer camp.
Fellow students overheard Rachel and Shelia planning Skylar Neese's murder. However, they did not take it seriously until she went missing when they contacted the police.
By the time the students took action, the girls had already been arrested by the police.
Even after Rachel's confession, Shelia continued to pretend that she was innocent of Skylar Neese's murder and even tweeted saying, "rest easy, Skylar." After Skylar went missing, she called her parents, constantly asking them for updates about their daughter.
Nevertheless, Rachel's confession had made it clear that she was one of the main suspects in the murder, which led to her arrest.
How Skylar Neese's Murder Happened
Rachel and Shelia had prepared adequately for Skylar Neese's murder.
Rachel had picked a shovel from her dad's house while Shelia secured two knives from her mom's kitchen when they committed the killing. The two girls also carried cleaning supplies and clothes they could change into after the murder.
As far as Skylar was concerned, the three of them were going to enjoy a drive and have some fun. The three friends had gone to Pennsylvania to get high in the past.
Rachel and Shelia had their pipes, which they used to smoke weed.
The only oddity was that Shelia and Rachel wore hoodies despite the hot weather. They wanted to hide their knives, but Skylar did not think much of their bizarre dress choice.
As soon as the girls got close to the woods in Pennsylvania, they pretended they would smoke weed. They spent a bit of time smoking, and when Skylar got up to take a lighter, Rachel and Shelia got up and followed her.
Rachel and Shelia got behind her, and when Rachel said "on three," a frenzied attack began.
Skylar managed to get away briefly. To make sure that would not happen again, they stabbed her knee. She was then stabbed dozens of times as she asked, "Why?"
The girls intended to bury the girl, but the ground was too hard and rocky, so they ended up covering her body with rocks and branches instead.
Rachel later told the authorities that they had killed their friend because they didn't like her.
A peculiar diary entry suggested that Skylar was threatening to reveal a dirty secret about the two friends, which might have led to their decision to kill her. Allegedly, the two friends were in a lesbian relationship they did not want the public to know about.
Skylar's diary said she had walked in on them having sex during a sleepover in their home. The idea that this would have caused her death did not make sense to her parents since Skylar had many gay and lesbian friends.
In January 2013, Rachel showed the investigators where she and Shelia had committed Skylar Neese's murder. She could not remember exactly where the incident happened, and authorities could not immediately find Skylar's body.
Skylar Neese's Murder Case
Although the authorities did not immediately find Skylar's body, the confession Rachel made was enough to make them charge her with murder.
Eventually, the body was found, and it was confirmed to be Skylar's on March 13, 2013.
On May 1, 2013, investigators matched blood from Shelia's car to Skylar's DNA. Shelia was put under arrest in Cracker Barrel's parking lot.
She faced charges of first-degree murder, and after she pleaded guilty in January 2014, she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.
Rachel was found guilty of second-degree murder and was given a 30-year sentence.
During sentencing, in tears, Rachel read a statement in which she apologized to Skylar Neese's parents, but they did not find her apology genuine.
Shelia did not say anything when she was given a chance to address the court. All she said was "guilty."
The Aftermath Of Skylar Neese's Murder
Skylar's father, David Neese, thought the court was correct in giving Rachel and Shelia harsh sentences for their crimes because they are both "sickos" who deserve to be "locked up like animals."
Skylar's dad visited the woods where Skylar was murdered over petty friendship issues.
After Skylar Neese's murder, a law was passed that says Amber Alerts have to be issued for all missing children regardless of whether or not there's proof they have been kidnapped. This law might help save other children from the fate Skylar met.
Since Skylar had left their home willingly, an alert was not issued after she did not go back home. The authorities classified her as a runaway, which meant they did not consider her to be in danger.
Although it has been several years since Skylar Neese's murder, her family still remembers their beloved relative.
A book on Skylar Neese's murder, called Pretty Little Killers, has also been published. Daleen Berry and Geoffrey C. Fuller wrote the book.
The book suggests that Rachel and Shelia had a lesbian relationship.
The same authors have also written The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese. This book has firsthand interviews with David and Mary Neese, Skylar's parents.
After Rachel was locked up, she allegedly married Amy Cobb, whom she most likely met in prison.