The Murder of Shanda Sharer

The Murder of Shanda Sharer

Shanda Sharer was a young 12-year-old American girl who was tortured and burned to death in Madison, Indiana by four teenage girls.

Shanda Renee Sharer was born on June 6th, 1979 in Pineville, Kentucky to Stephen Sharer and Jacqueline. After her parents divorced, her mother remarried and they all moved to Louisville, Kentucky. She attended fifth and sixth grade at St. Paul School and was on the cheerleading, volleyball, and softball teams. Her mother divorced again and moved to New Albany, Indiana in June of 1991 where Sharer went to Hazelwood Middle School. Early in the school year, she transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.

In 1990, Melinda Loveless was dating a girl named Amanda Heavrin. After Loveless’ father left her family she started behaving erratically. She got into fights, complained of depression which caused her to get counseling. In March 1991, she came out to her mother who at first was furious but eventually did accept it. As the year went by, her relationship with Heavrin got worse.

Heavrin and Sharer met in the fall semester at Hazelwood Junior High when they got into a fight. They became friends however after spending time in detention together and eventually they started giving each other romantic letters. Loveless was angered and jealous of their relationship. At a school dance, she confronted them about it. Heavrin and Loveless never formally ended their relationship, but Loveless started dating another girl.

Heavrin and Sharer attended a festival together and Loveless began talking about killing Sharer and was even threatening her in public. She had to transfer to a Catholic school because of her parents’ concern about her relationship with Heavrin.

On January 10th, 1992, Toni Lawrence, Hope Rippey, Laurie Tackett, and Melinda Loveless drove to Sharer’s house and told her that Heavrin was waiting for them at the “Witch’s Castle”, also known as Mistletoe Falls which is located on an isolated hill overlooking the Ohio River. Sharer said she couldn’t go because her parents were awake, but to wait until midnight when they were asleep. Loveless was angry, but Rippey and Lawrence assured her they would return for Sharer later. After a few hours, the four girls went back to Sharer’s house. Loveless couldn’t wait to kill Sharer, but also stated that she just wanted to scare her. As Tackett and Rippey went to get Sharer, Loveless hid under a blanket in the back seat with a knife.

Sharer was reluctant to go with them but agreed to after she got changed. Once she got into the car Loveless came up with a knife and held it against Sharer’s throat. She then questioned her on her sexual relationship with Hearvin. When they arrived at the Witch’s House, Sharer was sobbing and tied up. Loveless took off Sharer’s rings and gave them to each of the girls. They told her that the Witch’s Castle was full of sacrifices and that she would be the next. To threaten her even more they got a t-shirt from the car and lit it on fire, but they worried that the light would attract people, so they all piled back into the car and put Sharer under a blanket. They had to stop into a gas station and ask for directions and later ended up near Tackett’s home in Madison, Indiana.

Tackett took them to a garbage dump in a densely wooded area. Lawrence and Rippey were scared and stayed in the car. Tackett and Loveless made Sharer strip naked, and then Loveless began to beat her brutally with her fists. She even slammed Sharer’s face into her knee, causing Sharer’s mouth to be cut on her braces. Loveless then tried to slash her throat, but the knife was too dull to do anything. They then strangled her until she was unconscious, and took her back to the car and threw her into the trunk. They drove to Tackett’s home to clean up. When they heard Sharer scream in the car, Tackett took a paring knife and stabbed her several times. At 2:30 AM, Tackett and Loveless went driving and heard gurgling sounds coming from the trunk. They stopped the car and opened the trunk. Sharer sat up covered in blood with her eyes rolling into the back of her head and unable to speak. They beat her with a tire iron until she was quiet again. Loveless and Tackett returned to her house and told the other girls about the torture. This caused Tackett’s mother to wake up and to yell at her for being out late and bringing home her friends. She then said she’d take them home and went to the burn pile. They opened the trunk and looked at Sharer, but Lawrence refused to look at her. Rippey sprayed Windex on her and said, “You’re not looking so hot now, are you?”

They drove down to a nearby gas station and used a two-liter bottle of Pepsi as a container to fill up with gasoline. They drove north of Madison where they wrapped Sharer in a blanket and carried her to a nearby field. Lawrence remained in the car. Rippey poured gasoline on Sharer and lit her on fire. Loveless wasn’t convinced she was dead, however, so they went back after a couple minutes and poured the rest of the gasoline on her.

After the murder, they went to have breakfast McDonald’s and discussed the murder. Lawrence called one of her friends told them about the murder, and afterward Loveless told Heavrin that they killed Sharer and begged her not to tell anyone. She agreed not to.

In the late morning of January 11th, 1992 two brothers from Canaan, Indiana were driving to go hunting and noticed a body on the side of the road. They called the police and waited by the corpse. They initially suspected a drug deal gone wrong and didn’t believe the crime was committed by anyone local. Stephen Sharer noticed his daughter was missing early that morning and called his ex-wife and together they filed a missing person report.

That night, Lawrence went to the police with her parents and confessed the crime and named the other three girls who were involved. They were quickly apprehended and found guilty. All four girls were tried as adults. To avoid the death penalty, they all agreed to a plea bargain. In exchange for her cooperation, Lawrence was guilty of one count of Criminal Confinement and given 20 years. Tackett and Loveless were sentenced to 60 years and Rippey was sentenced to 60 years. Loveless and Tackett are still imprisoned, but Lawrence and Rippey have since been released with Rippey still remaining on parole.

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