By: Delanee Ensley
Disclaimer: I would like to preface that this is a very basic telling of this story. There is so much more to this story than what I am reporting. I went down many rabbit holes with this story, and this is the information that I find to be the most accurate. There is also violence and murder in this story, so if this makes you uncomfortable or isn’t your cup of tea, please do not read.
Before the Murders:
It was in 1979 that Sue Sharp decided to move herself and her five children from Connecticut to Keddie, California, to be closer to her brother. According to the Murder Squad, Sue’s husband, John Sharp, was allegedly abusive and sexually inappropriate with his two daughters.
The Night of the Murders:
There was a lot of activity happening in the Sharp cabin the night of the murders. Sue’s oldest son, John (15), and his friend Dana (17) were planning to go to a party the night of the murders. The other four children, Sheila (14), Tina (12), Rick (10), and Greg (5), spent the day hanging around four neighboring cabins. Rick and Greg were playing with a friend, Justin Smartt, in cabin 26, and were given permission by Sue to have a sleepover that evening. Tina was hanging out with Sheila and her friend at cabin 27, she came home to go to bed around 9:30 – 10 pm that night.
On the morning of April 11, 1981, Sheila came home to find her mother, brother, and her brother’s friend brutally murdered in the living room. After finding her family, Sheila ran back to her friend’s house and her friend’s dad went to cabin 28 to investigate. Upon coming upon the cabin he located the brothers and helped them out of the bedroom window in order to protect them from the horrors that awaited downstairs.
When the police came upon the scene this is what they found. John Sharp had his wrists and ankles bound with an electrical cord and medical tape. His throat had been slit, and he had been stabbed and then beaten with a hammer. Dana, much like John, had been beaten with a hammer and was found facedown on a pillow, tied up with an electrical cord and medical tape. Lastly, Sue was found, and her murder was brutal in comparison to John and Dana. Sue was found dead by the couch, nude from the waist down, and covered by a blood-soaked yellow blanket. She had been stabbed multiple times in the chest and throat and had her head beaten by a Daisy 880 BB gun; Sue had been beaten so hard that the butt of the gun had left an imprint on her head. Her bindings were electrical cord and medical tape and she had been gagged with a blue bandana and her own underwear, and then her mouth was taped shut. Though this led many to believe she had been sexually assaulted, that was not the case. However, the most horrific moment of all was the fact that Tina, Sue’s twelve-year-old daughter, was missing.
Tina would not be found, according to ABC10, until over three years later. Ronald Pedrini was out collecting recyclables in Feather Falls, 60 miles from Keddie, when he came upon a blue jacket, Levi jeans, empty surgical tape dispensers, and a skull. Upon coming across this horrific scene, Ronald called the police. It was later confirmed through DNA evidence that the body was in fact Tina’s.
Law Enforcement kept the house sealed off for six days. At this time they found that the only blood in the house was in the living room and on Tina’s sheets. The walls had been stabbed brutally and repeatedly and a hammer and knife had been found by the bodies; the second knife found was a steak knife that had been taken from the kitchen and used so brutally that it was bent. There was believed to be a second hammer, however, it was not found at the scene. Police also found a footprint outside the home.
Though initially none of the boys could tell police what had happened, or if they had heard anything, They made some progress by having Justin go under hypnosis. Though Justin could not tell police if what he remembered was a dream or reality, he did say that one of the men carried a pocket knife that was used to cut open Sue’s chest, and that he also had a hammer. Justin said that Tina had woken up and came out to the living room because she heard noises. A man then grabbed her and took her outside, returning alone. There is no proof of whether this information is real, an overactive imagination, or a dream.
The case is thought to have been corruptly done and covered up. The police never arrested Marty or Bo, the two suspects, and even allowed Marty to leave the state. Doug Thomas was the county sheriff at the time, but resigned only three months into the job, leaving for Sacramento DOJ. He believes that Marty had nothing to do with the murders because he passed a polygraph test.
Evidence was taken at the scene, but due to lack of DNA testing, it was unable to be tested a the time. According to All That’s Interesting, investigators think that the bodies had been moved and rearranged from where they had been murdered. The missing knife from the murder scene was not recovered until later the same year outside a general store in town. A neighboring cabin heard muffled screams around 1:30 the morning of the murders, but not hearing anything else, they went back to bed.
The prime suspect was a man by the name of Martin (Marty) Sharpp, who was the neighbor of the Sharp’s and the stepfather of Justin, the friend of Rick who had slept over the night of the murders. The other prime suspect was John “Bo” Boubede, a friend of Marty’s who had been living with the Sharpp’s starting the week before the murders, and was an ex-con. Bo was also believed to have ties to organized crime. When questioned, Marty said that he had lost a hammer recently; this hammer was not found until 2016 and was believed to have been intentionally placed.
There were conflicting understandings of why Marty would want to kill Sue. The most believed theory, according to People, is that Marty was angry about Sue’s interference in his troubled marriage. Sue had allegedly told Marilyn, Marty’s then-wife, to leave him, and in fact, she had on the day of the murders. The other theory is that there was possibly a love triangle between Sue, Marty, and Marilyn and that Marty and Sue were having an affair.
Later, after Marty left Keddie, he sent Marilyn a letter which read: “I’ve paid the price of your love & now that I’ve bought it with four people’s lives, you tell me we’re through. Great! What else do you want?” Though Marilyn does not recall ever receiving this letter, she does recognize the handwriting as belonging to Marty.
Marty fled Keddie after the murders and died in 2006, and Bo died in 1988.
Recent information about murders:
In recent years Greg Hagwood, the current sheriff of Plumas County, has re-opened the case. According to Sacramento CBS, Hagwood knew John and Dana from working with them the summer before the crimes. Mike Gamberg, a sheriff’s investigator coming to the team, also knew the two boys who were killed. He had been John and Dana’s martial arts instructor, and Dana had actually been to his house the day before.
Gamberg tracked down Marty’s therapist in Reno, Nevada. This therapist alleged that Marty confessed to him and was certain that Bo and Marty were the killers. The therapist also claimed, according to All That’s Interesting, that Marty said “I killed the woman and her daughter, but I didn’t have anything to do with the [boys.]” Though the therapist came forward the police never used this information.
When reopening the case, they found a box of evidence that contained a 911 call that had never been put into evidence. This 911 caller had recommended that police look at Tina Sharp for the body that had been found by Pedrini. This caller was never identified and police now believe that he might have been involved in the murders. The Keddie cabin was demolished in 2004.
Though this is the fast version of this story, there is way more information out there. If you’re curious and want to learn more information about the Keddie Cabin Murders, feel free to read into the links that I have cited above, though I warn you, you might be sucked down the hole as well.
Sources: All That’s Interesting, People, Murder Squad, Sacramento CBS, ABC10
Special Thanks to Anne Field.