The Keddie Murders

Generally, I’m not too fond of unsolved cases. I don’t like hearing about them, even though they are probably the most important ones to listen to. You never know what information out there could finally close the case. This case is very unusual with an overwhelming amount of information that I am going to try to summarize as best I can. Keep in mind there is a lot more information out there, but this would then be the length of a full book.

family

Glenna “Sue” Sharp was staying in Cabin 28 of the Keddie Resort in Keddie, California, with her five kids: John (15), Sheila (14), Tina (12), Ricky (10), and Greg (5). On this night, in particular, Sue had allowed Greg and Ricky’s friend Justin Eason (12) to stay over the night before. Justin’s parents lived in Cabin 26, so they were reasonably close if Justin ever needed to go home. 

the cabin

Sheila had plans to stay the night at a friend’s house, and John was hanging out with his friend, Dana Wingate (17), in the nearby town of Quincy where the Sharp family had moved from. They were returning later that night to hang out at the cabin. Tina was visiting a nearby Cabin 27 but returned around 10 PM that night.

On the morning of April 11, 1981, Sheila returned to the cabin around 7:45 AM after spending the night at a friend’s house. When she opened the door, she smelled something horrible. As she walked into the cabin, she found a horrific scene. Sue, John, and Dana were all dead on the floor. They were bound, and investigators discovered knives and a hammer at the scene covered in blood. Sheila was horrified and ran to the neighbors in one of the other cabins, barely believing what she saw. She had just spent the night at this particular cabin with the Seabolt family.

four victims

(Pictured above from left to right, John Sharp, Tina Sharp, Dana Wingate and Glenna “Sue” Sharp)

At around 8:05 AM, a call was made to the sheriff’s office by the co-owner of the Keddie Resort, Jan Albin. Sheila, along with the help of the Seabolt family, was able to get the three boys out of the bedroom through the window so they wouldn’t see the scene in the main living area. They were completely unharmed. They slept through the whole ordeal. Oddly enough, none of the neighbors had heard anything the previous night either.

When investigators examined the crime scene, they realized they had a missing weapon. While there were a hammer and knives at the crime scene, there was evidence the perpetrators used a gun and another hammer as well. Another knife was later found behind a local general store. The scene was complete chaos pointing to at least two killers if not more.

It was soon discovered that Tina was missing. The search began to find Tina, thinking she might have been abducted from the scene. The FBI even got involved, but she wasn’t found for another three years when an anonymous phone call came into the police. Her skull was located about 30 miles away from the crime scene at Camp 18. Searching the surrounding areas revealed more bone fragments also belonging to Tina. She had most likely been killed soon after being taken from the cabin.

Investigators looked at Marty Smartt and John Boubede right off the bat. They lived in Cabin 26, and they both had criminal records. Smartt, in particular, was the prime suspect. He had a conflict with Sue at the time due to her interference in his failing marriage. Smartt had written a letter to Marilyn, his wife, where he wrote, “I’ve paid the price for your love and now that I’ve bought it with four lives.” Smartt even confessed the killings to his therapist later on, but these confessions were never used against him.

martin smartt

(Martin Smartt)

There was no other significant evidence pointing to Smartt, and they couldn’t bring a case against him. The case went cold until 2016 when a Plumas County Special Investigator, Mark Gamberg, found a bloody hammer and took it into evidence. It matched the description of the missing hammer.

Today, with DNA testing, even more evidence has come into play. A strip of medical tape that was used to bind the hands and ankles of the victims had DNA on it that didn’t belong to the victims. In April of 2018, it was revealed that the DNA matched that of a living suspect. However, Marty Smartt died of cancer in 2000, and John Boubede died in 1988.

As far as I could tell in my research, there were no other suspects publicly announced. So who is this living suspect whose DNA was found at the crime scene? Hopefully, this new evidence leads to an arrest soon.

 

Sources:

Metcalf, V. (2019, November 15). Keddie murders revisited part 1: New evidence discovered links living suspect to grisly scene. Retrieved February 6, 2020, from https://www.plumasnews.com/keddie-murders-revisited/

Montaldo, Charles. (2020, January 29). The Keddie Cabin Murder Case. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/cold-case-the-keddie-cabin-murders-4108811

Grey, O. (n.d.). The Unsolved Keddie Murders of California. Retrieved February 6, 2020, from https://the-line-up.com/keddie-murders-cabin-28

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