Murders A-Z is a collection of true crime stories that take an in-depth look at both little-known and infamous murders throughout history.
Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, both 16, had been planning to murder their friend Skylar Neese for months. On July 6, 2012, they finally saw it through.
Eddy and Shoaf drove Neese, also 16, out to a remote area in Pennsylvania to smoke marijuana—a routine the trio had done before. Eddy and Shoaf had planned to murder Neese after counting to three. Once "three" was uttered, they began stabbing Neese with kitchen knives, piercing her at least 50 times.
“We really did go on three,” Eddy tweeted, months after Neese’s death. Removed from all context, the tweet seemed like an innocuous, unknowable social media post from a typical teenager. Only after Eddy was finally arrested did the tweet take on a horrifying clarity.
The “inseparable” friends
Shelia Eddy (pictured at left) and Skylar Neese (right) had been best friends for six years when they met Rachel Shoaf (pictured at center) as a freshman in high school. Shoaf had moved to Star City, their working class West Virginia town near the border of Pennsylvania, from a more affluent town, where she had gone to Catholic school. She was religious and well-liked, according to "Snapped."
Eddy was the rebel of the three; Neese, meanwhile, was an honor student, a bit more quiet, and always had her nose in a book. But despite their differences, the three friends became “inseparable,” explained Fantasia Liller, a friend Shoaf's, to Oxygen. “In between classes they always met at a certain place. They always sat at the same table.”
Soon, however, Shoaf and Eddy got even closer, according to Neese’s diary, which alleged Shoaf and Eddy had begun a sexual relationship—leaving Neese feeling excluded.
“Sick of being at fucking home,” Neese tweeted. “Thanks ‘friends,’ love hanging out with you all too.”
Shoaf and Eddy kept their relationship secret, but Skylar Neese knew. Investigators were particularly interested in a tweet she had posted about 9 months before her murder.
“I’d tell the whole school all the shit i have on everyone, which is a lottttt. #IfICouldGetAwayWithIt,” she tweeted. Since Shoaf was religious, and the girls lived in a conservative town, some people have theorized that Shoaf and Eddy killed Neese to keep her from outing them.
But when Shoaf eventually confessed to police, she told them that she and Eddy simply didn’t want to be friends with Neese anymore—nothing more or less.
According to Shoaf, Eddy had been researching ways to dispose of a dead body for months, including asking her biology teacher for “theoretical” advice.
After Shoaf and Eddy killed Neese, they chose not to bury her, instead leaving her body on top of the ground where she fell, covered in branches and leaves. Then, Shoaf and Eddy cleaned up, changed clothes, and burned the ones they had used during the attack. The next day, Shoaf went to church camp.
When police discovered that Neese was missing, they first believed that she was a runaway from footage of her running out of a house and getting into a car. Eddy and Shoaf went out of their way to seem like innocent, concerned friends.
Eddy helped distribute missing person flyers and went on search parties in the woods. And she would call up Neese’s family every night to check in on the case.
“Shelia would call me every single day,” said David Neese, Skylar’s father, to Oxygen. She’d ask questions such as “What do the cops know? Do they know something?”
When the new school year started, rumors started flying about Shoaf and Eddy—one rumor was that Neese had overdosed on a drug and that Shoaf and Eddy had hidden the body. It soon became too much for Shoaf. Six months after the murder, she had a nervous breakdown and checked into a mental health facility.
After getting discharged from the facility, Shoaf confessed the murder to police, so overcome by emotion that she could barely speak.
Eventually, both Shoaf and Eddy pleaded guilty to murder charges. The only time Eddy showed any emotion was when she was sentenced to life in prison.
“My life and my wife's life have been drastically altered,” said David Neese. “We’re no longer a family. You can look into the eyes of those who were responsible but you can never know what they heard as they were taking her life.”
Find out more about the murder of Neese on Martinis & Murder.
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