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Crime News

Ex-Connecticut Charter School CEO Gets Life For Kidnapping Four Women In 1984

Michael Sharpe, 71, was convicted of attacking four women in their homes in June and July of 1984 in Windsor, Bloomfield, Middletown and Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

By Dorian Geiger
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

A Connecticut man who was convicted of abducting four women in 1984 was handed a life sentence this week.

Michael Sharpe, 71, received a 72-year sentence on Monday for his role in kidnapping four separate women inside their homes decades ago, the Hartford Courant reported. Judge Frank M. D’Addabbo, who handed down the sentence in a Hartford courtroom, imposed a minimum of 40 years behind bars.

D’Addabbo, who compared the pain Sharpe’s victims endured to “lifelong sentences,” said the four women would forever be haunted by the “agonizing trauma” the former charter school executive inflicted. The judge described Sharpe as a predator.

“You fit that definition,” D’Addabbo said in court. “A person who ruthlessly exploits others.”

Sharpe was convicted in November. He was found guilty of four counts of first-degree kidnapping and four counts of first-degree kidnapping in the commission of a felony. The string of abductions, which unfolded in Windsor, Bloomfield, Middletown and Rocky Hill, Connecticut, had gone unsolved for years, but DNA evidence had recently tied him to the kidnappings.

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“There is no way a state’s attorney can ever put into words the impact a crime like this has,” Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney John Fahey said, WTIC-TV reported. “Not only on the victim but cascading down through relationships that the victims have for the rest of their lives." 

All four survivors, who were only identified as Jane Doe one through four, testified against Sharpe during trial proceedings. One woman told the court that for the past nearly 40 years, her life has felt like “being on a rollercoaster blindfolded,” according the Hartford Courant.

“Today’s sentencing shows that years of hard work and collaboration among multiple agencies in the pursuit of justice can finally lead to a successful result,” Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin said. “The investigators and prosecutors in the Cold Case Unit never give up on these difficult cases and look to the latest advances in forensic science and other technologies to help solve them. Our hope is that this prison sentence brings some measure of peace to the brave women who testified at trial.”

Sharpe, who reportedly showed little visible emotion during his sentencing, had claimed his innocence during the trial, insisting he’d forgotten certain phases of his life, and in particular, the 1980s, when the series of kidnappings occurred. He maintained he has no memory of committing the “monstrous” crimes. 

On Monday, Sharpe addressed his survivors, who were present in the courtroom.

“I just don’t know how I could have possibly done something so monstrous,” Sharpe told his victims.

The 71-year-old had indicated he’d vowed to leave it up to the jury to determine “whether or not I’m this monster.”

“And they said I was,” Sharpe added. “And so I’m going to have to live by that.”

In 1984, four separate Connecticut women reported being blindfolded and sexually assaulted inside their homes by an unidentified assailant. All four victims reported their attacker rummaged through their personal belongings, ate food from their refrigerators, and left faucets running.

The elderly former charter school CEO wasn’t charged with sexual assault in the case due to the statute of limitations expiring in 1989.  

Over the years, leads dried up or failed to materialize as detectives tirelessly hunted down any clues as to who could have been behind the abductions of the four women. Although Sharpe was identified as a possible suspect in 2003, he wasn’t arrested for years. 

Investigators caught a break in 2020, when DNA technology later implicated Sharpe in the four cold case kidnappings. DNA evidence collected from crime scenes, including linens, wash cloths and towels, would ultimately match Sharpe and tie him to the unsolved abductions. Swabs recovered from his trash by investigators tied him to the sexual assaults. 

At trial, forensic experts told the jury that there was a 1 in 7-billion chance that the DNA belonged to somebody else other than Sharpe.

In all four kidnappings, Sharpe, who had armed himself with a firearm, told his victims he’d murdered someone and needed a safe haven to hunker down. In certain incidents, he claimed he needed cash to get away, according to the Hartford Courant.

The first victim, a 25-year-old woman living at an apartment in Bloomfield, reported she’d been burglarized and sexually assaulted by a male perpetrator on June 3, 1984. She told law enforcement she’d been sleeping in her bedroom when Sharpe entered her dwelling.

“The intruder placed his hand over her mouth and told her not to scream or he would shoot her and her roommate," according to an arrest warrant cited by New Britain NBC affiliate WVIT. 

According to court records, Sharpe later blindfolded the woman, raped her, then lingered in her home for an undisclosed period of time.

“The intruder disabled the telephone which was found in the rear yard, searched the residence for valuables and drank a beer from the refrigerator,” the warrant added. 

Sharpe’s family also attended Monday’s hearing. At his sentencing, Sharpe also directly apologized to the four women.

“I don’t know what happened,” he told them in court. “I don’t know but I’m so sorry. So, so, so sorry. You deserve much better and no one should ever come into your home and violate you. No one should ever do that.”

Sharpe is the former executive of a Connecticut Charter School organization, according to WTIC-TV. At his sentencing Monday, a judge also issued protective orders to each of his victims, prohibiting him from having any contact with them.