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Crime News Murders

16-Year-Old Skylar Neese Killed By Friends in Tragic Betrayal: "We Just Didn’t Like Her"

Skylar Neese disappeared on July 6, 2012 after sneaking out of her bedroom for a joyride that ultimately had deadly consequences for the teen.

By Jill Sederstrom
A photo of Skylar Neese

High school drama can be brutal, but for 16-year-old Skylar Neese it proved deadly.

The teen honor roll student was brutally stabbed in the back by her two best friends after sneaking out of her family's apartment in the early morning hours of July 6, 2012.

Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf then left their friend’s body in the woods, buried under a pile of brush, and returned to their normal lives, professing their love for their missing friend on social media. 

Amid the search, Shoaf headed off to church summer camp and Eddy helped Skylar’s distraught parents go door-to-door handing out flyers — all the while knowing Skylar’s grim fate.

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When the teens’ involvement was finally uncovered in January of 2013, Shoaf offered investigators a chilling motive.

“We asked Rachel, 'Why did you guys kill Skylar?' And her only answer to that was, 'We just didn't like her,’” State Police Cpl. Ronnie Gaskins told ABC’s 20/20.

Who was Skylar Neese? 

In many ways, Skylar was a typical teenager. 

The only child of parents Dave and Mary Neese, Skylar was earning good grades at her West Virginia high school and worked part-time at a fast food restaurant, the news outlet reported in 2014.

“Skylar was a very bubbly person,” Dave told 20/20. “She was also very loyal to her friends, the people she thought was her friends.”

Friends like Shelia Eddy, who met Skylar when the two were just 8 years old. “She was like a part of our family. She really was,” Dave remembered.

Skylar Neese’s texts reveal brewing tensions

By their freshman year of high school, the two best friends added Shoaf, a talented actress and singer, into the mix. 

But the trio had their share of drama. “It's a timeless story of girls getting close, blurring the lines between friendship and romance, hormones flying, being competitive with boys, sexual experimentation and then it just goes to a level that you couldn't imagine,” journalist Justine Harman, who cohosted the podcast Three about the case, told People in February.

Much of the brewing tension between the girls often spilled over onto social media. Just two days before she disappeared, according to ABC News, Neese tweeted “It really doesn’t take much to p— me off” and later wrote “Sick of being at f-cking home. Thanks ‘friends’ love hanging out with you all too.” 

The next day she seemingly referenced the drama again, writing “you doing s— like that is why I can NEVER completely trust you.” 

A police handout of Rachel Shoaf

Skylar Neese's Disappearance

On the morning of July 6, 2012, Dave woke to find his daughter was not in her room and had seemingly snuck out of the family’s Star City apartment sometime overnight.

"She didn't take her cell phone charger. Her window was left open. She planned on coming home," he told WPXI

Eddy told Skylar’s mom that she and Shoaf picked Skylar up around 11 p.m. on July 5, 2012 to drive around and get high, but insisted that they dropped her off at the end of the road near the apartment building before midnight, so that she could quietly sneak back inside.

As Skylar’s anguished parents began search efforts to find their missing daughter, Eddy helped pass out flyers in the neighborhood and regularly posted on social media about her missing friend, according to CBS News.

During the investigation — which was once featured on an episode of Snapped — surveillance footage showed a car picking Skylar up at the apartment at 12:30 a.m. on July 6, 2012 — later than the timeline her friends gave police — but it was too blurry to positively identify the vehicle Sklar got into.

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Who killed Skylar Neese? 

As the months went by, investigators began to suspect that Eddy and Shoaf were not telling everything they knew. 

The mounting pressure from investigators and the community ultimately proved to be too much for Shoaf, who suffered a mental breakdown. She admitted killing Skylar to police on Jan. 3, 2013, telling investigators that they carried out the brutal murder because they “didn’t like” Skylar, per ABC News.

According to the confession, the two friends picked Skylar up at the apartment and then lured her into the woods over the state line in Pennsylvania to smoke pot. 

Once they all got out of the vehicle, the teens counted to three and then stabbed Skylar in the back with kitchen knives. The 16-year-old suffered more than 50 stab wounds. 

After delivering the confession, Shoaf gave authorities information that led to the discovery of her body.

The teen agreed to wear a wire to help police try to capture a confession from Eddy, but the plan didn’t work and Eddy continued to profess her love for Skylar on social media.

“rest easy skylar, you'll ALWAYS be my bestfriend,” she wrote in one post on Twitter, now known as X, in March of 2013 along with multiple photos. “ i miss you more than you could ever know.”

But then just weeks later, Eddy seemingly confirmed her involvement writing in another Twitter post,  “we really did go on three.”

Law enforcement authorities ultimately arrested Eddy after finding Skylar’s blood DNA in the trunk of her car. 

Were Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf convicted? 

Eddy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 24, 2014. 

Shoaf pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder and received a 30-year sentence in exchange for her cooperation with authorities. 

A police handout of Sheila Eddy

Where are Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf today? 

Both women remain behind bars at the Lakin Correctional Center in Mason County, West Virginia — a prison that earned the nickname “Camp Cupcake” for its perks like being allowed to listen to music and allowing some inmates to have their own game systems and tablets for entertainment, WBOY reports.

Former inmate Stormy Wilson told the podcast Three that Eddy and Shoaf are the “two most famous inmates” at the facility and receive “stacks and stacks of fan mail.” 

According to Harman, the podcast’s co-host, both women still have regular contact with each other. 

“It doesn't seem like they are confidants because Rachel ratted Shelia out. Without Rachel's confession, they probably would've gotten away with it. They see each other, I would say, on a daily basis,” Harman told People. “It's a pretty crazy situation.”

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Were Rachel Shoaf and Sheila Eddy romantically involved?

At her first parole hearing in 2023, Shoaf said at the time of the murder she and Eddy were in a romantic relationship and were afraid that Skylar would expose their secret. 

“After things became known with the relationship, there was tension between us,” Shoaf said, according to WBOY. “It was hostile and violent, in our teenage minds we didn’t know how to handle the conflict and we just wanted it to stop.”

She also offered an apology to Skylar’s family. 

“I know, I can’t express how sorry I am for what I have done and for the pain I have caused,” she said. “I loved her. I know what we did was terrible and there’s no words to describe the pain that we caused and I know there is nothing I can say or do. I just pray for them all the time and pray for peace in their heart. I would trade places with Skylar so she could be with her loved ones. I just want them to know how deeply sorry I am.”

Yet, the apology did little to satisfy Skylar’s father Dave, who advocated for Shoaf to remain behind bars.

“Because of that malicious monster, my child never got a limo for her prom. Instead, she got a ride in a coroner’s vehicle. Also, there was no sparkling gown for Skylar, just a body bag. She will never have a certificate of graduation, only a death certificate,” Dave said. “This narcissistic, first degree, cold-blooded killer is not sorry for the brutal murder of my only child.”

Shoaf’s request for parole was denied.

Now, more than a decade after Skylar’s brutal murder, Dave and Mary continue to honor their daughter’s legacy by visiting schools and prisons for what they call “Skylar Talks,” aimed at helping others understand the devastating consequences their actions can take, according to West Virginia Metro News. They also encourage people to speak out if they notice something of concern.

“It’s so important to me that this never happens again to anyone,” Dave told the outlet. “It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever been through, obviously, and I don’t want anyone else to go through it, I wouldn’t wish it on the two people that put me through it.”