Murder of Skylar Neese
|Born||Skylar Annette Neese
February 10, 1996
Morgantown, West Virginia, United States
|Died||July 6, 2012
Wayne Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania, United States
|Cause of death||Homicide by stabbing|
|Parent(s)||Dave Neese and Mary Neese|
Skylar Annette Neese (February 10, 1996 – July 6, 2012) was an American girl who disappeared from her home in Star City, West Virginia around midnight on July 6, 2012. Neese's remains were found on January 16, 2013, in Wayne Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania.
Neese was murdered by two of her high school friends, Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy. In December 2012, Shoaf told authorities that she and Eddy planned and carried out Neese's murder. Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on May 1, 2013. Neese's disappearance led to new West Virginia legislation that made changes to the Amber Alert missing child alert system.
Skylar Annette Neese was the only child of Mary and Dave Neese. At that time Mary Neese worked as an administrative assistant in a cardiac lab and Dave Neese was a product assembler at Walmart. Skylar was an honors student at University High School who wanted to become a criminal lawyer. She worked at Wendy's with two close friends.
Shelia Rae Eddy (born September 28, 1995) is the only child of Tara Clendenen and Greg Eddy. Shelia was born in Blacksville, West Virginia. Her parents divorced in 2000 when her father got into a car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury and permanent disability. Tara struggled as a single mother, working as an accountant for a car dealership. In October 2010, Tara moved in with her new husband, Jim Clendenen, to Morgantown, West Virginia, where Shelia started attending Morgantown High School and became an honors student.
Rachel Shoaf (born June 10, 1996) grew up in Morgantown. She is the only daughter of Rusty and Patricia Shoaf.
On July 6, 2012, Neese returned to her family's Star City, West Virginia apartment after working a shift at Wendy's. She disappeared from her home that night. Neese's apartment complex surveillance video showed Skylar leaving the apartment, via her bedroom window, at 12:30 A.M. on July 6, 2012 and getting into a sedan. Neese's father said that she did not take her cell phone charger, her window was left open, and she planned on coming home.
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Late in the evening of July 5, 2012, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf convinced Neese to sneak out with them. Neese, who had recently fallen out with the two, was initially hesitant. After a series of phone calls and texts from the girls, Neese changed her mind.
At approximately 12:30 a.m., Neese climbed from her bedroom window into the back seat of an unidentified 4 door sedan. Over the course of the police and FBI investigation, the vehicle was identified as that of Shelia Eddy. The three girls then headed north from Star City via U.S. Route 19. They had planned to travel along U.S. Route 7, but turned around after spotting a State Police car parked in front of a gambling lounge; they wound up taking an alternate road to Blacksville.
They eventually arrived at their destination just across the state border in Pennsylvania, a spot where all three of the girls would occasionally smoke marijuana. Shoaf and Eddy had been planning Neese's murder for months. They left Eddy's house prepared to carry out the assault on Neese, bringing with them kitchen knives, paper towels, bleach, cleaning cloths, clean clothes, and a shovel. They concealed the knives on their persons, and hid the remaining items in the trunk of Sheila's vehicle.
Once the girls were out of the vehicle, they told Neese they had forgotten to bring a lighter. Neese volunteered to go back to the vehicle for hers. Once Neese had turned her back on Shoaf and Eddy they began counting to their agreed upon signal of "3". Once they gave the signal, Shoaf and Eddy began to stab Neese. Neese attempted to run, but wasn't able to make it more than a few feet. Shoaf tackled her to the ground and continued with the assault. During the attack, Neese managed to wrestle Shoaf's knife from her and cut her knee in an attempt to defend herself. Eddy continued to stab Neese until there was complete silence and "Neese's neck stopped making gurgling sounds." Neese had died from over 50 stab wounds.
Afterwards, Shoaf and Eddy attempted to bury Neese's body. The girls dragged Neese's body to the side of the road that ran along a creek. However, the soil there was too hard and rocky for them to dig like they had originally planned, so they covered Skylar's body with rocks, fallen branches, and dirt. Shoaf and Eddy then returned to the car to clean up themselves and the murder scene. Upon completion of the attack and clean up, Shoaf and Eddy left the scene, disposed of their blood-soaked clothing and returned to their homes.
For months police investigated several unproductive leads in Neese's disappearance. Neese was initially considered to be a runaway by law enforcement authorities, and an Amber Alert was not immediately issued in connection with her disappearance. An early tip indicated that Neese had been seen in North Carolina, but the Star City Police Department determined that the person spotted was not Neese. Neese's parents posted flyers about their missing daughter in the Monongalia County region. Police determined that the unknown sedan in which Skylar Neese was last seen belonged to Eddy and interviewed her. Eddy admitted to picking up Neese but stated that she had dropped her off an hour later. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police joined the search for Skylar Neese on September 10, 2012, and began interviewing Neese's school friends.
A major break in the case was made when Rachel Shoaf admitted plotting with Shelia Eddy to kill her. The motivation Shoaf gave for the murder was they "didn't like her". Dave Neese stated that these two girls were among his daughter's best friends, and that Shelia Eddy had even helped the family look for her by distributing missing person fliers. After her confession, Rachel Shoaf led investigators to Neese's body. On March 13, 2013, U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II issued a press release stating that a body found in Wayne Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania on January 16, 2013 had been identified as the remains of Neese. Neese's remains were found less than 30 miles away from her home.
Neese maintained a close relationship with Eddy from when they were children but the friendship became strained when they met Shoaf while at high school. Neese reportedly became upset to see Eddy and Shoaf become close and allegedly witnessed the pair have sex at a sleepover. It was said the girls may have feared their secret tryst would become public. 
On May 1, 2013, Rachel Shoaf pleaded guilty to second degree murder. According to the court transcript, Shoaf said that she and Shelia Eddy picked up Neese in Eddy's car. The girls drove to Pennsylvania, got out of the car, and began socializing. At a pre-arranged time, Shoaf and Eddy stabbed Skylar to death on the count of three. The teens attempted to bury Neese's body, but were unable to do so and instead covered the body with branches. The court transcript indicates that other students overheard conversations between Shoaf and Eddy about the murder plot, but failed to report it, thinking they were joking. According to Shoaf's plea agreement, she pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree by "unlawfully, feloniously, willfully, maliciously and intentionally causing the death of Skylar Neese by stabbing her and causing fatal injuries". In the plea agreement, the State of West Virginia will recommend a sentence of 40 years incarceration. Shoaf's family issued a public apology for her actions through their lawyer.
On September 4, 2013, West Virginia prosecutors publicly identified Shelia Eddy as the second alleged perpetrator of the murder of Skylar Neese and announced that she would be tried as an adult. Eddy was indicted by a grand jury on September 6, 2013 with one count of kidnapping, one count of first-degree murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Shelia Eddy pleaded not guilty to these charges.
The date of the trial was originally set for January 28, 2014. However, facing the prospect of charges from both federal and Pennsylvania authorities in addition to the West Virginia charges, Shelia Eddy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. As a result, Eddy was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison as there was no capital punishment in West Virginia.
An Amber Alert was not issued in Neese's disappearance because the circumstances did not meet all four criteria for an alert to be issued: (1) a child is believed to be abducted; (2) the child is under 18; (3) the child may be in danger of death or serious injury; (4) there is sufficient information to indicate the Amber Alert would be helpful. A waiting period of 48 hours had to elapse before a "teenager" could be considered missing. A West Virginia state legislator from the Neese family home district introduced a bill called Skylar's Law to modify West Virginia's Amber Alert plan to issue immediate public announcements when any child is reported missing and in danger, regardless of whether the child is believed to have been kidnapped. Opinion columns appeared in both West Virginia and national media in support of Skylar's Law, some of which also acknowledged criticism and drawbacks of the legislation. On March 27, 2013, the West Virginia House of Delegates approved Skylar's Law with a 98-0 vote. On April 12, 2013, the West Virginia Senate unanimously passed the law, but made minor technical changes  to the bill which the House of Delegates voted to accept on the same day. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the legislation into law in May 2013.
National media attention
On May 31, 2013, Anderson Cooper covered the story of Skylar Neese's murder.
On March 7, 2014, Dateline NBC aired an episode entitled "Something Wicked" which chronicled the story of Skylar Neese's murder.
On March 10, 2014, the Dr. Phil show covered Skylar's story: Best Friends Betrayal. Her parents Dave and Mary were both present, as were two women who described themselves as "second mothers" to Rachel Shoaf.
On November 14, 2014 Investigation Discovery's show See No Evil covered Skylar's story in an episode titled "Skylar Neese". The show uses the real-life surveillance video of Skylar to piece together the last few hours of her life. First person interviews with her family, friends, and the investigators are used, along with limited dramatic recreation.
On March 26, 2016 ReelzChannel show Copycat Killers covered Skylar's story in an episode titled "Heathers".
- Child murder
- Missing person
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Murder of Shanda Sharer
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