Murder of Shanda Sharer

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Shanda Sharer
Shanda Sharer
Shanda Renee Sharer

(1979-06-06)June 6, 1979
DiedJanuary 11, 1992(1992-01-11) (aged 12)
Cause of death Torture, immolation
  • Stephen Sharer
  • Jacqueline Vaught

Shanda Renee Sharer (June 6, 1979 – January 11, 1992) was an American girl who was tortured and burned to death in Madison, Indiana by four teenage girls. She was 12 years old at the time of her death. The incident attracted international attention due to both the brutality of the murder and the young age of the perpetrators, who were aged between 15 and 17 years old. The case was covered on national news and talk programs and has inspired a number of episodes on fictional crime shows. [1]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Torture intentional infliction of physical or mental suffering upon a person or an animal, in order to punish or to coerce, or for sheer cruelty

Torture is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punishment or in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or force some action from the victim. Torture, by definition, is a knowing and intentional act; deeds which unknowingly or negligently inflict suffering or pain, without a specific intent to do so, are not typically considered torture.

Madison, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Madison is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Indiana, United States, along the Ohio River. As of the 2017 United States Census estimate its population was 11,777. Over 55,000 people live within 15 miles (24 km) of downtown Madison. Madison is the largest city along the Ohio River between Louisville and Cincinnati. Madison is one of the core cities of the Louisville-Elizabethtown-Madison metroplex, an area with a population of approximately 1.5 million. In 2006, the majority of Madison's downtown area was designated the largest contiguous National Historic Landmark in the United States—133 blocks of the downtown area is known as the Madison Historic Landmark District.


Shanda Sharer

Shanda Sharer was born at Pineville Community Hospital in Pineville, Kentucky, on June 6, 1979, to Stephen Sharer and his wife Jacqueline, who was later known as Jacqueline Vaught. [2] After Sharer's parents divorced, her mother remarried and the family moved to Louisville. There, Sharer attended fifth and sixth grades at St. Paul School, where she was on the cheerleading, volleyball and softball teams. [3] When her mother divorced again, the family moved in June 1991 to New Albany, Indiana, and Sharer enrolled at Hazelwood Middle School. [4] Early in the school year, she transferred to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, a Catholic school in New Albany, where she joined the girls' basketball team. [3]

Pineville, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Pineville is a home rule-class city in Bell County, Kentucky, United States. It is the seat of its county. The population was 1,732 as of the 2010 census. It is located on a small strip of land between the Cumberland River and Pine Mountain.

Kentucky State of the United States of America

Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky's first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

Louisville, Kentucky City in Kentucky

Louisville is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the 29th most-populous city in the United States. It is one of two cities in Kentucky designated as first-class, the other being Lexington, the state's second-largest city. Louisville is the historical seat and, since 2003, the nominal seat of Jefferson County, located in the northern region of the state, on the border with Indiana.

Girls involved in the murder

Melinda Loveless

Melinda Loveless was born in New Albany on October 28, 1975, the youngest of three daughters, to Marjorie and Larry Loveless. Larry was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was treated as a hero upon his return. Marjorie later described him as a pervert who would wear her and her daughters' underwear and makeup, was incapable of staying monogamous, and had a mixture of jealousy and fascination with seeing her have sex with other men and women. They lived in or near New Albany throughout Melinda's childhood. [5]

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Vietnam War 1955–1975 conflict in Vietnam

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.

Monogamy is a form of relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime — alternately, only one partner at any one time — as compared to non-monogamy. The term is also applied to the social behavior of some animals, referring to the state of having only one mate at any one time.

Larry worked irregularly for the Southern Railway after his military service; his profession allowed him to work whenever most convenient for him. In 1965, Larry became a probationary officer with the New Albany Police Department, but was fired after eight months when he and his partner assaulted an African-American man whom Larry accused of sleeping with his wife. [6] In 1988, Larry briefly worked as a mail carrier but quit after three months and did very little work, having brought most of his mail home to destroy it. [7]

Mail carrier employee of the post office or postal service, who delivers mail to residences and businesses

A mail carrier, mailman, mailwoman, postal carrier, postman, postwoman, or letter carrier, sometimes colloquially known as a postie, is an employee of a post office or postal service, who delivers mail and parcel post to residences and businesses. The term "mail carrier" came to be used as a gender-neutral substitute for "mailman" soon after women began performing the job. In the Royal Mail, the official name changed from "letter carrier" to "postman" in 1883, and "postwoman" has also been used for many years.

Marjorie had worked intermittently since 1974. When both parents were working, the family was financially well off, living in the upper-middle-class suburb of Floyds Knobs, Indiana. Larry did not usually share his income with the family and impulsively spent any money he earned on himself, especially firearms, motorcycles and cars. He filed for bankruptcy in 1980. Extended family members often described the Loveless daughters as visiting their homes hungry, apparently not getting food at home. [8]

Floyds Knobs, Indiana Unincorporated community in Indiana, United States

Floyds Knobs is a small unincorporated community in Lafayette Township, Floyd County, Indiana, United States. Historically a farming community on the outskirts of New Albany, it has since become a bedroom community for Louisville, Kentucky. It contains subdivisions, farms, small shopping centers, churches, and transmitters for many of the area's television and radio stations. It is also the location of Floyd Central High School.

Through most of their relationship, the Loveless parents often had an open marriage. They would often visit bars in Louisville, where Larry would pretend to be a doctor or a dentist and introduce Marjorie as his girlfriend. He would also "share" her with some of his friends from work, which she found disgusting. During an orgy with another couple at their house, Marjorie tried to commit suicide, an act she would repeat several times throughout her daughters' childhoods. [9] When Melinda was nine years old, Larry had Marjorie gang raped, after which she tried to drown herself. After that incident, she refused him sex for a month, until he violently raped her as their daughters overheard the event through a closed door. In the summer of 1986, after she would not let him go home with two women he met at a bar, Larry beat Marjorie so severely that she was hospitalized; he was convicted of battery. [10]

Open marriage is a form of non-monogamy in which the partners of a dyadic marriage agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded by them as infidelity, and consider or establish an open relationship despite the implied monogamy of marriage.

Group sex sexual behavior involving more than two participants

Group sex is sexual behavior involving more than two participants. Group sex can occur between people of all sexual orientations and genders. Group sex also occurs in populations of non-human animals such as bonobo apes and chimpanzees.

Suicide intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.

The extent of Larry's abuse of his daughters and other children is unclear. Various court testimonies claimed he fondled Melinda as an infant, molested Marjorie's 13-year-old sister early in the marriage, and molested the girls' cousin Teddy from age 10 to 14. Both older girls said he molested them, though Melinda did not admit this ever happened to her. She slept in bed with him until he abandoned his family when she was 14. In court, Teddy described an incident in which Larry tied all three sisters in a garage and raped them in succession; however, the sisters did not confirm this account. Larry was verbally abusive to his daughters and fired a handgun in Michelle's direction when she was seven, intentionally missing her. He would also embarrass his children by finding their underwear and smelling it in front of other family members. [11]

For two years, beginning when Melinda was five, the family was deeply involved in the Graceland Baptist Church. Larry and Marjorie gave full confession and renounced drinking and swinging while they were members. Larry became a Baptist lay preacher and Marjorie became the school nurse. The church later arranged for Melinda to be taken to a motel room with a 50-year-old man for a five-hour exorcism. Larry became a marriage counselor with the church and acquired a reputation for being too forward with women, eventually attempting to rape one of them. After that incident, the Loveless parents left the church and returned to their former professions, drinking, and open marriage. [12]

In November 1990, after Larry was caught spying on Melinda and a friend, Marjorie attacked him with a knife; he was sent to the hospital after he attempted to grab it. She then attempted suicide again, and her daughters called authorities. After this incident, Larry filed for divorce and moved to Avon Park, Florida. Melinda felt crushed, especially when Larry remarried. He sent letters to her for a while, playing on her emotions, but eventually severed all contact with her. [7]

Laurie Tackett

Mary Laurine "Laurie" Tackett was born in Madison, Indiana, on October 5, 1974. Her mother was a fundamentalist Pentecostal Christian and her father was a factory worker with two felony convictions in the 1960s. Tackett claimed that she was molested at least twice as a child at ages 5 and 12. In May 1989, her mother discovered that Tackett was changing into jeans at school, and, after a confrontation that night, attempted to strangle her. Social workers became involved, and Tackett's parents agreed to unannounced visits to ensure that child abuse was not occurring. [13] Tackett and her mother came into periodic conflict; at one point, her mother went to Hope Rippey's house after learning that Rippey's father had purchased a Ouija board for the girls. She demanded that the board would be burnt and that the Rippey house would be exorcised. [14]

Tackett became increasingly rebellious after her fifteenth birthday and also became fascinated with the occult. She would often attempt to impress her friends by pretending to be possessed by the spirit of "Deanna the Vampire". [15] Tackett began to engage in self-harm, especially after early 1991 when she began dating a girl who was involved in the practice. Her parents discovered the self-mutilation and checked her into a hospital on March 19, 1991. She was prescribed an anti-depressant and released. Two days later, with her girlfriend and Toni Lawrence, Tackett cut her wrists deeply and was returned to the hospital. After treatment of her wound, she was admitted to the hospital's psychiatric ward. [16] Tackett was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and confessed that she had experienced hallucinations since she was a young child. She was discharged on April 12. She dropped out of high school in September 1991. [17]

Tackett stayed in Louisville in October 1991 to live with various friends. There she met Loveless; the two became friends in late November. [18] In December, Tackett moved back to Madison on the promise that her father would buy her a car. She still spent most of her time in Louisville and New Albany, and, by December, spent most of it with Loveless. [19]

Hope Rippey

Hope Anna Rippey was born in Madison on June 9, 1976. [20] Her father was an engineer at a power plant. Her parents divorced in February 1984, and she moved with her mother and siblings to Quincy, Michigan, for three years. She claimed that living with her family in Michigan was somewhat turbulent. Her parents resumed their relationship in Madison in 1987. She was reunited with friends Tackett and Toni Lawrence, whom she had known since childhood, although her parents saw Tackett as a bad influence. [21] As with the other girls, Rippey began to self-harm at age 15. [22]

Toni Lawrence

Toni Lawrence was born in Madison in February 1976. Her father was a boilermaker. She was close friends with Rippey from childhood. She was abused by a relative at age 9 and was raped by a teenage boy at age 14, although the police were only able to issue an order for the boy to keep away from Lawrence. She went into counseling after the incident but did not follow through. She became promiscuous, began to self-harm, and attempted suicide in eighth grade. [23]

Events prior to murder

In 1990, 14-year-old Loveless began dating another young girl named Amanda Heavrin. After Loveless' father left the family and her mother remarried, Loveless behaved erratically. She got into fights at school and complained of depression, resulting in her receiving professional counseling. In March 1991, Loveless disclosed her lesbian orientation to her mother, who was initially furious but eventually accepted it. As the year progressed, Loveless' relationship with Heavrin deteriorated. [24]

Heavrin and Sharer met early in the fall semester at Hazelwood Junior High when they got into a fight; however, they became friends while in detention for the altercation, and later exchanged romantic letters. Loveless immediately grew jealous of Heavrin and Sharer's relationship. In early October 1991, Heavrin and Sharer attended a school dance, where Loveless found and confronted them. Although Heavrin and Loveless had never formally ended their relationship, Loveless started to date an older girl. [25]

After Heavrin and Sharer attended a festival together in late October, Loveless began to discuss killing Sharer and threatened her in public. Concerned about the effects of their daughter's relationship with Heavrin, Sharer's parents arranged for her to transfer to a Catholic school in late November. [26] Heavrin states she gave letters Loveless sent her containing death threats towards Sharer to a "youth prosecutor", but the youth prosecutor never did anything about it as far as she knew. [27]

Events of January 10–11, 1992


On the night of January 10, 1992, Lawrence (age 15), Rippey (15), and Tackett (17) drove in Tackett's car from Madison to Loveless' house in New Albany. Lawrence, while a friend of Tackett, had not previously met Loveless (16), though Rippey had met her once before and had gotten along with her. Upon arrival, they borrowed some clothes from Loveless, and she showed them a knife, telling them she was going to scare Sharer with it. While Tackett and Lawrence had never met Sharer prior to that night, Tackett had already known of the plan to intimidate the 12-year-old girl. Loveless explained to the two other girls that she disliked Sharer for being a copycat and for stealing her girlfriend. [28]

Tackett let Rippey drive the four girls to Jeffersonville, where Sharer stayed with her father on the weekends, stopping at a McDonald's restaurant en route to ask for directions. They arrived at Sharer's house shortly before dark. Loveless instructed Rippey and Lawrence to go to the door and introduce themselves as friends of Heavrin (Loveless' former and Sharer's current girlfriend), then invite Sharer to come with them to see Heavrin, who was waiting for them at "the Witch's Castle", or Mistletoe Falls, a ruined stone house located on an isolated hill overlooking the Ohio River.

Sharer said that she could not go because her parents were awake, and she told the girls to come back around midnight, a few hours later. [29] Loveless was angry at first, but Rippey and Lawrence assured her about returning for Sharer later. The four girls crossed the river to Louisville and attended a punk rock show by the band Sunspring [30] at the Audubon Skate Park near Interstate 65. Lawrence and Rippey quickly lost interest in the music and went to the parking lot outside, where they engaged in sexual activities with two boys in Tackett's car. [31]

Eventually, the four girls left for Sharer's house. During the ride, Loveless said that she could not wait to kill Sharer; however, Loveless also said she just intended to use the knife to frighten her. When they arrived at Sharer's house at 12:30 a.m., Lawrence refused to retrieve Sharer, so Tackett and Rippey went to the door. Loveless hid under a blanket in the back seat of the car with the knife. [32]


Rippey told Sharer that Heavrin was still at the Witch's Castle. Sharer was reluctant to go with them, yet agreed after changing her clothes. As they got in the car, Rippey began questioning Sharer about her relationship with Heavrin. Loveless then sprang out from the back seat, put the knife to Sharer's throat and began interrogating her about her sexual relationship with Heavrin. They drove towards Utica and the Witch's Castle. Tackett told the girls that a local legend said the house was once owned by nine witches and that townspeople burned down the house to get rid of the witches. [33]

At the Witch's Castle, they took sobbing Sharer inside and bound her arms and legs with a rope. There, Loveless taunted that she had pretty hair and wondered how pretty she would look if they were to cut it off, which frightened Sharer even more. Loveless began taking off Sharer's rings and handed each to the girls. At some point, Rippey had taken Sharer's Mickey Mouse watch and danced to the tune it played. Tackett further taunted Sharer, claiming that the Witch's Castle was filled with human remains and Sharer's would be next. To further threaten Sharer, Tackett then retrieved from the car a shirt with a smiley design and lit it on fire, but immediately feared that the fire would be spotted by passing cars, so the girls left with Sharer.

During the car ride, Sharer continued begging them to take her back home. Loveless ordered Sharer to slip off her bra, which she then handed over to Rippey, who slid off her own bra and replaced it with Sharer's while steering the car. They became lost, so they stopped at a gas station and covered Sharer in a blanket. While Tackett went inside to ask for directions, Lawrence called a boy she knew in Louisville and chatted for several minutes to ease her worries, but did not mention Sharer's abduction. They returned to the car but became lost again and pulled up to another gas station. There, Lawrence and Rippey spotted a couple of boys and talked to them before once again getting back into the car and leaving, arriving some time later at the edge of some woods near Tackett's home in Madison. [34]


Tackett led them to a dark garbage dump off a logging road in a densely forested area. Lawrence and Rippey were frightened and stayed in the car. Loveless and Tackett made Sharer strip naked; then, Loveless beat Sharer with her fists. Next, Loveless repeatedly slammed Sharer's face into her knee, which cut Sharer's mouth on her own braces. Loveless tried to slash Sharer's throat, but the knife was too dull. Rippey came out of the car to hold down Sharer. Loveless and Tackett took turns stabbing Sharer in the chest. They then strangled Sharer with a rope until she was unconscious, placed her in the trunk of the car, and told the other two girls that Sharer was dead. [35]

The girls drove to Tackett's nearby home and went inside to drink soda and clean themselves. When they heard Sharer screaming in the trunk, Tackett went out with a paring knife and stabbed her several more times, coming back a few minutes later covered with blood. After she washed, Tackett told the girls' futures with her "runestones". At 2:30 a.m., Lawrence and Rippey stayed behind as Tackett and Loveless went "country cruising", driving to the nearby town of Canaan. Sharer continued to make crying and gurgling noises, so Tackett stopped the car. When they opened the trunk, Sharer sat up, covered in blood with her eyes rolled back in her head, but unable to speak. Tackett beat her with a tire iron until she was silent, and then told one of the other girls to "smell it". [36] [37]

Loveless and Tackett returned to Tackett's house just before daybreak to clean up again. Rippey asked about Sharer, and Tackett laughingly described the torture. The conversation woke up Tackett's mother, who yelled at her daughter for being out late and bringing home the girls, so Tackett agreed to take them home. She drove to the burn pile, where they opened the trunk to stare at Sharer. Lawrence refused. Rippey sprayed Sharer with Windex and taunted, "You're not looking so hot now, are you?" [38]

Burned alive

Memorial to Sharer at the location where she died. Shanda sharer field and memorial.jpg
Memorial to Sharer at the location where she died.

The girls drove to a gas station near Madison Consolidated High School, pumped some gasoline into the car, and bought a two-liter bottle of Pepsi. Tackett poured out the Pepsi and refilled the bottle with gasoline. They drove north of Madison, past Jefferson Proving Ground to Lemon Road off U.S. Route 421, a place known to Rippey. Lawrence remained in the car while Tackett and Rippey wrapped Sharer, who was still alive, in a blanket, and carried her to a field by the gravel country road. Tackett made Rippey pour the gasoline on Sharer, and then they set her on fire. Loveless was not convinced Sharer was dead, so they returned a few minutes later to pour the rest of the gasoline on her. [39] [40]

The girls went to a McDonald's restaurant at 9:30 a.m. for breakfast, where they laughed about Sharer's body looking like one of the sausages they were eating. Lawrence then phoned a friend and told her about the murder. Tackett then dropped off Lawrence and Rippey at their homes and finally returned to her own home with Loveless. She told Heavrin that they had killed Sharer and arranged to pick up Heavrin later that day. [41]

A friend of Loveless', Crystal Wathen, came over to Loveless' house, and they told her what had happened. Then, the three girls drove to pick up Heavrin and bring her back to Loveless' house, where they told Heavrin the story. Both Heavrin and Wathen were reluctant to believe the story until Tackett showed them the trunk of the car with Sharer's bloody handprints and socks still present. Heavrin was horrified and asked to be taken home. When they pulled up in front of her house, Loveless kissed Heavrin, told her she loved her, and pleaded with her not to tell anyone. Heavrin promised she would not before entering her house. [42]


Later on the morning of January 11, 1992, two brothers from Canaan were driving toward Jefferson Proving Ground to go hunting when they noticed a body on the side of the road. They called the police at 10:55 a.m. and were asked to return to the corpse. David Camm, who was later acquitted of his own family's murders, was one of the responding officers. [43] Jefferson County Sheriff Buck Shippley and detectives began an investigation, collecting forensic evidence at the scene. They initially suspected a drug deal gone wrong and did not believe the crime had been committed by locals. [44]

Sharer's father Steven noticed his daughter was nowhere to be found early on January 11. After phoning neighbors and friends all morning, he called his former wife, Shanda's mother, at 1:45 p.m.; they met and filed a missing person report with the Clark County sheriff. [45] [46]

At 8:20 p.m., a hysterical Lawrence and Rippey went to the Jefferson County Sheriff's office with their parents. They both gave very rambling statements, identifying the victim as "Shanda", naming the two other girls involved as best as they could, and describing the main events of the previous night. Shippley contacted the Clark County sheriff and was finally able to match the body to Sharer's missing person report. [47]

Detectives obtained dental records that positively identified Sharer as the victim. [48] Loveless and Tackett were arrested on January 12. The bulk of the evidence for the arrest warrant was Lawrence's and Rippey's statements. The prosecution immediately declared its intention to try both Loveless and Tackett as adults. For several months, the prosecutors and defense attorneys did not release any information about the case, giving the news media only the statements by Lawrence and Rippey. [46]

Judicial process

Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison, Indiana Jefferson County Indiana Courthouse.jpg
Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison, Indiana
January 11, 1992 Body of Shanda Sharer found in rural Jefferson County, Indiana
April 22, 1992 Lawrence accepts plea bargain
September 21, 1992 Loveless and Tackett accept plea bargains
January 4, 1993 Loveless sentenced to 60 years
December 14, 2000 Lawrence released on parole
November 3, 2004 A judge reduces Rippey's sentence to 35 years
April 28, 2006 Rippey released on parole
January 11, 2018 Tackett released on parole

All four girls were charged as adults. To avoid the death penalty, the girls accepted plea bargains.[ citation needed ]

Mitigating factors

All four girls had troubled backgrounds, with claims of physical or sexual abuse committed by a parent or other adult. Lawrence, Rippey, and Tackett all had histories of self-harming behavior. [49] Tackett was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and suffering from hallucinations. [17] Loveless, often described as the ringleader in the attack, [50] had the most extensive history of abuse and mental health issues.


Tackett and Loveless were sentenced to sixty years in the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis. Tackett was released in 2018, and is serving probation for one year since her release. Loveless is scheduled to be released in 2019. [51] Rippey was sentenced to sixty years, with ten years suspended for mitigating circumstances, plus ten years of medium-supervision probation. On appeal, a judge reduced the sentence to thirty-five years. In exchange for her cooperation, Lawrence was allowed to plead guilty to one count of criminal confinement and was sentenced to a maximum of twenty years.


In October 2007, Loveless' attorney, Mark Small, requested a hearing to argue for his client's release. He said that Loveless had been "profoundly retarded" by childhood abuse. Moreover, she had not been represented competently by counsel during her sentencing, which caused her to accept a plea bargain in the face of exaggerated claims about her chances of receiving the death penalty. Small also argued that Loveless, who was 16 years old when she signed the plea agreement, was too young to enter into a contract in the state of Indiana without consent from a parent or guardian, which had not been obtained. If the judge accepted these arguments, Loveless could have been retried or released outright. [52]

On January 8, 2008, Loveless' request was rejected by Jefferson Circuit Judge Ted Todd. Instead, Loveless would be eligible for parole in fifteen years, thus maintaining the original guilty plea. [53] On November 14, 2008, Loveless' appeal was denied by the Indiana Court of Appeals, upholding Judge Todd's ruling. Small stated that he would seek to have jurisdiction over the case moved to the Supreme Court of Indiana. [54]


As of 2018, Loveless is the only one of the four girls remaining in prison, scheduled for release in September 2019. [55]


Lawrence was released on December 14, 2000, after serving nine years. She remained on parole until December 2002. [56]

On April 28, 2006, Rippey was released from Indiana Women's Prison on parole after serving fourteen years of her original sentence. She remained on supervised parole for five years until April 2011. [57]

Tackett was released from Rockville Correctional Facility on January 11, 2018, the 26th anniversary of Sharer's death, after serving nearly twenty-six years. She is now serving a year of parole. [55]


During Loveless' sentencing hearing, extensive open court testimony revealed that her father Larry had abused his wife, his daughters, and other children. Consequently, he was arrested in February 1993 on charges of rape, sodomy, and sexual battery. Most of the crimes occurred from 1968 to 1977. Larry remained in prison for over two years awaiting trial; however, a judge eventually ruled that all charges except one count of sexual battery had to be dropped due to the statute of limitations, which was five years in Indiana. Loveless pleaded guilty to the one count of sexual battery. He received a sentence of time served and was released in June 1995. [58] [59] A few weeks following his release, Larry unsuccessfully sued the Floyd County Jail for $39 million in federal court, alleging he had suffered cruel and unusual punishment during his two-year incarceration. Among his complaints were that he was not allowed to sleep in his bed during the day or to read the newspaper. [59]

Sharer's father, Steven Sharer, died of alcoholism in 2005 at the age of 53. He had become depressed following the death of his daughter, and so, according to his wife, "drank himself to death". [60]

The Shanda Sharer Scholarship Fund was established in January 2009. The fund planned to provide scholarships to two students per year from Prosser School of Technology in New Albany; one scholarship will go to a student who is continuing his or her education, and the other scholarship will go to a student who is beginning his or her career and must buy tools or other work equipment. [61] According to the rules of the fund, the scholarship recipient will also be given a plaque or document of some type that tells Sharer's story.[ citation needed ] As of November 2018 per Shanda's mother Jacque Vaught, the scholarship fund has been depleted and is no longer accepting donations.

In 2012, Sharer's mother, Jacque Vaught, made her first contact with Melinda Loveless since the trials, although indirectly. Vaught donated a dog named Angel in Shanda's name to Loveless to train for the Indiana Canine Assistance Network program (ICAN) through Project2heal, which provides service pets to people with disabilities. Loveless has trained dogs for the program for several years. Vaught reported that she has endured criticism over the decision, but defends it saying, "It's my choice to make. She's (Shanda) my child. If you don't let good things come from bad things, nothing gets better. And I know what my child would want. My child would want this." Vaught stated that she hopes to donate a dog every year in honor of Shanda. [62] A documentary produced by Episode 11 Productions, entitled Charlie's Scars , captures Vaught's decision to allow Loveless to train dogs in Shanda's name. This film also has Loveless' first three interviews ever given.

In literature and stageplays

The crime was documented in two true crime books, Little Lost Angel by Michael Quinlan [30] and Cruel Sacrifice by Aphrodite Jones; [63] Jones's book on the case became a New York Times Bestseller.

The story was turned into a play by Rob Urbinati called Hazelwood Jr. High, which starred Chloë Sevigny as Tackett. [64] The play was published by Samuel French, Inc. in September 2009. [65]

The poem, The Whole World Is Singing, by Daphne Gottlieb, is told from the point of view of Shanda Sharer and includes lines from notes written from Shanda Sharer to Amanda Heavrin. [66]

The poem In God's Arms, by author Lacy Gray (pen name), is dedicated to the family of Shanda Renee Sharer. It was published on February 8, 1993 and May 11, 1995 in the Jeffersonville-based newspaper The Evening News.[ citation needed ]

In television

"Mean", an episode from the fifth season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit , is based on the murder. [67] [68]

The Cold Case second-season episode "The Sleepover" is loosely based on this crime. [69]

In an interview with Shanda Sharer's mother, Jacque Vaught, on the Investigation Discovery series Deadly Women , Vaught stated that Sharer's father was so destroyed by his daughter's murder that he "did everything he could to kill himself besides put a gun to his head" and that he "drank himself to death. The man definitely died from a broken heart". [60]

In 2011, Dr. Phil aired a two-part series on the crime, which featured Shanda Sharer's mother and sister Paige, who both harshly confronted Hope Rippey on the show, and an interview with Amanda Heavrin. [70]

The murder of Sharer was covered in the first of two segments in the Lifetime series Killer Kids , episode "Jealousy", aired: July 2014. [71] [72]

The Investigation Discovery series The 1990s: The Deadliest Decade , episode "The New Girl" interviews Sharer's mother along with lead police officers, aired: November 2018. [73]

In art

American artist Marlene McCarty used the Shanda Sharer murder as one of the subjects for her Murder Girls series of drawings about teenage female murderers, their sexuality and their relationships. [74] McCarty's drawing entitled Melinda Loveless, Toni Lawrence, Hope Rippey, Laurie Tackett, and Shanda Sharer – January 11, 1992 (1:39 am) (2000-2001) is now in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. [75]

See also

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