Murder of Shanda Renee
Shanda Renee Sharer (June 6, 1979 – January 11, 1992) brutally tortured and murdered by a young girl in Madison, Indiana. Upon her murder, she’s merely 12 years of age, perpetrated by a quartet of adolescent girls. This tragic incident took nation-wide attention.
Prior to the murder, in 1990, Melinda Loveless encountered and it began a relationship with Amanda Heavrin. Loveless’s life became tumultuous after her father’s death and mother’s remarriage. She grappled with erratic behavior, depression and engaged in fights at school. Ultimately she underwent counseling In March 1991, Loveless revealed her sexual orientation to her mother, provoking an initial outburst of anger that eventually subsided into reluctant acceptance. As the autumn of 1990 arrived, Loveless’s connection with Heavrin deteriorated. She began associating this decline with Shanda Sharer.
During the course of the school year, Heavrin and Sharer had an altercation that later transformed into friendship during a period of detention. Loveless, however, became a victim of jealousy over the bond between Heavrin and Sharer. In early October, Loveless confronted the two at a school dance. Although Heavrin and Loveless never formally severed their ties. Loveless was in a relationship with an older girl.
Loveless’s jealousy increased when Heavrin and Sharer attended a festival together in late October. Loveless openly discussed her desire to murder Sharer. She even threat her in public. Concerned about their daughter’s well-being due to her association with Heavrin, Sharer’s parents arranged for her to transfer to a Catholic school in late November. Consequently, the friendship between the girls gradually dissolved throughout December. Loveless and Heavrin never rekindled their relationship.
Before the abduction took place, on January 10, Toni Lawrence, Hope Rippey and Laurie Tackett embarked on a journey from Madison, Indiana, to Melinda Loveless’s house in New Albany. They travelled in Tackett’s vehicle. Rippey and Lawrence were acquaintances of Tackett but strangers to Loveless. They arrived at the destination and borrowed clothing from Loveless. Loveless exhibited a knife to them and informed them of her intention to murder Shanda Sharer with it. Although Tackett was already aware of the plan to intimidate the 12-year-old girl, neither Rippey nor Lawrence had ever met Sharer. Loveless explained to them that she despised Sharer for being an imitator and for “stealing” her girlfriend.
Tackett allowed Rippey to drive them to Sharer’s residence in Jeffersonville, Indiana, making a brief stop at a McDonald’s for directions. They reached Sharer’s home shortly before dusk. Loveless instructed Rippey and Lawrence to approach the door, introduce themselves as Heavrin’s friends. She invited Sharer to join them in visiting Heavrin’s supposed girlfriend at a location known as “The Witch’s Castle.” Sharer refused because of her parents. They instructed the girls to return around midnight.
Although initially angry, Loveless was reassured by Rippey and Lawrence, who promised they would retrieve Sharer later. The four girls crossed the river into Louisville and attended a punk rock concert at the Audubon Skate Park near Interstate 65. However, Lawrence and Rippey swiftly lost interest in the music and retreated to the parking lot outside the skate park, engaging in sexual activities with two boys in Tackett’s car.
Eventually, the girls resumed their journey to Sharer’s house. During the ride, Loveless was impatient of Sharer’s murder. However, Loveless also mentioned finding Sharer physically attractive. She even revealed a desire to engage in sexual acts with her. She claimed that she intended to use the knife only to frighten Sharer. At 12:30 a.m., they arrived at Sharer’s house, but Lawrence refused to retrieve her. Tackett and Rippey went instead. Loveless, who had previously tormented Sharer on numerous occasions. She hid herself under a blanket in the back seat, clutching a dull knife.
Sharer awaited Tackett and Rippey’s arrival. Rippey informed her that Heavrin was waiting at the Witch’s Castle. Initially reluctant, Sharer eventually changed her clothes and agreed to accompanying them. Loveless, hidden in the back seat, put the knife against Sharer’s throat as they entered the car. They went on a journey toward Utica, Indiana, and the Witch’s Castle. This ruinous stone house, also known as Mistletoe Falls, perched atop an isolated hill overlooking the Ohio River. It served as an occasional hangout spot for local teenagers. Tackett regaled the girls with tales of the house’s history, claiming it was once owned by nine witches. Supposedly, towns-folk burned the house to rid it of its wicked inhabitants.
Upon arriving at the Witch’s Castle, they brought Sharer inside and bound her arms and legs with rope. Overwhelmed with fear, Sharer began to weep, and the passing headlights of cars intensified the girls’ anxiety. Consequently, they departed and sought refuge near Tackett’s residence. They made a stop for gasoline, momentarily losing their way before eventually finding their path back to Madison, Indiana.
Tackett led them to a garbage dump along a logging road, nestled within a densely forested area. Lawrence and Rippey, terrified, chose to remain in the car while Loveless and Tackett forced Sharer to undress. Loveless mercilessly pummeled Sharer with her fists, followed by repeatedly slamming Sharer’s face into her own knee, resulting in cuts to Sharer’s mouth caused by Loveless’s braces. Loveless attempted to slash Sharer’s throat but was thwarted by the dullness of the knife. Rippey emerged from the car to restrain Sharer. Loveless and Tackett took turns stabbing Sharer in the chest. They proceeded to strangle her with a rope until she lost consciousness. Then they placed her in the trunk, falsely informing the other girls that Sharer was deceased.
The group returned to Tackett’s nearby residence, where they drink soda and attended to their own hygiene. It was then that they realized Sharer was still alive, screaming from within the trunk. Tackett retrieved a paring knife and stabbed Sharer multiple times. She reentered the house several minutes later, drenched in blood. Tackett engaged in divination with her “runestones,” predicting the futures of the girls. Lawrence and Rippey stayed behind as Tackett and Loveless embarked on a “country cruising” trip at 2:30 AM, driving to the nearby town of Canaan. Throughout the excursion, Sharer’s cries and gurgles persisted. Tackett eventually halted the car, observing Sharer’s bloodied and lifeless form, her eyes rolling back in her head. Tackett bludgeoned her with a tire iron until silence prevailed.
Just before daybreak, the group returned to Tackett’s residence to clean up once more. Rippey inquired about Sharer’s fate, prompting Tackett to recount the gruesome details of the torture. The conversation awakened Tackett’s mother, who berated her daughter for staying out late and bringing the girls home. Subsequently, Laurie offered to drive them back to their respective homes. On the way, she veered towards the burn pile near her residence, revealing Sharer’s lifeless body to the other girls. Lawrence refused to look, while Rippey callously sprayed Sharer with Windex and taunted her, exclaiming, “You’re not looking so hot now, are you?”
The girls went to a gas station near Madison Consolidated High School around 9:30 AM. They bought breakfast and callously laughed about Sharer’s appearance resembling the sausages. Horrified by their callousness, Lawrence contacted a friend and shared the details of the murder. Tackett then dropped off Lawrence and Rippey at their homes before returning with Loveless. They went to clean the car, using a hose to wash the trunk. Around 3:00 PM, they arrived at Loveless’s house. Learning that Heavrin was at River Falls Mall, Loveless requested her presence via a page, feigning an emergency. Once together, Loveless divulged the horrifying events to Heavrin. Although skeptical at first, Heavrin provided comfort to the distraught Loveless. Both Heavrin and Loveless became convinced when Tackett unveiled the trunk, revealing Sharer’s bloodied handprints and socks.
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