Paradise Lost: The Keddie Killings, Part II

“It was such an unspeakable and despicable act of violence against a family… the likes of something like that had never really visited any of us before,” Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood in a recent interview.

The Keddie murders didn’t just visit this Plumas county town, they still linger three decades later; they’re the darkest of clouds in an otherwise picture perfect setting.

“And it’s a dark cloud that has hung over seven sheriffs,” says Hagwood; he is number seven.

“It’s really frustrating.”

His frustration is Sheila Sharp’s endless pain, the unsolved killings of her mother, brother, and friend; all were beaten and stabbed inside their family’s cabin.

Her little sister was kidnapped that morning, and then murdered.

The nightmare of April 12th, 1981 haunts Sheila every day.

Fourteen years old at the time, she found the bodies inside the cabin.

In 30 years she hasn’t found justice.

“I’m hoping that there will be somebody out there that will say ‘oh, yeah, I remember,’ ” Sheila told reporter Tony Lopez recently.

The sheriff’s convinced someone does remember; “I have no doubt that there are people alive today that know more than what they’ve said.”

One such person is a family member of the prime suspect, a man who lived in Keddie at the time of the killings.

And as you can see in a documentary named Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders, and given to CBS 13 by its producer Josh Hancock, there is a man who allegedly confessed to his therapist that he committed the brutal crimes:

The unnamed psychotherapist says in shadow “He said, ‘I killed the woman and her daughter but I didn’t have anything to do with the other two.’”

Sheriff Hagwood confirms there was a confession but says the therapist later changed his story. But Sheila’s story has never changed; her burning question has never been extinguished: “Why? What made you do it?”

The documentary does offer an answer.

The therapist continues to say, “I asked him why he would do that? Martin stated that it was because of our conversation a week prior that he was convinced the woman was responsible for turning his wife against him… asked him why would you hurt the child and he stated she saw the whole thing and I couldn’t have a witness.”

Again, the confession fell apart.

Critics argued law enforcement didn’t follow up, missed opportunities allowing the suspect to slip out of town.

Today the quest for answers continues.

A legal box full of witness testimony, finger prints, gruesome photos, and more is just a very small piece of the puzzle, evidence kept.

But as long as secrets, too, are kept, solving the only unsolved murder case in Plumas County will be an uphill climb.

“You have to approach it with the idea that you’re going to get there, you’re going to solve it,” Sheriff Hagwood says with steely determination and resolve.

In fact, new clues have emerged in recent months.

Investigators believe the suspect and an accomplice are now deceased.

Dead men tell no tales but new technology could save DNA thought to be lost, giving the victims a voice, and give Sheila Sharp something ripped apart 30 years ago: peace of mind.

“I hear all kinds of cases even older than mine that have been solved, you know, it can be done,” she says hopefully.

“Can” and “will” says the sheriff, determined to close the book on a three decades-old horror story.

“For the sake of the victims, for the sake of the family members and the surviving family members, it needs to be solved.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Keddie killings and the efforts to solve the case, or if you think you may know something, contact the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department, or click here.

More from Tony Lopez
  • CoffeeOD

    One of the prime suspects was also involved with numerous armed robberies he committed in the midwest with a noted mob figure named Jim Rini. He apparenty rolled over on Rini and cooperated with the Department of Justice. Coincidently after the Keddie murders his official interview was conducted by a DOJ investigator with a background investigating, you guessed it, organized crime. His interview was filled with several lies that could have been easily discovered with a quick phone call, yet no calls or follow up ever happened. The suspect was arrested in 1988 in Chicago for ripping off cops and still apparently had no record. Six months after this he died, but there’s no death certificate. Maybe some day someone in LE will actually follow up on this and find out why a mob investigator interviewed him for a non-mob related murder, then never checked one single verifiable thing this guy said. The Sharp and Wingate families deserve justice and it’s about time they got some

  • Tim Mann

    Why was then-Sheriff Doug Thomas allowed to ‘hypnotize’ witnesses, including the stepson of the lead suspect (Marty’s stepson)? Why did this suspect, in his confession, claim to not only know Sheriff Thomas as a friend, but to have lived with him?

    Why did the California DoJ dispatch two Bureau of Organized Crime and Criminal Intelligence Special Agents to ‘help’ this case? They were both the same age as the other prime suspect, yet they didn’t flinch when he told them he retired from the police in 1958 after 18 years on the force, and had done time in the Air Corps before that? That would make him about 5 years old when he joined the Army, and 9 when he became a cop. They were high-ranking SAs with special training in interrogation techniques, and this laughably inept ‘interrogation’ is the result?

    Why is it Suspect #2 had major mafia connections back in his hometown of Chicago? It’s widely speculated, even by some in his family I’ve spoken with, that he was long-protected by DOJ and LE in general… is that why BOCCA agents were sent to Keddie by DOJ?

    Why were their interviews with Marty and his then-wife also as ineptly handled? What about the glass found at the crime scene, with bloody prints said to match Marty?

    Likewise, why did the DOJ agents have a bizarre “tape malfunction” when interviewing the only other known witness old enough to be reliable, where the tape was suddenly turned off right after the child spoke his name? Why is there no known report of this interview, no transcript, no explanation as to why the tape was turned off?

    Why would PCSO ignore Vidocq’s proffer to assist in this decades-old cold case? Vidocq is a wonderful society who not only have a fantastic pedigree and an incredible track record, but they not only assist with manpower and technology, but often fund tests (DNA, etc). WHY WOULD PCSO IGNORE THEIR OFFER?

    What the desicions and conduct of higher-ups in PCSO and DOJ did to this case back in 1981 and since is so far beyond mere ineptitude, it smacks of something far deeper, far darker, something deliberate. To solve this case would do more than dust off a few cobwebs and skeletons in the closets of former sheriffs in Plumas county. No, folks, the truth looks far uglier than that.

  • Tim Mann

    Why is current Sheriff Hagwood spending so much time speaking at Tea-Party type meetings, publicly pushing his own political agenda and re-election hopes, instead of actually doing his job, which includes physically working the Keddie Case instead of just giving lip service? Why would he ignore attempts from DNA specialists to revisit the case?

    If you’re familiar with the case and Plumas culture, Hagwood does not appear to want this case solved. Quite frankly, while Hagwood has no problem going on camera just this once about the case (his first-ever public comment on the case I know of), I feel it’s in his best interests, as a sheriff and politician, NOT TO SOLVE IT. His behavior is like a pharmaceutical company lawyer doing cost analysis on the latest deadly drug: When the lawsuits and bad press outweigh the profits of silence, he will FINALLY do what he should have done from the beginning.

  • Quincygirl

    I am so grateful that you have brought this story to the forefront. It is time for it to be solved. The ONLY way it will be solved is if the press puts some major pressure on the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office. Please, for the sake of the Sharpe and Wingate Families, continue to follow up with this story until it is solved. Some of the comments made by Hagwood are completely inaccurate. The therapist NEVER changed his story. Talk to him, ask Hagwood why he hasn’t cooperated with Vidocq. Please, don’t let this go away!

  • Chichibcc

    I agree with Tim- I honestly don’t think that PCSO wants this case to be solved-there’s so much they could have done, but won’t do for some odd reason, which is very telling-Sheriff Hagwood is a total joke.

  • Ausgirl

    I’d like to thank you for offering Sheila this opportunity to speak about her family. It’s high time this terrible crime got some serious airtime.

    It ought to be noted, however, that the main suspect’s confession, recorded by his therapist, was recieved by PCSO in 2010. The therapist has never changed his story, nor did the confession “fall apart”.There were two separate therapists, one of whom did not hear any confession – so perhaps that accounts for the confusion.

    Josh and team, Sheila and the Keddie forum crowds have done a huge amount of work over the past few years to keep this case from languishing entirely, bless ’em. Nice to see some results. :)

    My sincere apologies to those officers who have been as diligent as they could be. But it’s clear the police are more than somewhat responsible for the fact that these murders have gone unsolved for 30 years, despite some pretty damning evidence. Neither of the main suspects seem to have ever been brought back in for questioning, despite there being several extremely good reasons dating back to 1981 for the police to have done so. Just a portion of the abysmal mess that has been made of this investigation from the get-go..

    It’s my fervent hope that Sheriff Hagwood has the grace and courage to do what six of his predecessors have not done, and embrace EVERY avenue for this heinous crime to be both properly investigated, and finally and officially solved.

  • Sam

    Boubede and Marty and Smartt did it, and Marilyn and Dee Lake should be tried for what they did, too. Seems the only people who don’t know they did it are Hogweed and DOJ. Oh, wait, they’re the ones refusing to solve the case.

  • FG

    It is imperative that something productive happen with this case. Thirty years is far too long for family, friends, and the community to live under the stress of this case…especially since it appears there have been valid leads that were not handled properly. The fact that VIDOCQ has offered their services to PCSO and they have not made a move to accept this help speaks VOLUMES about PCSO. For all intents and purposes, it appears they do not want this case solved. Where is the DNA evidence? Are they seriously going to pretend that ALL of the evidence was accidentally misplaced? Sort of like the mysterious missing recordings of the younger brother’s interview? This so-called “investigation” has been a joke and it is high time that the community takes a stand and demand answers!

    Thank you CBS13 and Tony Lopez, for refusing to allow this case to be buried. We appreciate the publicity you are bringing to this case and we implore you to follow-up with the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office to disclose the specific actions they are taking to garner answers.

  • meankitty

    I think Hagwood should be asked why he hasn’t utilized the Vidocq Society’s offer of help. It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter who gets the credit for solving the case. Only justice should matter here.

  • Barbara

    Four people were brutally murdered and the case is still unsolved after thirty years.
    PLEASE accept the Vidocq offer to help.

  • Unsolved Murder: Cabin 28 | Catie Rhodes

    […] Paradise Lost: The Keddie Killings, Part II (CBS) […]

  • Unsolved Murder: Cabin 28 | Catie Rhodes

    […] Paradise Lost: The Keddie Killings, Part II (CBS) […]

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