KEDDIE (CBS13) — Investigators believe they may have found one of the weapons used in a 35-year-old murder mystery.
Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood described what happened in Cabin 28 in 1981, where single mother of five Glenna Sue sharp was murdered with her teenage son John and his friend Dana Wingate.
The three were tied up, bludgeoned and stabbed to death. Sue’s 12-year-old daughter Tina was taken from the cabin, but her decomposed remains wouldn’t be found for another three years.
What hadn’t been discovered until last month was a hammer that’s believed to be one of the murder weapons.
Special investigator Mike Gamberg took us back to where that hammer was found near the crime scene and just a stone’s throw away from the cabin where investigators strongly believe the killers were staying at the time of the murders.
“The alleged killers who lived here did they have any problems with law enforcement prior? yeah, both of them had records,” he said.
But both Marty Smartt and “Bo” Boubede are now dead, questioned by law enforcement after the killings but never charged.
Hagwood calls that a mistake.
“There are things that were done–but I think most importantly there are things that were not done that are hard to explain,” he said.
That includes the possible mishandling of evidence Hagwood and Gamberg were determined to find. They looked through every box in connection with the case and found a recording of a man believed to be one of the killers, or at the very least an accomplice. In it, he describes a body found in connection with the Keddie murders.
Spring showers replenished the waterways near the Feather River, giving life to the picturesque landscape in Plumas County, about 140 miles northeast of Sacramento.
But that rain can’t wash away the horror of what happened in the now-empty lot in the tiny resort town of Keddie.
It’s a case that’s gathered far more dust than clues over the years.
Hagwood was a teenager at the time and knew some of the victims.
“I knew the two boys who were murdered. I worked with them the entire summer before the murders,” he said.
Gamberg knew them as well.
“Dana was at my house the day before the homicide,” he said.
Both now share a common goal—solving the brutal quadruple murder that sat largely untouched for many years. It became a top priority when Hagwood took over several years ago and he hired Gamberg to focus on the murders.
After countless hours of digging, the clues in the cold case started heating up, and new light is emerging on the decades-old crime.
Relief is something Sheila Sharp has been searching for since that dark day in April 1981. She was spending the night at a friend’s house on the night of the murders and came home to find the bodies.
“I actually put in my mind that I’ll probably go to my grave—that it will never be solved—and then when all this is coming out–it brought up the hope again,” she said.
The hope is coming from an unlikely source—information from a family member of Boubede has led to a discovery investigators thought was long gone. The hammer, similar to one reported missing by Smartt, was dug up near the crime scene just last month.
“Clearly by looking at the hammer you can tell that it’s been at that location for a very, very long time,” Hagwood said.
CBS13 was there when Sheila was shown the hammer and a knife that may also be connected to the crimes.
Something else was also found.
“The fascinating aspect of that discovery is that the envelope had never been opened,” Hagwood said.
An envelope with a cassette recording of a man telling a sheriff’s dispatcher about a body that was found three years of the murders that could be one of the victims who was kidnapped from the murder scene. Investigators believe it was no random call, as it came on the three-year anniversary of the killings.
CALLER: Hello I was watching the news and they were talking about the skull they found at the Feather Falls and they asked for any help.
CALLER: And I was just wondering if they thought of the murder up in Keddie up in Plumas County a couple years ago where a 12-year-old girl was never found?
The tape was never admitted into evidence, and it was in fact found at the bottom of a box. It’s not the only troubling aspect of the case to Hagwood.
“I am not by nature a conspiracy theorist but there are facts and circumstances—the number and the nature of which—I can’t ignore anymore,” he said.
What was ignored was an alleged admission of guilty by one of the suspects.
“They covered it up, is the way it sounds,” Gamberg said.
It’s a believe long-shared by the victims’ family.
“I was told the suspects were told to get out of town, so to me that means it was covered up,” Sharp said.
It’s been hard to cover up the emotions stirred by the 35-year-old mystery.
“This killed this community Keddie was gone—eddie was absolutely finished,” Gamberg said.
In a way, their work has only just begun. The hope is the new evidence will lead to new arrests.
“It’s my belief that there were more than two people who were involved in the totality of the crime–the disposal of the evidence and the abduction of the little girl,” Hagwood said. “We’re convinced that there are a handful of people that fit those roles who are still alive.”
And justice could be on its way.
“I have a measure of confidence that we’ve identified some of them and we’re gonna be–we’re gonna be coming,” he said. “It could be next month, it could be next year but really the focus in our priority is getting the truth—getting the answers.”
In the coming days, the hammer and knife will be scoured for any possible DNA evidence, and the tape will be examined by the FBI to see if there’s a possible voice-match with anyone who has already been interviewed in connection with this case.