In the quaint resort town of Keddie, California, a crime so brutal and confounding occurred in the spring of 1981 that it haunts the community to this day. The Keddie cabin murders, as they became known, involved the savage killings of Glenna “Sue” Sharp and three others, leaving a stain of mystery on the scenic landscape.
A grisly scene in a rustic setting
The Sharps had moved to the Keddie Resort only a year prior, seeking a fresh start after Sue’s divorce. On the fateful night before the murders, Sheila was at a friend’s house while her brother John and his friend Dana hitchhiked to a party. Tina had also ventured out before returning. By morning, the family’s world would be turned upside down.
On April 12, 1981, 14-year-old Sheila Sharp returned to her family’s Cabin 28 only to discover a scene of horror: her mother, brother, and his friend, lifeless and bound, and her sister Tina, missing. It was three years later that the remains of Tina would be found. The peacefulness of the resort was shattered, and the case would puzzle law enforcement for decades.
A violent puzzle with missing pieces
Despite the ferocity of the killings, there was no forced entry into the cabin. An unidentified fingerprint in the cabin that night would provide early leads, but the investigation soon hit a wall. A composite sketch was also made by the sheirf’s office, showing two men as the lead suspects.
The brutality of the murders was undeniable, with blood spattered across the cabin’s interior and the victims showing signs of being moved post-mortem. The youngest Sharp boys and their friend Justin Smartt, miraculously unscathed, had seemingly slept through the massacre. But crucially, Tina was nowhere to be found.
Suspicions grow that lead to the reopening of the case
Martin Smartt, the Smartt boy’s father, and his houseguest, ex-convict John “Bo” Boudebe, quickly became suspects. Curiously, both had odd behavior and alibis for the night of the murders, but the trail seemed to grow cold, and crucial evidence was neglected. Marilyn Smartt, Martin’s wife, left him on the day of the murder discovery, providing the Plumas Country Sheriff’s Department with a handwritten letter from Martin, where he claims the murders.
In 2013, new investigators breathed life into the cold case, uncovering a hammer that could be a murder weapon and the chilling letter that suggested a confession from Martin Smartt. The case’s reopening unearthed more questions than answers, with potential cover-ups and conspiracy theories coming to light.
Growing theories and the quest for justice
Theories about the motives behind the murders range from a love triangle involving Sue and the Smartts to connections with organized crime and drug smuggling. Each theory reveals a complex web of relationships and criminal undercurrents that may have led to that tragic night.
Even with the prime suspects deceased, new DNA evidence has pointed investigators toward living individuals who may have been involved. The determination of the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department ensures that the Keddie cabin murders are far from forgotten, as they work tirelessly to piece together what happened in Cabin 28.
The Keddie cabin murders remain a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the enduring quest for justice. As new evidence comes to light, there is hope that the truth will finally surface, offering closure to the community and the surviving members of the Sharp family.