Cabin 28: The Unsolved Keddie Murders of California

In 1981, a cabin in the woods played host to a brutal family murder.

By Orrin Grey
keddie murders
On the night of April 11, 1981, three victims—a mother, her adolescent son, and the son’s friend—were bludgeoned to death in a California cabin while children slept soundly in an adjacent room. A fourth victim—the mother’s 12-year-old daughter—vanished in the night, her remains found years later and many miles away.

The slayings are chilling enough, and are made all the more unsettling by the fact that they remain unsolved, leading some to suspect a police cover-up.

Glenna Sharp—who went by the name Sue—had been renting Cabin 28 in the tiny community of Keddie, California since November of 1980. She lived there with her five children. On the night of the murders, Sue was at home while her two youngest sons and one of their friends played in an adjacent room. Tina, Sue’s youngest daughter, returned home around 10 o’clock, after an evening of watching television with the neighbors in Cabin 27.

Sue’s oldest son John had spent the day in the town of Quincy with his friend Dana Wingate. The pair was last seen walking along State Route 70. They returned home to Cabin 28 later that night, presumably retiring to John’s basement bedroom. Whether they entered the home with the murder in-progress or became aware of intruders after hearing a disturbance upstairs is unknown. In either case, John and Dana would not survive the night.

keddie murdersThe site of Cabin 28, where the Keddie Murders occurred

The following morning, Sue’s oldest daughter Sheila came home after a night spent with friends. Upon entering, she discovered three bodies on the living room floor of Cabin 28.

The bodies belonged to Sue, John, and Dana. A search of the premises revealed the boys still in their room, alive and unharmed. With the help of neighbors, Sheila removed the three children. The fourth victim, 12-year-old daughter Tina, was nowhere to be found.

Sue Sharp, John, and Dana met a decidedly violent end. Their bodies were bound with medical tape and appliance wire; they had been stabbed, bludgeoned, and strangled to death. Examinations revealed that the victims suffered blows from at least two different hammers of varying sizes, and Sue and John had been stabbed repeatedly. Sue had also been bludgeoned with a Daisy Powerline 880 rifle, while Dana Wingate was strangled to death by hand.

Various weapons were found at the scene, including a table knife, a butcher knife, and a bloody hammer. Other weapons—including the Daisy rifle—were never recovered. Some evidence, such as a second bloody knife, turned up in a trash bin behind the Keddie general store.

keddie murdersSketches of possible suspects in the Keddie murders

Several suspects were named in the case, including Marty Smartt, a close friend of the local sheriff, and “Bo” Boubede, a supposed hitman for the Chicago and Las Vegas mobs. Many of the suspects were said to have been former romantic partners or spurned paramours of Sue Sharp. Despite considerable evidence and police questioning, no arrests were made.

In 1984, part of a skull was found 29 miles away near Camp Eighteen in neighboring Butte County. An anonymous phone call placed to the Butte County Sheriff’s office claimed that the skull belonged to Tina Sharp. The phone call prompted a thorough examination of the area, revealing a jawbone and several other bones. The fragments were eventually determined to belong to young Tina.

The discovery of Tina’s remains compounded a case already steeped in mystery. Why was the body of Tina Sharp found so far away from Cabin 28? How could a murder with so much physical evidence remain unsolved? Both the original and back-up recording of the anonymous phone call that led the Butte County Sheriff’s office to the location of Tina’s remains were released to an undisclosed law enforcement official. Shortly thereafter, the recordings disappeared—prompting some to suspect a police cover-up.

In 2004, Cabin 28 was demolished along with several other condemned buildings on the grounds. While theorists postulate possible mob connections and police complicity in the killings, the complete facts in the case may never be known. The strange Keddie murder remain unsolved to this day.

[via Crime Magazine]

Photos (in order): Patrick Dirden / Flickr (image is cropped) [CC]; Wikimedia Commons; Wikimedia Commons