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The Keddie Murders: Quadruple Homicide Unsolved After 40+ Years

Clockwise from top left: Sue Sharp, John Sharp, Dana Wingate, Tina Sharp

Clockwise from top left: Sue Sharp, John Sharp, Dana Wingate, Tina Sharp

The Sharp Family and The Keddie Resort

In 1979, Glenna “Sue” Sharp and her five children—John, Sheila, Tina, Rick, and Greg—fled from abusive husband and father James in Connecticut and moved to California to live in her brother’s trailer in Quincy.

Sue, eager to get her life together and find a way to support herself and her children, began taking typewriting classes and working a part-time job at the Quincy Elks Lodge. Soon the family was able to move into Cabin 28 in the resort town of Keddie. The home was bigger than the trailer they had previously been living in and things seemed to be looking up for the Sharps.

Keddie, formerly a popular family resort, had suffered financial setbacks in recent years and had since been converted into low-income housing.

The Murders

On the evening of April 11th, 1981, in addition to most of the Sharp family being present, John’s friend Dana was staying over at Cabin 28. Rick and Greg’s friend, Justin, was there as well.

The following morning, 14-year-old Sheila, who had spent the night at a neighbor’s house, returned home to find a gruesome scene: the bloody, bound and gagged bodies of her 36-year-old mother, her 15-year-old brother John, and John’s friend, 17-year-old Dana Wingate, in the living room.

There was blood on the walls, the doors, the ceiling and even on the porch railing, as well as what appeared to be knife marks on the walls.

A bloody hammer and a steak knife bent at a 30-degree angle were found laying on the floor.

When the initial shock of this horrifying discovery had abated somewhat, Sheila ran next door to the home of the Seabolts—the family with whom she had spent the previous night—to seek help. Jamie Seabolt, the oldest son, went back to the Sharp cabin with Sheila. Once there, they looked in the window of Rick and Greg’s bedroom and discovered that the boys were safely sleeping inside.

Jamie helped Rick (10), Greg (5), and Justin (12) climb out the bedroom window, to spare them the added trauma of having to see the bloody crime scene inside the home.

Missing from the cabin was Tina Sharp. Alarmingly, her bedding had blood stains on it, but there was no sign of the 12-year-old anywhere.

Cabin 28

Cabin 28

Crime Scene Analysis and Autopsies

The three boys initially claimed to have slept through the night and to not have heard any disturbances, yet given the level of violence displayed in these attacks, their story seems unlikely.

Sue Sharp was found lying on the floor, nude from the waist down, but no signs of sexual assault were present. Each of the three victims had been gagged as well as bound with electrical cords and medical tape. Sue was the only one with defensive wounds, however, indicating that she had fought her assailants.

Sue had been stabbed repeatedly in the chest and neck, as well as hit in the head with the butt of a BB gun. John’s throat had been cut and he also had multiple blunt force trauma injuries to the head from a hammer. Dana had also been struck repeatedly over the head with a hammer, but was ultimately killed by manual strangulation.

Though the scene was bloody and chaotic, the killers—as it was believed that it would have taken at least two individuals to subdue three people—had somehow left no DNA evidence behind, at least none that was discovered at the time. Also, there was no forensic evidence to suggest that Tina had been among the victims that night.

Blood-spatter pattern analysis indicated that all three bodies had been moved post-mortem.

the-keddie-murders-gruesome-quadruple-homicide-still-unsolved-after-40-years

Investigation

When questioned, most of the Sharps’ neighbors claimed to have heard nothing that night. However, the couple living in Cabin 16 said that they had been awakened some time between 1 and 2 AM to the sounds of muffled screams.

Some neighbors reported seeing an unfamiliar green van parked outside of Cabin 28 at around 9 PM that evening, while others had spotted a brown Datsun there later on, which appeared to have a flat tire. Unfortunately, these leads seem to have gone nowhere.

The police found no signs of forced entry, but discovered that a toolbox was missing from the home; a second hammer, believed to have been another murder weapon, was gone from the scene as well.

An early suspect in the investigation was Martin Smartt, Justin’s stepfather. Martin and his wife Marilyn both took the same typewriting class as Sue Sharp and had become friendly with her. However, Martin allegedly had anger issues and was physically abusive to Marilyn, who would then confide in Sue. A domestic violence survivor herself, Sue reportedly advised Marilyn to leave her husband.

Some have speculated that Martin may have killed Sue for revenge, in the mistaken belief that she was responsible for breaking up his marriage.

John “Bo” Boubede was a friend of Martin's and had been living in the Smartt home for some time. Bo, a veteran suffering from PTSD and a man who allegedly had mob ties back in Chicago, was said to have had a crush on Sue. It is believed that Sue rejected him on two different occasions in the short time they knew each other.

Bo explained that he and Martin had been at a bar from 9:30 to 10 PM that night, but later changed his story and claimed that they had been there around midnight instead.

The investigation also turned up evidence suggesting that Martin and Sue had been having an affair.

Early on in the case, Martin volunteered the information that a claw hammer had been stolen from his garage. This revelation came before it was public knowledge that two of the murder weapons in this crime were hammers. A claw hammer matching his description would be found in a local pond many years later, in 2016.

Justin, Martin’s stepson, came forward shortly after the murders to say that he had been having nightmares about what happened that night, which seemed to indicate that he may have witnessed some of what had occurred. Under hypnosis he gave an account of hearing strange noises that night and then came out of the bedroom to investigate, only to find Sue in the living room with two unidentified men.

According to Justin’s account, John and Dana then came in and tried to help Sue, which resulted in a fight breaking out between the two teenage boys and the two adult men. He gave a description of these men and composite sketches were made of both.

One of the men had a mustache and short hair, while the other was clean shaven with long hair. Both wore glasses.

Composite sketches of the two alleged assailants as described by Justin while under hypnosis

Composite sketches of the two alleged assailants as described by Justin while under hypnosis

Was Martin Smartt Involved?

Following the breakdown of his marriage, Martin moved to Reno, Nevada, where he began seeing a counselor. This counselor came forward in 1981, stating that Martin had confessed to killing both Sue and Tina, citing revenge for Sue convincing Marilyn to leave him as the reason behind the bloody acts. He refused to claim responsibility for the murders of the two boys, however.

The DOJ dismissed this claim as hearsay and didn’t look into it any further.

A letter that Martin had written to Marilyn also drew attention, due to one line in particular:

“I’ve paid the price of your love & now that I’ve bought it with four people’s lives you tell me we are through.”

On its own, that sentence seems pretty incriminating. However, in the context of the full three-page letter that it’s contained in, it’s clear that Martin is not actually referring to murder, but rather discussing the fact that he felt he had sacrificed too much time with his own four children (from a previous marriage) in order to be with Marilyn and her children.

Martin Smartt and John "Bo" Boubede

Martin Smartt and John "Bo" Boubede

the-keddie-murders-gruesome-quadruple-homicide-still-unsolved-after-40-years

Human Bones Discovered

On April 22, 1984, a man collecting bottle caps in Feather Falls, Butte County, approximately 100 miles from Keddie, found a partial human skull and a mandible bone and he immediately informed authorities.

To begin with, the police believed the remains to be those of a Native American individual. That is until they received an anonymous phone call stating that the skeletal remains actually belonged to Tina Sharp, who by this point had been missing for three years.

Later DNA analysis would confirm that the remains did, in fact, belong to Tina Sharp. Her cause of death could not be determined, however. When a search was conducted in the area where her remains were found, a blue nylon jacket, Levi jeans, and an empty medical tape dispenser were recovered.

Who was the anonymous caller? And how did they know it was her?

The caller's identity remains unknown to this day.

Status of the Investigation

In a 2008 documentary, Marilyn asserted her belief that both Martin and Bo were responsible for the killings. She claimed to have found Tina’s bloody jacket in the basement after the murders and that she quickly turned it over to police. But there is no record of this happening. Also, she stated that Martin had hated John Sharp.

Martin Smartt and Bo Boubede passed away, in 2000 and 1988, respectively, but it was announced in 2018 that DNA from a piece of tape found at the crime scene has been linked to a living suspect. Currently, no arrests have been made.

In 2018, Special Investigator Mike Gamberg, who has reason to believe that as many as six people were involved in this heinous crime, two of whom are now dead, had this to say of the living suspects:

“They better batten down the hatches because we’re coming. We’re continuing with the investigation and we’re doing interviews, and we have several persons of interest.”

The Keddie Resort has fallen into disrepair over the past few decades and Cabin 28 was demolished in 2004.

Sources

"Keddie murders", Wikipedia

"The Martin Smartt 'love letters'", kmik, The Great Zodiac Killer Hoax of 1986, June 17, 2017

"The Keddie Cabin Murders," Erik Hawkins, All That's Interesting, November 1, 2021

"Unsolved Mystery of the Keddie Cabin Murders", Joe Turner, Historic Mysteries,

"Who Slaughtered the Keddie Cabin Family?" Peaked Interest, YouTube, April 26, 2022