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Chloe xo

- Chloe Allen

The murder of Skylar Neese

Skylar Neese was your average sixteen year old teenage girl. An only child, she lived in a happy home with her parents, Mary and Dave Neese in Star City, West Virginia. Skylar enjoyed school and was a good student with a promising future. She enjoyed reading, music and in her spare time worked in a local fast food chain earning her own money. Her social life was that of a typical teenage girl. She was extremely active on all social media platforms with Twitter being one of her preferred ways of keeping in touch with her peers.

Inseparable friends.

Skylar had two best friends. Rachel Shoaf, a happy and creative red head who loved singing and performing in the schools drama groups and Sheila Eddy, a popular and bubbly girl . Skylar had known Sheila for many years and the two had welcomed Rachel into their friendship when she joined the school as a new pupil. The three girls became inseparable, doing pretty much everything together. All of the girls social media accounts displayed their closeness in the form of videos and snaps of them having fun being normal teenagers.

Sheila Eddy, Rachel Shoaf and Skylar Neese.

Sheila Eddy, Rachel Shoaf and Skylar Neese.

It was said that Skylar would often act as a voice of reason for her friends. Both Rachel and Sheila came from homes where their parents had divorced and also had tendencies to sometimes be a little wilder than Skylar. This would sometimes mean that she would be the more stable of the group, often offering advice or having stern words with her friends when they needed it, recalled her mother.

To outsiders looking in, it was fairly obvious that Sheila Eddy was the focal point of the three girls. She was wild, excitable, very confident and popular with other students. Rachel Shoaf, who had a strict religious background idolised her and her wilder ways whilst Skylar was a neutral element to their group. Between the three of them it appeared that they formed a perfect friendship.

Three begins to be a crowd.

The trios friendship ticked along steadily until the girls reached their Sophomore year of high school. Rachel and Sheila were becoming more similar in their ways. They both dated boys and were sexually active where as Skylar was yet to reach this stage in her life. Sheila and Rachel would often hang out without Skylar and would regularly turn up to school or days out wearing similar clothes having not informed Skylar of the plan to match their outfits. It became more and more obvious that the dynamics of the trio were shifting, with Skylar being kept out of certain things and progressively feeling more and more left out. One evening at a sleepover, the girls were all enjoying a drink and at one point Skylar witnessed Sheila and Rachel engage in some sexual activity with each other. This created an even bigger rift in the group with Sheila and Rachel keeping Skylar close for fear of her exposing their tryst should they fall out. Skylar had photo’s on her phone of the pair together and it is said that she had showed a number of other friends these pictures, angering Sheila in particular resulting in Skylar becoming even more ostracised by the two girls, often experiencing their nastier side and finding that they became increasingly more two faced and conniving towards her.

Skylar later took to Twitter to share her frustrations, tweeting “you doing shit like that is why I will NEVER completely trust you.” Chillingly, this would be the final post she’d ever share on the social platform. The three began to argue and bicker more frequently and the friendship was more strained than it ever had been, yet they still continued to hang around together despite the growing animosity. Sheila in particular had quite the stronghold on Skylar, it appeared.

An out of character disappearance.

On July 5th 2012 Skylar finished a shift at the fast food restaurant where she worked and clocked out to go home. She wished her parents goodnight and retired to her bedroom.

The following day started as normal with her parents leaving for work to begin their shifts. Later that evening, they received a call from Skylar’s place of work reporting that their daughter had failed to show up for her shift. This was extremely out of character for Skylar, who never missed work and had excellent time keeping. Because it was summer, her parents assumed that their daughter was probably off with her friends and had decided to ditch work, although this was unlike her. They prepared themselves for an argument upon her return from work and to have to deal with a very sulky teenager as a result.

Whilst waiting to hear from Skylar, her father discovered that the screen on her bedroom window was missing, and that there was a stool on the outside of the building underneath said window. It became apparent that Skylar had sneaked out of the apartment during the night and failed to return home. Concerned, her father called police and reported his 16 year old daughter as missing.

Whilst the police began putting together a file in order to start looking into the disappearance, her parents received a visit from Sheila Eddy. Sheila had known Skylar’s parents for many years and was looked upon by the Neese family as one of their own. Sheila was fraught with worry and wanted to confide in Skylar’s parents some details of what had happened the night before.

Sheila told Mary and Dave that at around 11pm, she and Rachel had picked Skylar up from the parking lot of the apartment block after she had slipped out of her bedroom window. She said that the three girls had driven around Star City getting high before dropping Skylar back off at around midnight at the top of the street, where she then walked home from there in order to avoid the car being spotted by her parents. She was frantic and upset at the idea that Skylar had gone missing on the short walk from where she was dropped off to her apartment.

Skylar’s parents relayed this information to the police who proceeded to look at the CCTV footage that had been recorded by cameras outside of the apartment building. The footage showed a car arriving at the address at 12.30am. Skylar could be seen walking and getting into the back of the car before it drove away at around 12.35am. The car was not captured returning and there was no sign on the footage of Skylar making her way home either.

Sheila Eddy instantly began to help Skylar’s parents canvas the town with posters detailing the disappearance. She also became even more active on her social media pages, sharing photos, statuses and articles regarding the out of character and worrying disappearance of one of her very best friends. Rachel spent two weeks at a Catholic summer camp during this time, before returning home ready to go back to school after the summer break.

School began again, and Skylar was still missing with absolutely no signs of her. She hadn’t made any contact with her family or her friends and rumours were beginning to fly around the school as to what may have happened to her on that fateful July evening. One such rumour was that Skylar had attended a party and fatally overdosed with her friends then concealing her body in a panic.

Attention turns to Skylar’s best friends.

With rumours of overdoses and body concealment swirling around Star City, the police began closing in on Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf. It was painfully evident that these girls were all best friends and thick as thieves. Their names had of course been mentioned to police during informal chats with other high school acquaintances of Skylar and the girls social media accounts also made it glaringly obvious that the three girls were close. They were of course, also the last people to have seen Skylar that evening.

Detectives began to speak to the two girls in more depth and were becoming more and more uneasy with how they were presenting themselves. Sheila was cocky and confident with a steady story that sounded rehearsed. Rachel although nervous, also had a structured and detailed story for what happened on the evening that Skylar went missing. Both girls stories matched perfectly with next to no inconsistencies which drew even more suspicions on them . Even the most innocent of people when questioned again and again can sometimes draw small inaccuracies during interviews, yet Rachel Shoaf and Sheila Eddy remained steadfast and almost rehearsed in their answers during questioning. Jessica Colebank who was part of the team who interviewed the girls recalls Sheila appearing cold and confident whilst Rachel Shoaf presented a more scared and uneasy demeanour.

Skylar’s parents urged the two girls to cooperate and tell the truth so that they could finally get some answers as to where their daughter was, but this was to no avail. Despite the CCTV and phone records showing otherwise, Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf were sticking to their story. Skylar had gotten out of their car at the top of the street and hadn’t been seen since.

Almost six months had now passed and there was still no sign of Skylar and very little developments in the investigation. School had carried on as normal and Sheila and Rachel were still inseparable friends both at school and socially.

Despite outside appearances, Rachel Shoaf was beginning to struggle. She was arguing with her mother and was acting up outside of school. One evening in December, police received a 911 call from Shoaf’s mother, begging for help in controlling her daughter who was having what sounded like an emotional breakdown in the background. She was screaming, crying and lashing out at her mother and couldn’t be controlled. She was taken to a mental health facility where she was treated for a mental breakdown. She was hospitalised for a week in which time she had no contact with Sheila Eddy.

A confession is made.

On January 3rd 2013 Rachel Shoaf requested a meeting at her attorney’s office. Here she confessed that Skylar was dead. She told her legal team that she and Sheila Eddy had stabbed Skylar to death in July and had then disposed of her body in some remote woodland. Rachel agreed to take police to the area and Skylar’s remains were then recovered. When asked why they’d murdered Skylar, Rachel simply said “We just didn’t like her anymore”. She stated that the pair had taken Skylar to the area where she was attacked, counted to three and proceeded to stab her. Skylar’s last words to her friends where “why"?”.

Despite having suspicions that the girls knew what had happened that night, the police were still surprised that the pair had conspired to kill her, thinking that the overdose rumour was more likely to have some truth to it rather than her best friends just deciding that they’d murder her to be rid of her.

In an agreement with the police and her attorney, Rachel was willing to wear a wire and meet up with Sheila in hope that she would incriminate herself in the murder. Sheila failed to do this but after searching and forensically examining her car, police were able to arrest her and Rachel on murder charges due to the fact that traces of Skylar’s blood and DNA had been found in the vehicle.

Sheila Eddy uploaded this photograph to her Twitter account during her reunion with Rachel Shoaf, who unbeknown to her was wearing a wire in order to attempt to record Sheila incriminate herself in the murder.

Sheila Eddy uploaded this photograph to her Twitter account during her reunion with Rachel Shoaf, who unbeknown to her was wearing a wire in order to attempt to record Sheila incriminate herself in the murder.

Sheila’s social media pages, her Twitter in particular were also extremely telling (even more so now the case has been closed) and were used in order to help bring murder charges to the pair, with this particular tweet proving particularly haunting and incriminating after Rachel Shoaf’s original confession that the pair counted to three before the attack.

Rachel Shoaf pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison, with the chance of parole after serving 10 years.

Sheila Eddy continued to plead not guilty to murder and kidnap charges, however, facing the prospect of charges from both federal and Pennsylvania authorities in addition to the West Virginia charges, she then plead guilty to first degree murder. As a result of this, she was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after serving 15 years behind bars.

Skylar’s parents continue to visit the spot where their daughter was found, having made it into a memorial for her. They actively campaign for what they have christened “Skylar’s Law”. This calls for the state of West Virginia to issue an Amber Alert as soon as a child is reported missing and/or in danger, no matter what the circumstances may appear to be at the time of disappearance. You can read more about Skylar’s Law here.

The disappearance of Susan Cox Powell

Stacey Castor