True Crime

Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf: The schoolgirls who became killers

Mary was fond of her daughter Skylar Neese's two best mates. Little did she know the schoolgirls were plotting something truly shocking.
that's life!

Mary Neese, 53, Morgantown, US

Where was she? For five long months the question had tormented me and my husband, Dave. Our daughter, Skylar, 16, had vanished and we had no idea where she’d gone.

It was July 2012 when our lives changed forever. Dave got home from work and knocked on our daughter’s bedroom door. She had a summer job in a restaurant and she should have been ready for her shift.

But there was no sign of her. Her door was locked from the inside and when Dave opened it he discovered her bed hadn’t been slept in. ‘Don’t worry,’ I’d told him. ‘I bet she’s gone to a friend’s.’

Our girl had two mates she was especially close to – Shelia, 17, – who’d been Skylar’s friend since she was eight and who was like a second daughter to me, and Rachel, 16, a new girl who’d started at their school a couple of years earlier. When they’d started hanging out I worried one of them might become a ‘third wheel’.

Fortunately, all three girls got on well as far as I could tell. But when Dave called Shelia and Rachel that day to ask if they’d seen Skylar, he drew a blank. When our girl’s boss called to ask if she was coming into work, my blood ran cold. It wasn’t like Skylar to miss a shift. Something was wrong.

‘We need to call the emergency services,’ I told Dave. ‘This isn’t right.’ Where was Skylar? Just then, Shelia called us back. She had a confession. ‘Skylar, me and Rachel went joyriding last night,’ she told us.

Shelia went on to explain Skylar had sneaked out of her room, they’d picked her up and dropped her back at the end of the street by midnight. So that’s what had happened. Still, it didn’t explain where Skylar was now. After calling the police, officers were soon searching door to door.

Skylar, Rachel and Sheila (Credit: that’s life!)

Shelia’s mum came to help and our landlord offered security footage from the night Skylar disappeared. Sure enough, it showed her walking to a car and getting in. ‘We think she’s run away,’ the police told us, downgrading their search.

But, call it mother’s instinct, something inside me was screaming that wasn’t the case. Skylar had nothing with her when she left. No contact lenses, no hair straightener, no make-up…

I knew my daughter would never run away without her essentials. ‘You’re wrong,’ I told the police, but it was another month before investigations resumed. Soon after, an officer came to see us – and what happened next left me reeling. ‘We think Shelia and Rachel know a lot more than they’re saying,’ he said. ‘We suspect they’re involved somehow.’

What? No way, I thought. Those girls were Skylar’s best mates. Of course they didn’t have anything to hide. One look at Shelia’s social media account showed that didn’t it? Shelia was active on Facebook and Twitter and there were selfie pictures of her, Skylar and Rachel. Often she’d post about how much she missed her friend, and about how close she and Rachel were. Still, wanting to be sure, I spoke to her myself.

‘If you’re scared of something, we’ll protect you,’ I told her gently. But Shelia shook her head. ‘I swear, I know nothing,’ she said, before going silent. I felt frustrated, and frightened too. Would this nightmare ever end?

For five months we knew very little. Although police discovered video footage from a petrol station showing the girls had been there at 12am and mobile phone signals revealed they were out at 4am, still Dave and I had no idea whether our only child was alive or dead.

But in December something happened to change all that. Rachel had a breakdown. Taken to hospital, she told a nurse a secret that had been haunting her. ‘You know that girl who’s missing?’ she’d said. ‘You know Skylar Neese? Well me and my friend killed her.’

Even now I have trouble processing that. Did those words really escape her lips? It seemed too awful to be true. But soon Rachel gave the police a full confession. She said she and Shelia had planned my daughter’s murder during a science lesson. They had picked up Skylar from our house and driven to a secluded spot to smoke marijuana.

Then, on the count of three they’d stabbed her to death. Why? Because they didn’t want to be her friends any more. What a pointless waste. Rachel led police to a wooded area where they found human remains. Two months later, it was confirmed they belonged to our girl.

It’s hard to describe how Dave and I felt. We were glad to have closure at last. But, absolutely devastated too. Falling into a deep depression, I hardly remember the weeks that followed. For a while, Rachel was in hospital, and Shelia didn’t know that her best mate had spoken to the police but officers were keeping a careful eye on her.

The day after they publicly confirmed Skylar’s remains had been found, Shelia took to Twitter and put up a montage of pictures of her and Skylar. Rest easy Skylar, you’ll ALWAYS be my best friend, she wrote. Her blatant lie brought a lump to my throat. Still, she never breathed a word about her involvement.

It was only after Rachel Shoaf, then 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May 2013 that things changed. Shelia Eddy, then 18, was finally arrested, and in January 2014 she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Shelia was sentenced to life in prison while Rachel was handed a 30-year jail term.

Dave and I were in court to discover our girl’s last words. ‘Why?’ she’d cried as those girls stabbed her and it breaks my heart to think of how confused she must’ve been.

I learnt the three of them had fallen out shortly before that terrible day and in court it was claimed Shelia and Rachel feared Skylar would ‘divulge their secrets.’ Whatever they were, Skylar had never told me about anything like that.

I have good days and bad days but I try to remember my daughter with love and peace. She had such a beautiful soul, I know that’s what she’d want me to do.

Photos: AAP/Twitter/Facebook

Related stories