Skylar Neese, a 16-year-old honor student with a promising future, was in 2012. Her closest friends, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, served as the social center of her vibrant social life. She also enjoyed reading.
Skylar Neese left her Star City, West Virginia, bedroom window on July 6, 2012, to meet up with Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, but she never came back.
Her fate remained unknown for six months, until a shocking revelation revealed the truth. Eddy and Shoaf drove Skylar Neese to a quiet spot over the state line in Pennsylvania that July night and brutally stabbed her to death.
The Close-Knit Trio Of Skylar, Shelia Eddy, & Rachel Shoaf
Skylar Neese, Shelia Eddy, and Rachel Shoaf all went to University High School in Morgantown, West Virginia. Eddy and Neese had known each other since they were eight years old, and Eddy had met Shoaf their freshman year.
The three were inseparable, and Neese was said to have been an emotional rock for the other two girls, as both Eddy and Shoaf had divorced parents. Neese, on the other hand, was an only child, and her parents wanted the best for her. They cultivated her intelligence and encouraged her to be herself.
“Skylar thought she could save her,” Mary Neese, Neese’s mother, said of her daughter’s relationship with Shelia Eddy. “I could hear her on the phone yelling at Shelia, ‘Don’t be stupid!’ ‘Wait, what were you thinking?’ Shelia, on the other hand, was a lot of fun. She was always being silly and doing crazy things.”
Mary Neese and her husband David accepted Eddy, the fun-loving girl in the trio, as if she were one of their own. “Shelia didn’t even knock on the door when she came over, she just walked right in.”
Rachel Shoaf, on the other hand, was Eddy’s polar opposite. She came from a strict Catholic family and idolized Eddy for her somewhat wild and carefree attitude, despite the fact that she was well-liked and enjoyed being in school plays.
While Shoaf and Neese had some of the same freedom as Eddy, they didn’t have it to the same extent, and that dynamic would eventually spell doom for Skylar Neese.
The Brutal Murder Of Skylar Neese
Because of the trio’s numerous social media posts, it became clear that Neese, Eddy, and Shoaf had underlying tensions with one another. Skylar Neese tweeted on May 31, 2012, “youre a twofaced bitch and obviously fucking stupid if you thought I wouldnt find out.”
Another tweet from the same spring stated, “too bad my friends are having lives without me.” Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf appeared to be becoming closer friends without Neese.
“Shelia and Skylar were fighting a lot,” said Daniel Hovatter, a UHS classmate. “One time sophomore year, Rachel and I were at Pride and Prejudice practice, and Rachel had her phone up to her ear, laughing.” ‘Listen to this.’ she said. Shelia and Skylar were arguing, but Skylar had no idea Shelia had placed her on three-way calling and Rachel was listening in.”
The scenario was like something straight out of Mean Girls, but things were about to get a lot more grisly.
Grainy security camera footage from Neese’s family apartment in the early morning of July 6 shows Skylar getting into a nondescript Sedan.
The next morning, Neese failed to show up for work — a first for the responsible teen. Because her cell phone charger, toothbrush, and toiletries were still in her room, the Neeses knew she hadn’t run away. They reported their missing daughter.
Shelia Eddy called the Neeses later that day. “She proceeded to tell me that she, Skylar, and Rachel had snuck out the night before and driven around Star City, getting high, and dropping her back off at the house,” Mary Neese recalled. “The story was that they had dropped her off at the end of the road because she didn’t want to wake us up by sneaking back in.”
That story held up for a while, until the best friends appeared to implicate themselves.
The Thrilling Skylar Neese Case Investigation
Shelia Eddy stated that she and Rachel Shoaf picked up Skylar Neese at 11 p.m. and returned her before midnight. However, the surveillance video proved otherwise. The grainy video showed Neese leaving her apartment at 12:30 a.m., the car leaving at 12:35 a.m., and then she was never seen again.
On July 7, Eddy and her mother assisted in canvassing the neighborhood for Neese. Shoaf, meanwhile, was off to Catholic summer camp for two weeks.
Rumors circulated that Neese had attended a house party and overdosed on heroin. Corporal Ronnie Gaskins, one of the case’s investigators, stated that people told him the teenager died after attending a party. “People there panicked, and they disposed of the body.”
Jessica Colebank, a Star City police officer, had other ideas. “Their stories were identical, verbatim. Unless it’s rehearsed, no one’s story is the same. ‘Shelia is acting strangely,’ I thought to myself. ‘Rachel is terrified.'”
However, because there was no legitimate reason to make an arrest at the time, the police had to continue their investigation, and the Neeses had to endure an agonizing wait before the truth about their daughter was revealed.
Fortunately, social media provided some leads, as all three of the girls were active on Twitter and Facebook. Skylar Neese tweeted the day before her disappearance, “sick of being at fucking home.” Thank you ‘friends,’ I enjoy hanging out with you all as well.” Neese had previously stated, “you doing s*** like that is why I can NEVER completely trust you.”
It seemed the rift in the trio provided some solid evidence that perhaps Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf had something to do with Neese’s disappearance.
Chris Berry, a state trooper assigned to the case in August 2012, had always believed that no murderer could hide their actions for long. Berry had witnessed murderers brag about their actions in some cases. He had a feeling this was one of those cases, and he expected Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy to confess in due course.
Berry created a phony online persona as an attractive adolescent boy attending West Virginia University in Morgantown and scoured Facebook and Twitter for girls. Investigators could then use this access to glean information about Eddy and Shoaf’s mental states from their social media posts.
Eddy was perky, while Shoaf was reserved and quiet online, according to the investigators. Neither of the girls expressed any concern about their best friend’s disappearance. Eddy tweeted about trivial matters and even shared a photo of herself and Shoaf together.
Some posts were strange, such as one on November 5, 2012, which stated, “no one on this earth can handle me and Rachel if you think you can, you’re wrong.”
Meanwhile, Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf began hearing disturbing things on social media. Some people on Twitter accused them outright of murder and said it was only a matter of time before they were apprehended.
Authorities repeatedly summoned Eddy and Shoaf for interviews. Over time, the two became more isolated from their other friends and became more reliant on one another.
Colebank then realized that the car in the surveillance footage belonged to Shelia Eddy.
Authorities compared surveillance video from nearby businesses from that July night. They discovered Skylar Neese’s car near a convenience store in Blackstone, West Virginia, west of Star City and Morgantown. However, both Eddy and Shoaf claimed to have gone east on the night Neese vanished. The girls were caught lying.
But while the evidence continued to point to Skylar Neese’s best friends as her killers, the cops still didn’t have enough to charge them. It would take a confession to finally close the case.
Rachel Shoaf’s Sickening Confession
Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy’s health suffered as a result of the stress and strain of concealing their crime. A distraught parent dialed 911 in Monongalia County on December 28, 2012. “I have a problem with my 16-year-old daughter.” I can’t keep her under control any longer. She’s hitting us, screaming at us, and running around the neighborhood.”
Patricia Shoaf, Rachel’s mother, answered the phone. Rachel Shoaf could be heard sobbing uncontrollably in the background. “Hand me the phone. No! No! This is the end of the story. This is the end!” Patricia Shoaf then told the dispatcher, “My husband is attempting to contain her.” Please act quickly.”
Rachel Shoaf was ready to confess when authorities apprehended her. She soon revealed the shocking truth about Skylar Neese’s murder to them.
“We stabbed her,” Shoaf exclaimed.
As she continued to speak, the bleak reality of Skylar Neese’s case became increasingly clear.
According to Shoaf, she and Eddy planned Skylar Neese’s murder a month in advance. They were in science class one day when they decided they should kill her.
They intended to murder Shoaf just before he left for summer camp.
Shoaf took a shovel from her father’s house on the night of the murder, and Eddy took two knives from her mother’s kitchen. They also brought cleaning supplies and a change of clothing.
Skylar Neese assumed the two girls would be driving around and having fun when they picked her up. Previously, the trio had driven to Brave, a town just across the Pennsylvania state line, to get high. And Shoaf and Eddy had brought their own weed pipes — as well as knives.
Despite the fact that it was scorching hot outside, Shoaf and Eddy wore hoodies to hide the knives. Skylar Neese thought nothing of it because she had no idea why they were wearing hoodies.
The two other girls followed their victim into the woods in Pennsylvania, where Neese assumed they had gone to smoke.
“On three,” Shoaf declared.
They then pounced and began attacking her. According to Shoaf, Neese managed to flee during the attack, but they stabbed her in the knee, preventing her from running very far. Neese’s fate had been sealed.
Skylar Neese asked, “Why?” in her dying breaths after being stabbed dozens of times.
Authorities later posed the same question to Rachel Shoaf, who simply stated, “We didn’t like her.”
Justice For Skylar Neese As Shoaf And Shelia Eddy Are Arrested
Rachel Shoaf led investigators to the rural woods where she and Shelia Eddy murdered Skylar Neese in early January 2013. It was snowing and she couldn’t remember where she was.
They couldn’t find the body at first, but thanks to Shoaf’s confession, authorities quickly charged her with murder.
The authorities finally got a break a week later when they discovered the 16-year-old’s nearly unidentifiable body in the woods. A crime lab would not be able to officially confirm that the body was that of Skylar Neese until March 13.
Blood samples in Shelia Eddy’s trunk were matched to Neese’s DNA, and she was arrested on May 1, 2013, in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. In January 2014, she pled guilty to first-degree murder after being charged with it. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.
Rachel Shoaf, guilty of second-degree murder, received a 30-year sentence.
Skylar Neese’s father, David Neese, believes the two girls did not deserve mercy from the courts. “They’re both sickos, and they’re both exactly where they need to be: away from civilization, imprisoned like animals.” Because that’s exactly what they are: animals.”
The bereaved father pays visits to a tree in the Pennsylvania woods decorated with photos of his only child, his beloved daughter, who was murdered by two jealous best friends.
“I wanted to take the horrible thing that happened here and try to turn it into something good — a place that people can come and remember Skylar and remember the good little girl that she was, and not the little beast that they treated her like.”
Skylar’s Law, which requires the state to issue Amber Alerts for all missing children, even those who are not believed to be kidnapped, was also supported by the Neese family. Although Skylar’s life was not saved because she was killed before her parents realized she was missing, this new system in West Virginia may save some more lives by providing timely notices of missing children.