Skylar Neese: “Friends” Murder a Beautiful Teen

Most murders are senseless, but some seem more so than others. Such is the case of Skylar Neese. She was only sixteen years old when her two supposed best friends stabbed her to death and left her body in the woods.

Skylar Neese Disappears

Skylar Neese was sixteen in the summer of 2012. On July 5, a Thursday, she returned to her family’s apartment in Star City, West Virginia, after finishing a shift at Wendy’s. At 12:30 a.m. on July 6, she climbed out her bedroom window, got into a sedan, and rode away. The apartment complex’s security cameras recorded video of her unconventional exit. She never returned home after that.

Skylar Annette Neese (Family photo)
Skylar Annette Neese (Family photo)

At first, law enforcement considered Skylar a runaway and declined to issue an Amber Alert. However, Skylar’s father, Dave Neese, insisted she planned to come back. He noted that she didn’t take her phone charger with her, which she would have if she planned to leave permanently. Skylar’s family took it upon themselves to plaster Monongahela County with “missing” posters.

Shelia Eddy, Rachel Shoaf, and Skylar Neese (Facebook via The Cinemaholic)
Shelia Eddy, Rachel Shoaf, and Skylar Neese (Facebook via The Cinemaholic)

The search ended in tragedy on January 16, 2013. Investigators found the body of a teenage girl in Wayne Township, just across the state line in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The girl had been stabbed more than fifty times. On March 13, U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II issued a press release confirming what most people had already suspected. The body found in Pennsylvania was that of Skylar Neese.

Who Killed Skylar Neese?

Investigators were able to discover Skylar’s body because of information they received from Rachel Shoaf, one of her two best friends. Shoaf said that she and Shelia Eddy picked up Skylar and drove to their usual socializing spot on the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. (It was Eddy’s sedan that video captured picking up Skylar on July 6.) There, Shoaf and Eddy attacked Skyler and stabbed her to death. The ground was too hard to dig a grave, so the two girls covered the body with dirt, rocks, and twigs.

Rachel Shoaf at her sentencing (Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post)
Rachel Shoaf at her sentencing (Ron Rittenhouse/Dominion Post)

Shoaf, in giving a motivation for the murder, said the two “didn’t like her (Neese)” and “didn’t want to be friends with her anymore.” Skyler had considered Eddy and Shoaf to be two of her best friends. Shoaf even helped the family pass out the missing posters.

Shelia Eddy in court (Murderpedia)
Shelia Eddy in court (Murderpedia)

Justice for Skylar Neese

Rachel Shoaf pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on May 1, 2013. She received a sentence of thirty years in prison, with eligibility for parole after ten.

Shelia Eddy initially pleaded not guilty, and her trial was to start on January 28, 2014. However, facing possible charges from Pennsylvania in addition to those from West Virginia, she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after fifteen years. Per the plea deal, Pennsylvania did not file charges against her.

Epilogue

Rachel Shoaf appeared before the West Virginia Parole Board in 2023. The Board denied her parole, but at the hearing, the true motive for Skylar’s murder emerged. Shoaf and Eddy were in a same-sex relationship at the time and feared Skylar would tell other people. They killed her to keep her quiet.

Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy prison mugshots (West Virginia Department of Corrections)
Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy prison mugshots (West Virginia Department of Corrections)

Today (2024), Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy reside at the Lakin Correctional Center on the Ohio River near West Virginia’s border with Ohio. Eddy will be eligible to apply for parole in May 2028, the same date as Shoaf’s next parole opportunity.

You can read more about this case in The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese by Daleen Berry and Geoffrey Fuller.

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